When the day is usual, Maru mostly likes play and sleep.
"He's in good form today," the fluorescent light cover said. She and Maru's other toys watched as he drove his white-socked paw under the area rug again and again, in relentless pursuit of the feather on a string, who was shrieking with breathy laughter.
"I know," the cat grass agreed. "You should have seen him with the soda box earlier. He had the small white plastic wheel thingy and he was chasing it around while wearing the effing box on his head! What a badass."
"I'm a compact domestic air conditioner fan motor rotor attachment," the small white plastic wheel thingy said irritably. "And you should know that, since I've been Maru's favorite toy since he was a kitten -- way before the rest of you even got here."
"Sure, grandpa. Well, we had a good workout this morning," the cat fountain said smugly. "He was chasing the amigurumi panda back and forth between me and the bathroom sink. It was epic. Am I right, panda?"
"I'll say!" the panda piped. "And now, I'm very damp! It's been a good day so far, team. In fact, I think the boss has played with every single one of us!"
As soon as the words left him, the panda winced, realizing his mistake.
"Not me." The words came from a small, neat hedgehog toy. Harry.
All the other toys looked awkwardly at the ground, at the ceiling, at the housemate, anywhere but at Harry.
"Sorry, buddy," the panda said. "But hey," he added weakly, "Maybe today's the day, eh?"
"Sure," Harry said. He bravely squared his shoulders. "Sure! Maybe today is the day. Say, cardboard box, you've spent a lot of time with the boss lately. He must have mentioned me, right? I bet he's saving up something big for me!"
"Uh," the cardboard box said uncomfortably, "You know, our bond is really more an unspoken one. Without, uh, speaking. You know. Uh."
"Ahahahahahahah! Eeeek!" the feather on a string shrieked. The toys, glad for a distraction, turned back to the area rug. Maru had caught the feather in his mouth and was stalking away with it, making trilling noises through his teeth and dragging the string behind him.
"Look at that death-grip," the fluorescent light cover said. "Magnificent."
I am Maru. I am a golden god. I am grace itself.
A leap, a single arc through the shimmering air, brings me to my accustomed perch: the tower of claw sharpening. I dig my talons, these shining and cruel instruments of justice, into the defenseless yarns of this post, which is mine and not yours. Yes.
Claws sharpened, I execute eight and one quarter rotations culminating in my vast and imposing bulk becoming an impossibly round semi-sphere of shining fur.
I am Maru, and I am taking a nap.
Today is moving some furnishings. Maru, the divan is differently placed soon!
"The housemate is moving the couch! The housemate is moving the couch!" the squirrel yelled as loudly as he could. "Oh my god, this is going to be awesome!"
"The boss is going to love this!" Harry said, practically vibrating with excitement. "Where is he, anyway?"
"Look up," the laundry hamper said.
From atop the narrow edge of the hallway door, Maru gazed down on the scene below him in perfect stillness, his pupils impossibly wide.
"Fuck yes," the cat grass moaned. "I can't even handle how amazing this is going to be."
With a heave, the couch was lifted into the air. It began to make its way ponderously across the room.
Precisely balanced on the narrow ledge of the door, Maru wiggled his rear. He bunched his sleek muscles almost imperceptibly. His front paws lifted and curled under his chest as he shifted all his weight onto his haunches and prepared to spring.
And with one powerful movement, Maru was airborne. He sailed through the air, suspended for an impossibly long breath before landing triumphantly with a whump on the couch just as it hovered over its new spot in the far corner of the room.
Thud! The impact of Maru's weight knocked the couch out of the movers' grip and it fell the last few inches to the floor, landing precisely at its intended destination.
"Whoa," whispered the amigurumi panda, and fainted dead away.
I am Maru. I am a study in the most exquisite contrasts. Tabby body and white feet, soft whiskers and sharp teeth, beautiful and terrible both am I, Maru.
At once as vast as a nebula and as elusive as an electron, I am a paradox.
I am Maru, and I can fit into a cardboard box one third my size.
Hey Maru! One of your toys is missing here! Do you notice?
It took the toys several minutes of all talking at once about how amazing that had been and how honored they were to work with Maru – "A true master of form, unparalleled through the ages" as the soda box put it – before they quieted down enough to hear a faint cry:
"What was that?" asked the fluorescent light cover.
"Who said that?" asked the area rug.
