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Olmak waited until the humans had stopped the truck, then tucked himself into a deep recess in the boot, behind the equipment and supplies and cameras. He had cleaned his paws and face as he waited, and leapt out at the earliest opportunity. He was a young kitten, barely ready for the outside world, slim and dizzy in his movements. But something had drawn him here, some distant meowing at the centre of his brain, a distinct mew that no human ear or mind or soul could hear. It was older than humans, carried on wavelengths they had evolved to ignore.

This was not an accident.

"Visit me," the cat said. Olmak had felt compelled to listen. Whether through naivety or loneliness he had heard a mother in the cat's soft voice. Someone was out there away from the cruel city, out in the crueller desert that still ravaged mankind and their creations, the desert that still erased and buried and uncovered in equal measure. The desert where Olmak was certain he would die if he didn't drink soon.

His fur was ginger and white, the stripes bright and noble against the shifting desert sands. The humans had noticed him and tried to capture him as he leapt from the truck, then given up once he scrambled far enough up a sand dune. Now they would leave him to die, turning inward to their pointless digging.

If only they followed me, Olmak thought. They would have found something.

He kept walking up and rolling down the hot sand, digging in with his uncomfortable paws to the colder sand underneath. He wanted desperately to turn back, but by now either way would be death, and so he continued on, following the distant meowing in his brain.

"Don't give up," the cat said to him. Its voice was everywhere at once, outside and inside, as if the voice was the universe.

Olmak kept pressing on through the desert as the day started burning into the night. Somewhere in his mind he was aware that humans did not go here, that their roads ignored this stretch of desert, that it had been ignored by them for countless years. All kittens knew that these sorts of places existed on Earth, triangles and circles and squares of untouched planet that humans had built around but never stepped on. These spaces were declining over the centuries, but all kittens and cats knew inherently where they were. It was, after all, one of their primary hobbies to find places to be left alone. Somewhere to sit and scheme and think about the universe was top priority for a cat, and if they couldn't find silent meditation in the company of their humans, they would travel far to locate it elsewhere.

Olmak thought of this as he slipped down the next sand dune, his young eyes scanning for writhing movements under the sand. There would be snakes and scorpions here, perhaps spiders and other dangers. Kittens were born with knowledge of these things too, their little brains filled with anxieties and defensive moves.

He kept going as the heat bled away into the night. He looked up as the stars began to show in the sky, stars he had known before this life but never seen with these eyes, not yet. He remembered the false stars of the city, helicopters and towering buildings. Each with air ventilation and water fountains and kind humans who sat at desks and quietly fed him as he slept in the warmth of nearby computers. He missed having his fur tended to by humans, that one primate his ancestors had perfected. Of course cruel humans still existed, but what they didn't know was that God herself was a cat with anger management problems and claws larger than some buildings. Olmak thought of her as he carried himself forward, thinking of the humans who threw shoes and shouted and pushed him aside with brushes in the cruel city.

"Humans without cats are beastly things, their brains rot if left unattended," the cat in Olmak's head said with a chirrup and a burr. Olmak thought of this as he remembered his owner, Jomana. He thought of her high-up apartment and her collection of skiing posters and calendars, how she would watch winter sports on the television as the desert tried to batter the city outside. It was as if neither of them belonged there in the towering buildings.

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