1 Corinthians " O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?"
After Shel's injury his mother Teba known as Wild Witch of the West ( to those who don't know better, ) did many things to help him including calling in the cat's alien friends and having a lovely titanium leg fitted to Shel.
Panther had been staying with Shel while he recuperated. Snowball had taken care of the ship Catavenger, as well as Catcove and Shel's old hut in the desert.
Eventually with the help of his large family and of course his cat friends Shel was able to move back into his own shack.
Shel was quite surprised when the very day he moved back home Snowball moved out into the yard and pitched a tent. to live in,
"I know the house is a mess but really Snowball..." Shel said.
"Oh leave him alone," Panther said. "He has been cooped up in the house for awhile now and after all the time spent out at sea he wants to sleep out now under the open stars and sky ."
Most of the time Shel was in too much pain from his various injuries to notice much. His head never that great before his accident had been smashed in it . Therefore he did not at first notice much change in Panther. When he did she said it was nothing. One Saturday Panther became very ill. "I don't know how I can get you to a vet, I can't drive and they are mostly closed out here in the desert.
"Don't worry Panther said I will be ok until Monday; I just have a belly ache."
The next day things went from bad to worst. Shel got word his brother had died, The cats were unhappy because Brian had been a very good friend to the cats. For Shel's sake Panther hid how ill she was today. On monday Shel called his sister Jeanne De'Orleans. She said she would take Panther to a veterinarian. Shel opened his door to anxiously await the arrival of his sister in her rocket sled. When he looked out he saw a very dirty scruffy looking long haired white cat, "You look as bad as I feel cat." Shel said.
"I am just hungry." the cat replied, "could you spare some breakfast?" "Sure I have to get Snowball some anyway." Shel replied.
After she had quietly eaten her food the scruffy feral stray said; "cat's have nine lives this one of Panther's s now over you must let her go."
Shel was to shocked by this statement, to even wonder how the mystery cat knew Panther's name.
Meanwhile Snowball rolled a few things up in a satchel and had a few words with the scruffy cat, "Death is not the end Shel, I am sorry and will miss her but it's Panther's time to go, and my time to hit the road with Scruffy cat - don't worry we will be back for dinner."
"Make it lunch," Scruffy said. gobbling up some uneaten food on Snowballs's plate. They both then ran off into the wilderness together.
Shel went back to the room to check on Panther and found that sure enough she had died, having gone peacefully in her sleep instead of in combat. Shel wept seeing her like that, cradling her in his arms. Then hearing a car pull up he slowly and painfully got up and walked out of the room. He thought that now Snowball should be Captain, but did not want to be. The rest of the crew were of course stuffed toy animals. Toys animated into life by that most powerful force, the force of love. The last thing he did upon rising and going to the door was to take down the ship the Catavenger. Now sadly just a ship in a bottle, shrunk by that infamous shrinking ray and put into a bottle by the cats upon Captain Topcat's death. The last thing he noticed was the bottle contained water, then overcome by the emotion of it all Shel swooned and fell on the floor.
Panther's spirit rose up into a mist gray fog, Rising rising. Then suddenly a pair of powerful human arms. snatched her onto a hard wooden surface. "I've got you now, " a human voice said. " I have no time to spare. You should have been here yesterday but the shear force of my brother's love kept you earthbound."
Panther looked up to see the familiar face of Shel's brother Brian. Before she could ask him questions he continued. " Listen, all you need to do is scratch the wood really hard three times. You are a cat, I am a human. We have different fates, perhaps we may meet again. Death is but the begining of my journey. I must slip the surly bonds of earth and begin my new life. I want to see my father and old friends again, adios."
Panther was mystified but did as she was told. Scratch, she felt herself change from a ghostly form. Not into the sick very old cat she had been but into a frisky young cat not much older than a kitten.
"Wow it works," she said out loud. Scratch, Scratch, two forms appeared on the deck ( for that is what the wood was. ) She could see now she was on the brigantine Catavenger.
"Hello Panther miss me?" said a voice Panther had not heard in a long time. It was the ship's former first mate Spooky standing there . Next to her looking young and fit was Topcat a a twinkle now in both green eyes.
"She shouldn't have missed you. You have been the guiding force, one with the spirit of the brigantine Catavenger, since shortly after your so called death!"
" I suppose that's also where you have been Captain Topcat.?"
"Brilliant deduction my dear Panther clever as ever, Since shortly after I crossed the rainbow bridge. I then came back here."
"We had to guide the ship you know Panther, with our daft dear Shel we needed to stick around." Spooky said.
"All cats get nine lives. I am not sure if being, part of the brigantine, counts as one or not." Topcat said.
"But I know cats die, most because of human cruelty or neglect," Panther said.
"Alas that is true, but after they die and cross the rainbow bridge cats can either stay in cat paradise, or come back and be re-in-CATnated elsewhere in the world." Spooky replied.
While they had been talking Topcat had been quickly checking over the ship. "What about humans?" Panther asked.
"Oh I got something about that, Spooky said reaching up to something pinned to the mast." Spooky started to explain.
"We don't have time to discuss human affairs and philosophy now;" Captain Topcat said in his most authoritarian voice. "For now - until - I can shanghai a crew it's just us three. "Felines ahoy lets set sail! "
The very last thing saw before he passed out Shel noticed a brilliant flash of light.
When he awoke, Shel's sister, Jeanne De'Orleans, was checking him over and making sure that he was not injured by the fall or the glass from the broken bottle.
"What was that flash? " She asked. Shel wasn't sure but there was no longer a ship in the bottle. The only thing that remained was a piece of paper written in his brothers hand writting with cat paw prints on the bottom. Written on it were these words.
1 CORINTHIANS 15:26 The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.
It's a great big amazing cosmos, full of wonders and possibilities. The love of a sister for her brother. The love of a mother for her son, or a person for a cat.
Somewhere in the world at any given day a kitten or a human child is born. The kitten may be destined to befriend and comfort someone all alone in this life. Or crazy as it may seem, the cat may one day sail a ship. That child may grow to find a cure for terrible disease or find a way to end to hunger.
Somewhere for whatever reason a scruffy white cat and a black cat ran free. In Uruguay South America another black cat with an exceptionally long tail hitchhiked north, his faith neverletting him doubt that he would reach his goal.
Somewhere in the seas of space and time three young cats sailed a ship, while elsewhere their potential crew, ( what to most would seem mere stuffed toys, ) aroused from thieir slumbers. Under the ocean a small fish swims never ceasing to spred his message of hope. ~~~~ >))*>
We don't know how but the gates of Heaven stay open. It may seem foolish to man. ( 1 COR 13:12 ) "For now we see through a glass, darkly" - and so don't understand ( fully ) how it can be that he blind see and the lame walk/ Miracles or foolishness may be in the eye of the beholder for -
WITH GOD ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE.
Dedicated to the memory of my brother Brian and of course my own dear Panther. May your souls sail through the heavens.