Author: Ken Carlson

Mrs Bellingham frowned at her cat Chester. Chester stared back. The two had had this confrontation every morning at 6:30 for the past seven years.
Mrs Bellingham, her bathrobe draped over her spindly frame, her arms folded, looked down at her persnickety orange tabby.
“Where have you been?”
“You woke me up at 3:00 this morning to be let out. I expected you back in a timely manner.”
“It’s not that I don’t trust you, Chester—you have things to do, places to go. I understand. Don’t think I don’t appreciate that.”
Chester’s expression did not change.
“How do you expect me to go back to bed and sleep soundly when you’re off somewhere in the middle of the night. You can understand my position, can’t you?”
He didn’t indicate he could.
“Harrumph. I suppose you want some breakfast.” She produced a can of Fancy Feast Savory Salmon. Chester serpentined between her slipper-covered feet. Mrs Bellingham rolled her eyes at the performance, sighed, but went to get his plate just the same.
She placed his food on the laminated placemat with crayon drawing of a lobster by her grandson, she heard a loud mechanical sound from outside, like the din of an auto repair shop, a minute of metal grinding, compression, then silence.
“What do you make of that, Chester?”
He couldn’t say.
She opened the front door. The suburban street was quiet, no passing cars or sirens. Only the Michelson’s house, a tan split level colonial with blue shutters she never particularly liked, was replaced by a new house, one made of a gleaming silver metal and no windows. Mrs Bellingham frowned.
She dressed quickly, her light blue cardigan, gray skirt, and pearls. She grabbed a fruitcake from the freezer, always prepared, and coerced Chester into his stroller.
Mrs Bellingham looked both ways and crossed the street, her Mary Jane flats clopped on the pavement. Along the neighbor’s driveway, she noticed the new house floated about a foot off the earth. She bristled and knocked on the door.
She waited for someone to answer. She had errands to run, a luncheon at the senior center, and some knitting to do.
The door arose silently revealing a small woman, not unlike Mrs Bellingham. Her glasses were larger with darker frames, and her sweater was a crew neck with sparkles and a picture resembling a two-headed cow.
“Hello. I’m Marion Bellingham. I live across the way at 2720. I wanted to welcome you to the neighborhood.” She paused a moment and ceremoniously presented the fruitcake.
The stranger accepted the gift, cautiously, sniffing at the foil wrap and appreciating the green ribbon. She hoped this wouldn’t take long. She had to finish disposing of the Michelsons, arrange a meeting with her fellow adjutants, and catch up on her needlepoint.
“This is Chester. He’s a friendly cat, mostly. He’s goes outdoors but you should’t expect any trouble from him.”
The stranger certainly hoped not. She was still getting caught up on native practices. She found the practice of a furry domesticated animal in a stroller sized for a small child confusing. Perhaps it was a small child and would lose its fur as it grew.
“Well, I won’t take any more of your time,” said Mrs Bellingham, gathering her cat’s stroller. “Let me know if you have any questions about churches, hair salons, and so forth, I would be happy to help.”
The stranger nodded.
“I hope you enjoyed eating the Michelsons,” said Mrs Bellingham. “My kind arrived decades ago and we’ve feasted on human flesh ever since.”