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
"The power of voodoo!" Patches said, whispering the last word
"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 of VOODOO!"
"Not that again. What voodoo?"
"REMIND me of the man!" Patches started to crack up into a
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
"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."
"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
"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
"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,
"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
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
"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?"
"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
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
"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
"Nooooo!" the cub said.
"And you're ABSOLUTLEY sure you are a bear, right?" Patches
"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
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
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
"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
"YEP!" Kim said "Dad said that we'll come back! Will you
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
"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