The flap swung more urgently until it froze, fully open, wide enough to welcome a yowling green mist that entered the cottage and materialized into a sleek black cat wearing a single gold hoop earring. The ghostly ‘sending’ padded silently across the floor, spun gracefully, thinned into a long green string, and slipped through the keyhole.
Once in the street, it resumed its feline shape and streaked down the country lane towards Bede Hall, startling a lean fox emerging from a skeletal hedgerow. The fox stared at the disappearing vision and sniffed the distinctive splayed pawprints of a cat with extra toes.
The sending approached the long tail of an ancient stone wall curled protectively around the Hall like a dragon’s tail, shielding a sacred rowan from the Isle of Lindisfarne, the only vestige of green untouched from the unseasonal scorching winds of a perpetual hot spell.
The rowan stood, proudly in league with the Roman wall, overseeing the despoiled back gardens as the cat landed, light as a phantom, and padded a length of Hadrian’s Wall holding its tail high like an antenna. It positioned its back against the silver moon and stared up at a small window under the eaves that flashed with intermittent sparks of purple and green light.
After its eyes transformed to the perfect shade of purple, the cat closed them, the better to concentrate on its home – the temple of Bast in ancient Egypt. It lifted its head, yowled once, and shivered its tail wildly to clear the mental pathway strangled by sibling rivalry.
Bede Hall’s Winter Room remained cloaked in a fog of self-importance. Inside, Bash, the newly declared Mistress of the Green, quizzed an evasive boy who lived behind the wall, but the intensity of her energy effectively blocked the incoming S.O.S. the sending had come to unscramble. At dawn, a defeated feline shadow slunk over the brown lawns parched from two years without rain, entered the old maze, and disappeared.
Bast, a giant cat goddess with the head of a lioness, received her servant’s report. “Ma’am,” ArtuRa, growled, his fur bristling, his ears flattened in shame. “Kit’s parrot, Pa’a, followed me to England and his incessant squawking disrupted my mission. I was never heard, much less obeyed. I have failed, Majesty.”
Bast resumed her everyday persona, an Abyssinian housecat the size of a brontosaurus, and purred loudly. She licked her paws and closed her eyes. “Then it was for the best,” she said. “Pa’a is wise. He knows what’s best. We trust him. You did well.”
Babs, the goddess’s pet lioness, presented herself from behind a pillar. “So, at least the sister is promising, then,” she growled with distain. “Thank the Aten that one of the twins has the feline instincts necessary to ground the mystical energies of a time portal. A ‘topsy-turvy world’, Kit called it. Whatever that means.”
“Britannia is fast becoming a desert, Bast replied. “Not an acceptable climate for delicate Englishmen.” She yawned, deferring to a parrot’s timely intervention. “Eternal summer was never the curse’s intention. It was much worse.”
“Perhaps living in a desert will toughen them up,” Babs growled. “Kha said Bede Hall is the last stronghold of Pangea – he dubbed it ‘the defining bastion of time’.”
Bast’s eyes flashed open. “Bede Hall has always been steadfast,” she declared.
“I believe the word is obstinate,” Babs snarled.
Bast’s great tail thumped the floor in anger. “Be kind, Babylion,” she admonished, using Babs’ proper name. “It’s not easy being green on the inside when one’s verdant landscape has been turned into a wasteland, leeched of chlorophyl, literally ‘desert’ed by the rainy season. And with its Green Man’s whereabouts unknown, the Hall’s back is against the wall more than ever.”
The Bede Trilogy Book 1 of 3 ‘TWINTER – the first portal’ by V Knox is available here:
Book 2 of 3 ‘TIME FALLS LIKE SNOW’ by V Knox is available here:
Book 3 of 3 ‘TOMORROW AGAIN’ by V Knox:
*is scheduled for launch in January 2021 – it will be available as a Kindle for under $3 on V KNOX’s AMAZON author page.