Saturday, April 14, 2007

Cat With A Past

Cat With A Past

The Cat
THE CAT LAY sprawled on the stainless steel table, its limbs strapped firmly to prevent it from moving. It wanted to lick its fur to clean off the scent of those that had been handling it and the smell of the antiseptic that covered everything. Its eyes nervously darted back and forth at the people in their white clothes as they moved around the room.
The doctor brought the large needle over to the table and unmercifully stabbed it into the cat. It screamed as he slowly depressed the plunger until it was empty. The cat lay silent, its eyes glazed, not understanding what was happening. Finally, drowsiness overcame it and sleep came.
The cat opened its eyes, still strapped to the stainless steel table. New perceptions overwhelmed the animal as thoughts taunted its mind. Where am I? What am I? These people, why have they strapped me down? They are bad people.
The doctor moved toward the cat again, another large needle protruding from his hands. He injected it into the cat's back and slowly squeezed the plunger once again. The cat didn't scream this time. Instead it thought about what was happening to it.
The cat, or what was left of its original genetic makeup, awoke. It was now something else...rather someone else. It found difficulty in hiding its newfound human thoughts from those who watched as it lay there. It knew that they expected some type of reaction.
I am a doctor, it thought. They probe and poke me looking for some result. They have injected what I was into this creature, some kind of experiment. I will not give them their results, for if they believe I am a failure, perhaps it will be an opportunity to escape. I will live again...

The Prospective Owners
"WHY DOES IT have to be a cat? I hate cats!" Milt argued.
"Well, I love cats! I want one and that's final," Rene said, folding her arms across her chest. Milt, recognizing the finality in her stance, knew he was in trouble. Trying to salvage this dispute, he changed his tact.
"What about the new breeds? Everyone has them now and—"
"Those aren't cats," she said disdainfully. "They're mixed with human DNA. It removes the entire real cat from them. I want a full bred cat!"
"But the new breeds have all the nasty cat traits removed. They are bred to be the perfect pets," he said, still not giving up. "Some of them have even been given speech capability. There's no tearing, chewing, scratching or..."
"I don't want one of those machines," she said in a scathing voice. "That's all they really are. I want a real cat."
Rene whirled and stomped out of the kitchen. As Milt exhaled and prepared to follow her, he heard the bedroom door slam and knew he was sofa-bound for the evening. After twenty years of marriage, after all the ups and downs, it had come to this...
"All over a damn cat," he snorted. "Why couldn't she like dogs or fish? The only things cats are good for are road ornaments, especially under the tires of my car." He walked over to the sofa and settled down for the night.
Milt dreamt of his childhood, his grandmother in particular because she had always been so kind to him. He smiled. Then he remembered her cat, and frowned. A big, fat, ugly cat named Jingles. It lived upstairs, usually sitting on the window ledge next to the entry door to the flat as if guarding it. Every time he would go by, it hissed at him and on more than one occasion it lashed out at him. He still wore many scars that reminded him of his trips upstairs. Oh...how he hated that cat.
In his dream, he was walking up the stairs at his grandmother's house, trying to be quiet so as to elude the cat. Stepping onto the main landing, he looked around carefully. The cat was nowhere in sight. The windowsill where Jingles usually resided was blessedly empty and the window was open. Joy suddenly filled him as he imagined the cat finally meeting its demise and falling off the windowsill. Young Milt smiled, conjuring the image of the cat backstroking in a pool of its own blood on the hard cement below.
Suddenly from a shelf above the storage cabinet, the cat leapt at him. The surprise and momentum of the cat drove him to the floor. Jingles sat on his chest, hissing and displaying its claws in a sign of supreme dominance, its eyes locked onto his as it began to rip out pieces of flesh from his chest. He screamed....
"Wake up, Milt, you're dreaming. Wake up," Rene said, shaking him.
"No...it's killing me!" he screamed, flailing his arms in front of him, warding off the attack.
"You were having a bad dream," she said in disgust. "Get up! It's time to get ready for work, anyway."
