To celebrate my (finally!) getting the spine properly formatted for the print edition, here is another snippet of Vulcan’s Kittens. If you would like to read the first snippet, look here before you start on this one. To buy a print copy, click here.
Linn woke up in the morning to her grandfather shaking her shoulder. “Get up, girl, you have kittens to feed.”
“Whah?” She sat up and rubbed her eyes. She was on the couch, covered in the afghan. Sekhmet was nowhere to be seen. For a fleeting second she wondered if she had dreamed it all.
“Kittens need feeding. Sekhmet left last night, she filled their tummies before she went, but now it’s up to you.”
“Oh!” Linn sat straight up. “How do I do that?”
“Bottle of warm goat milk.” He pointed at a milk crate by the door. “Tonight you get to fill them, but you had a long night last night.”
“Thank you, Grampa.” She scrambled out of the tangle of afghan and headed for the loft and day clothes.
“Thermos is for you. Hurry now – they are crying.”
Linn could hear them when she got into the barn. Little sonic shrieks, so high she almost couldn’t make them out. Getting the milk crate up the ladder was difficult, and when she got her head above the floor she could see that all four kittens were trying to climb out of their hay bale corral. She scrambled up and patted heads. The black one sucked on her finger while she fumbled for a bottle with the other hand.
“How am I supposed to feed all of you at once?” She muttered.
She compromised by taking them out one at a time and holding them in her lap to feed. They were bigger than she remembered, even from last night, and she thought their mother must have been keeping her from seeing the reality when she first met them. Two of them – the black one and the calico – had their eyes open just a little. Full tummies meant nap time, and she cuddled the spotted one that had been last fed while the other slept in a boneless heap in their corral.
Her grandfather came in and looked up at her. “How goes it?”
“They are full. Two have their eyes open. Do they have names?”
He shrugged. “You can call them whatever you want, cats usually have several names. Their mother won’t mind.”
“When will she be back?”
“I don’t know.”
“Is she in any danger?”
He sighed. “Come on down, I’m getting a crick in my neck.”
“Grampa, last night, Mars called you Haephestus and Vulcan. And Sekhmet is an Egyptian goddess.”
He tousled her hair. “Right. I have many names. As do most immortals. We live long enough with mortals, and they start to call us gods. Then, each different culture, like the Greeks and Romans, has different names for us.”
“So all the gods of myth were really immortals? And why don’t people now still worship you?”
“Well, they don’t worship me because I don’t want them to. Never really did. Other immortals… well. A few centuries back there was a war. Spilled over down to the mortals, sadly, but the long term effect was they stopped worshipping us. Started to look beyond us to realize that the Universe is a helluva lot bigger than these petty gods they had set up, and there had to be more. There are still isolated cultures that believe, and corrupt immortals that encourage that, but the civilized world has moved on.”
Linn thought this might be the most she’d ever heard her grandfather talk.
“You were part of that, weren’t you.”
He looked down at her. He wasn’t all that much taller than she was, any more, and his craggy, bearded face hid the lopsidedness that was his downfall from Olympus in the first place.
“Maybe.” was all he said.
“I love you, Gramps.” Linn hugged him. “So what do we do now?”
Linn sensed she wasn’t going to get more out of him right then.
They ate in silence, and then he sent her back out to the kittens, with an armful of bedding. She was going to sleep in the loft with them that night. Linn amused herself with trying out names for them.
“Athena?” she picked up the calico and inspected the little blunt faced kitten. The tiny ears were more rounded than a regular kitten’s would be.
Her grandfather’s voice came up from below where he was milking the goats. “She wouldn’t be pleased to have a kitten named for her.”
“Grampa, why are their ears round?”
“Their father is a Mayan god. The Jaguar God of Terrestrial Fire.”
“I prefer to be called Steve.” Another voice entered into their conversation. His voice was slightly accented. Linn looked down from the loft at a slender black haired man. He looked up at her and smiled. “Ah, the child who watches my kittens. Buenos Dias, Senorita.”
Want the whole story? You can buy the ebook on Amazon!
Click on the cat’s eye to buy: