“Ahhh.” Chilli Cat sighed happily as he snuggled deeper into his onesie. The log fire crackled merrily before him and his cup of hot chocolate was sweetly steaming.
“It’s nice to spend some time away from the big city,” he quietly said to himself. And Bambu Chalet, high up in the White Mountains, was his favourite getaway spot.

As Chilli Cat lifted the cup to his smiling lips, the door to his cabin slammed open! He gasped as the hot chocolate spilled everywhere. Luckily, he was wearing a llamaling wool onesie that was so thick and snuggly, he was protected from the burn. But the onesie wasn’t so lucky, Chilli Cat thought sadly, looking at the big brown stain on his tummy. “Well, this is a total DISASTER,” said an angry voice from the doorway. Chilli Cat turned to find… Ghurk the cucumber! “Ghurk!” he blurted out in surprise. “What are you doing in my cabin?”

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“YOUR cabin?” Ghurk rudely replied. “Rubbish. The entire resort is fully booked. I’ve been told there’s a spare room here, so I’m moving in for the weekend.” Ghurk stomped upstairs to the spare bedroom. Behind him, a pair of cucumber guards hurriedly followed, though they couldn’t see past the stack of suitcases they carried. Chilli Cat watched them, baffled, as they tried to climb the stairs without bumping into each other.

When the staircase was eventually clear of clumsy cucumbers, Chilli Cat went to his bedroom to get changed out of his ruined onesie and go to sleep. A whole weekend living with GhurkHe worriedly thought. Maybe it won’t be so bad. He fell asleep dreaming of cucumbers and hot chocolate puddles.

The next day went about as well as Chilli Cat expected. Ghurk was a terrible housemate who wasn’t used to sharing. When Chilli went into the kitchen looking forward to a morning muffin, all he found was crumbs. And when Ghurk left to go skiing, he didn’t shut the door, leaving Chilli Cat with a huge mound of snow that blocked the entire doorway. It took him two hours to dig a tunnel to the supermarket!

When evening came and the two of them were back in the chalet, Chilli Cat had had just about enough. Ghurk refused to turn down the heating, so the pair were lounging in sweltering warmth. Chilli Cat decided to make some rainbow burritos in the hope it would relax him. As soon as he started assembling the food, Ghurk appeared beside him. “What’s that you’re making, Munch Cat? It looks… colourful.” Ghurk glanced at the bright mix of peppers, tomato and corn, trying to look not interested.

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“Just some rainbow burritos,” Chilli Cat said shyly. “You can… help me, if you like?” He held up a huge stack of tortillas. He was almost certain that Ghurk would refuse, but to his surprise, Ghurk grudgingly nodded and took the tortillas (although he nearly fell over from the weight of them!). The pair made a great team, and soon the burritos were sizzling in the oven.

There were more surprises to come. Ghurk actually sat next to Chilli Cat at the table, and only made one snide comment (“these burritos would be better with some guacamole.”). When Chilli Cat offered Ghurk a slice of cheesecake for dessert, he even accepted! Chilli Cat couldn’t believe it. Maybe in the far-away peace of the White Mountains, Ghurk could actually relax. Usually, he’d never spend so much time with us, Chilli Cat thought, thinking about his Munch Cat family. Unless he was trying to trick us…

But Chilli Cat didn’t want to think about that. He decided to try and relax with his new book and tucked himself into a comfy armchair with a bag of chilli zuffnuts. He looked over at Ghurk and couldn’t help but laugh. Ghurk was resting on the sofa, his nose in a copy of the same book! Ghurk heard the laughter and felt tense. Why’s he laughing at me? He thought angrily, slamming his book shut. In between little giggles, Chilli Cat held up his own copy. Ghurk couldn’t help but chuckle, too!  

After a pleasant evening of reading, chatting and sharing too many chilli zuffnuts, the Munch Cat and the cucumber went to bed.

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 The next morning was a bright one, and the sun warmed the snow outside the chalet. Chilli Cat woke up and padded downstairs, rubbing his eyes sleepily. It was only when he reached the kitchen that he noticed how quiet it was. “…Ghurk?” He called, absent-mindedly nibbling a wildberry from a punnet on the table. Next to the punnet was a box with folded note on top.

Chilli Cat unfolded the note. There was one word written inside in green ink: Fammu. Chilli Cat unwrapped the mystery gift. Inside was… his fluffy onesie! But there was no chocolate stain to be found – no stains at all, in fact, and the soft wool smelled like star flowers. Chilli Cat breathed in the sweet scent and wriggled inside the onesie, beaming with joy. Chilli Cat munched his way through the punnet of wildberries as he watched the melting snow outside the window, and felt happy that his weekend had not at all gone to plan!

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The Hoober Owls were loved across Munch Land, thanks to their supreme taxi service and helpful nature. The Rest Roost was a way for Munch Land citizens to give back to their feathery friends. It was a rest spot for all visiting owls, found on Jammy Cloud, the centre of the land. Inside, Hoober Owls could recover from a tiring journey with a feather massage, catch up with friends and even spend the night.

