17 April 2009

"Sam Spayed"

By Curtis C. Chen

The building manager unlocked the apartment and said, "You know they got a talking cat, right?"

Jake took his hand off the doorknob and stepped back.

Andy said, "Don't tell me you're afwaid of puddy tats, Jake."

The older detective scowled. "I hate talking animals."

Andy shook his head and stepped forward.

The first pet "translators" were just prerecorded audio chips triggered by sound. Then a couple of Stanford graduate students had refined the technology, using voice stress analysis and text-to-speech software. Now anyone could walk into any pet store in the country and get a patented "translation collar" to give his or her pet its own unique voice.

Andy pushed the door open and called, "NYPD!" Nobody responded.

Enough daylight was coming in through the kitchen window for him to see potted plants everywhere, half-folded newspapers on the dining table, and one mostly empty teacup on the carpet by the futon. There was a distinctly non-plant-like silhouette in the kitchen window. Andy walked over and saw a sleek orange cat, half-crouched on the windowsill and staring back at him with big yellow eyes.

"Hey there," Andy said. "I don't suppose you know where your owner is?"

The cat blinked its eyes slowly and started swishing its tail. It let out a short meow, and a second later, the hexagonal tag on its collar blinked green and said, "I can has cheeseburger?"

Andy groaned. Apparently their missing person had sprung for one of the novelty language upgrades.

He saw two empty bowls on the kitchen floor, picked up one of them, and filled it from the tap. The pressurized water hit the side of the bowl and spattered all over Andy's chest before he could shut it off.

The cat yowled, "You're doing it wrong!"

Andy put the bowl down. He saw Jake standing in the living room, grinning.

"What?" Andy said.

"I'm searching the bedroom," Jake said. "You have fun with your furry friend there."

"Fuck you," Andy replied.

The cat descended onto the counter and sniffed at the water bowl. "Do not want!"

"Yeah, yeah," Andy muttered.

"It has a flavor!" the cat said.

Andy looked at the bowl on the counter. He turned on the faucet and watched the water spray into the sink. The stream seemed more diffuse than it should have been.

Andy searched his pockets and found his Mickey detectors. The precinct had issued everyone drug testing kits after a sudden wave of knockout rapes in downtown. He opened the plastic canister, pulled out a strip, and held it under the tap water. The stiff paper turned red instantly.

"Son of a bitch," Andy said.

He turned off the water and unscrewed the aerator at the end of the spout. When he pulled it away, a small, shiny disk fell out of the faucet. The surface of the disk felt slimy and left a residue on his thumb.

Andy smiled and petted the cat with his other hand. "Good kitty."

"Also," the cat said, "your mechanic is a pony."



Alexandra Fiona Dixon said...

fabulous and surreal, i want more!

steve kopka said...


I'm way behind on my 512 reading. And all reading. I think the last thing I read was the one where the detectives tossed the guy the 20-sided-die-shaped artifact. Forgot to mention way back then: totally intriguing scene. I wanted to read more, more, more. (And maybe there was more--how would I know? I'm behind on my reading.)

Unknown said...

Alexandra: I am shocked, shocked that you would enjoy a talking cat story! ;)

Steve: Thanks for commenting! "The Forty" is on my list of stories to expand beyond 512 words. I've also written one other Jake & Andy story ("Getaway"), and there will be more. I like cops.

Andrew said...

your cats wrote this. i am sure of it.