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Cats in Space

The Retrieval

By LizPublished 2 years ago Updated about a year ago 21 min read
What if your living room tiger had an astronomical history...

Ziggy, a Bengal tiger, is laying in his favorite tree in The Ranthambore Tiger Reserve of India. If you were to look up at Ziggy from the ground below you would assume he was sleeping. But, if you were to sit right next to him in the tree, you would hear air vibrating over his laryngeal muscles in a low rhythmic guttural hum. Humans call this tonal fluttering purring. And, human scientists have determined this is a way for cats to communicate happiness or sometimes worry, but that's just because house cats have been using this sound to manipulate humans and their emotions for a long time. All cats know purring is really for two things and two things only; healing or meditation. And, tonight, Ziggy is not sleeping. He’s meditating.

Stewart, a maine coon, sits at the bottom of this tree, looking up, as he calculates the path he’ll take to reach Ziggy for their scheduled interview. Cats have to conduct these sorts of meetings late at night when they are less likely to encounter a human. Because, cats know if humans were to discover how intelligent they truly are, they would want to study them in every way possible and endlessly, resulting in large quantities of innocent deaths. Cats innately know that in order to survive in a world shared with humans, they need to either be feared and respected like Kings or admired and provided for like babies. So, that’s exactly what they've accomplished; wild cats filling the role of the former and house cats, the latter. Meanwhile, the two kinds live a secret life amicably.

Stewart digs into the trunk of the tree with his sharp claws and scrambles up to the lowest branch. Once secure, he readies his spring-like hind legs and straightens the front half of his body aiming it toward the next branch. After doing this several times, Stewart finds himself face to face with Ziggy. He lays down, mirroring Ziggy’s position on the branch, closes his eyes, and begins to practice his own meditation while he waits. Ziggy senses Stewart’s energy and peaks at him with one eye and then shuts it again.

“Hello, my friend,” Ziggy says, a low sleepy rumble to his voice.

“Good evening, Sir,” Stewart says in his sweeter, softer, chirrupy voice, “What do you have for me tonight? Your message sounded urgent.”

“More than I’ve ever had for you before,” Ziggy yawns a great yawn. His pink tongue rolls forward in his mouth, and his white teeth reflect the bright moonlight. He opens his eyes. They glow in a way Stewart has never seen them glow before, “But, I’m not sure you can handle it. I’m not sure any of us can.”

“I’ve spent my life waiting for that one big story,” Stewart says, slightly skeptical but mostly intrigued, “Try me.”

Knowing this was how Stewart would react, Ziggy smiles and says, “Get on my back, I want to show you something.” Stewart does as he’s told. Ziggy is known as The Tiger Prophet by cats across the planet. He is a renowned spiritual genius. Stewart has been assigned to interviewing him regularly for many years now. The two have become good friends, and trust one another on a deep level. Stewart always believed sharing Ziggy’s positivity and wisdom with the world of cats was a good and helpful thing to do. But, despite his respect for his friend, and dedication to the job, Stewart had his own doubts about some of Ziggy's messages, always remaining unbiased and staying open to any possibility, like a good reporter. Holding on to the back of Ziggy’s neck, Stewart is careful not to dig his claws in too deep. He can feel the good energy emanating from his friend's body like fairy dust and it fills his heart with love. They climb higher and higher in the tree until they reach the very top and poke their heads just above the canopy.

“Can you see the stars?” Ziggy asks.

“Yes…” Stewart replies, eager to see where this is going. To Stewart and Ziggy, the night sky looks much different than it does to a human. Naturally, cats can see ultraviolet and infrared light. There are stars and galaxies humans need telescopes and other special equipment to view, while cats see them on a daily basis. But, being exposed to something so incredible and fantastic every day, like anything, dulls one’s excitement for it over time. Stewart had not looked up at the night sky in awe since he was a kitten. It was just there, just another part of life.

“Do you see that bright star there, just to the right of the moon? Brighter than the rest and blinking?” Ziggy asks, pointing with his nose. Stewart sees it immediately. The star is hard to miss, shining brighter than any other star in the sky.

