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A Cautionary Tale for Pet Owners
The car accident still fresh in his mind, Jerry woke up knowing he was dead.
The fact that he woke up at all told him something, but there were some very important details that needed to be filled in. Looking around, he found himself in some kind of enormous hall, white walls off in the distance, a white ceiling hundreds of feet above him, some sort of lush beige growth stretching out beneath his feet. Huge structures filled the place, alien but oddly familiar. After a long moment of staring at one fuzzy monolith he made an bizarre connection: furniture. There was his sofa, his easy chair, his coffee table, all blown up to the size of office buildings.
It was his living room, only much, much larger. This knowledge allowed him to get his bearings, in a way. The chairs and television were where they ought to be, and the thick growth on the floor suddenly made sense interpreted as his highly regrettable shag carpeting. The only things that didn't fit were the numerous scratching posts and an extensive piece of cat furniture that filled patches of what should have been empty floor.
The cat furniture, an elaborate system of perches, ramps and hidey-holes that stretched almost to the ceiling, was much bigger, and presumably more expensive, than the piece he'd bought back when he'd had a cat. Why make such a large but detailed replica of his apartment and fill it with cat paraphenalia he'd never owned? The fact that is was scaled to a cat the size of a Greyhound bus only added to the mystery.
Jerry scratched his neck thoughtfully, or tried to, and was faced with an even bigger surprise. He looked at his hand, which for some reason had only four fingers and an oddly inflated look to it. His other hand was the same, gray and rounded with three raised lines down its back. His glance dropped from his hands to a cartoonishly paunchy body. He saw that he was wearing what appeared to be a butler's uniform, rendered in soft rubber. Running his hand down his front showed this assumption to be wrong, and nearly sent him into a panic. He wasn't wearing anything at all. While it felt slightly numb, the tactile sensation he got from both his hand and his torso made it clear that this was his skin -- rubber pressed and dyed into the shape and color of a fat body in a tuxedo, with an odd give to it that suggested disturbingly that he was hollow. Raising his hands to his face, he found what feeled like a blunt snout, huge oval eyes, and two ears the size and shape of dinner plates on either side of his head. Everything was soft and rubbery, and it all reacted to his touch in such a way as to leave no doubt that they were his. A little cry of alarm escaped from his mouth, which came out sounding very much like the noise a rubber squeak toy makes.
A shadow passed silently over Jerry. He turned around to face a pair of beachball sized yellow eyes, and the mystery of the giant cat furniture was solved. The beast looked down dispassionately at him and spoke.
"It's about time you got here."
Scooter. A calico. Died three years ago. Kidney trouble.
"What... what... what..." Jerry squeaked.
"It's been a long time," the cat explained patiently "But I knew you'd end up here eventually, with all my other things. Good thing you're here now. I was starting to get bored."
"What do you mean, 'your things'? What's going on? What happened to me?"
The cat blinked slowly and sighed. "You remember how I used to rub my head on everything? The sofa, the scratching post, the walls... I was rubbing my scent on them. That's how I marked things that belonged to me. All of the things that are mine are here now for me to enjoy, just the way I want them to be. That's how it works. I thought everybody knew that. Anyway, I rubbed my scent on you a lot because you were my favorite thing of all. I must say, though, I like you a lot more like this than the way you were before."
Jerry could only stare up at her in response.
"Anyway, I'm hungry. Go to the kitchen and get me some fish. After I eat, we can play." The cat yawned, showing teeth like white knives.
"I'm so glad you're here now, Toy."
A Cautionary Tale for Pet Owners copyright 1999 by Linnaeus.
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