Disclaimer: This short story is a work of fiction - while the names of real Buffy staff writters have been used, the situations and reactions attributed to them did not, except in the bizarre mind of Dachelle. Buffy the Vampire Slayer and its characters are the property of Joss Whedon/Mutant Enemy; Miss Kitty Fantastico is presumably still the property of Willow. No reproduction of this story is allowed without the written consent of the author. Comments/criticism/lavish praise should be directed to .
The Kitten Schemes Tonight
“What a beautiful day to be stuck inside writing,” Drew Goddard observed under his breath as he walked through the doors of Mutant Enemy.
Not that he wasn’t happy to be there, of course – to have a steady writing job in L.A. as a staff writer for a show he’d loved for years was more than he’d dared to hope for when he first entered the business. And he’d definitely enjoyed getting to see the Buffy studios and meet the staff; he even enjoyed talking to the somewhat crazed fans. But now the fun was over, and actual work awaited.
He walked down the hallway and opened the door to his office. Once inside, Drew looked around him at the mess that had been Steve DeKnight’s workspace. Actually, it was in a far better state than DeKnight had left it; it was akin to the difference between a natural disaster area immediately after the disaster and a month after the arrival of FEMA teams. Some of the items DeKnight abandoned still made him alternately wonder and shudder: the lovingly-framed autographed photo of O-Town, the videocassette labeled “DeKnight Does DeKalb,” the pair of pants stuffed behind the filing cabinet Drew gingerly extracted with salad tongs.
Drew had just bent down to retrive a Battleship Earth John Travolta doll from its hiding place beneath the desk when one of the elder staff writers, Drew Greenberg, appeared.
“Ultimate Drew!” Greenberg exclaimed, using Drew’s new nickname.
“Golden Age Drew!” Drew retorted in kind.
“Are you up for the meeting on the Big Bad episode today? You look a little tired,” Greenberg observed.
“I haven’t gotten a lot of sleep the past couple of nights, to be honest,” Drew said.
“It’s the stress of having a steady writing gig, kid,” Greenberg said. “Once you get into the groove of things around here it’ll get easier, although I can’t say it ever completely goes away.”
“Yeah, I’m sure you’re right,” Drew replied. “It would also help if someone could shut up the cat that’s been yowling outside my window every night.”
“Why don’t you tell its owner to shut it up?” Greenberg asked.
“That’s the crazy thing – no one in my neighborhood has a cat. I’ve called Animal Control to get it, but every time they show up the cat vanishes.” Drew threw up his hands in exasperation. “I don’t know what to do. It’s so weird, like it’s a phantom banshee cat or something.”
“Maybe it’s Miss Kitty Fantastico, back from the dead,” Greenberg suggested, doing his best Vincent Price.
“Who?” Drew asked, confused. His mind took a moment to make the connection. “Oh, Willow and Tara’s cat, you mean? Whatever happened to that cat? She disappeared in the middle of season five.”
“So did the cat who played her.”
“Really?” Drew’s tone was incredulous.
“Yeah, her handler said she took off one night and they weren’t able to find her again,” Greenberg answered. “After that happened we stopped writing the character. Of course that sparked all kinds of speculation on the Bronze Beta about the true whereabouts of Miss Kitty Fantastico.”
“I’m not surprised. The people on that board are interesting, to say the least,” Drew said, remembering his last visit when two women engaged in a posting spat over which one he loved more. That was disturbing, if slightly ego-gratifying. And kind of exciting once he’d mentally pictured the women as Claudia Schiffer and Heidi Klum. Reluctantly, he pushed that image out of his mind and continued pressing Greenberg for information.
“What do they think happened to her?”
“There’s a club full of posters who believe Miss Kitty Fantastico is off plotting to become the next Big Bad and destroy Sunnydale.” Greenberg chuckled. “It’s crazy, I know – though not any crazier than DeKnight’s theory that the cat developed a heroin addiction and fell in with a pimping tom on Sunset.”
Drew laughed for a moment, then grew serious again.
“So we really don’t know where the cat is?”
“Sure we do – outside your window!”
Drew’s eyes involuntarily widened, and he suddenly felt himself breaking out in a cold sweat.
“What’s wrong, Drew? You’re beginning to look ill,” Greenberg observed. “Did my Miss Kitty Fantastico story scare you?”
