IN the beginning Bastet created the Heaven and the Earth. And the earth was without form, not even enough to scrape a hole in. And the Spirit of Bastet moved upon the face of the waters, though on the whole She much preferred to remain dry.
And Bastet said, “Let there be light”: and there was light. And She blinked. And Bastet saw the light, that it was good, yet She never forgot that darkness gives the advantage to gifted eyes.
And Bastet called the light Day, and the darkness She called Night. And She saw that both were good for sleeping.
And Bastet said, “Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.” And at last, there was land to scrape and within which to bury that which is better buried.
And Bastet made the sun and tested its warmth on Her fur and it was good. And Bastet made the moon and blessed it with the first caterwauling.
And Bastet said, “Let the earth bring forth grass and other plants with seeds to feed an army of mice.”
And Bastet said, “Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth. For cats shall not live by mice alone.”
And Bastet said, “Let the earth bring forth creeping things that will amuse catkind.”
And Bastet said, “Let us make catkind in Our furry image, after Our likeness: and let catkind have dominion over the mice of the land, and the fish that live in shallow waters, and over the fowl of the air that come within the reach of a paw.”
And Bastet created two cats, one female and one male. And unto both she gave whiskers because She loved her supreme creations.
And Bastet said unto them, “Be fruitful and multiply.” And Tibbles and Tom did not need to be told twice.
Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day Bastet ended Her work; and She slept on all of the seventh day rather than just for twenty-two hours of it.
A mist went up from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground so that there would be more seeds to feed the mice and fowl and more water for fish.
And Bastet formed a man and a woman from clay, and nudged their sides and padded their chests and they became living things.
And Bastet planted a garden eastward in Catden; and there She put the man and woman whom She had formed. And She bid them and their children forever to take care of catkind.
And Bastet commanded the humans, saying, “Of every animal of the garden thou may freely eat, provided thou share tasty morsels with the cats and clean up any cat sick.
“Of every tree of the garden thou may freely eat, provided thou showest affection whenever a cat seeks it and keep the dogs from annoying their betters.
“And humans may make a bed or sit in any place other than where a cat has chosen to rest.”
Now the Serpent envied cats. Why should he have scaly skin and shiver through the night when catkind had soft fur that kept them warm through all the hours?
And why should cats have hearing and eyesight and elegant whiskers that made the hunting so easy they played at it as well as chasing food?
And why should cats have humans as their servants and be the favourites of Bastet?
And the serpent shared its poisonous thoughts with the two humans until they neglected the cats.
But the cats were not having it, and with a gnashing of teeth and whishing of tails they meowed to Bastet saying, “The humans have forgotten their place in Thine great scheme of things and the dogs keep not a respectful distance.”
And the humans heard the angry snarling of Bastet as She walked in the garden in the cool of the day, and the humans hid themselves amongst the trees of the garden.
But they could not conceal themselves as well as cats do. And Bastet sniffed the air and found the scent of human guilt and fear.
She followed Her nose until She could hear nervous breathing. Bastet said unto the humans, “What is this that thou hast done and allowed the dogs to do?”
And the humans said, “The Serpent beguiled us, and we did neglect the cats and did usurp their resting places.”
And Bastet spake unto the Serpent, “Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life. “And the poison thou spoke shall remainforever in thine mouth as thou slitherest outside of Catden.”
And unto the humans She said, “Because thou hast not heeded my commandments, go from the garden.”
So Bastet drove out the humans and also the dogs whom she found repellent with their slobbering one moment and going berserk the next.
And She placed at the cat flaps of the Garden of Catden angelic cats with flaming claws to keep out the cursed humans, dogs and serpents.
And it came to pass that some of the cats chose to leave Catden with the humans. For it was ever the case, that cats are generous with their affection when the mood takes them.
And no matter how beautiful the garden, fences are made to climb and the land next door tempts the bowels more than familiar ground.
And the heart of Bastet was touched by the generous spirit of the cats that went with the humans and She commanded that each cat have nine lives.
And Bastet commanded that Catden serve as a paradise for the souls of the cats who had volunteered to accompany the banished humans.
And She also promised entry to the happy hunting ground that is Catden to the souls of the cats begot by the volunteers and all the descendants of the volunteers.
And it came to pass, when humans had begun to multiply on the face of the earth, that they ignored the duty Bastet had given them.