“Yes…” Stewart says, tilting his head to the side in curiosity.

“It’s not a star,” Ziggy’s energy is changing into excited anxiety and Stewart can feel it, “It’s a spaceship. And, there are cats on that ship. And, they are heading here to us…to rescue us. And there are many more ships coming up behind it.”

Stewart blinks quickly a few times. “Rescue us from what?” he asks.

“The end of Earth.”

“The end of Earth? What’s going to happen to Earth?” The hair on the back of Stewart's neck stands up a little bit. He swallows hard.

“Maybe we should start our interview now.”

-----

One month earlier, in a vast room of soft, soundproof walls and shaggy carpeted floors, filled with couches of varying sizes, Nova, a space cat, flicked through her favorite morning news. Her fur was as black as the night sky and speckled with tiny spots of whites and yellows that looked like stars. In the light, she shimmered shades of purple and green. Laying on her back and resting on a pink furry bean bag seat in the corner of the C 341 Spacecraft's Lounge, she held a wireless, portable personal computer with her polydactyl paws. An article titled “Earth’s Final Days” illuminated her velvety black face.

Earth…she thought to herself, why does Earth sound so familiar…

Nova is a historian on board the C341 Spacecraft. C341, along with many other ships, travels and patrols a Galaxy known as The Milky Way. Nova's job is to gather, translate, study, and preserve requested historical data on the area. It has been her dream job, and The Milky Way is her favorite Galaxy due to the endless amount of stories of life it holds. But, her regular assignments are less than thrilling most of the time. So, on slower days in the library, Nova will look through the older electronic documents in search of something new and exciting to spark her interest. This is why Earth sounded familiar to her when she saw that article. When Nova was much younger and newer to the job, the Ship's Captain and Nova's supervisor, Oberon, was called to meet with The Felidae Council of Space at the pupil of the universe. While the C341 stayed just outside The FCS's headquarters waiting for Oberon's return, Nova had no assignments. She spent this time exploring the vast digital library of history on The Milky Way, looking for something to occupy her mind. And, what she found was a discovery made by The Sol Galaxy Research Group approximately 10,000 earth years ago on a small blue planet in The Milky Way originally known as ~~~ , eventually Ertha, now Earth by its inhabitants. Space cats thought they had only just recently discovered Earth at that time and The Sol Galaxy Research Group was surprised to discover a species uncannily similar to Space Cats living there. To their surprise, this species of Earth Cats did not appear to be ruling their planet at all. Instead a Hominidae type, now known as humans, prevailed there. The FCS was notified immediately. Most likely offended and not willing to allow such an atrocity occur, because as all cats know there is no living creature of greater importance than that of a cat, The FCS instructed Sol to study the ruling species closely until they learned what might be the most effective way to help these cats of Earth eventually gain their rightful leadership. After a month's time, a conclusion was met that either force or manipulation would be needed to accomplish the task. Space Cats were sent to Earth to carry out the mission of befriending, teaching and helping the Earth Cats.

What Lulu didn't learn, because certain documentation surrounding this mission had been eliminated from the database years prior, was that early on in their research Sol discovered there was a way to communicate between space cats and these earth cats through a shared piece of anatomy called Henry's Pocket. However, when the Space Cats reached out to the cats of Earth, they were not met with warmth or appreciation. To their surprise, these cats of Earth had once been subversive Space Cats who escaped to their own planet where they could live peacefully and with far less responsibility. So, with hurt egos, and like brood parasites, the Space Cats sent two groups of newly engineered space kittens down to the litters of earth kittens to be cared for unknowingly by the earth cat parents to carry out their mission of cats becoming the rulers of Earth. The first group, Group Force, consisted of kittens who would grow to be majestic but intimidating in appearance, and large and muscular in stature, like the wild cats of earth. This group was supposed to be feared but respected like kings by all the other species on Planet Earth. The second group of kittens, Group Manipulation, were stunted in growth and designed to be incredibly tame and irresistibly adorable, much like the domesticated pet cats of earth. This group was supposed to be admired and doted on like babies, while offering a type of companionship unlike any other to the current rulers of the planet. This could lead, The Sol Galaxy Study Group hoped, to an eventual peaceful abdication. Little did they know these exact roles had already been filled by the Earth Cats and did not at all lead to abdication, but rather to a great companionship with the humans.