Drew swallowed hard in response. Greenberg slapped his back and shepherded him to the conference room.
“Don’t take things so seriously, Drew,” Greenberg advised. “After all, it’s just a T.V. show.”
The two Drews were the last writers into the conference room. Around the table, the other Mutant Enemy staff members were deep into coffee and casual conversations. At the head of the table, Joss Whedon noticed the Drews’ arrival and with a clearing of his throat the buzz died down immediately.
“Well, Drew Two, I see you’re the last to arrive. You must have a high sense of job security,” Joss said drolly. Drew laughed nervously.
To his right, Marti Noxon began to speak.
“As we all know, this meeting is to discuss the episode where we introduce the season’s Big Bad,” she said. “In what might be described as either a bold or foolish move, we’ve chosen to assign the writing for this episode to our newest staff member, Drew Goddard. Congratulations, Drew.”
Drew blinked in surprise.
“Now…” Marti started.
“Excuse me,” Drew said. “Can you repeat that?”
“She said that you’ll be writing the next episode,” Joss answered. “Unless you’d rather give it to someone else? I’m sure Fury would love to take a swing at it, although he’d probably just make Spike evil again and then we’d have more fans writing combusting letters.”
Across the table from Drew, Jane Espenson looked suddenly worried.
“I don’t think we need to give it to Fury, do we, Joss?” she asked. “I mean, if Drew doesn’t want to write the episode you could always give it to me. I have range, I can do drama and action just as well as comedy…”
“No, no,” Drew interjected frantically. “You don’t have to give the job to someone else. I’d love to write the episode. I’m – surprised, that’s all.”
“Well, based on your previous work we think you can handle it,” Joss said. “And, if you can’t, we’ll just kick you out on the streets like Miss Kitty Fantastico.”
Drew’s mind raced wildly. He didn’t just say…no, of course not. Your mind is playing tricks on you, Drew. It’s the lack of sleep. Now wake up and pay attention.
He tuned back into the discussion.
“And of course we’ll have to deal with the repercussions of Dawn’s actions in the second episode,” Joss said. “I want to see a lot of Willow in this episode, too.”
“There are many people who want to see a lot of Willow, Joss,” Marti cracked, drawing laughter from the rest of the table.
“True enough,” Joss conceded. “But seriously, I think the pivotal point in this episode is the scene where Buffy is attacked by a horde of angry cats.”
Cats? No, idiot, that’s not what he said. You have got to focus – this is your big chance to make a mark on Buffy history and you’re blowing it with your pussy obsession! O.K., maybe that was the wrong choice of words there, but you know what you…I…whoever mean, right?
Drew tried to focus intently on Joss. He stared at the movement of Joss’s lips while his hand scribbled down notes. Occasionally he was distracted by an odd meowing sound in the back of the room, but he pretended not to notice it. There is no cat trying to destroy me, he told himself over and over. There is no cat in this room. There is nothing even remotely resembling a cat anywhere in the Mutant Enemy office.
So why does Joss look like a cat?
Drew rubbed his eyes. When he opened them again, to his horror everyone at the table had transformed into cats – Greenberg was a smiling tabby, Joss a quick-eyed calico, and Jane was a rather fetching Siamese….
This is insane, Drew. You’ve managed to turn the most important meeting in your screenwriting existence into an off-Broadway production of Cats. If Marti climbs on top of the desk and starts singing “Memory,” this brain is done with you, do you hear me? Now stop acting like Sally Field and listen to what Joss is saying….
“Great!” Joss exclaimed. “I think we’ve all got a pretty good feel for how the season is going from this point on. So, Drew, Marti can expect to have your rough draft by the end of the day tomorrow, right?”
Tomorrow? Had they even discussed who the Big Bad was yet? Drew looked down at his clipboard. To his horror, instead of notes about the episode he discovered that he’d filled an entire page with repetitions of the sentence “Can’t sleep. Cats will get me.”
Drew stifled a gasp, composed himself, and met Joss’s eyes with a fake smile.
“Tomorrow?” he repeated. “No problem.”
Drew approached his office with a sense of dread. He couldn’t write the episode because he didn’t know what happened at the meeting, but he couldn’t ask what happened at the meeting because he’d be fired. Of course, if he didn’t write the episode he’d also be fired.
Admit it, Drew – you’re screwed.
