The cat stared back at the boy. They were both lying down, just 12 inches apart but separated by the glass in the sliding door to the patio. He had never seen this particular cat before, and he wondered where it had come from. The cat stared at him without blinking, as cats most often do.

Just as the boy began to think this would go on forever, the cat got up and left across the patio. But it was not walking on the patio, but rather 4 inches above it! The boy’s eyes got wide in disbelief, and he slid open the door so he could be sure he was actually seeing this.

The cat disappeared around the corner of the house, and the boy followed, curious to see where this cat was going. He peered around the corner, and that’s when things got strange.

Along the side of the house were a strip of green lawn and the flowers that his mom so carefully tended. At least, that’s what SHOULD have been there. Not today, though.

Instead, there was a large tar pit, completely filling the space between the house and the fence. The cat passed over this easily, still 4 inches above the ground. The boy knew he could not follow, and he stopped. Bubbles began coming to the surface of the tar, and it was obvious something was coming up from the depths.

He remained frozen in his tracks. Up through the tar came a metal structure, and he realized that it was a submarine. It surfaced, and the top hatch opened. A man stuck his head up, looked around, saw the boy, and asked, “Have you seen my cat?” The boy looked past the man and over to the fence. There was the cat, smiling at them. The boy pointed to the cat, and the man looked that direction and called, “Come along, Santa. It is time to return to the North Pole so we can round up the elves.” With that, the cat floated over to the submarine, got in and the submarine submerged.

Several thoughts went through the boy’s mind: Does Santa spend his summers as a cat? Is there a shortcut to the North Pole in his backyard? What he did know was that it was too soon to be thinking about Christmas, and that strange things happen on Halloween!

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