Jeffrey Penn May has won several short fiction awards. His story “The Wells Creek Route” received a Pushcart Prize nomination, and his novel Where the River Splits, an excellent review in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Merging his outdoor interests with his writing, Jeff has published mountain climbing articles, short stories and poems. He has also written education articles and technical writing guides. His work has appeared in the US, UK, and Canada. He wrote and performed a short story for Washington University Radio and was a consultant to a St. Louis theatre company. After earning his a B.A. in English and Psychology, a Masters in Secondary Education, and a Writer’s Certificate from the University of Missouri, Jeff worked as a waiter, hotel security officer, credit manager, deck hand, technical data engineer, creative writing instructor, and English teacher. He was the principal of a small alternative school where he organized a fund-raising, climbing expedition and appeared in television and radio spotlights. Born at Fort Ord near Monterey, California, and raised in St. Louis, Jeff comes from a family of all boys and has always been compelled to explore the outdoors, leading to many questionable “vacations.” His adventures include, but are not limited to the following: floated a home-built wood and barrel raft from St. Louis to Memphis, navigated a John boat to New Orleans, drove an old Volkswagen alone 8000 miles around the west, spent a month in a dirt floor shack in west-central Mexico digging for Pre-Colombian artifacts, climbed mountains from Alaska to South America, and spent several days in the Amazon jungle. Jeff teaches writing and fly-fishing and so far, he has survived more than twenty years of marriage and two teenagers.
Cynthia and the Blue Cat's Last Meowby Jeffrey Penn May
Written in a poetic style reminiscent of Richard Brautigan, "Cynthia and the Blue Cat’s Last Meow" is the first person narrative of young man who enters a colorful, anthropomorphic land that appears perfect, and Cynthia is the embodiment of that land. Gradually, the narrator sees his own tormented soul hidden beneath the natural beauty. He sees, but cannot
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Written in a poetic style reminiscent of Richard Brautigan, "Cynthia and the Blue Cat’s Last Meow" is the first person narrative of young man who enters a colorful, anthropomorphic land that appears perfect, and Cynthia is the embodiment of that land. Gradually, the narrator sees his own tormented soul hidden beneath the natural beauty. He sees, but cannot readily accept, the demons gnawing at his heart. This story is about the unleashing and dissolution of his fears and his maturing perception of Cynthia. It is also about her guidance and the resulting changes that occur within her.
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- Jeffrey Penn May
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The voice belonged to a cat, one that had the power to change everything. Lastkit knew this cat all too well. It was Flameclaws, IA’s mate. The large cat had sleek black fur and a glint in his deep green eyes. His huge paws were tipped with a blood-red color and his fangs dripped with saliva. He was a threatening figure. Lastkit backed up a couple of steps. “You are a good cat, Lastkit. It’s too bad this had to happen to you,” Flameclaws said with labored breath. As he finished his sectence, he fell to the ground. Lastkit cried out in horror as he hit the ground. A pool of blood quickly formed around his body. The warrior’s eyes glazed over and his breathing stopped. Flameclaws was dead. Lastkit ran back into the nursery and grabbed his mouse toy. He also stopped into the medicine den and ate some travelling herbs. While he was in the den, he noticed that Giantheart’s scent was very faint, as if she had not been here for a while. He made a mental note of this and ran out of the tunnel. He tiptoed around Flameclaws’ dead body and out of the camp. He blazed through the forest with reckless abandon, not paying attention to where his feet took him. He didn’t know how long he had been running when he suddenly screeched to a halt. The sound of roaring waters reached his ears. He opened his clamped-shut eyes and found himself at the edge of the ravine, next to the waterfall. He had only heard stories of the pounding water and the 1 thousand tail-length drop to the pointed stones below. The ravine was circular, and he could only just see the other side. It looked like a round chunk of land had sunken down into the ground. There was a forested area at the bottom of the screaming waterfall. Mist floated up from the bottom, alighting on his nose. ~This is strange mist… It’s glowing….~ He thought. The mist gave off a soft blue light as it wafted through the air. The sky was becoming very gray and overcast, and visibility was decreasing. Lastkit could only see by the light of the weird mist. There was an echoing sound coming from below. It sounded like millions of voices together in harmony, resonating throughout the ravine. He felt strangely comforted by this voice, and he scratched out a small nest at the base of a large rowan and drifted to sleep.
Lostkit felt the chill in the air as he shivered from the arctic blast of air he’d been hit with as he exited the nursery. But the frigid air was nothing compared to what hit him next. The feeling of terror and dread began to slowly creep their way into his pounding heart. The camp he had once called his home, with the elder’s den near the little waterfall under the mossy, fallen log, and the leader’s den, high up in the Hightree, and the apprentice’s den, where he had hoped to spend his time in, and the warrior’s den, underneath the Hightree, nestled in the dark, brown, and powerful roots of the large oak. All gone. Nothing was left of his former camp. It looked relatively similar, but none of the details were there. His still-developing brain had trouble grasping the enormity of this event. He did a quick 360-turn to see if all this was real. Not even the tunnel leading to the medicine den and his den in the nursery were there. It was like all trace of his camp had been erased. AriaClan had never existed. He was still struggling with the craziness of it all. Lostkit called out in despair, although he knew no one would hear. “Hello? Giantheart, are you there?” He called futilely to the medicine cat that had raised him. “Anyone? IA?” But the leader did not answer his call. Instead, another cat padded out of the shadows. “Hello, brave kit. If I were in your place, I would have run long ago.” It was the voice of a she-cat. A cold voice, on he knew very well. He turned to face the new arrival, and was confronted with a cat that would change everything.
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At first, there was silence. Nothing but the rain and the queen's labored breathing. Then as there was a boom of thunder and a flash of lightning, illuminating the den as the queen began to push hard, to bring in her only kit to the world. The queen groaned and there was a sickening plop as the little kit was ejected from the queen's body. "What will you name the kit?" The queen sat for a moment then, with her dying breath, said, " I will name him Lastkit." The kit was completely alone. He was cared for by the medicine cat, but since there were no lactating queens in the entire rest of the Clan, he mostly went malnourished and hungry. His life was not all bad. After he reached the age at which he could be weaned, his health began to improve. He lived in AriaClan, a Clan deep in the forest. The camp was a clearing in the dense wood. It was covered by a canopy of branches. Soft beams of afternoon sunlight filtered into the clearing, illuminating the area. He had the nursery all to himself, it was connected to the camp by a long, dark tunnel with many branches and turns to confuse intruders. the tunnels were made of long blades of grass the swayed slightly in the calm breeze. His nest was small, made of warm moss and lined with feathers. The warriors took pity on him, he was only three moons old and he was sort of an introvert, reclusive at times. He had a strong attachment to his little mouse toy. He had picked it up when he strayed too close to the Twolegplace, and he had never let it out of his sight. He carried it around and was very meticulous about it's care. He never dropped it and he always cleaned it in the little stream that ran near the camp. The Clan had few apprentices, so he helped with the chores. The elders loved it when he checked their pelts. They tried to make conversation with him, but he did not talk much, but when he did, it was only to answer simple questions. One particular day, towards the end of leaf-bare, he was sitting in his den, playing with his mouse toy. The most playing he ever did with it was talk to it as if it were a real friend. Lastkit didn't really have any friends. The apprentices paid no mind to him, they were almost ready to be tested for their warrior ceremony. Lastkit spent most of his time alone in his den, talking to his mouse. Upon that particular day at the end of leaf-bare, he was playing with his mouse, when he noticed something peculiar. The sounds of the busy camp had subsided. He went outside the nursery to see what was happening.