Author: Steven Holland
“The owl isn’t an owl.”
“What?” I asked.
In retrospect, this was a stupid question. Far better questions to ask would have been “how are you able to talk?” Cats aren’t known for doing this. Or better yet “why am I on a spaceship?” At least, it looked like a spaceship.
My cat looked up at me with her seaweed green eyes and repeated: “the owl isn’t an owl.”
I was struck by her voice. Crisp. Articulate. Confident. This wasn’t the voice of sexy kitty cosplay or a deliberately misspelled internet meme. No, this cat was educated.
The owl – which apparently wasn’t really an owl – flew off its perch and over to me. As it did, a mechanical arm raised a holographic display. The screen filled with some alien language – a combination of letters, hieroglyphics, and a suspiciously high number of purple triangles.
“There’s been a terrible mistake.” said the owl. “Sign this form and you’ll be returned to Earth immediately.”
“As your representative, I would advise against that.” said my cat. “This is an agreement for an invasive, full-body medical screening. Intergalactic law gives you the right to decline.”
The owl clicked its talons and glared at her.
“Uh… I decline to sign.” I said.
A different form appeared on the screen. Before the owl could speak, my cat interjected: “That’s a spleen donor volunteer form.”
“I decline,” I said.
“Fine.” muttered the owl. “Just put your thumbprint here.”
“That means you agree to a memory erasure,” she informed me. “The procedure carries a 3% risk of a fatal brain aneurysm.
“I definitely decline that.”
There was a moment of awkward silence.
“Things were so much better before all these damn regulations.” the owl grumbled. It clicked several buttons and then–
I’m not exactly sure what happened next. I snapped to attention as my car drifted into the ridged edge of the highway. Yanking the wheel to the left, I nearly overcorrected into a passing semi-truck before stabilizing course.
I took a deep breath. Maybe it had all been a daytime nightmare.
“Careful.” said my cat from the passenger seat. “Eyes on the road.”
It had not been a dream. Also, she wasn’t wearing a seatbelt.
As we drove, my cat began giving me instructions. We were going to make some changes at the house. We needed brand new food and water dishes and a litter box. The water needed to be changed every day – from the filtered water of the refrigerator, not the tap. High-quality gourmet cat food, not the cheap processed crap. The bowls needed to be stenciled with her name. Zaphrenia. With a “ph.”
I was glad she mentioned her name. It’s always awkward when you’ve known someone long enough to be their acquaintance, but can’t remember their name.
A sudden thought struck me. Had I ever owned a cat before? Well, I did now. And given the jam she got me out of, returning the favor seemed like the right thing to do.
After shopping at two different high-end pet stores, we returned home. We never spoke of that day again.