The Cat in the Box

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Shortlisted in the Quantum Shorts 2013 competition
 
Well this is new.  It reminds me of the kitchen, but it’s messier.  And there’s nothing that smells like food.  Or water.  Or a litter box.  Man, this isn’t my home at all.  I must get familiar.  So much weird new stuff.  Hey, what’s this?  This looks nice and safe.

“See?  I told you.  Cats dig boxes.  He just walked right in.”

“Latch it and mark the time.”

“Door shut at 7:18 pm.”

Hmm.  It’s dark in here.  Kind of cozy too.  I think my tail’s a little messy.  And this surface is off.  Ridgy.  

Cold.  Silent.  Not breathing.  Not seeing.

That’s better.  What’s this thing?  Smells metallic.  Feels metallic.  Will it move if I paw at it?

No light.  Alone.  No smells.  Blackness.  Emptiness.

That was fun.  Now what?  It’s a nice, tight little box.  I feel pretty safe in here.  I think I’ll just have a nap.  That’s the ticket.  A nice, comfortable nap.

“You sure he can’t break the device?”

“Yeah.  Pretty sure.”

“Hey, um, what if it triggers?”

“What if?”

“Well, won’t we be opening a box full of cyanide gas?”

“Open all the windows.  Let’s get a draft going in here.”

Well that was pleasant.  Feeling a bit out of order so I’ll have a wash.

Suspended.  Not afraid.  Nothing to fear.  Nothing to need.

“Time?”

“Forty-five minutes.”

Okay, I’m done with this.  I’d like to get out and explore.  This box was just part of a huge room with lots of corners and things I know nothing about.  I climbed in here because it seemed safe and cozy but I really need out now.

Void.  Not asleep.  Not awake.  There’s no way in.  There’s no way out.

“Time!”

I can’t get out and no one’s letting me out.  I’m meowing as loud as I can and no one’s letting me out.  What’s that?  A sound.  New air.  I smell....

Smell.  There’s a scent.

Fresh air.  Bright light.  Life.

MEOW!  

“Wow, that is one pissed-off cat.  Where’d he go?”

“I’m not sure but he just ripped up my hand.  Disconnect the device before there’s a decay event and we all get killed.”

“Got it.  Wow.  It was working the whole time.  Found the cat?”

I don’t know you and I don’t like you.

“He’s under your desk.  Seems a bit miffed.”

“Can you blame him?  I mean, it’s got to be hard, being alive and dead at the same time.”

“He’s a cat.  I doubt he even knew what happened.”

Define “don’t know” you son of a mouse.

“C’mere buddy, come on out, I’ll give you some nice tu-OW!”

“Hey, I hear someone outside the door.”

My person!  My perfect precious person!  I can smell you!  Save me from your idiot students!

“So?”

“So what if it’s Laurence?”

“We broke up.”

“My bad.  What if it’s the boss?”
"So?"

“Well, don’t you think she’ll be a might be mad if she finds us with her cat?”

“Eh, she’ll probably just be happy the little monster got found.”

“Well, technically, he was never really lost.”

Come here so I can scratch you again, fishguts.

“She doesn’t need to know that.”

“I don’t need to know what?”

MY PERSON!  YOU’RE HERE!  I LOVE YOU!  I’LL NEVER SAY HI TO A STRANGER EVER AGAIN!

“Nothing...wasn’t that door locked?”

“Latch is funny.  Hello Patches.  What are you doing here?”

“We found him.”

Find this, dogbreath.

“OW!”

“I see you two are getting along famously.  Come here, kitty.  That box had better not be what I think it is.”

“Oh.  No.  It’s not.  It’s just a box.”

“Good.  I’d hate to think that the money for your project was being spent on something else.  Otherwise I might have to fund your new Ti-sapphire by having you teach next semester.”

“Oh, well, it’s just a box.  Just a metal box.”

“With a gasket.  And acoustic lining.”

“Er...”

“I can explain that.”

“I’m sure you can.  How does the lab section for Foundations of Physics sound?  Most of your students will be pre-med.”

“Um...”

“Shit.”

“Goodnight boys.”

Go take a bath, you rotten lump of hairballs.

About the Author: 
Rebecca Montange