Her demeanor from the evening before was obviously still alive and well, he thought, as he tried to shake off the remnants of his nightmare. Few words passed between them as they prepared for work.
After work, Milt joined his good friend Tony for a beer. He finished explaining the previous evening's events to Tony.
"Talk about a rock and a hard spot." Tony chuckled. "It doesn't sound like you have a whole lot of maneuvering room."
"No, when Rene gets like this, she's like a boulder. Unmovable." Milt downed his remaining mouthful of beer. Tony sat quietly gazing out at the people passing by outside.
"A plain cat does not come with a cheap price tag either," Milt commented. "They're getting scarce and run about five grand." He looked at Tony's empty beer glass and asked, "another beer?" There was no answer. "Hey, Tony, do you want another beer?"
Tony returned his gaze to Milt. "Oh...ah...no thanks. I was just thinking. I know an old friend who works at one of the smaller labs that's involved with those new breeds of cats. He might be able to help."
"How so?"
"Well," Tony began, staring into his beer, "what if you told Rene you bought a real cat and not a new breed? Do you think she would know the difference?"
Milt thought for a moment. "I don't know. Why?"
"What if you were able to get a kind of new breed at a good price? Would you be interested?"
"Well, I suppose so, but what do you mean by 'a kind of' new breed?"
"This friend of mine," Tony said, lowering his voice, "he makes some money on the side by taking the rejected cats, the ones that don't take the DNA splicing well enough to qualify to be sold by the sanctioned dealers, and sells them on the side. Normally they're destroyed, but my friend has been known to...well...'misplace' a few of them and sell them fairly cheap."
"What kind of shape are they in?" Milt asked skeptically. "They don't have two heads or anything do they?"
"No. Of course not. But, I tell you what, let me make some calls tonight and see what I can find out. Okay?"
"Sure," Milt said, thinking of the nice comfy bed he wouldn't be sleeping in again tonight. "I really appreciate anything you can do for me, Tony."
"Not a problem." Tony smiled. "I think I will have another beer."
The Facility
"HEY, STAN," DOCTOR Olivetti called, "got one more for you tonight."
Stan turned to see Doctor Olivetti, the primary geneticist at the facility, wheeling in a cart with a sedated cat on it.
"Didn't make the grade?" Stan said gazing at the still feline.
"No, not even close. Bad DNA I suspect," the doctor said.
Stan scratched his head. "You know, it will probably be tomorrow before I..."
"Have a good night." The doctor said, ignoring Stan, as he turned back toward the corridor of the central lab facility.
"You too, Doc," Stan said sarcastically as he watched the departing figure.
Turning toward the cat he said, "And for you, little kitty, a reprieve. And for me...payday."
When the phone rang, Stan answered, "New World Laboratories, Stan Lawsom speaking."
"Hey, Stan. It's Tony. How the hell are yah?"
"Hey, Tony, pretty good. How about you?"
"Can't complain. Hey...ah...I have a friend looking for a cat, a cheap cat. You don't just happen to have any 'lying around' do you there, buddy? If so, you might be able to line your pockets a bit."
Stan gazed toward the cat in the cage; it was beginning to stir. "I might be able to help out your friend. You're...ah...sure he's legitimate?"
"Oh yeah, no doubt about it. Known the guy for years. Work together."
Stan looked around to make sure he was alone. "Let me give you a call tomorrow. See if I can scrounge something up."
"Sounds good."
Stan lowered his voice. "Oh, and, Tony, tell your friend the price is a grand, okay?"
"Got you. Look forward to hearing from you."
TWO DAYS LATER, Milt and Tony sat in a strange bar in an area of town they didn't frequent very often.
"Why did he pick this place?" Milt asked, carefully avoiding eye contact with anyone.
Tony answered in a low tone. "Stan said he could get in a lot of trouble for doing this. It's not just losing his job, but you've got health agencies and all kinds of Feds that get involved in something like this. Imagine what would happen if some crazy strain of DNA got lose in a cat or dog and they escaped and began to breed."