Nova continued to read through the article, looking for some kind of clue as to why the planets name sounded so familiar:

'Earth, a tiny blue planet full of life in the solar system of the Milky Way's star Sol, is expected to reach its end on its date September 1st of its year 2032 AD. Recent research has revealed that Humans, the planet's leading species, will most likely be caught completely by surprise. Their scientists currently predict their planet still has approximately 7.5 billion earth years left. They expect humans to die far sooner than the planet itself. This is incorrect. On a date humans called August 27, 1957, a nuclear test was conducted which accidentally launched a metal plate into space at high speed. Humans assumed this plate evaporated and thought nothing much of the mishap. However, their assumptions were wrong. The metal plate was propelled into space gaining speed as it flew, eventually hitting another planet in the Milky Way called Kepler 452b at such a high speed that it claimed a number of innocent lives. Kepler 452b contained life of a much higher intelligence compared to that of Earths. So, it did not take them long at all to discover where the metal plate had come from or to retaliate by sending a much faster much more destructive response hurtling toward Earth.

Although we know very little about Earth, my research for this article revealed a plethora of videos and images shared among humans exhibiting a hilarious and adorable species that looks quite a lot like us. Yes, the destruction of Earth and Humans is not big news to most, but what about these cats?'

Nova stopped reading. The time she'd spent in the Pupil waiting and everything she'd learned about Earth and the cats that lived there came flooding back to her, and she remembered never finding anything about a Retrieval. But, she couldn't remember if that was because she was interrupted by Oberon's return or not. She dropped her personal computer to the floor, and ran for the private library on the other end of the spaceship.

Nova locked herself in the private library and spent two full days looking through all of the historical data on the star named Sol, its solar system, and Earth and its inhabitants. As she had predicted, there wasn't much beyond what she had read through before when she was waiting for Oberon to wrap up his meeting with The FCS so long ago. There was definitely no record of The FCS or The Sol Galaxy Research Group ever retrieving the cats they sent to Earth. The article Luna had read made it clear that humans were still the leading species on the planet, so obviously the mission failed. But, the big question pounding in Nova's head remained: why was there no evidence of a Retrieval?

When she brought all of this to Oberon's attention it was in the semi-privacy of an empty lunchroom, a vast and urban looking jungle of sorts. Small birds of varying colors flew around the rafters of the high ceilings above them, mice scurried around a maze on display under the clear floorboards below their feet.

"And you're absolutely sure you haven't missed something somewhere?" Oberon's voice was hushed as he asked Nova this question in a calm and non accusatory way.

"I'm positive. If there is anything else out there about Cats on Earth, it's been removed from the database, and I highly doubt that. Why would anyone want to do that? There would be no point." The chirping of the birds drowned out her quiet but eager voice. Nova wanted to get this information to The FCS as soon as possible to determine if a Retrieval was in order, but she knew Oberon usually needed time to mull things over before alerting authorities. He didn't seem to be particularly fond of The FCS either, and Nova wasn't exactly sure why that was at the time.

"What about any of the other ships monitoring The Milky Way, would they have documents or data that we don't?"

"It's a shared body of work, we all work from the same historical database."

"Hmm..." A bird landed on the table in front of Oberon, attracted to the small pile of seeds he had used as bait. Deep in thought, Oberon readied his food, packing it with a dose of adrenaline like he does every meal; he slowly pressed his paw fingers down on the bird's tail feathers, dragging it closer to him as it fluttered its wings frantically, and then enclosed the poor thing in between his two thumbed paws shaking it vigorously to disorient it. Then, he pushed it back and forth across the table between his paws, periodically letting it run away for a brief moment before grabbing the frayed tail again and restarting his routine. He never once looked at the bird, but instead stared blankly at nothing while he pondered the information Nova had presented to him. "Maybe we should alert The FCS, see if they want to do a Retrieval." he sighed.

