(Originally posted on LiveJournal)
Michael had started to doubt his sanity over the past few months, ever since the stray black cat had calmly walked into his life. First had come the nagging feeling someone was watching him, or trying to talk to him. Then had come the dreams, no nightmares of tentacled horrors and walking dead, of rending claws and twisted parodies of human beings, of giants and rats, and cats, always cats.
And now the stray was talking to him.
Thinking at you, actually, said the voice in his head. It’s not easy using human words, but it’s the only way I could get through.
“I’m going crazy”, Michael muttered.
No crazier than any other human. It’s those oversized brains. Now listen.
“I’ve been working too hard”, Michael muttered to himself. “I need to lie down …”
No sooner did Michael think of rising from his chair did the cat dart across the carpet and leap onto his chest. The cat’s front claws dug through Michael’s sweater, and two golden eyes glared into his. Would you focus, you oversized monkey?
Primal instinct made Michael freeze. The cat’s claws retracted, but its paws still pressed against his chest. That’s better. Now, we need your help.
The cat growled. Stupid words. Why can’t you humans +++++ like us? I mean, we cats. The entire Imperium of Feline Worlds. And your kind too, of course.
Michael laughed. “‘Imperium of Feline Worlds’?!” A sudden, inexplicable fear gripped him, and he froze, unable to move or scream.
This is getting tedious. Why don’t you just stay there, and I’ll explain. The cat climbed down, and paced the carpet.
We rule a thousand worlds. Not in outer space; that’s a wasteland. Travel to the stars only if you really like lichens. But parallel to this Earth are a million other Earths; some differ from here only in tiny ways, others are so strange even your giant monkey brain couldn’t imagine them. As the superior life form, we rule most of the comfortable ones.
Michael felt the terror slowly ease, and he ventured to interrupt. “Superior? Did you build cities? Cure polio?”
No, that’s what humans are for. We just make you serve us.
“OK, maybe I can accept a telepathic cat, but you do not tell us what to do.”
Oh really? The cat sauntered over to the kitchenette and meowed pitifully.
Michael leapt to his feet. “You hungry girl? Let me get you your din-din.”
NOT NOW! Just making a point. Sit down. Good boy. As I was saying, we control about a thousand alternate Earths. The others aren’t worth the trouble. Sure, you monkeys manage to screw up your own lives, with those huge brains of yours, but we’re mostly comfortable. And until now, we’ve let you think you’re in charge; you’re easier to handle that way.
“Listen Blackie –”
Call me First Speaker to Humans. It’s close enough to my actual name.
“OK, whatever. So you rule the Earth –”
Not me, idiot. I’m just a liason. The actual ruler is – a giant golden cat, sliced tentacled things with one swipe of his paw and then the same paw, claws retracted, took an affectionate swipe at Michael’s head – which I can’t really translate.
The intense vision filled Michael with joy and awe, and he found it hard to focus on First Speaker’s continued pontification. But now the situation has worsened. On some way wrong version on Earth we haven’t found yet, the Hollowers were born. The less you know, the better you’ll sleep … but if some friend of yours starts acting oddly, and develops a waxy complexion or loses all facial expression, never under any circumstances let him or her get you anywhere alone.
And yes, they found this Earth. Already we’ve discovered and neutralized advanced agents, some in your governments. That’s why we chose you for first contact.
“But what can I do?”
First Speaker told him.
Michael couldn’t sleep all night. It was an amazing and daring plan, but it would undoubtedly work. With the cats’ help, in ten years not only would humanity thwart the Hollowers, but the various nations of this planet would set aside their differences, and forge a brand new future based on enlightened self-interest.
In the morning Michael checked himself into a psychiatric hospital. The doctors diagnosed him as a paranoid schizophrenic, and medicated him heavily.
Outside the hospital, two cats sat, a huge orange tabby and a smaller black cat. The tabby swatted the other with his paw.