"I hadn't ever thought about it that way," Milt answered, his voice unsure.
"Well, you had better," Tony said seriously, "because, if you get caught in the act of buying the animal, you're in for a long haul also."
Their discussion was interrupted by Stan's arrival.
"Hey, Tony, old pal," Stan said, as he walked up. Tony turned and they shook hands.
"Stan, this is my friend Milt. He's the 'interested party' I mentioned to you on the phone."
"Pleased to meet you." Stan extended his hand to Milt, who reciprocated.
"I have the item," he said to Milt. "Do you have the money?"
"Yes, where is...the 'item?'" Milt nearly whispered.
"Out in my car." Stan jabbed his thumb over his shoulder. "I thought it would be better to conduct the transaction outside in the alley next to this place."
"Good thinking," Tony said. "We're parked a block down. We'll meet you in the alley in five."
A few minutes later they assembled in the alley. Stan removed the cat carrying container from his car. He opened it, removed the animal, and handed it to Milt.
Milt backed away, turned to Tony and spoke in a low voice. "Ah...Tony, can you check it out for me? You know me and cats...I wouldn't know a good one from a bad one."
"Sure. Hand it to me. We have to be sure, after all. It's a gift for the missus."
Stan shrugged, and handed the cat to Tony while looking at Milt with an expression that said, "Who cares if the guy doesn't like cats, as long as I get the money."
Tony ran his hands through the cat's fur, looking for any obvious deformities. Milt stared at it, realizing it has been quite a while since he'd been around a cat. This one was the color he thought people referred to as a "tabby," although he wasn't really sure. He still thought all cats should be under the tires of a fast moving car.
As if the cat had heard his comment, the animal turned toward Milt. Feeling the diamond shaped pupils staring at him, Milt shivered.
"Are you sure the animal is safe?" he asked Stan, backing a little farther away.
"Sure it is. It just failed the DNA assimilation tests. It seems kitty here possesses the traits it was injected with, but for some reason the animal fails to display them. Can't sell a damaged product you know. Regulatory agencies say it has to be destroyed."
"So, it will act like a regular cat, then?"
"More or less, I guess." Stan shrugged.
"What does that mean?" Milt still felt the feline's eyes on him.
"What do you want for a grand? A guarantee or something?" Stan said sarcastically. "It means just what I said. It's not one hundred percent cat anymore. There's some human DNA in there lurking about and I don't know what it will do. The doc says that if the traits don't show up within three days after introduction, chances are they never will, but to play it safe, they destroy them."
Milt turned to Tony. "Well, what do you think?"
"Looks like the genuine article and all. Up to you, buddy. I'm sure Rene will be pleased," Tony said, still stroking the cat.
Milt thought for a few seconds, then handed an envelope to Stan, who immediately opened it and counted the money within.
"If something should go wrong..."
"No refunds and don't call me," Stan said, already getting into his car. "Just take it out and shoot it or something. I've taken some hefty risks by doing this." Placing the envelope inside his jacket pocket, he smiled. "It's been a pleasure doing business with you, boys. And hey...you can even have the carrier for free. Adios..."
Stan left Tony, Milt, and the cat in the alley. Tony placed the cat into the carrier and put it on the back seat of the car. Milt sat in the front seat, still imagining the eyes of the cat continuing to bore into him.
At least Rene will be happy. She better damn well be for a thousand dollars and my sanity.
The Feds
AGENT MICHAEL CUMMINGS stood in the outer office of Assistant Director Sorelson of the FBI.
"You may go in now," the secretary said curtly.
He entered and was quickly directed to a seat by the motion of a hand.
"Agent Cummings," the Assistant Director said. "You are aware of the DNA to animal project?"
"Yes, sir, I am."
Sorelson gave a brief nod. "You are also aware of the program to dispose of potentially dangerous DNA, past and current?"
"Yes, sir, I am."
"Well, there has been some kind of screw up. One of the lab workers decided he wanted to get even with the world. Some of the worse DNA in the lot has gotten through and made its way into civilian laboratories."