"Excellent idea, sir," Nova did her best to contain the excitement in her response.

-----

Cosimia the Council Manager of The FCS stared blankly at Nova and Oberon, in response to their news, from the digital visual interface that hung down from the ceiling of The C341 Spacecraft's cockpit. The cockpit was dark. Little blinking buttons of light were scattered across the instrument panel that made its way almost all the way around the circular room, matching the space outside the vast floor to ceiling windows at the front. Nova couldn't tell if Cosimia was annoyed or just bored in her silence. After the long pause, Cosimia sighed, "Well, this is inconvenient news...I suppose a Retrieval is in order?"

"Oh Cosi, do we really need to bother with this nonsense? I assume they're a watered-down version of our species at this point anyway," a voice from one of the other council members off screen whined.

"That's enough, Atom." Cosimia hissed before she cracked a forced and obviously embarrassed mechanical smile at Nova and Oberon. She then looked Nova up and down while speaking to Oberon, "We'll be alerting all of the ships in the Milky Way to head toward Earth. Please make contact with the cats of Earth and inform them of our arrival."

"How will we be doing that?" Oberon choked a little on his words.

"She's a historian isn't she?" Cosimia said, no longer looking at Nova at all, "That's what we pay her for. I'm sure you two can figure it out. Once you do, let me know what the plan for that part is. Thank you!" and with that she hung up the call.

-----

"So, in two weeks, a massive, unknown, possibly invisible flying object is going to make contact with Earth and destroy it, all because of a human mishap that occurred 75 years ago?" Stewart asks Ziggy.

"Yes."

"And these space cats are actually our ancestors who dropped us off here to take control of the planet, which failed. Then, they forgot about us. And now they want to come rescue us?"

"Yes."

"And it's up to me to alert and inform everyone by publishing this interview?" The skin under Stewarts fur went white.

Ziggy chuckles a little, "Sort of, but not exactly. The Space Cats will take care of informing and preparing all of us about the plan and actions we need to take. But, it is up to you to break the story. They think their announcement will go much smoother if this interview is published first...you know like a rumor waiting for something to back it up and propel it into truth. Besides, I bet this would look pretty good in your journalism portfolio?"

"How are the Space Cats going to alert every cat on earth? There are more than 400 million of us living across the globe, and probably a significant amount more considering so many of us like to hide most of the time."

"Henry's Pocket."

"Henry's what?"

"It's called Henry's pocket. It's that little extra flap of skin on the outer rim of every cat's ear. See, you have them too. Apparently these are actually built-in antennae that all cats were originally equipped with to receive messages from our celestial brethren! Unfortunately, because these space cats forgot about us earth cats and have upgraded their technology many times over since leaving us here all those years ago, our Henry's pockets have been mostly useless for centuries. But, the Space Cats have retrieved some of their old technology and plan to send out a mass message to all cats informing them of any and all necessary details for The Retrieval."

"Is that how they reached you?"

"No, they just found this equipment today, they reached me two days ago by chance. I was meditating and they caught my frequency while frantically trying different ways to send a message."

"You're kidding..."

"Do you not believe me?"

"I'm not sure..."

------

Meeko, an overweight short-haired black cat, lay on the tiled floor of the living room in his home, soaking up the sunshine radiating through the picture window in front of him. His eyes are closed and his face is turned toward the brightness displaying a look of pure bliss. He is proud of himself this morning. He convinced his human to feed him a second breakfast before she left for her daily obligations. He was getting good at convincing her. When she first brought him home a few years ago, he tried incessant meowing next to his food bowl, but that didn't seem to do him any good. Now, he has learned that dilated pupils, mews not meows, and loud purring while brushing against her leg and blocking her from exiting the front door is far more effective. The moment she kneels down to pet him, he trots toward the kitchen where his food bowl is, looking back at her every few steps and continuing to mew and purr. It doesn't always work for him, but today it did, and his belly felt good and full against the cold tiles.

