Whether it’s pounding feet racing across the carpeted floors, or scrabbling nails across the hardwood, or the cries of Blinky as he tries to meow around his favorite stuffed cow, the brothers in my house are always making noise.
And it’s worse since I began to understand them. I didn’t realize how much chatter was always going on around me until the nanites started working on my ears.
There is a benefit, though, to the implant that is buried in my arm. I have the best sound mufflers in the world.
I can turn off my ears.
I do realize this is less about Space Cats and more about me, but at this point, I’m not certain it’s fair to separate us. I suffer from an infection of their technology, and so I am now a part of their story. So, back to me.
I can turn off my ears!
The first time this happened, it was a bit alarming. I had developed a headache, probably the result of insufficient caffeination, and every time one of my feline companions tore through the room or started chattering behind the sofa, my head would throb. The last straw was when Clyde jumped up next to me and started prattling on about his girlfriend.
I just wanted silence, and I may have shouted that sentiment aloud.
And then I got it. The silence, I mean. It was startling to both myself and Clyde because he climbed on my lap and started patting my ear with his paws.
I realized shortly after what must have happened, as Blinky is a fairly good mime for a cat. And the silence lasted the rest of the day, which was only slightly alarming at the time.
With practice, I learned to turn on my ears as easily as I can now turn them off, with focused thought and will. And I get to enjoy the quiet when the chatter of four housemates becomes too much to handle.
Sarah just wants to write enough books to quit her day job. She does not want police officers to come to her door. She does not want some idiot to total her car. In fact, she really ought to stay away from cars altogether.
Except that’s not how Sarah’s life is working out. She’s got four cats, and they can talk. To her.
And they’re dragging her down their rabbit hole of intrigue and secrets, whether she wants to go or not. Now the question is whether Sarah is willing to accept this new world and the talking cats that come part and parcel, or if she wants the entire situation to return across space from whence it came.
“Why does she do that?” Blinky asked quietly in his language to his brother. Had Sarah overheard, she would have noticed only a small half purr-grunt from the feline.
But she was absorbed in her project. Or maybe just pretending to be absorbed.
“Do what?” Pinky asked. “Talk to us, when she thinks we don’t understand? Negotiate, instead of just getting the job done?”
“Both, I suppose,” Blinky replied. “It’s confusing.”
“She’s human,” Pinky pointed out “Who knows why they do anything?”
Inky sauntered in from the kitchen, his head high and his ears forward. Blinky and Pinky blinked slowly at him as he entered. They watched him wind around Sarah’s leg for a moment, and then when that didn’t elicit any direct attention, he looked at the two of them.
The small, probing meow elicited no response from their human but called the two brothers lying on the sofa to attention.
“We need to meet,” Inky told them before turning to trot up the stairs.
Pinky looked at his less bold brother, bit him, and leapt off the sofa, racing after their captain.
Blinky just sighed. He took the time to stretch before standing and crossing the room to watch Sarah for a moment.
She was indeed quite determinedly typing away on her antique computer. Well, Blinky reflected, antique to him. For Sarah, it was only two or three years old. Disposable, even by human standards. Technologically out of date, but still functional and socially acceptable.
Blinky heard Inky call for him from upstairs, impatient, so he followed the sound of thundering feet that left the upstairs bathroom and ended in the master bedroom.
He arrived in the room that smelled most like their human, and thus was his favorite place to be. No one had yet claimed her pillow as his seat, so Blinky did. In doing so, he absorbed more of her scent into his fur. He would carry it around for the rest of the day, no matter how many fights he stumbled into, and no matter how much he bathed.
Blinky would not admit to having a crush on their human. Not even to himself.
“We’re ready for the Revelation in two days time,” Inky began without preamble. “We landed with the ideal subject. She has been responsive to every test. I am confident that everything will go smoothly.
“But I believe in preparing for the worst just as we hope for the best,” Inky continued.
Blinky watched their captain pace along the faded red bedcover that Sarah preferred. He wondered if Inky seemed a little on edge to anyone else.
Was he telling the whole truth?
“Blinky, if Sarah naps at all for any reason over the next two days, see if you can work in an extra session.”
Blinky nodded and flexed his paws reflexively.
“Pinky,” Inky snapped.
Pinky, who had been examining the area where his testicles had been a month previously, snapped his head up and his leg down. “Yes, Captain?”
“Make sure we’re set on supplies, and that our science is sound. I want you to double and triple check that this is the right time for the Revelation. Make sure we’re not missing anything.”
“You got it,” Pinky replied, relaxing, and resuming his grooming.
Blinky watched the largest of their litter lift his head. “I’ve double and triple-checked our transportation off planet,” Clyde replied before Inky could ask. And when the captain nodded sharply and took another breath to deliver additional instructions, their Engineer continued speaking. “There are enough nanites built up in your system for the transfer. I’ve just straightened out the paperwork for our arrival back home. And Sarah’s been feeding us the good food again. Pinky did a bang-up job with his regurgitation to get us back with the prime stuff. He deserves a raise.”
Blinky grinned. Pinky’s vomit hadn’t been an act.
Pinky hissed. He hated any mention of the illness, and the subsequent smell they’d had to endure until Sarah had arrived home from work.
Inky barely held back his smile at the impertinent report.
Then again, Clyde was everyone’s favorite, Blinky thought fondly. And Pinky’s contribution, purposeful or not, had been helpful.
“Excellent. Just make sure you hide those damn nail trimmers today. If Sarah gets a chance to blunt my tips again, I’m going to have a real problem with delivery.”
Clyde nodded, and lay his head back on the bed.
“Then I suppose that’s all I have. I’m very proud of all of you,” Inky added. “We’re going to go back heroes.”
Blinky sighed as his three brothers left the bedroom, leaving him alone with his task. If Sarah took a nap, it would be in her bed. She felt the sofa was too uncomfortable for anything but visitors.
And she hated how the cushions slipped to end up in an angry pile on the right side of the thing.
He wasn’t sure he wanted to go back. Hero or not, he liked it here. They wouldn’t be the first team to fail at their mission and instead enjoy a life of luxury on this planet.
But he wouldn’t do anything to ruin things for Inky. Their captain believed in this mission with every barb on his tongue, and Blinky loved his brother as much as he loved Sarah.
They would deliver the Revelation. Sarah would help them.