Ellis, Quimby and Mermoz all had gaps in their taxi work one day and found themselves catching up at the Rest Roost over a couple of rounds of Munch Masters. After the eighth round, Quimby flung her cards down on the table. “Want to go for a fly?” she asked, stretching. “I’m getting a bit cooped up in here!”

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“I’m quite hapzy, actually,” said Ellis in that serious way of his. He set his armchair to lounge mode and picked up his magazine. “Pigsly is at karate class and won’t need picking up for another hour, so… It’s recline time!” With that, Ellis disappeared behind the pages of his mag.

“What about you, Mermoz?” she tried, turning to her best friend. “How about a loop-the-loop competition?” she suggested, her eyes sparkling with excitement. Mermoz agreed, knowing how much easier it was than trying to refuse Quimby when she set her mind to something. They strolled to the nearest window and hopped out on the sill. “LATER, ELLIS!” Quimby shouted as she leapt into the sky, wings unfolding. Mermoz quickly followed.

Ten minutes later and the competition had become fierce! Quimby had captured Mermoz’s last set of loops on her trusty camera, but he’d still only managed eleven before giving up. Now’s my chance, she thought eagerly, hovering on the spot in anticipation. “Ready, and… GO!” yelled Mermoz, waving his wing in signal.

Quimby darted forward, picking up speed: 1, 2, 3… she thought breathlessly, as she performed her near-perfect loops in the sky. 4… 5… on she counted, holding her breath as she went upside down. 10… 11… 12! She’d done it! 12 whole loops! She pulled up, looking around for Mermoz. “Did you see me?” she shouted happily. “Oh… I don’t feel so…” Quimby’s vision blurred and she suddenly felt very dizzy. “What…” Quimby’s wings seemed to lose all of their energy and dropped down. Soon, the rest of her followed, and she was hurtling through the sky with no idea which way was up!

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“OH, NOOOOOP!!” she cried, her eyes wide as she saw green trees and green grass looming closer. Thwack, thwack, thwack! She was tumbling through the jungle, hitting this branch and that twig. Before she could react, she’d landed on the mossy floor and all was still. “Oh…” she groaned, raising a wing to rub her sore head. “…Mermoz?” she called nervously, looking around at the unfamiliar surroundings.

“It’s so… green… wait – I know this place!” she realised too late. She could already see the vines rustling ahead. Wild cucumbers began popping up from behind the trees, and their faces weren’t very welcoming. “Visitors to Cuke Cloud must stick to the paths,” said one fierce looking cucumber. “That’s the RULE!” The wild cucumbers weren’t looking any friendlier the closer they crept to Quimby. She knew she had to act fast.

“CHEESE!” she yelled, holding up her camera. The cucumbers looked confused for a split second until the camera’s flash burst in front of them, blinding them for a moment. It was all that Quimby needed! She flapped her wings furiously and flew upwards, ignoring her dizziness as she sought the murky sky of Cuke Cloud. She made it out of the vine jungle, further and further until other clouds came into sight. “Few!” she sighed, holding up her camera again. “Let’s take a quick selfie to remember this narrow escape!” she grinned at the camera and clicked. FLASH! Blinking at the sudden light, Quimby felt a bit wobbly again. “Oh, no,” she murmured, as she felt her wings weaken. But suddenly, another wing was supporting hers and she wasn’t falling – she was flying! “Mermoz!” she cried in relief. “Fammu!”

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Mermoz nodded at her and smiled, focusing on keeping his best friend airborne. “WHAT A RESCUE!” she shouted, feeling better already. “We have to take a photo to mark this owl-mazing moment, Merm!” she cried, lifting up her camera again. Mermoz laughed. “How about we get back to the Rest Roost in one piece first, Quimby?”

Quimby agreed, admitting that she was in the mood for a feather massage. Then she remembered. “I won the competition! I did 12 loops! That means YOU owe me a meal and I get to pick! I think I’m in the mood for winterflake soup.”

Mermoz adjusted his flight path slightly, heading instead for Polar Cloud. “A deal’s a deal,” he admitted, and the best friends flew together, wing in wing, all the way to Marshmallow City, where the freshest soups could be found.

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The day had finally arrived… the Crunch Club fancy dress party! Crunchy Cat, Nano Cat and Bubble Cat had arrived early to set up the speakers and snack table, not to mention the wildberry juice booth.

Outside Crunch Club, the loud tunes and bright lights were soon attracting lots of cloud citizens. One was Ghurk the cucumber, who happened to be driving through. In the passenger seat of his go-kart sat a box full of wildberries. “Such a pain that we had to come all this way to pick up the castle’s wildberry order,” Ghurk muttered. “I suppose it’s better than leaving it up to those useless guards, like last time. Can you believe they ate half the berries on the way back? As if I wouldn’t notice!” he fumed.

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Ghurk’s mood deepened when he saw the queue of cloud citizens gathered outside Crunch Club, chatting, laughing and complimenting each other’s outfits. Why wasn’t I told about this? Ghurk thought. “I can dress up in a fun outfit, just as well as the rest of them,” he muttered jealously.

