Week 26

Putin lost no time initiating phase two of his plan. He considered spending the night in the tiger’s den, but decided to leave at once.

As they walked back to the Lada, Putin outlined the strategy. First, Snowy and Murder Cat would relocate closer to Moscow.

They would drive to Putin’s dacha where he would leave them for the time being. He would return to the city to begin his political campaign.

It wasn’t that he cared about the presidency, or any other office; he just needed the power to shake down oligarchs for money.

As Putin consolidated his political power, Snowy and Murder Cat would train and work with new animal agents preparing for battle.

Eventually, they would build a secure headquarters, but for now the dacha would have to do.

Soon the three made their way back through the forest to the rental Lada parked just off the road. Snowy stared dubiously at the little car.

“Snowy, you’re in back, I’ll drive, and Murder Cat gets in front with me.“ The animals did not move. “Well?” Putin snapped. “Let’s go!”

An hour later, after removing the rear seat to open up the back into the trunk, Snowy succeeded in stuffing her entire body into the car.

Murder Cat was massive, but also lithe and agile, and managed to curl into the passenger seat. “Pretend you’re a Shriner!” Putin commanded.

Putin jumped in, started the little car without too much trouble, and they were off, racing along the highway at 70 kilometers per hour.

As they drove west, through the deepening twilight, Putin revealed all that he remembered of his past and all he believed about his mission.

“I am asking you to help me battle the greatest threat the world has ever known,” he said. “Perhaps we will not succeed, but we must try.”

Glancing down at the petrol gauge, he realized it was time to stop and refuel. It would be good to get out and stretch his legs.

Murder Cat, too, would want to stretch, but poor Snowy would have to stay inside; if she got out, they might not be able to get her back in.

After filling up, Putin went inside the station for some coffee; he came back with treats—gummi bears for Snowy and SlimJims for Murder Cat.

“I’m oddly weary,” Putin said. “Murder Cat, you drive while I sleep.” The killer tiger agreed at once and jumped into the driver’s seat.

Through the dark Russian night Murder Cat steered the little Lada, with the savior of humanity and his war bear asleep beside him.

As the sun rose behind them, Murder Cat slowed the car and eased it onto the shoulder of the road. Putin awoke and smiled.

“Thank you, my friend,” Putin said. “I feel much better now. I’ll take us the rest of the way to the dacha.”

“It will be difficult to explain the missing back seat to the rental company,” Putin mused. “But if need be, I can have them all arrested.”