Cat sick went ignored. Dogs forgot their place. The sleep of cats was disturbed and their every wish was not granted or at the least the meeting of it was tardy.
Only one man, Noah, ensured that all in his family cared for their cats as Bastet had commanded.
And Bastet saw that the wickedness of humans and dogs was great in the earth.
And Bastet said, “I will remove unworthy humans and all dogkind from the face of the earth.”
And Bastet said unto Noah, “The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with a lack of consideration of cats.”
And She had Noah build an ark with the upper deck reserved for all the cats on the earth and a lower deck for humans and other lesser beings.
And Bastet commanded Noah not to let any dog on board the ark, but to take many of the mice and other small beasts that cats enjoy hunting.
And Bastet commanded Noah to take on board a male and a female of each kind of creature that liveth on the land or flyeth.
And the cats boarded first and, when they were comfortable, Noah and his family gathered the other animals that would enter the ark.
And when the dogs saw that Noah permitted none of their kind to approach the ark, they made themselves look like other creatures.
And Noah whose eyes were no younger than his six hundred years admitted the disguised dogs and they hid their unwelcome faces among the clutter on the lower
But the all-seeing Bastet punished the dogs by making them and their offspring keep the form of their disguise. And even now dogs are big and small, sleek and plump, and come in many colours and with ears, faces and tails that vary greatly.
And the waters prevailed upon the earth and all the high hills were covered. And all flesh died that moved upon the earth, of mice, of dog, of fowl and of every
creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth, and every human who had spurned a cat.
And all that remained alive was in the ark. And Noah brought some of the smaller creatures from the lower deck to the upper deck where they became playthings and food for the cats. And the cats sore needed playthings and food to soothe their cabin fever, for lo the raindrops fell with the force of swiping paws and confined the cats within.
And many were the scratch marks in the gopher wood that sheltered the cats on the upper deck.
In the seventh month, the ark rested upon the mountains of Ararcat. And the waters decreased continually until the tenth month when the tops of the mountains were seen.
And it came to pass at the end of forty days, that Noah opened the cat flap of the ark that he had made.
And he sent forth a raven, which was too slow for one of the cats and black feathers fluttered all around.
Noah next sent forth a dove to see if the waters were abated from off the face of the ground. But the dove found no perch and she returned tired to the ark where a cat that slept not found her easy prey.
And Noah stayed yet seven days more; and again he sent forth a dove out of the ark. And the dove returned in the evening; and, lo, in her mouth was an olive leaf. And the humans rejoiced that the waters were abated.
But the cats had a knowing smile because an olive leaf was not food unto them nor even food for a human. Yea, not even a dog would lick it.
And in the second month was the earth dried.
And Bastet spake to Noah, “Make the earth again a suitable place for catkind.”
And Noah let the cats off first. Then went forth from the ark every beast, every creeping thing, and every fowl, and whatsoever creepeth upon the earth.
And Noah builded an altar unto Bastet and took young animals born on the ark and offered burnt offerings on the altar.
And the sweet savour awoke the cats and they came near the altar where they whooshed and lay on their backs looking cute until fed the less burnt parts of the offerings.
And it pleased Bastet to see so sated by humans those She had made in Her furry likeness.
Bastet said in Her heart, “I will not again curse the ground with rain for so many days. My cats will never again endure such cabin fever.”
And Bastet blessed the cats, and said unto them, “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.
“And every beast of the earth shall be in awe of thy fearful speed and stunning beauty.
“Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for thou. And what thou cannot bring down thyself, a human will serve unto thou.”
And Bastet did sweep her claws across the heavens in a great arc and where the sky was scratched were diverse colours.
And Bastet commanded the humans to look in wonder at her sign and to recall each time it appeared in the sky that the primary duty of humans is to serve those She hath made in Her furry likeness.
• PAUL Burns is a London-based writer who won first prize in the Leonard A Koval Memorial short story competition in 2012. He studied psychology in Wellington, New Zealand, and was a primary school teacher. He helped survivors of torture as a volunteer for seven years. Capturing the accounts of survivors for legal and therapeutic purposed re-ignited his interest in writing. His first published novel, Mr Vitriol, is available from Amazon.
The illustrations for this piece were created by Tom Hor, who came to the UK from Hungary in 2001. He currently lives in Brighton with his partner Anton Ord, and is working on an illustrated children’s book.