"First Cat" by Larry Hodges is original fiction from the anthology Speculative Story Bites. Get the whole anthology from Amazon, Kobo, or World Weaver Press.
Alone in the Oval Office, the President of the United States absentmindedly stroked Fluff as he mulled over security briefing papers. It was early morning, and he’d already had a boring budget meeting, a boring meeting with the Vice President, and soon the CIA Director would arrive for a boring security briefing. It had been a boring first year.
He had no idea that the White House was about to be invaded by inter-dimensional beings bent on the utter destruction of life on Earth.
He looked up at the painting of George Washington on the wall. Things had been more exciting back when George was president. He sighed. He looked forward to golf that afternoon; anything to break up the monotony. He was a good golfer; more athletic than his short and soft-looking body indicated.
Fluff would ride in the golf cart with him. She was a Turkish Angora cat with long white fur, green eyes that matched the president’s, sharp claws, and a taste for pickles, fish, and warm milk. She spent most days stretched out on the president’s desk, a picture of feline contentment.
Sometimes she’d play with the president’s reddish beard, or bat his pens and papers about. To this day, nobody knew that the president had meant to sign the tax relief bill, and veto the bill making Ping-Pong the national sport, before Fluff batted the papers about.
It was a happy relationship——the president supplied Fluff with everything she wanted. Fluff provided the president with a hand rest.
While the sound was too high-pitched for human ears, Fluff heard it. It came from directly over her head. She dropped the pickle she was chewing on and started to meow as she jumped to her feet. Her head disappeared.
The president looked up. Fluff had meowed, or more precisely went “meo—,” as it was cut off. He saw Fluff, alive and well, but headless.
Fluff was breathing, her tail twitching. However, the neck disappeared into nothingness. There was no blood. The startled president grabbed Fluff and pulled her head out of the nothingness. She too looked startled, and shook her head as if to clear it.
“What happened to you?” the president exclaimed. He wondered whether he should call security. Who would believe his story?
Then Fluff did a strange thing. She stuck a paw deep into her mouth and scraped it about her throat. Blood trickled out. The president reached out to try to stop her, but Fluff swatted his arm away with her other paw.
Then she looked him in the eye and said, in a scratchy, high-pitched voice, “Don’t call security.” There was a strange shine from her eyes.
While the President of the United States deals with a lot of strange things, it’s unlikely that any of them (even good old George Washington) had ever been spoken to by a cat in the Oval Office.
“Give me your cigarette lighter, the one you keep hidden with the Cuban cigars in your bottom drawer,” Fluff said, her voice still scratchy. She coughed up some more blood.
The president brought out the lighter and handed it to Fluff.
“Not there!” Fluff exclaimed, and waved her paw in the air. A blast of air shot out, knocking the president’s hand back. “You almost put your hand in the inter-dimensional portal! They might have grabbed you.”
“They?” the president asked. “Inter-menshall what?”
Fluff, looking deep in thought, ignored him.
The president stared at where the inter-dimensional portal apparently was, and saw a slight shimmer, like heat coming out of the ground on a hot day. Giving that area a wide berth, he again handed the lighter to Fluff.
Fluff glanced down at her paws and said, “This won’t do. Can’t grab anything.” She extended the claws in her right paw, and slashed them into her left paw, digging a notch into it and then wiggling the claws about inside as if rearranging something. She repeated this in reverse with the other paw. She held up both paws, which were now bleeding all over the president’s security briefings, and then picked up the lighter with her newly opposable digits.
As the president watched with wide eyes, Fluff cauterized the wounds in her paws with the lighter. She then stuck the lighter down her throat and cauterized those wounds as well. The bleeding stopped.
“That should do it,” Fluff said. Her voice was no longer scratchy, and the president was sure he could detect a slight southern twang, like his own.
“Doesn’t that hurt?” the president asked, trying to ignore the fact that he was questioning a cat.
“Pain is a condition of the brain that can be controlled,” said Fluff. “Plus I knew how to cauterize the wounds just right. Now, I know you don’t have enough brain power to deduce what’s happening, so I’d better explain.”
The president took stock of the situation and nodded.
“Aliens from another dimension are about to attack Earth, starting right here in the Oval Office. I calculate they’ll be here in about five minutes, 37.6 seconds. They’re going to destroy all life on the planet and build a sort of alien resort. Only I can stop them.”
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