He recognised the green cat at the front of the queue. As Ghurk watched, the cat swept a black cloak around his shoulders and seemed to disappear inside of it. An idea began to form in Ghurk’s head. I’ll teach those Munch Cats for leaving me out of the fun, he thought deviously. 

The Munch Cats squealed in fear as a cloaked figure swept into the room. He slowly pulled back his black hood to reveal… Trash Cat! “Mowchi, chumbos!” Trash Cat cried, grinning. “Is that really you, Trash?” Bubble Cat said, surprised. “Amazi vampire costume! I hardly recognised you!” The group chattered by the juice booth while the club quickly grew busier.

An hour later, the party had reached new levels of cool. A Hoober Owl dressed as a dinosaur and a Munch Cat in a cowboy costume were having a dance-off, with an excited crowd cheering them on. Bubble Cat was working at the speed of light over at the juice booth, handing out blended wildberry treats. “What a turn out!” Crunchy Cat cried to Trash Cat, who had just appeared in his vampire costume. “Popcorn?” she said, offering the tub. The cloaked figure didn’t reply – and whacked the tub out of her paw! Crunchy Cat let out a sad cry as her popcorn spilled across the floor. Before she could say anything, the hooded figure had swept away through the crowd. “Are you ooku, Crunchy?” said Pudding Cat, who’d just arrived at the party and spotted her friend.

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Trash Cat, he… knocked my popcorn over and ran away,” she mumbled sadly. “I don’t know why he’d do that. You look fabbo, Pudding Cat,” Crunchy added, admiring her friend’s panda costume.

“Fammu, Crunchy. Why don’t I get you another popcorn tub?” Pudding replied, squeezing her friend’s paw. She wandered over to the popcorn stand and stood in line behind someone dressed as a vampire. Pudding narrowed her eyes… the cloaked figure was pouring what looked like an entire bag of salt into the machine. “I think that’s probably enough salt,” she said politely, tapping the partygoer on the shoulder. He turned, whipping the bag around and showered Pudding Cat with salt! “WOAH!” Pudding Cat cried, The cloaked figure dropped the salt bag and ran away, but not before Pudding Cat glimpsed some green beneath the hood.

When Pudding Cat told her friends what had happened, they couldn’t believe it. Why was Trash Cat acting so horribly? He was ruining the party! “We have to talk to him,” Bubble Cat said. “We should give him a chance to explain…”

“I agree!” A voice piped in. The Munch Cats whirled around to see Trash Cat standing behind them, his vampire hood down, licking a fruit pop! “Give who a chance to explain?” He added innocently. The Munch Cats asked him about the popcorn and salt incidents. “But… I didn’t do any of those things!” Trash Cat cried, his eyes shining with tears. “I promise, chumbos.” The other Munch Cats looked at each other, uncertain. Pudding Cat broke the silence, placing a paw on Trash Cat’s shoulder. “We believe you, buddle. That costume is perfect for hiding in – it could have been anyone. But we should stop them before they do anything else,” Pudding Cat said, her tone serious.

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The Munch Cats split up to look for the troublemaker. Crunchy Cat took to the dancefloor, occasionally pausing to wiggle in time to the awesome music. Bubble Cat and Pudding explored the sides of the room and Nano Cat went upstairs to the balcony. At first, Nano thought the second floor was deserted… until a shadow moved. It was the vampire! He was clinging to the mirrorball! He was too busy trying to detach the mirrorball to notice Nano Cat, who flew at him from the balcony railing!

Nano Cat grabbed its foe and squeaked its loudest squeak – loud enough for the music to be stopped. “NANO!” shouted the Munch Cats, worriedly watching the struggle from below. “BE CAREFUL!” No sooner had the words left their mouths that Nano Cat and the vampire tumbled from the mirrorball!

Luckily, Nano Cat landed on its feet, and the troublemaker safely on top of it. Everyone cheered as Crunchy Cat pulled back the hood of the villain. The crowd’s cheers soon turned to gasps. “…Ghurk?” said Crunchy Cat in disbelief. “That’s RIGHT!” cried Ghurk, through his novelty vampire teeth. “It’s me. Remember? The cucumber you DIDN’T invite?”

“Oh, Ghurk…” Bubble Cat said guiltily. “Chilli Cat DID leave a message at your castle, with your cucumber guards. But they said you were busy all day long and wouldn’t be able to come, so they took the invitation instead.” Bubble Cat pointed to a corner of the dance floor where two cucumber guards, dressed as unicorns, stood. They were awkwardly avoiding Ghurk’s gaze.

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 Ghurk jumped to his feet and ordered them back to the castle at once. As he was about to leave Crunch Club, Pudding Cat called after him.

“You can still join the party, Ghurk! No hard feelings about what happened,” she said warmly. Now it was Ghurk’s turn to feel awkward. “Fammu,” he muttered. “Maybe… next year?” a glimmer of a smile crossed his lips, before he turned and walked out. The rest of the party passed without any trouble. It was so successful that the theme for next year’s party was already picked – masquerade!

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