Castor stood before the Highness on his home planet of Htrae in his best uniform, a sparking blue aura with all his insignia glowing green. His five large black eyes focused on the Highness, waiting.
“Castor, we are assigning you to planet Earth to garner information on the human condition. We are sending you as a lower life form, Felis Catus, to minimize detection.” The Highness gave him the dismissal signal.
From Castor’s studies at the University of Htrae, he knew humans presented a risk to his planet. If their scientists developed the warp bubble, exceeding the speed-of-light, the probability of a violent invasion became a dominant fear among leaders and intellectuals alike. Earth’s history of aggression coupled with the cultural genocide of peaceful groups did not bode well for Htraeites.
The third planet from the sun held a penchant for violence, well known to the floating brain academics of Htrae. Their study of earth looked for any redeeming characteristics that might save the planet from Htrae’s ultra-deep-sky blast. If that happened, Earth would simply disappear leaving no debris—no trace.
Castor ambled along on his three lanky legs, pondering Earth’s fate when a tingling sensation surged through his body. His form changed as he leapt gracefully into the shimmering waves of his transport to earth.
In the Speed-of-Slick, Castor landed in a sweet smelling yellow material inside a darkened cavity. He found himself staring up at a huge black and white hairy creature, its yellow teeth grinding. Green drool dropped on his head. Castor quickly unsheathed his dominant information claw…no danger, Ungulate Bovinae Holstein Friesian, no danger…
Castor, a little unbalanced from his Speed-of-Slick onto planet Earth, crouched in the yellow material to gain equilibrium. Out of nowhere, the large gnarled hand of a Homo sapien grabbed him by the scruff of his neck. Castor let out a hideous sound, startling the large human. Caster knew the large male, the focus of his study at Htrae University, stood out as a species of unpredictability, hence the study.
“Not in my barn, you don’t. You mangy freeloader. I’ve got all the cats one barn can handle.”
Castor frantically unsheathed his claw…danger, danger, unhinged Homo sapien danger, danger…
Within seconds, Castor found himself in total darkness, blinking, thinking and wishing he still possessed his five eyes. Frantically unsheathing his information claw once again, the instant feedback terrified him…danger, danger, burlap sack and a two-pound granular crystalline igneous rock, danger, danger…
Castor sensed being lifted off the ground. The sack swung back and forth, making him nauseous.
Kerplop. Cold water closed over Castor’s head. Panic seized him, his claw unsheathed…danger, danger, H2O, drowning, danger… Caster thrashed and clawed. Surfacing, legs wildly paddling, he took a breath. Castor sunk his claws through the bag and caught solid earth. He hauled himself and the rock out of the water. He lay on the bank in the sack exhausted. After resting, he bit and clawed at the burlap, but the sack held him prisoner. On planet Htrae no fabric existed. If he wanted to get into his sleeping glow he simply quivered and walked out of his uniform. Castor thought four legs, claws and fangs are useless against this earth-age material. He sent the information to Htrae.
His information claw slowly left its sheath…danger, danger starvation, danger danger… After two days of struggling and creeping hunger, Castor’s energy level waned; his information claw fell silent.
Suddenly, he felt himself being lifted. Fear struck him, his adrenaline surged and his claw automatically unsheathed…no danger, no danger, friendly Homo Sapien, no danger, no danger…The sack opened and light hit Castor’s eyes momentarily blinding him. Saved! A hideous face peered in at him with two tiny gray eyes and a long pointy proboscis. Castor shuddered. The Homo sapien spoke.
“You poor old thing, someone tried to drown you.”
Castor unsheathed…no danger, no danger, empathy, no danger, no danger…
The Homo sapien closed the sack, and Castor again in the dark, felt a sensation of speed. He unsheathed his claw…no danger, a car, Homo sapien’s mode of transport, mostly safe. Don’t run in front of them…
Castor smelled something unusual causing him to salivate. He felt hungry. He unsheathed his claw…fish, a food you like to eat… Again, Castor felt movement; claw unsheathed…no danger, Homo Sapien climbing stairs, no danger.
The large male walked into the kitchen, his fishing creel slung over his shoulder. He dumped the sack containing Castor onto the floor. The human family expected fish, but out stepped a cat, his white coat matted and damp. He looked around, sat on his haunches, and let out a hideous yowl. The large female pointed at Castor.
“That cat’s going to be trouble.”
Caster thought, she doesn’t like me. He sent the information back to Htrae. A message came back via claw…purr, it will make her happy… Castor thought, what is “purr”?
“Penny, someone tried to drown him. I found the sack up river on the bank half out of the water. I think he managed to crawl out of the river. That’s what I call one helluva cat! He’s got Manx in him too.”
The large female rolled her eyes and turned to the counter to open a round cylinder.
“Don, he’s got more than Manx in him. You may regret rescuing this one.”
