The Old Man and the Cat
The old man walked up the sidewalk toward the front door, holding his cat carrier
Upon entering the facility the old man looked around to orient himself. It was an open layout with the reception desk in the middle. He walked toward it. There was a 'mature' lady at the desk. She smiled as she saw him. He smiled also.......let the games begin.
The lady 'manning' the reception desk looked up and smiled as a somewhat elderly gentleman approached her desk. Pleasantries were exchanged and the Old Man got immediately to business.
"I want a cat" he said. "my pets and companions of the last two decades or so have recently passed on and I find myself extremely in need of companionship"
The lady grinned slightly at that. This guy had been a 'hunk' when he was younger, If he were only ten years...or even FIVE years younger she'd show him 'companionship'......ah well. Life doesn't play fair sometimes.
Small talk over with, they got to the meat of the matter.
"Looking through my files I see you've adopted cats from here before, or rather from our predecessor site, and they've lived until recently? My that's a long time. You must have taken very good care of them. That speaks well of you" she said.
"Thank you," he said "they were my companions for a long time. I feel lost without them".
"Let's see if we can fix that problem" she said. "if you'll follow me we'll take a tour of the facility and you can see all the cats and kittens".
And so they did. It was a large facility and there were a LOT of cats. They watched the kittens play for a good long time. If a person can't enjoy watching kittens play they need to be buried...they may be still walking around but their soul is dead.
The mature lady and the old man were walking back to the cafeteria. They had decided that he would view the entire facility then take a break and consider what he wanted to do.
They were passing in front of the medical facility and the old man stopped cold. He turned to her and asked while pointing.
"What is this?"
"Its the medical facility' she said. "it's where we take the sick or injured cats and keep them quarantined from the others in an attempt to prevent the spread of any disease or too keep them calm while they heal from an injury. Why do you ask?"
"I felt something in my Soul. Are there any animals in there now" he asked
"Only one" she said, puzzled, what is this 'soul bit? " and it's a really, really strange case. The other day a cat was brought in by some fire fighters. They had recovered it from the basement of a house that had burnt to the ground. It seems that a cult had tried to crucify it in one of their rituals, it being Halloween, at the time. Apparently something went wrong and the house caught on fire. They all died but somehow the cat lived. The cat was badly burned and it looked to have broken bones. It resists all attempts to help it. Oddly enough the vets can't seem to get a needle to penetrate it's skin so they can sedate it.
The poor thing is obviously in pain...it has made some horrible noises. It's eating like a horse though and drinking water, yet it still seems to be losing weight. The vets are baffled. They don't know what to do."
As they were talking they had walked into the medical facility and were observing the cat. It was laying in it's food dish...weakly eating yet more food.
"I'll take it" said the old man.
"oh no, we couldn't do that" said the receptionist. " the animal is in terrible shape, it's not even clean. It might die any minute".
"I might die any minute" said the old man. "This is just what I want. I'm not likely to outlive it by much so that I will be adding another stain to my poor tarnished soul, and any time I manage to keep the poor boy alive is just a bonus for him as well as me. If, as you say, he should be dead. He doesn't look really healthy does he?"
The receptionist shook her head. "It won't allow anyone to come near it, what do you think you can do"
"No idea." Said the old man. "open the cage and let's see what happens."
"But..." she started to say...
"He's in too bad of a shape to run away...the worse that can happen is that I might get bit or clawed...that won't be new to me. I've had cats before" He said.
"ok" she said. "opening the door and stepping back.
The old man stood there and looked in the open cage door. The cat looked at him...then slowly, as if in great pain...the cat drug itself over to the old man and crawled into his outstretched arms. The old man gently cradled the cat against his chest. It was a BIG cat..but worn. Very worn.
"You'll be alright fella. Let's go home".
The receptionist said "Considering the exceptional circumstances in this case all fees and paperwork are waived. I wish you the very best of luck, you'll be needing it." She telephoned for a taxi.
The taxi arrived and the old man, as gently as he could, got into the taxi while carrying the injured cat. Somehow they got back to his truck without incident and the old man paid the taxi.
It was with some trepidation. His truck WAS a semi-tractor and as such was large by most standards. It was a long way up into the cab. How was he going to get into that thing while carrying a severely injured animal, and not hurting it more?
Somehow they managed. He wasn't exactly sure how but his back was definitely in worse shape because of it, and his thighs burned. He placed the cat on his bed and got out some cat food.
Over the course of the next few days he just took care of his new cat. He didn't accept any loads. He just sat there in the lot...taking care of his cat. He was amazed at how much food the poor thing ate and completely mystified at the utter lack of use of the litter box. It was a amazing. Lots and lots of input, zero output.
The cat just ate. Then it would drink. Then it would sleep. It slept a LOT. Normally cats slept sixteen or more hours a day. This one possibly slept more. It slept in short increments though...and ate when not asleep. It ate a LOT.