"Wait, where's Harry?" asked the green caterpillar.
"Here I am," said the same faint voice.
It was clear what had happened. Harry had been sitting on the floor precisely beneath the rear left leg of the couch when Maru had landed on it.
"Oh, dear," said the feather on a string. "Harry, are you okay?"
"I'm unhurt," Harry said. "It's only pinning my tail. But I'm good and stuck here under the couch."
"Oh, honey," said the fluorescent light cover. "We've got to get you out of there."
"Why?" said the small white plastic wheel thingy. "It's not like Maru is going to notice that Harry is AWOL."
"You watch it," the amigurumi panda said shrilly. "That's my friend you're talking about!"
"Well, it's irrelevant," said the laundry hamper, "since we're all inanimate objects anyway."
There was a thoughtful pause as they all registered this excellent point.
"Very true," the fluorescent light cover said, finally. "So Maru is going to have to get Harry unstuck himself."
"Never happen," the small white plastic wheel thingy said.
"Shut the fuck up, you spiteful heap of low-grade polystyrene," said the cat grass.
But they were all afraid the small white plastic thingy just might be right.
I am Maru. I am perfect, untouchable.
My purity is unparalleled, unmatched by such tawdry phenomena as undriven snow or the vacuum of space. A matrix of order and a fount of cosmic alignment, I – Maru – set confusion aright and wipe away all worldly stains. Harmony shimmers around my immaculate form.
I am Maru, and I have been sitting in a fruit bowl licking myself for over four hours.
Maru makes all furnishings fall down!
Maru: [I am regrettable!]
The days marched past, and Maru plied his craft on top of the couch, around the couch, and even under the couch, but never so much as glanced at Harry.
"OMG," Harry could be heard, softly whispering to himself. "OMG."
"I'm worried," the feather on a string confided to the area rug. "Harry could end up stuck under there for, like, the rest of time."
"You shouldn't worry," the area rug said stoutly. "Maru will save him."
"Yes!" the amigurumi panda cried, overhearing them. "Maru will save him!"
Just then, the squirrel gave an excited yelp. "Maru is going to jump into the laundry hamper!"
"Maybe this is it!" the feather on a string said. "Maybe this is how he's going to save Harry!"
"You're all sad and deluded," said the small white plastic wheel thingy. But nobody was talking to him.
Maru had finished sniffing around the base of the laundry hamper by now, and was on to phase two: standing up on his hind feet to gauge the height of the hamper.
"Not much longer now, Harry," the panda called to his friend. "Maru's going to save you!"
Maru hunkered down, tail lashing. Then he leapt, and chaos followed.
Just missing the opening, Maru skittered across the back edge of the hamper instead, trying to find his balance before finally kicking off and leaping away to the ground. The hamper tottered on its edge and fell over, knocking into the cat tree on its way down. The cat tree swung wildly to one side before crashing into the couch, which slid back, freeing Harry before slamming hard into the wall. The collision knocked a framed picture off the wall, and it fell to the floor with a crash. The crash propelled Harry forward, sliding over the hardwood floor to where Maru was very, very, very casually walking away from the entire mess.
A shriek came from the kitchen, but by the time the housemate had emerged into the living room to survey the disaster, Maru was sitting in the middle of the floor, projecting his innocence by unconcernedly grooming one paw, and Harry was nowhere to be seen.
"He did it!" the cat grass yelled. "Look at that fucking cat! He saved the shit out of that fucking hedgehog!"
"I'll be," was all the small white plastic wheel thingy would say.
"What a cat," the cat fountain murmured. "Athletic, elegant, intelligent, inquisitive, and, above all, merciful. A cat for the ages. Harry, I hope you appreciate how profoundly you have been honored by Maru."
"Hey," said the amigurumi panda, "where is Harry?"
Blissfully sandwiched between the smooth wood of the floor and the endless floof of Maru's bountiful undercarriage, Harry was unable to answer his friends. But some triumphs are beyond articulation, in any case. All Harry knew was that he hoped Maru never stood up.
I am Maru. I am mysterious, my motivations beyond the ken of mortal creatures. Ineffable and inconstant, I go where I will, when I will. I answer to no man, animal, or housemate. I owe nothing, am owed nothing. My acts of kindness are bestowed as arbitrarily as my acts of cruelty.
I am Maru, and I am sitting on a stuffed hedgehog.