Castor thought, does she know I am an alien?
Again, that tantalizing smell, he unsheathed…no danger, tuna…eat, no danger… When the large female put the open cylinder on the floor, Castor lunged at it causing her to squeal and jump back.
“Penny, he’s half starved.”
“Daddy, what happened to his tail? Is he old? Can we keep him? Can I pet him?” The little human female asked a lot of questions.
“Not old, maybe two or three years. He never grew a tail. It’s a genetic mutation. Look, his back legs are longer than his front legs. Manx cats are good ratters. The merchant ships I sailed on during the war usually picked one up in port. You don’t often see a white Manx. He’s a rarity.” The large male beamed, taking pride in his find.
Castor quickly unsheathed…ratters?… The answer shot back…you kill and eat rats, humans like that… Castor thought, yuck. They need to pay me more.
The large male wanted to call Castor “Stumpy,” but the little humans won out, and Castor became their “Snowball” because of his white bunny-like nub of a tail. They loved the way he hopped like a jackrabbit when he ran. When he meowed at the door, the large female let him out.
“That’s the last we’ll see of him.”
“He’ll be back. Penny, you fed him tuna. You’ve gone and won his heart.” Castor returned later that evening and wrapped himself around the large female’s legs, purring a kind of raspy throaty staccato. He’d been practicing his purr. He hoped for more tuna. He expected his purr would win her over. The large female gasped.
“God help us, if that’s his purr. I guess he’s here to stay.” She leaned down and patted his head.
At times, the family felt a strange, unsettled feeling as they gazed into Castor’s eyes, a piercing green, the color of peridot crystal.
“I feel like he’s possessed.” The large female shivered. “Have you noticed he yowls more than mews, and Gypsy runs away whenever she sees him.” Gypsy, a black Labrador retriever, lived next door.
All forms of Animalia saw Castor’s alien body with the exception of Homo sapiens, who saw a white short-haired feline. His purr, more of a growl, kept faint-of-heart cat lovers at a distance. He hacked up the biggest hairballs the human family ever witnessed. Caster thought, why didn’t his Highness make me a normal cat? Over time, and even with practice, he never quite perfected his purr.
Castor settled in, and, by winter, he felt he owned the family. They petted him and gave him potato chips, his favorite treat. He sent information back to Htrae about their day-to-day life. Then something happened.
The incident took place on a cold, wintery evening when the snow sparkled on the ground and twilight brought a steely blue cast to the ice covering the river. The little humans all waited for the large male to come home from his day of toil away from them.
The smell of roasted chicken wafted through the house, anticipation floated in the air. Castor hung around until after dinner in case something tasty ended up in his food bowl. Plus, when the temperature dipped, he forwent his nightly fieldwork in favor of the warmth of forced air heating. The little humans heard Snowball’s loud meows, letting the large female know he expected some of the roasting chicken. He still preferred fish to other meat.
The little humans sat sprawled on the floor watching Star Trek, a family favorite. The large male usually arrived home in time to catch the end of the episode with the little humans. Castor felt torn between the chicken cooking in the kitchen and watching the primitive information box the humans called “TV.”
Castor loved Mr. Spock. So did the large male. Other nights when he arrived home he gave the little humans Mr. Spock’s hand salute and greeting. “Live long and prosper.” Caster often hopped into the large male’s lap during TV time.
The episode that fateful night stood as one of Castor’s favorites. “The Trouble with Tribbles.” Tribbles, the little furry ball-like creatures, invaded the Starship Enterprise and multiplied like crazy. Castor peeked into the living room, and forgot himself, giving little grunts that sounded more like a raspy chuckle.
“Did you hear him? Snowball’s laughing.” One of the little humans clapped his hands.
Snowball stole back to the kitchen tantalized by the smell emanating from the oven.
“Damn cat, get out from under my feet.”
Just about the time when the large male normally arrived home, the little humans heard the large female take their Lord’s name in vain. Usually the large female said “Jiminy Cricket.” Real swearing brought the five little humans sprinting to the kitchen; five faces framed in the doorway, expecting blood or worse, burnt chicken.
A stench reached their nostrils. Castor squatted under the kitchen table in obvious discomfort. Unbeknownst to Castor, earlier in the day he had ingested some bad fish out behind the fish market in the village. His claw unsheathed …danger, danger, never eat from garbage cans, danger, danger…
The most boisterous of the little human males abandoned any sense of restraint or decorum and shouted, pointing at Castor.
The large female grabbed a broom, swiping at Castor, attempting to shoo him out of the kitchen door to no avail. Caster, terrified at this turn of events, unsheathed his claw…danger, danger, incensed human female, no logical reason, danger, danger… came back to him leaving Castor in a conundrum. The large female screamed, scaring Castor and the little humans.
“Get out, get out, you godless, damned cat.”