At night the old man slept beside his new pet being very careful not to disturb it. The cat had pride of place in the bed.
With the old man's limited financial situation this could only go on for so long and after a few days he was forced to take a load.
* * *
I'm not hurting as much now. I have sufficient food and water for the nanomachines in my bloodstream and tissues to get serious about repairing my damaged body. From the outside I appear to be asleep. I mostly am but sometimes I'm not. While I'm awake I examine my situation and my companion.
A monkey boy. It dawns on me that I'm on a planet that's FULL of monkey boys. There might be no other sentient beings. Archaic records back home described such a time. Unimaginably distant in the past. Ain't this something'? Hopefully I have a good one. It appears that I'll be here for a while............zzzzzzz...
* * *
The old man is driving when he feels a paw on his leg. He looks down and there's the cat. It had hopped down from the bed and made it's way to sit between the seats. This is phenomenal. The cat had appeared to have had almost every large bone in it's body broken and possibly serious internal damage. The old man hadn't really known what to do and was actually expected it to die any minute. That it was up and walking around with no sign of pain was incredible. The old man looked for the nearest wide spot...noticed a rest area just ahead, and pull into it. Then he turned and looked down at the cat.
The cat just sat there...looking at him. The old man reached down, slid a hand under the cat's bottom and picked him up. He sat the cat in his lap.
He and the cat just sat there for a while. The man stroking the cat. The cat looked the man for a bit...then turned and looked out the window. After a while the cat laid it's head on the man's shoulder and went to sleep. The old man held it for a bit longer then carefully placed the cat in the passenger seat. His deceased buddies had ridden there often.
The old man then turned his attention back to driving.
And so it went.
* * *
A crisis is imminent. From reading the pertinent data regarding my catheter storage compartments...I am on the verge of a disaster. The shit is about to hit the fan. I seriously need to get out of this Flight Suit. I can't do it without hands and I left all my hands (waldos) somewhere else. Somewhere a long long way away.
A crisis point. Just what kind of 'stuff' is this monkey boy made of?
* * *
The old man's hand hurt. Not just his hand but his whole arm. He considered himself lucky even then. He knew BETTER he told himself. He ought not to have even approached that damn half assed rig-up. Some fool had tied down a piece of equipment using snap binders. Snap binders were dangerous...as he found out. He'd managed to release all but one safely....the last one got him. The fool had used a cheater bar for greater leverage and that chain was TIGHT! The Old man managed to 'pop' the snap binder but it flew loose and almost got him. Part of it DID get him on the hand and forearm...he was going to have a serious bruise to go with the gash on his forearm.
When he'd unloaded the equipment he'd , somehow, lost track of all the snap binders, he just had no idea where they got off to, imagine that. The more experienced drivers called them "widowmakers". Oh well, he’d have to get some ratchet binders to replace them.
When he got back to the yard he carefully cleaned up as best he could before walking out to his truck to turn in for the night. He parked his truck in the company yard. Where his truck was ....he was.
He walked back to his truck and climbed in. He noticed that the cat was acting....strange. It seemed to be clawing at it's throat. The old man picked the cat up. He could pick up, carry, and handle the cat now with impunity. The cat actually seemed to enjoy it. He studied the throat area.
"Well I'll be damned." he said. "It looks to me like you have a suite of some type on. It matches your color and fur so closely that it's damn hard to see. You want it off now do you?"
Incredibly...the cat seemed to understand...it nodded it's head.
The old man studied the suite...rolling the cat around on his lap. He finally saw what he thought was a closure. His fingers were way too large to be of any use. He just happened to have some tools handy. He picked a pair of dental forceps. That was just what he needed. What he undid wasn't exactly a zipper...but the principle was much the same.
A zip here, a zip there...and a gusher.
The old man's hands and arms were suddenly covered with....fluids and semi-solids. He'd released the WRONG closure.
Oh well. He'd had worse happen to him. He once again thanked the stars that this truck had a rubber floor instead of carpet. He finished removing the suit from the cat and washed the cat as best he could...then did likewise to himself and the truck. He used up a whole roll of Husky paper towels and a package of baby wipes.
He and the cat then made a little trip to the men's room, open all night for just such eventualities. He cleaned himself as best he could AND the cat, and it's suit. Oddly the cat didn't object. Odder still it seemed to enjoy the process. Most cats, in the old man's experience don't like taking a bath in a bathroom sink. This one did. Then the old man took a bucket, some soap and water and a brush...and went back out to the truck.
Eventually he was done. The truck still smelled...but it smelled of soap and disinfectant rather than cat excretion.
The cat and the old man slept well that night, the cat curled up in his arms. The old man had no idea what had infiltrated him through that cut in his arm.
It wouldn't be long before he found out.