Agent Cummings grimaced at the thought of what could happen if the DNA got loose and spread. The Assistant Director handed him a folder. The file tab read: DNA 375ABD. He opened it and quickly scanned its contents.
"This is your assignment." Sorelson tapped the folder. "Track it down and either return it or destroy it."
"This one may be difficult to capture if the process has already occurred," Agent Cummings said after reviewing the report.
"Use the special unit if you have to, but keep it quiet. If word were to get out about this..."
"I understand." He rose from the chair and left the office.
The Doctor
"YOU UNDERSTAND THE importance of the matter, Doctor?" Agent Cummings began, "and that this visit is not for discussion with anyone."
"I understand," Doctor Olivetti said in a low tone. "How could this have happened?"
"Whenever humans are involved, there is always a chance of something like this happening. The DNA was intentionally mishandled and sent to the wrong facility."
"Well, I can understand the concern, but why the federal interest?"
"It's not so much the DNA being mishandled," Agent Cummings said, pausing as if he gauged his next words. "It's who the DNA originally belonged to that has federal interest."
"So whose DNA is it?" the Doctor asked his interest piqued.
The agent's lips parted in a thin smile. "Let's just say that some DNA does not need to be reintroduced into the world as we know it. The bureau has its own project underway that is incorporating the DNA from people who have, or had, unique investigative techniques and talents. They incorporate them into dogs and cats. These animals can assist dramatically in the solving of crimes. On the other hand, we are also making sure that the wrong type of DNA does not get reintroduced. In this case, that is exactly the type of mishap that has occurred. Instead of being removed and destroyed, it was distributed by the one facility that is licensed as the only distribution point for the genetic material. Your lab was the destination of the material."
The doctor stared in amazement as the FBI agent finished his story. He returned his gaze to the log book that contained all DNA records.
"Here it is," the doctor said excitedly pointing to an entry. "The DNA number matches up. It says here, 'Number 375ABD. Animal destroyed.'"
The agent looked into the log, again smiling a thin smile, then looked back at the doctor. The agent raised his eyebrows. "Your assistant is in charge of destroying the animals?"
The doctor snorted. "He's not really my assistant. He's more of a handy man of sorts. The company couldn't afford an assistant with credentials, if you get my drift."
"Then perhaps we need to talk to your assistant," the agent said as he closed the book.
The Interview
"AIN'T I SUPPOSED to have a lawyer present or something?" Stan asked Special Agent Cummings.
"By the book, yes," Agent Cummings said, positioning himself behind Stan. "However, let me explain the situation to you. You see, Stan, this matter is so important that I will ensure you do not get prosecuted as long as you cooperate."
"Prosecute me for what? And how do I know you're telling the truth?" Stan asked, beads of sweat breaking out on his large forehead.
"You don't," Agent Cummings snapped. "You're going to have to trust me on this."
"Humph. Trust you? I want reassurance that..." Stan started to say, but stopped as he was lifted out of his chair by the agent and held against the wall. His feet dangled several inches off the ground. Special Agent Cummings was not even breathing hard.
"Trust me on this, Stan," Agent Cummings breathed into his face. "I don't have the time to mess with little petty reassurances. Tell me who you sold this cat to, DNA 375ABD, or else you will spend a very long time in a 'special' jail where they like to use the inmates as test subjects."
Stan hesitated as if his fear had stolen his tongue. Finally he spoke in a quavering voice.
"I don't know any cat by that number. Let me see the log and I can probably figure it out by the date."
Special Agent Cummings lowered him to the ground. Before removing his hands from Stan's clothing, the agent smoothed the rumpled fabric. He directed Stan to the seat he had previously occupied.
Trembling, Stan sat and flipped through the logbook. Once he found the number, he pointed to it. Agent Cummings studied the date across the column.
"That was only four days ago," Stan said, a puzzled look crossing his face. Then with apparent dawning relief, he said, "I remember! I sold the cat to a friend of a friend."
"Does your friend of a friend have a name?" Agent Cummings inched closer to Stan.
