The small black cat sat on the front porch steps, unfazed by the occasional passing car or mid-afternoon pedestrian. A light spring breeze intermittently punctuated the sunlight. The neighborhood was quiet, so that even the sound of a fat bumblebee in search of nectar in the unkempt garden close to the steps seemed noisy. Of all the moments in her short feline existence for something terrible to occur, this seemed the least appropriate.
From blocks away the sound of The Car caused her to prick up her ears. She could recognize the engine, pick it out from any of the others from their street, and knew each time The Boy was coming home.
She loved The Boy. He had been her true friend since she had first come to this house, and she slept curled at the foot of his bed each night, listening to his breaths, watching over him for The Adults who inexplicably slept in another room.
Her tiny heart leapt for joy when the car pulled in to the driveway, as it did each time he came home. No doubt he would come bounding up the steps, as he did each day, racing inside the house and stopping for a single beat to pet her on the top of her head. She would watch him run in, grab his ball or his skateboard and bound back outside where he’d play until The Mother’s voice called him in for dinner.
As soon as the car parked, though, she knew something was different about today. The Family stayed in the car for several minutes after the car was parked. Then, The Mother opened her door and walked around to the back door of the car and opened it for The Boy, who emerged uncharacteristically slowly, carrying something in his arms. He bent down and set it on the ground, with something long attached to it.
Before she could get a good look at it, loud noises erupted from The Thing and it started to move. It was fast! Her body tensed, and she crouched down.
As the boy and his mother moved toward the steps, the cat realized that The Thing had spotted her. It looked in her eyes with it’s own hollow stare. She crouched down further, but there was no place to run under the steps ever since The Father had boarded up her hiding spot.
Without warning, The Thing bolted at her and opened it’s jaws. It had enormous teeth for its size. Rather than being concerned, The Boy seemed amused. He picked The Thing up and set it right in front of her. It’s jaws agape, it leaned forward and stuck it’s giant, smooth, pink tongue out and swiped her face leaving a trail of slobber and goo on her perfectly groomed whiskers. Her whiskers! It had taken her an hour to clean them this afternoon! And now they were dripping and smelled like the inside of this hideous thing!
The Boy laughed with enormous delight. He bent down and picked up The Thing and carried it in the house, without petting the cat on her head. The Mother followed, shouting orders at the boy. A moment later, all was quiet on the steps again.
Stunned and horrified, she sat for a few moments waiting to see if the chaos had truly passed. They had taken The Thing inside, and she assumed they were preparing to eat it for dinner.
Finally, she began to slowly, meticulously re-clean her whiskers. After her bath, she settled back into repose, soaking up whatever remained of the afternoon sun. Surely this was the worst thing that had ever happened to her. Surely this would never happen again.