The Journey Begins
Alby opened his golden eyes to the sound of an unusual buzzing noise emanating from somewhere inside the house; his black-and-white fur fluffed up due to this rude awakening. He jumped out of his comfy cat bed and immediately stretched his back revealing a sagging belly that almost touched the floor. His ears moved to focus on the disturbance, and he began to follow the sound to its source.
Alby’s investigation led him from a cozy family room into a long, dark hallway with multiple bedroom doors on both sides. He realized the sound originated behind a closed door located at the end of the hallway – Professor Wizoom’s laboratory. Alby thought, What in the world did Professor Wizoom build this time? The noise grew louder as he cautiously approached the laboratory door and pushed his paw against it. The door creeped open and Alby’s eyes grew to the size of two food bowls; he saw a new metallic, triangular door frame. He nervously walked closer and saw that all three panels of the door frame were equipped with circuit boards, flashing lights, and steam vents. Alby thought, I know Wizoom has an incredible imagination, but this is his weirdest invention yet. Why is this door shaped like a triangle?
Sitting at a desk lined with beakers, gadgets, and a computer monitor, Wizoom looked down and saw that Alby had entered the lab.
“Hello there, Alby, did all that noise wake you from your never-ending cat nap?"
Alby meowed in response to Wizoom’s question. Wizoom smiled and immediately went back to work. Alby watched Wizoom’s brown eyes strain behind thick glasses as he wrote hundreds of lines of code on his computer screen; the light from the screen illuminated his narrow face’s dark skin. His black, curly hair was peppered with silver streaks representing many years of wisdom. Wizoom took a break from writing code, and Alby watched his tall friend walk closer to the door holding a wrench. He tightened a few bolts on one of the door panels and rewired a few circuits.
Wizoom confidently spoke, “I have just a few more adjustments before my upcoming test. All three panels are now connected and activated!”
He glanced at Alby. “My friend, one night I had a wonderful dream. I saw myself opening a triangular door and was consumed by light as I walked through. I couldn’t see what was on the other side, but I knew I had to open this door. Since I was a boy, I wanted to be an astronaut and bravely travel to unexplored worlds. More than anything, I wished to shake the hand of a being from another planet. But, as I grew older, I discovered that engineering was my true passion. I never became an astronaut, but my desire to explore a new world was a flame that never burned out. In fact, that flame recently grew into an inferno. You see, I no longer need a spaceship to travel to another world; I can simply walk through this door.” The professor looked down at Alby and smiled. “I know you don’t understand anything I’m saying, but promise me you won’t touch anything in this lab while I work on this project.”
Alby meowed in frustrated agreement. Not being able to speak to Wizoom annoyed Alby, especially when his empty belly growled louder than usual. But he had to remind himself that cats were unable to pronounce words.
“Thank you, my furry friend, now it’s time to get back to work!” Wizoom exclaimed. He reached down to reward Alby with a delicious treat and a scratch behind the ears, two things Alby enjoyed more than anything.
While Alby gobbled up his treat, he thought to himself, I hope Wizoom knows what he’s doing. This is the craziest invention yet and I don’t want anything bad to happen to him when he walks through! What if he vanishes and never returns? Living as a stray cat for two years was dangerous enough! Alby tried to forget about how his previous owner abandoned him when he was a kitten. The memory of fighting with other cats for garbage scraps and the stress of trying to sleep on a cold, rainy night was still fresh in his feline mind. He would be forever grateful to his dear friend, Professor Wizoom, for warmly welcoming a starving cat into his home. Alby’s mind dwelled on the past as he strolled back to his bed. He thought, I can’t thank you enough for taking care of me, Professor Wizoom. I wish I could tell you how much I care for you, but I’m just a cat that can’t speak your language. Alby curled up in his bed and directed his thoughts on the finer things in life: eating delicious cat treats, playing with string, and trying to catch that elusive red dot. Above all, Alby’s favorite activity was pushing his black nose on the kitchen faucet to drink fresh water. He hated drinking stagnant water from an old bowl. The problem was Alby was unable to turn the faucet back off and it would run all day unless Wizoom was there to turn it off. Alby knew Wizoom didn’t mind, since he never complained and was always amused with Alby’s antics. These comforting thoughts helped Alby calm himself and he now began to purr with positivity as he drifted off to sleep.
Later that evening, Alby awoke to the sound of electrical snaps and a much louder buzzing noise radiated from Wizoom’s lab. Startled, he walked back down the hallway toward the lab that was now illuminated by colorful, flashing lights that crept through the cracks of the door. Alby pushed his nose on the door to open it and forced his way back into the glowing lab.
His brilliant friend yelled, “Eureka, it works!”
Alby was astonished to see that Wizoom’s metal door frame was now glowing brilliantly. Each panel gleamed a distinct color: green, orange, and purple. Electrical sparks bounced off the panels like the fireflies Alby enjoyed catching in the backyard, and steam bellowed through the vents. Wizoom looked down to find Alby staring at the animated door and carefully picked him up.
“My friend, I think my dream became a reality tonight. I need to run one more test before I know it’s safe to open. I cannot explain it, but I have a feeling I was meant to build this doorway!”
As usual, Alby enjoyed seeing his friend so cheerful, but he feared an unknown future after that door was finally opened.