Disheartened, Drew sank into his chair, wishing he could curl up into a ball and die. Outside, he heard the tread of footsteps coming down the hall towards his office. Drew silently prayed that the footsteps would not stop at his door, and especially that they wouldn’t belong to Joss.
As the footsteps approached, Drew could see that they belonged to Drew Greenberg, and that he showed no sign of stopping in for a visit. He did, however, reach out his hand and tossed a clipped-together sheaf of papers on Drew’s desk as he passed.
Drew kicked his chair from the desk to the doorway and called after him.
“Hey, Golden Age, what’s that for?”
Greenberg turned around.
“Early birthday present,” he answered with a grin before continuing on his way.
Drew furrowed his brow in confusion and rolled his chair back into the room. Curious, he glanced at the other Drew’s gift. He let out a small whoop of joy when he discovered that the pages contained what seemed like an exact transcript of the meeting with Joss. Drew was so happy he kissed the pages.
“I love you Drew Greenberg!” he shouted. Outside, two female assistants paused in their journey to Marti’s office and giggled. Drew leapt out of his chair and went to the door.
“That’s in a completely platonic way, you understand,” he explained. The women nodded their heads, biting their lips into serious lines.
“Good,” Drew said, suddenly even more embarrassed. He slunk back into the office and slumped in his chair. Down the hall, he heard a burst of high-pitched laughter.
Note to self: no more spontaneous outbursts of affection for other staff members.
Armed with the notes, Drew turned to his computer and pushed the power button.
He punched it again, harder.
Drew tried frantically tapping on the button. Still the monitor stayed blank.
He stopped for a moment to think. He bit his lip, wishing that he’d inherited a bit more of the Goddard family’s technical acumen.
Think, Drew. Every day pimply faced teenagers with high school diplomas manage to repair computers; surely you, an adult with a college degree, can do it. Maybe something’s jammed. No, wait, jamming only happens in printers. And in that one scene in Spaceballs. Maybe something’s off in the sub-micro subatomic subprocessor. That sounds made up, Drew. There’s no such thing as a sub-micro subatomic subprocessor. Maybe you should have spent less time watching movies like Spaceballs and more time reading computer manuals. Maybe this is a sign from God that you are wasting your life as a television writer and you should just go back to school and get that degree in electrical engineering like your parents wanted. Maybe….
His eyes suddenly latched on to the bundle of wires poking out from the back of the CPU.
Maybe it’s unplugged.
Drew leaned under the desk and pulled at the cord. It was still plugged in, but there was definitely something wrong with the cord. The wires were exposed, the outer covering scraped away. As if it’s been chewed, like a cat pulling on a string. There was definitely no chance of getting the computer working again any time soon, and Drew doubted he could wrest a computer away from one of the other staff writers, even if only for an afternoon. Working at home it is, then. Gathering his notes, Drew turned out the lights in his office and pulled the door shut. As he did so, he felt something large and furry brush against his leg. Drew jumped back and looked around. He saw nothing.
Rat, he thought, waving from his mind the idea of exchanging the first letter in that word.
Drew hugged his papers tighter and set off towards the parking lot.
“Home sweet home,” Drew muttered to himself as he turned the lock to his house. Passing through the living room, he stuffed the remote under the sofa cushions to remove the temptation to watch T.V. and resigned himself to settling in for a long night of writing. Drew checked the time. It was already two in the afternoon; or, from an optimist’s point of view, it was only two in the afternoon. His head ached from the morning’s stresses. Perhaps a nap would help – wouldn’t he write better if he was refreshed? Drew kicked off his shoes and lay back on the half-made bed. He reached over to the nightstand and set the alarm to go off in an hour. An hour, and he would be fully rested. Plenty of time to write…plenty….of….
Drew dropped off to a fitful sleep.
He was awakened by a thunderclap. Drew shot up in bed, thinking for a moment he must still be dreaming because everyone knows there are no thunderstorms in Southern California. But he wasn’t dreaming, as the streams of water running down the darkened windows confirmed. Wait, dark? Drew picked up the clock. There was no time displayed; the clock had stopped working, maybe sometime during the storm. Drew smacked it and let out a frustrated roar. As he put the clock down, he noticed that the cord was frayed, in the same manner as the computer at work. It’s nothing, he told himself. A trick of the light – or dark. At the most it means you have a small rodent problem, not a large mammal problem. He wandered into the hallway, flicking on a light switch. No light.
