Enjoy. If you want to know why I wrote this, it’s at the end of the story.
It was hard to be the youngest pet in the household, Zarillia often thought. Every time something got broken, it seemed like she was the one who got blamed. The people in the house never acted like the dog or arino could have been responsible. They certainly never considered the thought that one of the older cats might have done it when Georgia and Serena brought Tiger Lily and Hamadryad over.
It’s not fair, the beautiful young cat thought one day as she sat under the dining room table, cleaning her paws. I’m the prettiest, yet I’m the one everybody’s always mad at. I should do something about this.
She was pondering exactly what she should do when Candy — who Zarillia was quite sure was the loudest, most boisterous dog ever — ran in, followed by the equally loud and boisterous youngest of the many, many children that lived in the house. Candy, who was under the mistaken impression that Zarillia was her best friend, rushed over to kiss her.
Ugh! thought Zarillia, backing out of reach of the dog’s tongue. Dog slobber. Ew! I’m going to smell horrible now.
The dog looked upset for about half a piclano, then took off, following the child who was leaving a trail of cookie crumbs.
Zarillia wished her person was home. Viktor was nice to her. Unless she played with his sleeves . . . or his earrings . . . or his hair.
Come to think of it, she realized, he’s not very nice to me either. She walked to the kitchen to see if any bits of the lizard she’d smelled earlier had appeared in her bowl. They hadn’t yet, but Tera was in there, doing something with the lizard on the counter, so Zarillia jumped up to investigate.
“Get down,” the Human scolded. “You know better.”
“Mrrrow!” Zarillia told her, indignant.
“Well, you do,” Tera said, turning her attention back to the lizard.
No one loves me, Zarillia thought as she went to the living room. She jumped in Quinn’s lap.
“Hello,” he said, looking down at her. “I was about to get up, dear.” He very carefully removed her claws from his leg when she tried to convince him that nothing he was planning to do could possibly be nearly as important as holding her and set her on the couch next to him as he stood up.
Her most pathetic expression had no effect on the hard-hearted man.
A few saenead later, when he went out the front door, she darted out behind him. An idea had come to her. She had, of course, been outside before. But — because the people she lived with were horrible and determined to keep her from ever having fun, she was sure — she wasn’t supposed to go outside without being invited.
A lemyrkûn chirped down at her. Obviously it wanted to play. In a heartbeat, she was halfway up the tree. The lemyrkûn had jumped to another tree and was up at the very tippy top. Zarillia yelled at it for not playing nice. No one is ever nice to me, she thought as she headed further up the tree.
Renata, who Zarillia was not particularly fond of right then because of a misunderstanding over the ownership of a particularly comfortable blanket a little bit earlier, looked up. “Zarillia! Get down from there, you damned cat!”
Zarillia ignored her, walking along a branch that led her away from the blanket stealing Human. I wonder what else is up here, she thought, carefully investigating every leaf and flower. There were so many neat sights and smells in the tree! And the dumb Humans are on the ground! I’m so much smarter than any of them, she reflected as she daintily made her way along, ignoring Renata’s tirade about how much trouble she was going to be in if she didn’t get down.
“Zarillia, I mean it! Get down here, right now, or someone’s coming up after you!” Renata yelled.
Zarillia looked at her disdainfully and climbed even further up the tree. Today was the day she’d been dreaming of her whole life: the day she saw what was at the top of the tree!
“I can climb up after her, Momma!” Elizabeth said, eagerly.
“Do it. Don’t hurt her though, young lady,” Renata said to her daughter. Elizabeth would never intentionally hurt a pet, Zarillia knew — the people she lived with were cruel, but they were careful to never hurt her deliberately, at least. Elizabeth, though, sometimes got too enthusiastic and had injured the wonderful kitty’s paw so badly the other day that she’d limped for ages . . . all the way from lunch to dinner! Viktor had been quite sympathetic and given her some super tasty organs from his plate. For a person, she thought, he is pretty nice.
Zarillia sincerely doubted a person could climb a tree as well as a cat, so she ignored the child scrambling up after her and continued her journey to the top of the tree. Maybe I’ll just stay up there, she thought. Those flying lizard things are sure to be tasty. I’ll eat them, and play with lemyrkûns, and not have to deal with bossy people who won’t let me have fun ever again! It was the best idea she’d ever had.
Alas, she had underestimated Elizabeth’s climbing prowess. Before Zarillia quite reached the top, a sudden tug on her tail let her know the child had caught up with her. She hissed in distress.
“Well, if you’d hold still for half a piclano I could grab you by something besides your tail!” the child fussed, scrambling up beside the cat and grabbing her around the mid-section. “I got her, Momma!”
“Good. Thank you. Now, take her inside. If you come back out, make sure she doesn’t follow you,” Renata commanded.
Always so bossy, thought Zarillia. Then she saw her person coming out of the mysterious building in the distance, the one she’d never been allowed in except inside a horrible, torturously small cage. She was quite certain that the people kept all manner of exciting things in there that they were jealously guarding. Someday, she promised herself, someday, I’ll see what’s in there!
But for now, she just wanted her person. Viktor would understand that nobody else loved her. He wasn’t perfect. If he were perfect, she’d get to play with the pretty dangly things in his ears and bat at the lace on his sleeves without getting fussed at, but he was the best person she’d ever known. If anybody was going to take pity on a poor, unloved kitty, it would be him.
As soon as Elizabeth was a safe distance down the tree, Zarillia jumped from her captor’s arms and ran to the best person ever, meowing pathetically.
“I understand you came outside without permission, young lady,” he said to her. She knew he couldn’t really be mad at her, though, so she rubbed against his legs and purred. “You know better,” he went on, picking her up and snuggling her. “Let’s get you back inside. If you can behave, I’ll let you come out with me after dinner, okay?” She purred and snuggled against him. He wasn’t perfect. But he was her person, and he did love her.
And how was she to know that he didn’t want to share the lizard bits on his plate at dinner with her? Tomorrow, she thought from the hiding place under a bookcase that she’d scurried to when she’d been yelled at, tomorrow, I’ll show them what happens when you don’t treat a wonderful kitty like me right.
Where the heck did something like this come from, I’m sure you’re asking. Well, I saw someone requesting stories for a cat-themed sci-fi anthology, and this is where my brain went. I, in case anyone cares, am not submitting to said anthology because the anthology was being put together by a blogger with about the same number of followers as this one who was counting on a successful Kickstarter happening to actually make the anthology happen. I’m pretty sure the odds of that are somewhere between slim and none, and my story is barely sci-fi anyway, so I decided to just share it with you guys. Hope you enjoyed it!
(Why is bubble wrap a suggested tag for this post?!)