The Gift
"HAPPY BIRTHDAY, HONEY!" Milt placed a large wrapped box on the table.
"Oh thanks," she said, nonchalantly, staring at the package. She looked at him suspiciously. "Wait a minute, my birthday is not for another two months. What's up with this?"
"Let's call it an early present, okay? Now, come on and open it."
"All right," she said sighing, tearing the paper away from the box. "What's in here?"
"You'll find out soon enough." Milt imagined the feel of the lovely bedroom mattress. "Come on now, what's taking you so long?"
Finally, pulling the last piece of tape off, she opened the box. Her expression was emotionless as she looked inside the box.
"What's wrong, honey?" Milt asked, his breath catching in his throat. "I thought you said you wanted a cat?"
"Oh...I did. It's beautiful," she said, picking it up carefully. She cradled the cat like a baby in her arms. "It's...beautiful," she said again, as tears glimmered in her eyes. She stared at Milt, and suddenly suspicion crept back over her face. "It's not one of those new breed cats is it?"
"Nope, it's the real McCoy," Milt said, watching as the cat turned toward him and...smiled?
Home Sweet Home
RENE WAS EXTREMELY happy with the new addition of the cat to the family. She debated for days over what to name it.
"Don't you have any ideas, Milt?"
"Yes, plenty," he muttered, "but none you'd like."
"Come on now," she said, playfully swatting him, "be serious. I know you aren't fond of cats, but this fella is now part of the family. Aren't you?" She stroked the cat's back. It was playing with a string with a bell on the end. The cat ignored her and fiercely slapped at the bell with its paw.
"What was the name of the cat your grandmother had? Rene asked
"I don't remember," Milt lied.
The cat now found how to make the bell on his toy jingle.
"At least think about it," she pleaded.
Jingle...Jingle.
"It was a long time ago." The bell ringing was becoming unnerving as he relived those memories.
Jingle...Jingle. Jingle...Jingle.
"Are you really trying to remember?"
Jingle...Jingle.
"For God sakes, Rene, I'm thinking." Milt felt his anger growing. She never knew when to leave something alone. His attention was drawn to the incessant jingle of the bell.
Milt grumbled, "Why don't you ask the cat what its name should be?"
"Don't be silly, and stop calling him an 'it.' He's a 'he.'"
Jingle...Jingle...Jingle...Jingle.
"Well, maybe he wants to be called Jingles. He seems to have a knack for it," Rene said.
Milt's stomach soured. The thought of the cat having the same name as his grandmother's cat was revolting.
"Renee, I don't think..."
"Jingles it will be," she said picking up the cat.
Milt knew it was useless to argue. Rene would insist that it was providence or something that the cat was ringing the damn bell. It was all part of the big scheme of things in life. And one cannot go against providence.
He stared at the cat. It obviously loved it when Rene held it. It perched its head on her shoulder and peered at Milt.
It winked?
First Night
MILT WAS DRAGGED from sleep by the sound of the alarm clock. He felt miserable, his sleep having been continually disturbed by the cat. It wouldn't stay in one spot on the bed. It would come and go all hours of the night; at one point he heard it in the bathroom messing around.
He got out of bed and headed for the bathroom. After using the toilet, he groggily grabbed for his shaving stuff to begin his morning ritual. He applied the shave cream to his face and began the task of getting rid of the night's stubble.
"Ouch! What the hell?" he exclaimed as he dropped the razor and looked into the mirror.
There was a gash in his neck starting from his ear and running a good four inches along his neck. Blood was beginning to flow and he dabbed at it with a hand towel from the rack next to the sink. He picked up the razor and saw that the blade was unusually jagged; he thought it odd, having never seen a blade so gouged before.
"I could have slit my damn throat if I hadn't stopped," he said looking into the mirror at the wound. At that moment, Milt heard a tsk-tsk-tsk sound from the bed. He turned to look and saw Rene peacefully sleeping and the cat looking at him from beside her. He felt a cold chill, but immediately dismissed the thought that the cat had made the sound. But was the damn thing grinning at him?
