A round-robin story
Part 2 by Allen Billings © 2006

Three days later, Snowthaw and Sweetspot realized they had a problem.

"What do you mean, itíll cost that much to send the package to our aunt?" asked Snowthaw, as shi looked on in shock at the price in credits on the display.

"Sorry, little one." replied the woman on the other end of the connection. "But if youíre shipping a package of 1.6 kilograms of weight to Chakona, then itíll cost you six hundred credits to send it that far."

Snowthaw sat down on hir rump, before thanking the receptionist. "Drat. Okay, so that ideaís a bust," shi muttered, slumping down to lay fully upon the soft carpet of the den.

Sweetspot thought shi was going to cry. "We should have thought of this before we started packing it all up," shi muttered, sitting down upon the carpet by hir older sister. "We did all that work for nothing. Now we canít get it there, ícause it costs too much."

Snowthaw sighed. Hir long tail twitched a bit, as shi lost hirself in thought. "Right, and thereís no way our parents will pay for its shipment."

The denís doorbell rang, and the two cubs looked at each other before Snowthaw got up and headed for the door, hir younger sister following closely. Shi glanced out through the thin strip of glass on one side, and smiled. "Itís one of my school friends, Mary." Shi opened the door, and let the young bipedal cat girl into their home.

"Hi, Snow, Sweet," Mary exclaimed. "Motherís been doing some baking this morning, getting ready for the street Thanksgiving party Friday night." She entered, carrying a small box from which an aroma drifted into the house. Both chakatsí noses twitched at the smell.

"Sheís making cookies again?" asked Snowthaw, as shi smiled at Mary, walking beside her friend to the main living room. Mary sat down first, putting her back to a futon, using it as a rest as she sat on the floor, while Sweet dropped down onto hir haunches besides Mary.

"Yes. Which is why me and my brother were told to Ďgo visit your friends, 'cause I don't want you eating them all before the partyí," Mary giggled, then she opened up the small box that sheíd walked in with. From inside, she passed out three hand-sized pumpkin cookies. "I told her it wouldnít be fair to just go visiting without a few samples, right?"

Snowthaw grinned as shi replied. "Iíll grab some sodas from the fridge. Sweet? You want anything?"

Sweetspot was looking at the container, then back to the box the two cubs had made for their aunt. "Hummm, oh. Ah, just some water," shi replied.

"What do you have there?" asked the kitten, her tail twitching as she set aside her cookie to look at the package.

"Itís a package that we wanted to send to our Aunt on Chakona. But the two freight companies we tried, said they wanted money we canít afford." Sweetspotís face looked down at the box, nibbling slowly on the cookie sheíd been offered.

"Well, how much did they ask for?" Mary asked, reaching over to pull the box closer to look at it.

"Six hundred credits," replied Sweetspot with another sigh.

The kitten whistled. "Wow. Thatís a lot of money!"

Sweetspot nodded. "Itíll take forever before we have that much saved up," said the smaller chakat, as Snowthaw returned with glasses filled with pop and water for hir sister.

Mary hummed. "Too bad I canít find out when my cousinís coming on the Folly. Heís the one that sneaked onboard by accident when they were trying to get onto another freighter. Nowadays, even I have to wear a special pass that monitors where Iím at when I visit my Dadís place of work."

"Your Dad works at the port?" said Sweetspot. "Whatís he do?"

"Oh, not much. Heís one of the traffic controllers. Heís the person who tells which ship can fly in what direction and at what height. Itís pretty tricky, as he says heís gotta keep on top of his toes, or else heíll get the blame if a shuttle crashes."

Sweetspot piped up. "Yeah, I remember that field trip he got us to go on last month. That was sweet, seeing all those people whose job it is to keep the planes and shuttle craft all moving around on those displays."

Mary nodded. "Thatís right. He gets exhausted at times, so both me and my brother leave the den when he comes home for at least an hour, so he can get a short nap before supperís ready."

Sweetspot spoke up. "Have you heard since then about your cousin?"

"Alex? Yeah, sure. Heís been having a great time on that freighter ship. From what my parents have let me learn, his Mom and Dad have finally gotten used to the idea that heís safe." Mary grinned, before she took a drink of the soda. "In fact..." She fumbled through her pockets, before pulling out a data card. "Here. I grabbed a copy of his latest letter home, his mother sent it with her letter to my mom last month."

The three watched the message from Alex, but at the end, Sweetspot jumped up. "Thatís it!" Shi pointed at the screen. "Play that back, quick."


Continued in The Package, part 3.

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