Day Eight

Locked away, he had time to do things that he’d always intended to do. First would be to learn to communicate with the cat.

Yeah, he wasn’t crazy (so he told himself, trying to sound convinced). He thought he and the cat had a special connection. The little feline (it was little then, in the beginning, not so little now, relatively for a house cat – twenty-three pounds) marched up to him on the street and meowed like Whitney Houston singing “I will always love yooouuu,” bestowing the cat his name, Houston (because it was a male). It was like true fidelity from then on.

Houston was everywhere with him, monitoring his bathroom, trying to steal food (the lovable little thief) with his big white mitts, bolting across rooms and up walls (swear to God!). Now, aged three, Houston had settled into being a more dignified feline. Cagney (his name, distant relative to James, the actor) (he always used his last name, disliking his first name, the unobtrusive, forgettable “Jack”) thought that if Houston could talk, he would sound pretty close to James Earl Jones. From there (and the looks that the cat gave him), he’d decided that he and the cat could communicate, like, telepathically.

Engaging in an effort every day since he’d been self-isolated — this was day eight — he sat the cat in front of him and sat down. “Houston. Look at me. Look into my eyes.”

Although he appeared sleepy (it was time for his pre-nap nap), Houston did as told.

“I’m going to speak words to you. I want you to think them back to me. Do you understand?”

Cagney listened for a response. Yawning, Houston seemed to try to wake up to participate.

“I know you understand me. I know how smart you are.”

Thank you.

Cagney blinked. “What? Do you — ” Had he heard that? “Did you say, thank you.”

I did. You heard me.

“Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God.” Cagney stood up and spun around. He’d only half thought of what would happen next. Like how was he going to prove it? How was he going to prove it?

He stared down at Houston. Houston watched him with interest. “So you hear me, right, Houston?”

Yes, I do, Cagney.

“Okay, okay, I need more than that. Nod your head, nod your head if you understand me.”

Houston nodded his head.

Cagney jumped up and down laughing. “Holy shit. Holy she-it. I did it! We did it. I got to — where’s my phone? Where’s my cell? I gotta video this. Where’s my cell? Where’s my cell?”

Blue eyes bulging, Cagney scanned the room and skittered off. “Must’ve left it in the bedroom. Don’t move, Houston, stay right there, I’m coming right back.” He was out of the room and accelerating, sliding on the floor, and shouting over his shoulder.

Ears forward, Houston watched Cagney disappeared. He’d done it. He’d managed to lower the human’s defenses. Next step would be to take control over Cagney’s mind.

With his defenses down, it’d be as easy as catching a bird.

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