One of the little female humans started to gag triggering the reflex in the littlest male human. Up came their after school snack of milk and Oreo cookies. Castor considered lapping up the vomit for a split second, but his current intestinal uproar changed his mind.
The large female turned her wrath on the little humans.
“Get out of my kitchen.”
Then a loud smack, the broom made contact with Castor’s backside. He fled from underneath the table.
“Get, scat,” the large female screamed in a high pitched voice. She chased him around the kitchen.
In the mad scramble, Castor, now fearing for his life, attempted to flee to the dining room. In that instant, which remains a blur, the large female grabbed Castor by the scruff of his neck. She swung Castor through the kitchen and heaved him out the back door like a heat-seeking missile.
At exactly the same time, in a horrendous twist of fate, the large male started up the steep stairs to the kitchen’s side door. He met Castor, a flying snowball of fur, claws extended and still spewing diarrhea. The humans heard the sickening thud. Castor hit the large male dead center.
In unison, Castor squawked and the human male groaned as the air instantaneously left feline and human lungs. The large male fell backwards, a pile of flailing limbs into the sparkling snow, issuing a stream of words the little humans never heard strung together in quite that way before. Castor streaked into the trees and underbrush and didn’t return for two days. The kitchen looked like a murder scene, except it wasn’t blood sprayed across the cupboard doors.
The large female grabbed a bucket and bleach. She yelled to the oldest little female human to help, but she disappeared. No one wanted to be in the kitchen during the clean-up. The large male changed his clothes and stood in the dining room doorway red faced.
“Don, I told you that cat would be trouble.”
“Pen, you threw that cat at me. I could have lost an eye.”
The large humans engaged in a heated exchange mostly about why they continued to feed and house that damned cat. The little humans froze, scared into silence. Quiet reigned through dinner. They kept their heads down.
As the large male pushed away from the table, not looking at the little humans, he uttered his ultimatum, “When that damned cat comes back, it’s a potato sack, a rock and the river for him. He won’t crawl out this time. I’ll pay ten cents to whoever brings me the biggest rock.” The boisterous, oldest, greedy little male human scrambled for the kitchen door. The large female grabbed him by the collar.
The little humans didn’t protest the large male’s last words because they’d never seen the large male quite so outraged and resolute. They knew that to cross him at that moment bordered on suicide.
They also knew he didn’t mean it; he secretly loved Snowball, and the river lay under solid ice. All the rocks the money grubbing little male human thought he could procure sat under two feet of snow, frozen to the ground. When Castor returned, the kitchen smelled of Clorox bleach.
The little humans never spoke of the incident again except in secret, and with hysterical, nose-snorting laughter. The boisterous little male pantomimed the whole incident, and the little humans rolled on the linoleum floor until their sides hurt, and convulsions threatened. Sometimes Castor rolled around with them.
All the information of that horrific incident went back to Htrae. Eons later the incident is still being analyzed and discussed on that planet. It’s been the subject of many a thesis, Homo sapien Family Life, Elimination Triggered Violence, and Murderous Intent Over Non Sequitur Stimuli (too many cats in the barn and harmless pooing).
Castor lived with the family until one night he dashed across the highway and a car ended his earthly life. His essence went back to Htrae at the Speed-of-Slick and just as quickly he returned to another earth home. Castor remembers the millions of families who’ve shared their homes with him.
Castor, now on his seventh life on Planet Earth, a millennium later, basks on a silken floaty bed, eats only gourmet-simulated fish, and masterfully manipulates his human family. He still remembers his first family fondly, the large human male who saved him, the large human female who fed him tuna, and the five small humans who loved him.
He rarely unsheathes his claw for information as his life is purrrrfect. Elimination of Homo sapiens remains a study on Htrae into the next kiloannum.
What a great story; so funny. I’d love to see more by Ms. Harris..
I liked this story – a different view of what aliens may be. I hope to read more stories by Ms. Harris.
Cathryn, thanks for the kind words. This is my third published short story. I plan on more!
What a fun story! Love the descriptive journey Ms. Harris takes us on from Htrae to the river to the hijinks that ensue in Castor’s first earthly home. Don, Penny, and the little humans perfectly compliment Castor’s exploration assignment on planet Earth.
Lauren, I’m happy you like Castor and his human family. It was fun to write. The human family is patterned after my family and Castor is based on a real life cat.
Very creative making the cat from outer space here to spy on humans. I enjoyed the story.
Donna, Thanks for your comment. I am happy you enjoyed my first foray into writing SciFi!
This is such a great story!
Angela, so happy you liked my story. Thanks for taking the time to read Felis Catus.
A good story that keeps the reader wondering what will happen next. Keep writing!
Eloise, thanks for reading my short story, Felis Catus. It was fun to write.
Thanks for sharing this beautiful short story. I am intrigued by your writing. I will be reading the rest to see how your literature progresses. Hope we can meet up soon and catch up.