It’s Me – Chapter 17

These are all fictional books and there are 152 books to read, which should keep me going for a while if I want to lose myself in a fictional world.

On the next bookshelf are the books about real things. Books about facts. Books about religions especially Eastern religions such as Hinduism, Shinto, and Zen Buddhism. Volumes on philosophy fill one row, mainly lists giving high-level explanations about the teachings of philosophers from Socrates to Bertrand Russell. A book of maps called an atlas intrigues me as all neighbouring countries are outlined in different colours, but this makes sense because how would you otherwise know whether you were in Germany or Denmark other than by checking the colour of the ground under your feet, light-blue for Germany and pink for Denmark? Another row of books are on Ancient History from the Babylonians to the Egyptians to the Greeks to the Romans. Science completed the factual bookcase with books on neutrinos, anti-matter, and parallel universes. This is all wonderful news and I can’t wait to get started, but I do need to revisit the library to compare and contrast the books here with the books there. I should also make sure the blue-haired librarian is fine and has stopped crying.

A noise on the other side of the door attracts my attention and I immediately feign sleep on the floor with my paws tucked up to my tummy and chest. The door opens and the male human comes into the room:

“Oh look, he’s still asleep. He’s still convalescing from yesterday.” Julian comes across and rubs my tummy, which I enjoy for about five seconds, before realising that the thing is empty. My tummy is empty and there’s a gurgling sound to emphasize the point.       

“Come on, Freddie,” he says, “that nasty Gemma cat is still locked away, so you can enjoy your food in peace and poo to your heart’s content.”

This sounds like feline heaven and I scamper downstairs with no second invitation. Gemma’s bowl is empty but mine is full of important nourishment for my future growth as a distinguished cat whose intellect is celebrated. I’ve decided that as a Buddhist cat, who knows maybe even a Zen Buddhist cat, I should not gulp my food but should eat serenely, calmly, slowly, and with respect. I approach the bowl and give it a little bow, before selecting each kibble individually and swallowing it whole. The meat parts I decide to chew 42 times, because I once read a book that said 42 was the answer to everything. Eating in this respectful manner seems to take a lot longer, but by the time I’ve finished the humans have gone out to work and I feel full, because my brain has registered the fact my stomach is full of food. In fact, I leave some food in the bowl for later, which is unheard for me. However, it makes sense because I can now have a sleep for two hours or so and then have a quick snack before getting some exercise, and using up those calories, by trying to climb the vertical rose staircase and then climbing the vine to the library window, a gentler incline with less chance of being affected by gravity. Talking of gravity, I should find a book on gravity in the library, so I can discover how to recognise it before it sneaks up on me and causes me to fall off things. Wherever it comes from, it’s very quick to take advantage of my predicament and I end up landing on my paws with a surprised look on my face.

I decide to try and sleep on some more books in the hope I can absorb their teachings when asleep. I determine the philosophy section would be one to try and I crawl in between the books and the shelf above. At the end of the row, one book is taller than the rest and so acts as a pillow. This is called The Republic by Plato. I rest my head on The Republic by Plato and fall asleep immediately. I have strange dreams about old white men with beards asking and answering questions while waiting for someone to die by drinking something poisonous. Some sleep is restful, some sleep is relaxing, but this sleep is energy-sapping and when I wake up my head is spinning. Scanning the books, I decide to sleep in the other direction next time, as then my head would be resting on a selection of Sufi poems about love. I might be able to dream about my mum.

Published by Julian Worker

Julian was born in Leicester, attended school in Yorkshire, and university in Liverpool. He has been to 94 countries and territories and intends to make the 100 when travel is easier. He writes travel books, murder / mysteries and absurd fiction. His sense of humour is distilled from The Marx Brothers, Monty Python, Fawlty Towers, and Midsomer Murders. His latest book is about a Buddhist cat who tries to help his squirrel friend fly further from a children's slide.

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