Chapter 2 (By Naomi)
Penelope heard Edgar sigh for the hundredth time that day. She rolled her eyes. Edgar was certainly Rowena’s cat. The two of them resembled each other on the dramatic scale. Despite all of the modifications she had performed on Rowena and the two years she had looked after Edgar, neither had ever warmed to Penelope.
Rowena’s life work and research had always come before personal relationships. Edgar was the one great exception, but even then, Rowena hadn’t been able to resist a tiny modification on even him.
A pioneer in her field, Dr. Rowena Siobhan Crane, Ph.D. was the top scientist in the known multiverse in genetic research. She quickly became known for mocking her colleagues and being difficult to work with. Nevertheless, she was heavily sought after.
In reality, she had little patience for pettiness and a biting sense of humor which was often misunderstood. After abandoning a series of posts at both public and private institutions, she founded her own research facility. Looking to distance herself from her former colleagues and to fly under the professional radar, she named her facility Odd Mods. Other than the random call looking for automotive modifications, the facility stayed out of the general public’s attention.
She brought on board the only colleague she could trust- the fully competent and highly respected P. Fiona Glyndor, Ph.D. Rowena had known Fiona for thirteen years and had never known the P stood for Penelope. Who would have guessed?
“You think you know a person,” mused Rowena. After realizing her data was intact she had let her mind wander. Now she glanced over and saw Edgar talking to her field companions. They had no idea what they had just flown into. Horatio and Eric were just run of the mill wrens. She heard them in turn scoff at the idea of cats really existing. “Uh oh!” she giggled aloud. The birds turned to her with alarm.
Chapter 1.9 (by Grace)
While Penelope and Rowena reviewed the data Rowena had collected, Edgar stretched languidly in his chair. Horatio and Eric were still flitting around the room in a frenzy. Their panicked flight path brought them closer and closer to Edgar’s chair. Before either bird realized how close they were to the big-face cat, Edgar deftly jumped mid-air between both birds and gently snatched both birds in his paws.
“Hmph. Chelsea learned all her moves from me, you know,” Edgar told the birds.
Eric and Horatio were so stunned, they froze. Horatio found his voice first. “What’s a Chelsea, Big Face?
Indignant, Edgar growled, “My face is perfectly proportioned to my head and body!”
“S-s-sorry Big Fa- M-Mr. Big Fa…ce? We don’t know your name. You were just…a face…we saw in the glass…and your face was…(big)…” Eric trailed off as he realized his explanation was making the not big face angrier.
Edgar sighed heavily. Must he do everything? Teach everyone? “My name is Edgar Percival Crane. I am the most majestic animal to ever grace this planet. When I one day pass from this earthly plane, the heavens will cry at the loss of my presence to grace their view. I am…A CAT.”
Horatio and Eric Exchanged confused expressions. “But everyone knows cats aren’t real!” Horatio blurted out.
“Yeah!” Eric chimed in, “cats are just make believe stories mamas make up to make fledglings behave! What are you really?”
Chapter 1.8 (by Naomi)
Dr. Glyndor stared down into her tray of medicines. They were useless now. The small window of time she had to administer them to Chelsea had expired in the chaos of Dr. Crane’s re-entry into the facility. She muttered something incomprehensible under her breath.
“What was that?” Dr. Crane asked snidely.
“I said, ‘my name is Penelope.’ I’m going by Penelope. Fiona’s my middle name. Last year I decided to go by my –”
“Stop, stop! Is this really what you want to say right now?!” Dr. Crane whirled around to face Dr. Glyndor, eyes flashing. “You could’ve corrupted all of my data!”
“I’m sorry, Rowena. It wasn’t intentional…” Dr. Glyndor trailed off, unsure of what to say.
Dr. Crane pulled back her lab coat and pulled down the elastic waistband of her pants about an inch to reveal a quarter inch clear nylon zipper on her right hip. She carefully unzipped the compartment and gently extracted a micro memory card. “Well, let’s see if you ruined everything,” she sighed. She handed the card to Dr. Glyndor.
From his chair, Edgar sighed along with her. He might be all feline, but he wasn’t unmodified. His only enhancement was an ability to communicate across species. It was time to comfort the other two birds. Another undignified task.
Across the room, Dr. Glyndor was wrangling Chelsea onto a table across from a projector screen. She gently pressed Chelsea’s front left paw, causing Chelsea to sit upright. She inserted Dr. Crane’s memory card into a slot in Chelsea’s chest and briefly folded her left ear. Chelsea’s eyes emitted an eerie light.
