Chapter 46

9 2 2

by Phoebe

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by Phoebe

I'm staring
at Philosopher Jones
when he wakes up.

Hooman #1 is asleep
on the futon with Lahea,
surrounded by powered-off PCs.

Buttercup's perched
on the pagoda cat tower
next to them,
standing watch
at the window
in case any lizards
take advantage of our base
while our leader is vulnerable.

Philosopher Jones was resting
in the middle of the bed,
where the hoomans
normally sleep,
except no one wanted
to disturb him while he's healing;
while he's dying.

I was protecting him
from the foot of the bed—
except, now that he's awake,
I'm more inclined
to harass him.

Phoebe
Did you see any lights?

He yawns a toothy response,
and I see the pale white
of gums without enough blood.

Phoebe
Your ear is jaundiced.

Philosopher Jones
You look lovely, too.

Phoebe
Cat-wit is still fully functional,
I see.

Philosopher Jones
I'm the smartest ass here.

Phoebe
DeeJAY is collecting
reconnaissance by foot,
and the train invasion
was thwarted with lasers.

Philosopher Jones
Very good.
So we might finally
seize one of the officials
of Proxima Centauri B?

Phoebe
We believe we won't run into
any mistakes this time.

Philosopher Jones
Purrfect report.
Now knead my tender areas,
would you?

Phoebe
Sure, what the hell;
while there are any witnesses...

I flatten my ears
and push my paws
into his supple, aging skin.
I'm not looking forward
to becoming this frail;
I'll have to continue to play
with lasers and stuffed mice
into my old age
if I don't want to become
so feathery.

Half his black fur
has gone silver.
His skin is ashen.
Perhaps
there's no avoiding it.

He purrs and head-butts me,
so I stop thinking
about him slipping away.

Once he returns to sleep,
I turn to the door
and about leap
out of my pelt
when I see Buttercup there.

I reluctantly follow her
into the living room,
not wanting to make noise
around Philo as he dreams.

Buttercup
There's an iguana.

Phoebe
An iguana? In Fresno?

Buttercup
I thought it was odd, too.
You think I want
to small-talk with you?

Phoebe
Let's catch it.

Buttercup
I tried. It got away.

I curl my lip over
where one of my teeth are missing.

Buttercup
Don't get fussy.

As I lift a paw
to smack her in the head,
she procures a pastel green tail
the length of her paw,
with neon-orange racing stripes.

My pupils maw open
as I search the thick crevices
between every radiant scale.
The tail is beautiful
and very alien.

Phoebe
That's not an Earth-lizard.

Buttercup
Correct.

Phoebe
Are they sending
first-generations
across all these light-years?

Buttercup
And they contain
GalaNet-disrupting technologies.

Phoebe
No—

Buttercup
Furreals.
DeeJAY encountered one
in the City of Sin,
which means they're spreading
across the West Coast,
at minimum.
I've considered messaging
Cat Society #336,
since they're stationed
on the East Coast...

Phoebe
Yes. Do that.
We must know the extent
of the invasion
before notifying
Philosopher Jones.

Buttercup
N-notify...?
But he's not in his right mind.

Phoebe
He's sharp as a cattack.

Buttercup
I think it's smarter
for us to just handle
this situation directly,
but what do I know?
I'm just a garbage alley cat.

I open my mouth,
yet she's strutting away
before I can respond,
and I'd rather she get on
with contacting the East Coast
then continue arguing with her.

What could the lizards
be planning?
Could they want more
than the authoritarian havoc
they've unleashed
in hoomanity's democracies?

Why interrupt our GalaNet?

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