Wizoom walked toward the door and pressed a large green button located on the frame. The panel lights began to dim, and the sparks stopped jumping. Wizoom looked at Alby with a wide grin. “I cannot wait to see what lies on the other side of this door.” He paused for a few seconds and took a deep breath. “It’s time to go to bed, Alby. I need my rest so I have the energy to finish my final calculations. I’m so excited, I’m not sure I’ll be able to sleep at all tonight!”
Alby followed his friend out of the lab and quickly jumped back into his bed in the family room.
Wizoom looked down at Alby and smiled. “Good night, my friend. I think tomorrow is going to be a momentous day.”
Alby’s mind immediately began to nervously race with visions of dangerous scenarios. I just know something bad will happen when Wizoom opens that thing. He will vanish and never return! Who will fill my growling belly? Who will take care of me? Alby noticed that he was panting and took a deep breath to calm himself. Okay, okay…I need to relax. Perhaps there are delicious treats on the other side of that door? Try to think positive, Alby. Don’t give yourself a feline heart attack! He maneuvered his sagging belly over the side of his bed and curled up inside of it, but his fearful mind kept him awake for at least another hour until finally drifting off to sleep. The day’s excitement and worry took a toll on this unadventurous housecat and he slept deeper than usual.
When he awoke the next morning, Alby noticed that the house was unusually quiet; the smell of fresh coffee was also absent from the kitchen. Most importantly, his food bowl was empty. He pondered, Where did Wizoom go and where is my breakfast? He called out with the mightiest of meows, but there was no response. He wondered if his friend was outside and proceeded to walk through a series of pet doors into the front yard, backyard, and garage. The fact that Wizoom’s car was still in the driveway left Alby horribly nervous. He thought, Oh no, he couldn’t have. Don’t tell me he opened that door! He raced back into the lab like a cheetah he once saw on a nature documentary—the lab was empty.
Alby’s mind began to speed out of control yet again. Where is he?! I thought that door wasn’t ready yet? Or was it? What should I do?! Alby began to pant like a dog. He desperately tried to calm himself by taking deep breaths, trying to find his catlike zen, but it wasn’t working. He decided to search the house yet again; there was absolutely no sign of his friend.
Following an exhausting search, Alby was relieved to discover a few small pieces of cat food left behind in his bowl. He thought to himself, This will help my growling belly, but I also need a cool, fresh drink. He jumped up on the sink and pushed his nose on the faucet handle. He heartily lapped up flowing water. Alby thought, If he did walk through that door, I should wait inside the lab for him to come back.
Alby left the running sink and briskly walked back to the lab. Well, I’m going to sit on my favorite windowsill and watch my feathered friends eat their bird seed until Wizoom returns. Daily, Alby spent hours watching cardinals, sparrows, and robins swoop down and land on Wizoom’s bird feeder while the professor worked on his projects. He knew focusing on birds would help keep his thoughts off Wizoom’s whereabouts for a short period of time. He bitterly thought, At least someone around here is eating.
Later that afternoon, a loud boom thundered inside the lab. Startled, Alby jumped off the windowsill. He landed on all fours with his full, fluffy tail and ears firmly pressed down. After the boom, the strange buzzing sound he heard during Wizoom’s test had returned. This time it was much louder since Alby was so close to the door. Electrical sparks began to jump off the panels and Alby felt the room shake.
Alby thought, What is happening?! He backed farther away from the door until he immediately froze in his tracks—the professor’s strange, triangular door began to open. Multicolored lights lit up the lab like a laser show. In addition, green, orange, and violet lights on the door panels rhythmically twinkled and steam simultaneously rushed through the vents.
Alby’s initial fear turned to excitement when he realized Wizoom might be coming home. Is that the professor?! Is he coming home?! Unable to speak, Alby frantically meowed as loud as he could—there was no response. At that moment, Alby felt the room stop shaking. The buzzing sound halted, and a ghostly orange mist began to flow through the door and move along the floor like one of Wizoom’s dry ice experiments. The mist slowly touched Alby’s whiskers and fur as it passed around him. He thought, I don’t know what’s happening, but I’m not panting anymore. I feel more relaxed.
Alby heard a faint voice emanate from the door. The sound became slightly louder and Alby decided to move closer. “Please help them,” the voice whispered. “Find your courage.”
Confused, Alby thought Wizoom might be on the other side of the door. He walked somewhat closer and called to his friend with another loud meow; there was no response from the professor. The calming effect of the mist began to wear off as Alby’s mind began to fret yet again. Where is Wizoom? Should I go through this door? What is on the other side?! Is it safe?! Alby’s pounding heart felt like it was going to burst and he turned away from the door to flee. Just as he turned, he heard the faint voice yet again. It whispered, “You are stronger than you think. Help your friend…help all of them.” Alby stopped fleeing and slowly turned his head back to face the door. In response to this soothing voice, Alby spun his body around.
He had no idea what was on the other side of Wizoom’s door, but nevertheless, he knew he had to find his friend. He cautiously walked closer to the door and felt a warm breeze touch him on the nose. He closed his eyes and thought, Okay, I must do this…you can do this…just walk through. You have to find your friend since Wizoom would do the same for you! Alby’s hair fluffed up anticipating the jump and he thought, I can’t believe I’m doing this! It’s now or never!
The light consumed him as Alby bravely leapt through the strange, triangular doorway. The door’s light faded behind him.