Dismissing the look, he decided to forgo the shave this morning. He removed his pajamas and turned the shower on. As it warmed, he stepped in and slid the plastic curtain closed. The warm water stung the cut on his neck, causing him to wince from the pain. He heard the sound of the hair dryer click on. Rene must be up and doing her hair. He rinsed under the soothing warmth, reveling in its feeling. The sound of the hair dryer got louder.
When did Rene get a shower? She'd been sound asleep just a few moments ago? Suddenly the hair dryer was thrown into the shower, landing on the puddle-filled floor near the drain. Instinctively, without thinking, Milt lunged out of the shower pulling the plastic curtain, rings and the rod with him. He heard the arc and spark of electricity, the sound of the circuit breaker in the outlet popping and then the smoldering of wiring. Landing on the bathroom floor, wet and bruised, he found himself looking in the glimmering cat eyes just a few inches from of his face.
"I've got nine lives. How about you, Milty?" the cat said in a low whisper, smiling.
It turned and walked away.
The Morning After
RENE AWOKE FROM the noise in the bathroom and sat up in bed.
"Milt, what's going on?" she asked rubbing the sleep from her eyes. "I thought I heard something fall. Why are the lights off?"
He wanted to scream for Rene to run for her life. They had a crazy cat and it was trying to kill him, maybe both of them.
"I'm on the floor," Milt said to Rene in a low voice. "How about giving me a hand?"
Rene got out of bed, walked over to him.
"What the hell happened to you, Milt?" she asked, helping him to the bedroom.
"The hair dryer somehow found its way into the shower," he answered looking around the room for the cat. He didn't see it anywhere.
"What?" She was looking at him skeptically. "That's ridiculous. Are you sure it wasn't hanging on the towel holder next to the shower and it didn't just fall in?" She noticed the large cut on his neck. "How did you get the gash under your ear?"
"The razor blade...something wrong with it. Defective or something..." Milt muttered.
The cat suddenly jumped up on the bed. It had one of Milt's ties, playing with it. It looked up and stared at Milt. Milt stared back wondering if it really spoke to him or had he imagined it? Perhaps he had been knocked unconscious when he jumped from the shower, and dreamed the rest?
"You better take it easy there, honey," Rene said, concern in her eyes. "Too many bad omens for one day. I'll get you some coffee. You sit here and rest."
Rene headed for the kitchen. Milt grabbed a towel and began to dry himself. As he turned, he saw the cat had tied his necktie into a hangman's noose and was swinging it from its teeth, back and forth. It dropped the tie on the floor.
"Want to try it on, Milty? I'll make sure it fits nice and snug," the cat said. "Oh, and don't worry, I'll take care of Rene for you. She's the 'cat's meow,' no pun intended."
"What are you?" Milt asked, his voice a mere whisper, as he stared at the cat.
The cat stared back at him, then looked toward the door, as if checking to be sure they weren't overheard.
"Well...what do I look like there, Milty?" The cat had sarcastic grin on its face. "I guess I look like your average mouse chasing, garden variety cat. But no, I'm not just any cat. I am a brilliant cat. I have goals. One is that I will be the leader of all cats because my intellect is superior."
"Why are you trying to kill me?" Milt asked, still unable to believe he was carrying on a conversation with a cat.
"Nothing personal you understand, Milty," the cat said, "but, unfortunately, you're in the way. There's not room for two of us here. But...I will be a gentleman about it. I come from a very distinguished English background; highly educated you might say. In fact, in my former life, I was a doctor. I don't quite understand the process by which I have been transformed or placed into this feline body, but considering the options of death or this, I'll take this...for the meanwhile anyway."
"This can't be real," Milt said, shaking his head. "You're a damn cat!"
"You're not listening, Milty. I am, or was, a gentlemen of taste in my era. I remember the dark streets of London, the fog in the evening...the control and power of domination I exerted over most people. My point is, I do what I say no matter what it takes, or how long it takes. I have toyed with the most intelligent men from my time. Many thought they could best me...but there was only one that I had difficulty with. But that's another story for some other time. As for you, Milty, I want you gone. You can either leave or I will make you leave permanently."
