(Manuela Pulimeno)


"How much energy has our little cat! It's all afternoon that he jumps and runs at breakneck speed," said Bea, admiring, together with her twin Alby, the acrobatics of Tino, the cat.

The autumn had painted the plants in the terrace with its colours, and the kitten was amused to dive through the creaking leaves, resurfacing satisfied. But the happy game did not last long: at four in the afternoon a pouring rain forced Tino to move into the house, while the wind swept away the yellow companions of his game. Bea stroked the cat's head, "No more game. How sad, poor Tino!"


"Guys, grandpa has arrived!" mom announced from the entrance. Alby and Bea had just time to cross the long corridor, followed by Tino, that his grandfather had already gone.

"Please, keep this here for tonight. I'll pick it up tomorrow morning," he told her daughter-in-law, placing a large yellow container on the mat. With the dripping raincoat and the completely muddy rubber boots, the sprightly father-in-law could not wait to get the trouble out.

Usually, the grandfather would rush into the house with his bucket of fishing and Tino always finds something good. But this time his nose did not smell any familiar smell: if it wasn't fish, what was it hiding there?


Something else too would make Tino suspicious: instead of keeping the bucket in the kitchen as he always used to, the mother of the twins had gone out on the terrace, braving the rain, to put the container in the closet that housed Tino's basket.

At that moment, the lights of the house turned off. From the only windowless window, the full moon lit up Tino's room and the big yellow bucket was still there, keeping him company. It was hunger or uncontrollable curiosity, but Tino really could not close his eyes that night, until - in the middle of the night - the unpredictable happened.

As he turned around the bucket to sniff out a few clues, his tail waved, bumping into the lid that capped the container.


The damage was now done, but the mystery was about to be revealed. Tino stopped short, bringing his ears back to prepare for the attack.

Dozens of unknown creatures appeared slowly. They were no more than a feline paw, they wore a kind of armour and had two horns on their heads that - as far as he knew - could be pointed like pins. He had never seen anything like this before, but it was clear that it was an invasion.


"For Cat Mom's sake! Who are you? What do you want?" the enemy army stopped abruptly, remaining poised on the edge of the bucket. Perhaps he had managed to scare them. But a prominent exponent broke loose from the troops: he was bigger than all the others, and he moved majestically towards him, looking like a spokesman for those mysterious militias. "I am General Toto, commander of this platoon of snails," he began, "we do not intend to hurt you. We just want to get out of this place as soon as possible to get back to the land where we come from."


"Snails?" Tino mewed for further explanation. "Yes, we are peaceful creatures and we live in harmony with nature: we are not very different from you." "So why did you invade my closet?" Tino asked. "We did not come on purpose. Old calloused hands ripped us off the ground and we found ourselves locked up in this prison, until you have freed us. If you help us get back home now, we'll be grateful to you forever." It took half the night for the evacuation of the closet. "Do you always go so slowly?" Tino asked impatiently. "Everyone has his own time that need to be respected: what a cat does in a flash, we snails require a whole day. The important thing is to get to the goal without betraying one's own nature," the general replied. Only at dawn, all the snails managed to climb the wall of the terrace, to head down the wall of the building to the street. From there, they would reach the open country, sooner or later. Of course, General Toto, as any good commander, stepped over last, saluting in an official way: "Dear cat, from now on all snails on earth will be your friends and you will not remain without help in case of need," he concluded, slowly disappearing. Tino's whiskers vibrated: "By doing good things, there is everything to gain".