Cat, Brush, Bottle

As the sun set on the horizon, Marnie brushed her hair while gazing at herself in the mirror. Since high school, Marnie had a morbid curiosity with death, the macabre and conspiracy. Her first blog was called “The Gael Gal”. She wrote about clandestine groups, conspiracies and other general oddities from around Caithness county, or Gallaibh as some of the old ones call it. Of late, one in particular has been coming up frequently: the little man of Morven in Aberdeenshire. A native of Ballater, Marnie has been to Morven many times with family, friends, courtesans and alone with her Labrador Retriever, Donn (brown) Scotch. Donn Scotch, a mild-mannered madra (dog), spends most of his time sitting or laying down near Marnie. On rare occasions Donn Scotch would wander off chasing feral cats, squirrels and rabbits. Today, as Marnie sets small cameras on nearby trees, brush and around the mountain, his behavior is no different.

Marnie finishes placing the last camera and looks over at Donn Scotch, whose ears are perked up and twitching with each crackle and snapping twig. He leaps to his feet, alert and stoic. Spotting a large red cat, he sprints into the thicket, but immediately stops and walks backwards. He sits down, then lies down and whimpers. Staring Donn Scotch down, the red tabby licks a paw and rubs its face. “Ya dinae happen to see a water bottle, have ye laddie?” the cat asks, serious and impatient. “Well, are ye gonna speak or ye gonna stare, man? This is no time for jests. Me water bottle had some fairy spit. D’ye ken how hard it is to ask a fairy to spit in a bottle so’s I can drink it, boy-o? It weren’t cheap, and it weren’t something I’m proud of, so speak up. Come on, it’s me, Lars,” Lars, in the form of a cat, declares. Lars stares at Dunn Scotch, who perks up again and looks behind Lars. Turning around, Lars feline eyes open wide and his pupils dilate. Lars quickly turns back to Dunn Scotch, says, “My apologies. Woof, woof and all that, laddie,” and marches toward the other lab.

Marnie smiles as she catches Dunn Scotch staring at the departing cat. “Dunny!” she calls out, eliciting a bark as her dog scrambles back to her. Marnie scratches behind his ears. “Whose yer little friend? He’s a well-fed bugger, en’t he,” she remarks. She hops in her with Dunn, pulls a laptop from a satchel and plugs a stick into a USB port. “Alright, I can see all twelve video panels. Let’s rewind and see how the set up went, aye, Dunny?” she inquires, excited. Dunn Scotch barks back.

Reviewing the video, a man’s voice comes in loud and clear. “Of all the nonsense… I swear, this is cacamas! Pure and utter shite!” he grumbles. Leaves crunch, twigs snap and a cat prances in front of the video feed. Marnie’s jaw drops. “Mother of Memphis, how’d I lose it? Must be in these bushes!” the large red cat yells. He weaves through the bushes, clearly recorded on three of the twelve feeds. Then, Dunn Scotch approaches him. Overtaken by joy, curiosity and slight terror, Marnie slams her laptop shut and jumps out of her vehicle. She runs toward where the cat was, but in all her excitement, she trips over a smooth boulder and twists her ankle. The rock rolls beside Marnie’s head and the scent of roses, ripe peaches and strawberries fills her with a mysterious, wonderful sensation. She inhales the fragrance, while passing another eye over the boulder and reaching for it.

“It’s metal,” she says, running her fingers around its smooth, but jagged surface. Her fingers touch a thin grove. “It’s an inscription, but I can nae read it. It’s nuthin’ I’ve ever seen before,” Marnie mutters to herself. She finds another groove in the shape of a ring. “It twists? Oh my, it’s a lid? That fragrance…” Marnie looks around and shouts, “I found yer bottle, ye hefty furball. Iffin ye want it back, meet me outside the Deeside Inn on Victoria Road!”

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