"You little piece of crap." Milt's fear disappeared as anger took over. He lunged for the cat. The cat easily jumped away, bounded off the bed and stood in the doorway. Milt turned on the bed looking for the cat.
"I will be back for you, you fool," the cat spat at Milt from the doorway. "Rest assured, your death will be a painful one."
With those parting words, the cat took off down the hallway. Rene was walking toward the bedroom as the cat passed between her legs. It stopped in front of her and said, "I will return, my dear," and then dashed through the sliding glass door that was open. Milt came running out of the bedroom, almost toppling over Rene.
"What's going on here?" Rene asked, frozen in place. "The cat...it spoke to me."
"Where did it go? We have to kill it!" Milt screamed. "It's an abomination! Some kind of crazed doctor from London who was put into a cat's body or something!"
"Kill it? Doctor from London? What's going on, Milt?" Rene asked incredulous. "What's going on? Tell me everything and tell me right now!"
Milt told Rene all that had transpired, beginning with the purchase of the cat to what happened in the bathroom earlier that morning. She was disappointed in what he had done, but admitted that maybe she, too, was at fault for what was happening.
"I shouldn't have been so stubborn about it," she said, tears in her eyes.
"And I shouldn't have gone out and tried to be cheap." Milt hugged his wife. "I should have gotten the real thing. Now look at the mess I've gotten us into."
"It's all right, Milt. What's done is done," she said, hugging him back. "What do we do now? Do we report this...thing to the authorities?"
"We have to do something. It said it would be back."
The Visit
THE DOORBELL INTERRUPTED their conversation. When Milt opened the door, he immediately knew he was in trouble. Standing there was a tall man dressed in a poorly tailored black suit, the lump on the right side of his jacket clearly indicating a weapon...a combination which could only mean Fed.
"Mr. Capetti? Mr. Milt Capetti?" the man asked, flashing a badge.
"Yes, that's me. Can I help you?" His stomach lurched as his fear of his visitor's employment was confirmed.
"My name is Special Agent Cummings. I'm here to see you about a cat."
Milt, shocked by the comment, hesitated, not sure if he should deny or confirm what the agent said. At this point, he didn't know in whom he could trust.
"Please, come in Agent Cummings." Milt escorted the agent to the kitchen where he and Rene had been discussing the cat earlier.
"Agent Cummings, this is my wife Rene," Milt said, taking his wife's hand.
"Pleased to meet you ma'am." The agent took a seat at the table. "Obviously, I know you are in possession of a cat that you illegally purchased..."
"Was in possession, is more like it," Milt interjected, deciding to trust the man. "It high-tailed it out of here about ten minutes ago."
"That may complicate matters somewhat," the agent said with a furrowed brow. "Did it say it would be back?"
"Yes, it did," Milt answered, surprised at the agent's statement about the cat saying it would return.
"You sound like you know what it is...or was?" Rene asked the agent.
"More like 'who it was,' ma'am, would be more accurate."
"What's going on, Agent Cummings?" Milt asked. "A psycho talking cat is trying to kill me, federal agents in my home? What's the deal?"
Agent Cummings took a deep breath. "Sir, the less you know about what's going on the better. Basically, this is a classified operation, a possible matter of national security. Right now, if we can capture the cat, we will forget about all that has happened. Do you understand?"
Milt stared at him in confusion, thinking maybe it would be better if he didn't know. Finally he answered. "Yes, we understand. What do you want us to do?"
"You're sure it made threats to come back?"
"It most certainly did. It was quite convincing that it wanted me dead."
"Then it will be back, probably tonight," said Agent Cummings emotionlessly. "I will have to bring some help over to apprehend it. Of course I will need you both here as bait. Are you up to it?"
"Whatever it takes to end this nightmare," Rene said.
"Amen," Milt agreed.