“This is great, just great,” Drew said to himself. He saw his career washing away with the mud outside his front door. Dumbly, he continued on to his office, although he knew the chances of the computer turning on were –
Apparently pretty good. Drew stared in amazement as the screen booted up. He began to sit down to write, then jumped back up again at a crashing sound from the kitchen. Cautiously, Drew made his way towards the noise, walking back through the living room and peeking over the bar into the kitchen.
What Drew saw made him quake with terror, far more than any scene in a B horror movie, even more than the prospect of Macaulay Culkin making a successful comeback. What he saw was –
A cat. A large, dark, apparently female cat surrounded by broken glass shards and licking a puddle of spilled milk from the floor.
Drew moved gingerly toward it.
“Shoo,” he said, trying to sound confident and commanding. “Scat! Get out of here.”
The cat turned and considered him briefly, then returned to her milk.
“No, no milk – out.”
The cat continued lapping noisily.
“O.K., Miss Kitty Fantastico or whoever you are…”
Suddenly, the cat hissed and ran from the kitchen, disappearing into the darkness. Drew looked around, confused. He heard a plaintive meow from his office, and followed the sound.
“This night is not turning out well at all,” he said.
The cat was perched on top of his keyboard.
“Yeah, this definitely is not what I wanted you to do,” he said to the cat, reaching down to pick her up. “It’s been fun, but I’m afraid you’re going to have to leave now.”
Before he could successfully extract the cat from his workspace, she slashed at him with a razor sharp claw, hissing.
Drew stepped back, cradling his right hand. She had drawn blood.
“Fine,” he said. “Just fine. I know what you want me to do. But you’re not going to win, you see. I can wait you out.”
He wheeled out of the room and walked to the living room sofa, digging the remote from underneath the cushion.
“I’ll just watch T.V.,” he muttered to himself, clicking futilely before he remembered the power was out.
“That’s alright,” he said loudly. “I don’t need a T.V. to keep myself entertained. I’ll be fine sitting here, listening to the rain.”
Yep, he thought, just listening to the rain.
Drip, drip, drip.
Soothing, like a nature tape.
Or Chinese water torture.
Soon the sound of water was mingled with something else. He heard the sound of clicking across a keyboard. That darn cat is ruining my computer! He raced back into the study. As he entered the doorway, the clicking stopped.
Drew looked at the computer to see the cat lying contentedly across the keyboard. Shaking his head, he turned to go back into the living room. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw something scroll across the computer screen. He walked back into the darkness, squinting to make out the sentence in the marquee.
“All…work…and no…play makes…Drew a…dull boy,” he read.
“All work and no play makes Drew a dull boy?” he repeated, confused.
Then the full significance of that sentence hit.
My God, I’m in a Stephen King novel, he realized. The Shining meets Cat’s Eye. That cat is going to come after me with a knife. Or a car. Or a clown. I hope it’s not a clown. I’m scared to death of clowns. I remember that birthday party I had when I was five, when - Oh, God, the cat’s moving. She’s going to…
Meow. The cat sat up and meowed plaintively, cocking her head towards the screen. Drew followed her gaze.
“I can’t do it,” Drew said, shaking his head.
The cat drew back her ears and hissed again as a bright bolt of lightning lit the room. Her tail twirled back and forth menacingly.
“These games won’t work, do you hear me?” Drew asserted, escalating in volume and tone. Beads of sweat were forming on his forehead, and he was wringing his hands like a madman. “I’m not getting fired over this! I’m not changing Joss’s vision! Miss Kitty Fantastico will not be the next Big Bad, so help me God, Buddha, Zeus and any other deity who might be listening! I will not give in! I am the writer! I have control! I have control! I…have….”
The cat let out what sounded for all the world like a scornful meow, then jumped from the keyboard to the carpet. She promptly began grooming herself.
Shaking, Drew took his chair and sat with an audible thump. He began tentatively pecking at the keyboard, sneaking a nervous glance back at the cat. She observed him with bored eyes, yawning and licking her exposed incisors. Drew turned his attention to the screen again.
“Scene one,” he typed. “Enter Sunnydale’s newest Big Bad, Miss Kitty Fantastico.”
The cat purred in approval.
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