Chapter 39

13 4 2

by Major Tom

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by Major Tom

I'm unsure why Greg
told Hooman #A
about our neuralace,

considering
how frustrated
Philosopher Jones was at us

when DeeJAY told them
hooman leaders
are shapeshifting lizards,

or when Phoebe told them
we flung a giant rock
at the Jurassic aliens.

Are Buttercup and I
the only felines who
don't let cats out of bags?

Lahea is still a kitten,
so her neuralace
hasn't come online yet;

lace happens in the last stage
of development,
around age three.

As I try to figure out
Greg's reason for sharing intel
Lahea might not even know,

the train sways to a standstill
so passengers can exit
at a stop that isn't ours.

I push my paws against
the scratched-up porthole
to peek into the darkness,

where stars permeate
quiet, distant truths
across a sleeping desert.

Where are all
the exiting people?
The boarding people?

Greg
See anything?

Tom
No.

Greg
Then why'd we stop?

Hooman #A
I don't see markers
on my map app.
No train stop here.

Greg jumps from his seat,
landing with a l th-tap-tap,
gold chains rustling on his neck.

I hurry
into Hooman #A's lap,
protective.

If Greg is scouting the train,
I'm the only one left
to keep Hooman #A safe

should he need protection
from lizardmen or—
Bing-ding-bing.

Lizard-Hiss-Accented
Ceiling Speaker
This is your captain speaking.
Power's been cut
from this high-speed rail.
Power will be restored
once we ensure
it creates significant
carbon emissions.
Your Orange President
would prefer coal.
We will let you know
when installations complete.

The longer the speaker plays,
the more Greg's tail
and spine poof upright.

As he stands
at the other end
of our private car,

he lifts up his nose
and flehmens
at the thickening air.

Greg
I smell several lizardmen
moving around train.

Tom
What about Hooman #A?

Hooman #A
I can fight them.
I don't need thumb-gloves;
I have real fists.

Greg
I don't think
it's a good idea for me
to move on alone.
Major Tom,
if we go together
and keep to just
one car ahead,
we should be able
to thin their ranks
without fighting in this car.

Tom
What if they
make it past us?

Greg
We are smaller; nimbler.
We can retreat back
to protect Hooman #A
should the lizardmen
breach our line.
And he said it himself:
he can punch them off
for a little while.

I look up
from Hooman #A's lap
as he tilts his chin down
to meet my eyes;
then he tilts his head
downward a bit more,
nodding.

Hesitant,
I jump to the floor,
glancing over my shoulder.

Hooman #A thumbs-up
me. What does this
gesture mean?

That I can defeat
the lizardmen without
my thumb-gloves?

But I know that, hooman;
because as hoomanity
evolved for intelligence,

felines honed
over countless generations
how to play with prey.

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