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A Letter from Onyx

Want to see what it’s like when a kitten writes a letter? Here’s the first letter Onyx wrote to a boy named Jackson. (Jackson has two black cats of his own, named Trix and Jeb.)

Dear Jackson,

This is the time of year when all black cats find their magical power. We are always charming, of course. You know that. But in this magic month of October we can also charm. Ask Trix and Jeb about it. They know.

I am just a kitten, and my magic is not full grown. My claws are sharp as needles and my fur is silky soft.

Wait! A mouse!

I may be just a kitten, but I am a mighty hunter. The mouse got away, for now. But we will see!

Today my Human Family went out in their car. When they came back they brought a Pumpkin with them. They set it on the doorstep. “That will do for now,” said the Woman.

I love the Woman. She rubs me under my chin and I purr for her. But not when there is a Pumpkin to meet. No! She tried to pick me up. I bit her.

The Pumpkin was round and fat. It was orange and smooth with shiny skin. I rubbed my face against it and it smiled against my fur.

“Hello, kitten,” said the Pumpkin.

“Hello, Jack,” I said. Pumpkins are called Jack O’Lantern. Everyone knows that.

“My name is Lucy,” said the Pumpkin. “Not Jack. Not Jill. Not Joseph nor Jemima. I am Lucy O’Lantern, pleased to meet you. What’s your name, Kitten?”

“I am Onyx, the Great and Terrible,” I said, baring my white teeth. A butterfly fluttered by. I jumped in the air to catch it, but it fluttered too high.

“That’s nice,” said Lucy. “I can tell this is a friendly place. Calm and peaceful. Kind and snuggly. A perfect place for a Pumpkin to relax.”

This Pumpkin knew nothing at all. I could tell she was going to need a lot of help. It wasn’t just that her name was all wrong. She didn’t have a clue.

“It’s October,” I told her.

“Lovely!” she said.

“Halloween is coming,” I said.

“My favorite!” she said.

“You have a job to do,” I meowed, sternly.

She looked at me.

“What job?” she asked.

See, I told you she didn’t have a clue. She’s lucky I’m here.  

I explained it to her. All through the month of October, the Creatures of Darkness get ready for Halloween. Witches and ghosts, werewolves and vampires, they all come out to play. They prowl around at night. They peer in people’s windows. Then when Halloween comes they spook and scare and scream and knock things over, and fright all the human people out of their wits.

Not me, though. They don’t scare me. I am a Black Cat, and I know better.

“Oh, my goodness,” said the Pumpkin. “That sounds terrifying.”

“It is,” I said, “For human people.”

“I’m glad I’m a Pumpkin,” said the Pumpkin.

So then I told her about her job. I told her how a Pumpkin sits on a doorstep, and frightens the Creatures of the Night away. A Pumpkin must be scarier than the scariest monster, spookier than the spookiest ghost, wartier than the wartiest witch, and definitely braver than the humans. A Pumpkin must Serve and Protect.

Lucy was quiet for a while. Then she spoke.

“I am a friendly Pumpkin,” she said, thoughtfully, “and I am not very big. Being scary may be hard to do. I will have to use my brain for this. It is a problem and a puzzle. Must I do it all on my own?”

“You are the only Pumpkin they brought home,” I said. “But maybe the Humans will set out other things to help you. Scary tombstones in the garden, bats and spiders in the tree. That kind of thing. And they will carve you a truly monstrous face. All who behold you shall tremble! Except me, of course. Nothing scares me.”

“That sounds very useful indeed,” said Lucy. “What is your job, Kitten?”

“I am a kitten,” I told her. “I don’t do work.”

Just at that moment the front door opened. The Man and the Child came out. The Man was carrying a box of things, and he put it down on the step by the Pumpkin. The Child reached in to the box and pulled things out, one by one.

A fluffy owl! A tiny toad! Friendly Creatures of the Night with a welcome sign! Painted wooden pumpkins that say “Happy Halloween!”

“Oh, no, no, no, no, no,” I meowed. “That’s not right at all. None of those things are scary at all. Lucy, what are we going to do?”

Then the Man picked up the Pumpkin.

“Are we going to carve it, Daddy?” asked the Child.

“No, my little bunny,” said the Man. “I have a better idea.” He reached into the box one more time, and pulled out a pair of frog legs, some bulgy eyes and a purple hat, and a little smiley mouth with a sticky-out tongue.

The Child and the Man put all of these things on poor Lucy, until she looked like a fat little orange frog.

“There!” said the Man, proudly. “That’s not too scary, is it? We have the friendliest Halloween house in the neighborhood.”

They went inside and closed the door.

I looked at Lucy. Lucy looked at me.

“It’s a disaster,” I said.

“Ribbit,” she said, sadly.

“We have to do better,” I said.

“Ribbit,” she agreed.

The Creatures of the Night will be prowling around tonight, and tomorrow night, and every night till Halloween. If they see this house they will laugh and laugh till they roll around in the street.

I can’t let that happen. I have my pride.

There’s no way around it. I will have to help this Pumpkin. I will save my Human Family from the big trouble they are in. But I’m not sure what to do. It is true that I am Onyx, the Great and Terrible, but I am only a little kitten and my magic is not full grown. You are a kind person, Jackson. Trix and Jeb have told me. May I write to you and tell you what happens? It will be good to have a Human Friend who understands.

I am sending you the fluffy owl that the Humans put on the doorstep. Do you see how it is not scary AT ALL? This is what we have to deal with.

Oh! There’s that mouse!

I have to run, Jackson! I have to run, and jump, and pounce, and scamper, and chase my tail. You know how it is. But I will write again soon!

Love from your kitten friend,

Onyx, The Great and Terrible