Taking Care of Bigfoot
1054 words long
They make terrible pets, even the domesticated ones. They can't be housebroken, and they have a distressing tendency to start fires.
Notes from the author:
First off, let’s be clear. No sasquatch appears anywhere in this fictionette. I hope that’s not a disappointment.
Now. In “A Dream of a Thousand Cats,” one of the stories included in Neil Gaiman’s Sandman oeuvre, a kitten learns that the world is unjust because it is upside down. A thousand humans flipped it on its head. Weary of their natural role as prey and plaything, they dreamed together of a world in which they and not cats were the dominant species. They woke to find the dream had not only become real, but had always been real, and so the world would remain until a thousand cats dreamed it right-side up. But whoever heard of a thousand cats agreeing to do anything?
This week’s fictionette was not directly inspired by “A Dream of a Thousand Cats.” But the seed idea—a kitten failing to housebreak his pet human—found a natural home in the world therein described. It could happen before the night of the humans’ thousandfold dream, or it could happen after a thousand cats corrected it. “Before” and “after” mean very little relative to an action that erases itself from the spacetime continuum. Besides, a thousand is such a small number. Cats’ contrary nature notwithstanding, I can only assume the role reversal has happened countless times, and that the world is constantly being replaced by another world that is the only world that has ever been.
Tabby Cub came home from school with his tail held high. He’d been a late bloomer to the hunt, but once he’d begun, he bloomed like the lilacs in summer, all at once in gaudy proliferation. More afternoons than not, he came home carrying prey. But today was different. Today he’d managed to wield the control necessary to capture a small animal without killing it.
He came indoors and transferred his prize from mouth to floor, pressing it securely to the linoleum under a prickly paw. “Mama! Look what I caught!”
Mama Cat was busy making sure that the fur of her left shoulder lay flat and tidy. It’s impossible to satisfactorily describe how irritating fur can be, otherwise. “Child of mine, you know the rules. Dispatch your prey outside; we are not made of carpet cleaner.”
“But I don’t want to eat him! I want to keep him. As a pet.”
Now Mama turned round. She didn’t like what she saw. Her ears went back and she grimaced in disgust. “Kitten, you can’t keep wild humans as pets. Their habits are filthy and they haven’t the intelligence Bast gave rabbits.”
“But, Mama—Lynx and Forest have pet humans, they’ve trained them to comb their fur and sing to them at night, and—”
“How lovely. Have they litter-trained them, too?”
“They haven’t. Because it can’t be done. And unlike Lynx’s and Forest’s parents, I can’t afford a full-time housekeeper. Kitten, the answer is no.”
Tabby Cub’s whiskers drooped. So did his tail. Mama Cat sighed. “Look, you can keep him in the backyard. But—” she said hastily, to forestall the too-grateful gleam in her kitten’s eye— “he’s your responsibility. You’ll make sure he has food and water. You’ll clean up his mess. You’ll maintain his habitat.”
“I will, Mama, I will!”
“You had better. Because if you don’t, I’ll dispatch him myself.” With that dire pronouncement, Mama Cat returned to the problem of her shoulder fur....
This has been an excerpt from the Friday Fictionette for March 2, 2018. Subscribers can download the full-length fictionette (1054 words) from Patreon as an ebook or audiobook depending on their pledge tier.
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