Suddenly, Lulu, a light gray kitten came dashing into the living room right toward Meeko, her claws scuttling and slipping on the tiles. "OH MY GOD! MeekoMeekoMeekoMeeko! You have to come read this." She says, crashing into him. Lulu and her human Jenna had moved in with Meeko and his human Liz two months ago shortly after the male human James had moved out. Meeko was never particularly fond of James, but he missed him terribly ever since Lulu arrived.

"Lulu, get off me," Meeko rolls his eyes, pushing her away with his paw. He didn't like her, but he was a gentle giant who rarely hissed or spat or hit even when annoyed or upset.

"Okay," Lulu says, flipping herself back up onto her legs, "but you have to come with me and see this. The Tiger Prophet was interviewed again and this time it's big. Like, really really big." Meeko didn't feed into these sorts of things like other cats did. He appreciated a good meditation session every once in a while and understood the benefits of it, but he found the commercialization of it all a bit patronizing.

"I've seen enough of these interviews to know what they all say." Meeko rolls onto his back now, exposing his belly to the sun.

"No you haven't. Not like this one. They are saying there are cats in Space and the world is going to end, you have to come read this."

"The Tiger Prophet said that?" Meeko is surprised. He's never been a fan like the other cats, but he had respect for the positivity the Tiger Prophet conveys. "That doesn't sound right..." Meeko gets up and follows Lulu into her human’s room. They hop up onto the bed and Meeko reluctantly begins to read through the article while Lulu watches him, full of anticipation.

'I've known The Tiger Prophet for many years now, having the exclusive privilege to interview him regularly and spread his message of love and unity. The words of wisdom, spiritual findings, and future predictions Ziggy has conveyed to us through his thoughtfulness, wit, and sometimes craziness over the years has always been helpful and healing for us cats. We all know that The Tiger Prophet brings us together in ways we don't always recognize. Before reading my explanation of the incredible news Ziggy shared with me last night, I ask you to remember all he has done for us...and the great role he has played in our lives here on Earth...' the article began.

-----

A few hours later, Lulu and Meeko lie on the floor of the living room while their humans watch a horror movie. The screen shows a young boy entering a kitchen where his mom appears to be cooking something in the middle of the night, but then she turns around with an ill looking face and the music from the T.V. begins to blare ominously. Meeko isn't quite sure why this is so scary to the humans, but they both scream out in terror before laughing nervously and uncontrollably.

"So, you really don't believe any of it?" Lulu whines at him.

"No. This is stupid, Lulu. It's just a publicity stunt or something." Meeko argues.

A shrill whistling interrupts Meeko and Lulu and the two stop dead in their tracks, craning their necks around and around in discomfort, flopping to the floor and rubbing their ears with their arms. The high pitched whistle fades in and out interspersed with a softer muffled sound of someone rustling fabric and then a voice...

"Te-test?...is this on- hello? ugh...Atom? How do I tell-?" then the high pitched fluting hiss returns briefly before everything goes silent again.

Meeko and Lulu jolt into sitting positions. Their eyes are wide in fear. The hairs on their twitching backs stand straight up as they look frantically at the ceiling above. The voice returns distant at first and then booming:

"No- I've got it. ATTENTION CATS OF EARTH. DO NOT BE ALARMED. I AM COSIMIA, LEADER OF THE SPACE CATS. I AM HERE TO WARN YOU OF THE END OF PLANET EARTH. A VERY LARGE, INVISIBLE WEAPON, LAUNCHED BY THE PLANET KEPLER 452B IN RETALIATION WILL BE ENTERING EARTHS ATMOSPHERE IN ONE WEEKS TIME. THE IMPACT WILL DESTROY EARTH AND ALL OF ITS LIFE. YOU ARE OUR BRETHREN AND WE ARE HERE TO SAVE YOU FROM THIS UNFORTUNATE EVENT. PLEASE BRING YOURSELVES TO THE HIGHEST ALTITUDE NEAREST YOU TOMORROW MORNING BEFORE THE SUN REACHES IT'S HIGHEST POINT IN THE SKY AND WE WILL TAKE YOU HOME TO SAFETY. MORE WILL BE EXPLAINED AS YOU MOVE INTO THIS NEXT CHAPTER OF YOUR LIVES. PLEASE DO NOT TAKE THESE WORDS LIGHTLY." and the voice was gone. Meeko and Lulu stare at each other for a brief moment and then run into Jenna's room to hide under her bed.