Chapter 1.7 (by Grace)
The trio shrieked in fear and rage as the cat? dog? kittypup? appeared out of nowhere and snatched them out of thin air and dragged them into the box. Once inside, they quickly got away from the thing that looked like a cat but smelled like a dog.
Tiny shrieked in fury and began dive-bombing the kittydog. “How dare you! Do you know who I am!?” Tiny began to vibrate. And then she began to glow.
“Tiny, no!!” yelled Horatio and Eric, but it was too late.
The light around Tiny began to pulse, and then it began to grow. Everyone – all creatures and human alike – covered their eyes as the little bird seemed to grow in the light and then seemed to explode.
Tiny was no longer tiny. Or a bird. Instead, a fully clothed woman stood scowling angrily at Dr. Glyndor.
“Fiona Glyndor, we agreed that these experiments would stop! What on EARTH were you thinking splicing feline and canine genes. What is the meaning of all this!!” raged Tiny. AKA Professor Rowena Crane, head scientist of the research lab she was once again standing in after leaving two years ago.
“I go out to gather data and you’re creating…what IS that poor, undignified creature?” Professor Crane continued as she walked over to Edgar’s favorite chair to become reacquainted with her cat.
“Well Fiona? Don’t just stand there trying to catch flies. What do you have to say about all this?”
Chapter 1.6 (By Naomi)
“Chelsea, please!” Edgar implored. They had both nestled into Edgar’s favorite chair, favoring the worn tweed to the slippery leather sofa.
“Wha? Wha’d I do?” Chelsea looked around the room absently.
“Your tongue!” Edgar felt helpless trying to train this ridiculous creature.
With a flash of sterile fluorescent light, the door leading to “the back” swung open. Dr. Glyndor’s silhouette filled the doorway. She slowly approached Edgar and Chelsea, taking care not to alarm them. She carried the usual metal tray filled with pointy needles and small shiny glass vials filled with foul liquids. Edgar bristled at the sight of her. Although she gave him grief, Chelsea was still his ward.
“Chel-sea!” Sang Dr. Glyndor. “Time for your meds!”
At that very moment, a clicking noise caught the attention of all three. Edgar’s birds! The teeny tiny one was pecking at the glass of the window.
Before Edgar could stop her, Chelsea was on the table, deftly turned the lock and slid open the window. She stuck her arm outside and scooped all three birds into the room and closed the window, locking it with a click.
The little brown birds flitted nervously around the room as Edgar’s and Dr. Glyndor’s jaws silently fell open.
Chapter 1.5 (by Grace)
Eric shook himself in disgust. Horatio thought he was brave, but Tiny wasn’t afraid of anything. This did not bode well. He turned to Horatio.”Don’t just sit there with your beak open like food is gonna come to you! We have to catch up to her before she does something dumb and goes into the box!”
Eric pushed Horatio off the branch and took off after Tiny. Horatio took off after Eric.
When the boys caught up to Tiny, she was hopping back and forth on the ledge, pecking at the glass. They could hear her calling for the face.
“Hello? Big Face? Are you there? Hello? Are you okay?”
Horatio and Eric landed on the ledge by Tiny. They were both really nervous and kept fluttering up high trying to see, and also in case they needed to get away quickly. Eric narrowed his eyes.
“Hey! I think I see something in the back where the light is…” he trailed off, “…um, guys? What is that?!”
Tiny and Horatio flitted up to where Eric was to see what he was looking at in the back of the room.
Chapter 1.4 (By Naomi)
Chelsea scrambled clumsily onto the end table with Edgar. While he pretended not to notice, she reared back before pouncing on his head. While she engaged in a one-sided wrestling match with his shoulders, Edgar watched helplessly as the birds fluttered away.
Edgar sighed heavily and resolved to stay calm. His flickering tail was the only thing betraying his slight annoyance.
Finally Chelsea gave up and slumped down into a lounging position. She gazed up at him with a blank expression. Edgar averted his gaze. She was just so undignified. All of these new hybrids were.
Unlike Edgar, Chelsea had never known life outside of this home. She had only recently been released into the house section of the facility. She was created in “the back,” as Edgar thought of it. A result of designer gene modification, she was mostly feline like Edgar, but with just enough canine to cause minor frustrations in Edgar’s daily life.
For example, the utterly embarrassing pounce technique. He had worked with her for hours the day before on stealth philosophy and yet he could hear her moments before she appeared in his peripheral vision.
Edgar sighed heavily. Chelsea’s tongue lolled lazily out the side of her mouth.
There was so much work to do.