The Trap
LATER THAT EVENING, Agent Cummings returned.
"We're all set. I have deployed our special unit outside. I need you to open the sliding glass door just a few inches."
"Won't that make it easier for the cat to get in?"
"Please, sir, just do as I ask," the agent said firmly.
Milt did as he was told.
"Okay, its late, why don't you two go to bed," Agent Cummings said.
Seeing their looks of distress, he added, "don't worry, I'll be inside if anything goes wrong."
Milt and Renee glanced at each other, then headed off to their bedroom.
OUTSIDE, THE TWO special agents shuffled quietly among the shrubbery.
"Are you sure he'll return so soon?" the gravelly voice of one of the agents asked.
"Yes. I am quite sure," the other responded with an undeniable air confidence.
"What's the plan?" the gravelly voice asked.
"It is a relatively simple plan. I have scouted the area thoroughly, examined all minute traces of evidence. Our feline friend has already been back and scouted the territory. I would guess it will try to enter through the glass door."
"Is that why you told Cummings to ensure it is left open?"
"Precisely not," the confident voice answered.
"I don't understand?" the gravelly voice said, obviously confused.
"Our friend will see that the door is left open, and for that exact reason, will not use it. It will be suspecting a trap in anticipation of its return."
"Then what?"
"Once it sees that a trap has been laid, the only obvious means of entry is through the crawl space access. It is there I instructed Cummings to rig the trap and then..."
"What's wrong?"
"Shhh! Our feline friend is here," the confident one whispered.

The Capture
MILT AND RENE were awakened from their light doze by the screeching of a cat mixed with yells of a man. They came running out of their room and were met by Agent Cummings.
"It's over, we have it," he said, simply. "The agents have it netted and are transporting it to the truck."
"How did they capture it so easily?" Rene asked.
"Well, according to the special team," the agent stated, "it was merely a matter of tricking it into thinking that the obvious was a trap, thereby causing it to look for another point of entry, which was indeed the true trap."
"It sounds like some kind of mind game," Milt said, relief flooding his body.
"In a way it was," the agent said, smiling cryptically. "You see, they have met before, a long time ago, but that is something you need not know. As I promised, all is as it was, and I will take my leave. And, Mr. Capetti, next time buy your cat from a reputable dealer, not in an alley."
Special Agents
OUTSIDE, AGENT CUMMINGS checked to ensure the cat was stowed away properly in the transportation van. Seeing the cat in the cage brought him satisfaction that the great ordeal was over. The cage bore a conspicuous, bright yellow tag that read: Dr. Moriarity.
Agent Cummings petted the heads of the two dogs that were lying in the back of the van.
"Good work, fellas," he said, then closed the van's doors.
The engine roared to life and the van was on its way.
The bloodhound seemed deep in retrospection as the English schnauzer stared at him.
"Really, Holmes, so dramatic?" the schnauzer said.
"No. No. Elementary, my dear Watson. Elementary."


The Purr-fect End


I hoped you enjoyed the story, Cat With A Past, from my short story collection, Aliens and Satanic Creatures Wanted: Humans Need Not Apply. Heck-if you liked it go out and buy a few copies:) (only kidding...well maybe:) Anyway if you would like to know you can get a copy from Amazon.com or order from your favorite bookstore.

And let us not forget...

If you like reading vampire stories, you might want to stop by my site and check out my latest work, Operation Immortal Servitude. I describe the book as Anne Rice and Tom Clancy rolled into one...

What would a collaboration of Anne Rice and Tom Clancy look like? Welcome to my vampire world!



Alien Deception
Nominated by ForeWord Magazine as Best Science Fiction from an independent publisher.
Nothing is as it appears. Nothing.
Your whole life you think you understand who and what you are, and then one day you learn that it is all a lie.
So what do you do? You have lunch with the leading candidate for President of the United States. You...and your alien friends.




Space opera with a Stanley Kubrick twist!
Learn more at www.tonyruggiero.com or click on the cover to go to the myspace webpage.

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