Jenna and Liz look at each other in disbelief after watching Meeko and Lulu's odd behavior.

"Oh my god. What are they doing?" Liz asks, giggling nervously.

"It's ghosts. They see dead people..." Jenna whispers, her eyes peeking over the blanket she's hiding behind. The girls burst into laughter.

---

The morning sun shines on Liz's face through her blind-free drape-free window and wakes her up. Squinting, she rubs her forehead and rolls over to cuddle with Meeko. But, he's not in his usual spot.

"Meeks?" she inquires, sitting up on her elbows. She looks around the empty room, sits up fully, rubs her eyes, yawns and stretches. Twenty-four years of age and spritely, she hops out of the bed and peeks her head out of her door into the kitchen at the back of the apartment. Meeko's food bowl still has some food in it from the night before.

"Meeks?" she says again a little louder. Still nothing. A feeling begins to build within her. Not thinking too hard about it, she drags her feet over to the automatic coffee maker and presses the 'brew' button that's blinking readily at her. While she waits, the odd mechanical noises stuttering from the machine, she stares again at Meeko's half full food bowl. "That can't be right." she says to herself and walks through the long hallway to the living room at the front of the apartment. Still no Meeko. No Lulu either.

Jenna swings her bedroom door open across from the bathroom half way down the hallway, "Hey, have you seen Lulu?" she asks.

"No. And, I can't find Meeko either." Liz responds, her voice getting higher with worry.

"Seriously?" Jenna rubs her bedhead hair, still shaking the sleep from her eyes. Liz walks into the bathroom across from Jenna. Jenna checks under her bed frame. They look in Liz's room again. The closets. The apartment is small, there's nowhere else the cats could hide. Liz checks the cabinets in the kitchen feeling desperate before heading to the front door to check outside.

"Meeko is terrified of being outside, but I mean where else could he be?"

"Did someone steal our cats?"

"No, why would they break in to steal a couple of cats?"

"Maybe it was a cat burglar..."

"That's not funny." and that's when Liz notices the cats on the sidewalk across the street. An endless hoard of them walking in the same direction. She points, and exclaims in disbelief, "Jenna. Look!"

---

A news reporter stands under a darkened sky, filled with round black space crafts of enormous size. Each looks to be approximately fives miles wide in circumference. The news reporter is trembling as she speaks, "My name is Emma Weston and I am here in Tucson Arizona, reporting to you live from Cat Mountain Lodge just outside of Tucson Mountain Park where an incredible number of cats have arrived and are being taken up into the UFOs you see above me here in the sky." She chokes on her dry throat before inhaling sharply and then eagerly begins again, "I came out here because of the cats swarming when suddenly these UFOs just appeared like a minute ago," losing her professionalism a little in her reporting, she forgets to move the mic with her head as she looks back and forth from the camera to the spacecrafts above, "it was like they had some sort of invisibility shield turned on? like they were already here, waiting? I don't know what they want, but all these kitties seem to be drawn to them...I- I don't know," she drops her hand holding the mic down against her thigh and says almost inaudibly to someone off camera, "I need to go look for Mittens, Mike, I can't let them take her..." and she runs off screen.

The cameraman continues to film the space crafts in the sky, when suddenly he jostles the camera to the right and zooms in on a black and white cat floating vertically through the air up toward one of the space crafts. The cat's face, majestic in the pale green glow, shows an expression of calm and sadness.

Sci FiShort Story

About the Creator

Liz

Welcome! My name's Liz, and I love getting lost in the magic of writing. I love to share the adventures and characters that come into my mind. So, pull up a chair, grab some popcorn, and let my words take you somewhere new!

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Comments (1)

  • Heather Hubler2 years ago

    I loved this concept!! So inventive and really plays to the idea that cats are so much smarter than we give them credit for. There were so many things going on here, and I thought you did a great job of blending them together by the end. Well done! I would definitely keep reading :)

LizWritten by Liz

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