Text & Animations by Lucy Rand

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It all happened on a very dark and starry night, a few days before Christmas. . .

"Stardust" the cat has been an indoor cat all his life. He lived a good life with the best food and lots of love and caring from his bosses. Not that he liked everything, oh no . . . He hated injections and check-ups at the vet! His bosses wanted him to stay healthy and so he had no choice.

He was named Stardust because of the white mark on his chest in the shape of a star. Very often he stared out of the window. Sitting in front of the glass curtains looking into the garden, or at the stars when it was dark. . . Longing for all the unknown things of the great big World outside.

The bosses just brought a fresh Christmas tree in and decorated it with lots of little lights. The tree smelled lovely, the smell of outside and adventure. . . Stardust couldn't stand it any longer. He slipped out of the back door when one of his bosses came in loaded with more Christmas decorations, that had been stored all year in the garage.

Oh boy, Stardust crawled under the nearest bush shaking all over. How exciting and scary this was! He sat there sniffing all the unknown smells and listened to the outside sounds. His eyes and ears were wide opened and his heart beat like a drum!

He sat there for at least two whole hours, before he dared to walk further into the big, big dark garden. He got braver and braver. He heard his bosses calling for him and rattling with his tin of favorite cat sweets, but he ignored it. This was his chance. . .

What was that? He felt something at his nose. Cold and wet it was. He never felt this before. He looked up at the sky and saw millions and millions of little white twinkling things falling down from the sky! They landed on his fur and even on his nose. Slowly everything got covered with snow and it became very quiet.

It felt cold under his paws. . . Stardust was determined, he wasn't going home! And after some time the lights in the house went off. His bosses must have gone to sleep. . . But Stardust wasn't sleepy, far from that!

He sniffed everything he could sniff, listened to the sounds and when it was getting light again he was so tired that he fell asleep, safely hidden under a big bush. He didn't even hear his bosses calling for him. . .

Many hours later Stardust woke up again. Oh boy, his stomach was making funny noises. He felt so hungry he didn't know what to do. His bosses probably had gone to work. . .He sneaked to the house and hey. . . what did he see  near the door? His own food bowl! Filled with food and a box with a soft blanket a little bit further against the wall. That was very nice. See, the outdoor life wasn't so tough. Stardust emptied the bowl as fast as he could, looked at the house and said softly: "Thanks dear bosses" and off he went.

He played in the snow, saw all kind of critters he only knew from behind his window. He wanted to play with them, but they were scared and he had no clue why the mice ran away when they saw him, or why the birds flew off as soon as he got near.

All he wanted was some company and fun! And Stardust said:

"Oh well, if they don't want to play with me, I have to entertain myself. . ."

He climbed into a very high tree, but didn't climb high. He got scared when he wasn't even halfway and looked down.

He went very carefully down and was ever so happy when he felt the ground under his paws.

It was slowly getting dark and he heard a very familiar sound; the car of his bosses! He went back under his secret hiding bush.

"Stardust! Stardust!!!" He heard the she-boss calling for him. In fact he could see her looking around and heard her saying to he-boss. "I know he's been here. Look, all his food is gone and I see all paw prints in the snow!" She called out for him several times, but finally went inside with Stardust's empty bowl. . .

A few minutes later she placed the bowl outside again. Filled!

Stardust looked at that and knew he could easily stay outside a little longer. His bosses would take care of him! He dozed off under the bush. . .

When he woke up it was very dark. The sky twinkled from all the stars. He saw the lights one by one closing down in his house. Bosses going to bed. It was cold and very silent outside .

He stretched his legs and yawned. He went for a little walk in the garden.

But, what was that? The ground under his paws made funny cracking noises . . . Suddenly the ground disappeared and Stardust became very wet and very cold! He didn't realize that he had stepped into the pond. The ice wasn't firm enough yet to hold him.

Shivering all over, he struggled out of the pond. Feeling very sorry for himself and longing for his warm basket near the central heating inside the house.

He ran to the house, but it was dark and he really felt unhappy with this outside adventure. He cried out loud, but bosses were probably fast asleep and did not hear him. Stardust walked to his food bowl and also remembered the box with the blanket that was put down for him, maybe that was a little warm and comfortable.

Oh no! His food bowl was empty! Not a tiny little piece of food was left. Sadly he moved to the box his bosses put down for him, feeling very sorry for himself.

At the moment he went to stick his head in the box, he saw two little glowing eyes looking at him. Stardust jumped backwards.

Something was in his box! Stardust wasn't the bravest cat on Earth. It took some time before he dared to go near the box again. His fur was freezing. Icicles were hanging down from his chin. . . He had to do something!

Bravely he stood in front of the box and said: "Hey you, you there, you are sitting in my box!" A very tiny voice answered him: "Your box? I found it first!"

"But my bosses put it down for me. I want my box! Please, get out! I need a shelter because my fur is turning into ice. Also I believe you've eaten all my food and I am very, very hungry!"

He could see the eyes of the creature in the box blink. A tiny voice out off the box spoke to him: "Alright, you may come in the box, but I won't go out, remember. . . I was here first!"

"Show me first who or what you are."

A gorgeous little face peeped out of the dark. . .

"Good grief! You're a cat too!" said Stardust and he stepped in the box.

Inside the box it was a lot better and he rolled himself into a ball and he laid his head beside the little cat.

Softly the little cat said "You are really cold, let me help you" and she started to wash Stardust's face. Gently she licked the ice out of his fur and Stardust started to purr. . .

After a while he started to warm up a little, but his stomach was making funny noises.

The little cat said: "I am sorry that I ate all your food. I was so hungry. I hadn't caught a mouse or fish in days and the food in the bowl smelled so good. Maybe we better go to sleep and you will forget you are hungry."

And so they did. They didn't even notice it had started to snow again.

Stardust and the little cat woke up when a hand came into the box and the she-boss of Stardust cried out: "Oh there you are, I am so happy you came back!

She wiped off the snow, picked up the box and took it inside. "Boy it seems like you put on weight while you were gone, this box is pretty heavy."

She placed the box in the kitchen and started to fill Stardust's bowl with his favorite food and called the he-boss."Come and see who's here! Our Stardust is back!"

Stardust came out of the box and attacked his food bowl.

His bosses kept stroking him and he was purring out loud. The she-boss wanted to put the box away, she lifted it up and . . . almost dropped the box!

"What is this?" Something moved in the box and two beautiful blue eyes looked at her. "Who do we have here? Is this your girlfriend, Stardust?" The little cat was scared and tried to hide in the box, but two gentle hands took her out and placed her next to Stardust, who had already almost emptied his food bowl. The she-boss filled the bowl again and said: "Here you are little one, some food for you too."

The little cat couldn't resist the food. She looked shyly at she-boss and started to eat.

Together the bosses looked at the eating cats. "What a cute couple they make. Lets keep her. Maybe Stardust won't run away again when there is another cat in the house."

So it happened. The little one came to live with Stardust. They named her 'Shy'.  From that day on, Stardust and Shy sat together looking out of the window and became the best friends ever. . .

he End

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