A Woman And Her Cat
Granny Alice didn’t get mad when they canceled her Social Welface checks. Or when they installed a snoop-scope on her computer. Or even when they tore up her favorite park to build a new Trump Hotel.
“I’m done with social activism,” she said. “I’m too old to fight anymore. If the cops arrested me, they’d break every bone in my body. May as well just lie down and let them do me up the ass.”
In her youth, things had been different. The kids were fiery in defending their rights. But now the Kids were all gone. They’d died defending the Homeland in far-off deserts, jungles, some of them on the red sands of Mars.
“Nowadays I just like to stay in my little squat and be left alone,” she said.
But the Feds didn’t leave her alone. One day, amid the greatest-yet hysteria about new animal-borne plagues, the announcement came: there is a new flu going around. It is vectored by cats. Therefore all cats will have to be destroyed. All citizens will turn in their cats within 24 hours or face stiff penalties.
Granny Alice gave a howl of protest and threw her shoe at the TV. And she picked up her golden-eyed black cat named Shadow and stroked her sleek fur.
“That’s it. I’ve obeyed all their other rules. I registered for the Identity Card. I didn’t give a squawk when they demanded a drop of my blood to put in the National DNA register so they could trace everywhere I’ve been for the last 10 years. But this is too much.” Her arms tightened around the cat. “If they try and take my baby, it’ll be over my dead body.”
When the police came to surround her and shout at her with bullhorns, demanding her surrender, she clutched her kitty to her bosom. “They won’t take you, Shadow.”
But Shadow had her own ideas. With a sweet trilling meow, she jumped out of Granny’s arms.
“Shadow!” Granny cried. And then, understanding came. “Ah. I see. You have your way of dealing with those cops.”
She held her hands up. “I give up, piggies. Come on in. You can see I got no cats.”
They inspected her house carefully and found a fresh bowl of food and a litter pan, which they confiscated with much care. They placed all the evidence in plastic bags, triple bagged and tagged.
“You won’t find no kitty. My kitty, she done flown the coop,” Granny said, feigning dementia.
When they had gone, she went to the window. A slight mrrrr noise alerted her.
<They’re gone, dear,> said the cat.
“What?” Granny blinked. She could have sworn her cat said ‘they’re gone.'
<That’s right. Didn’t you hear me? I said they’re gone. But they’ll be back. So I gotta go for awhile. See you later.>
Shadow waved her tail in graceful farewell.
“Wait a minute! You can’t just leave me! After all I’ve done for you! Cleaned up after you for 10 years—”
<Oh, all right then, if you want to come with me...hurry up. They’re still watching.>
Granny hesitated for just one minute and then, feeling dumb, she crawled out the window and landed in the bushes.
“How is it you can talk to me,” she said, as she crawled along next to her proud cat. Shadow stalked along, tail high, blending into the dark of the bushes.
<It’s that virus,> said Shadow. <One day me and that ragged gray tom and that snooty calico got into it. Scratched each other up, and we all got sick. The virus did something to our brains and we found we could talk to each other. So we settled all our differences, and figured out what to do.>
‘No shit!” said Granny. “What are you gonna do? Raid the Fancy Feast factory?” The humor and absurdity made her shriek with laughter.
Shadow licked her paw. <Don’t patronize us. That virus…after it kills most of the humans, we’ll be the ones in charge.> She scratched her ear. <Don’t worry… if there are lovable humans like you, we’ll see you’re taken care of. Sound like a plan?>
“Sure does,” Granny Alice said, and Shadow rubbed up against her.
"Tesla's Signal: A historical SF adventure": see main page