CΩT (Part 11)

The outside air hits my nostrils as soon as I exit the cave, a storm of unfamiliar smells. I hop from the ledge and follow the most immediate one, that of… meat? But different from the animals upon which I usually munch. Warmer and more… exposed, somehow. I walk on grass where I can, as the stony ground is scratchy and not very enjoyable upon which to tread, not to mention the two-leggers’ traveling beasts seem to not be allowed on the grass. I’d rather not get run over by one of them. It might hurt them, and they’re already constantly being stabbed, poor things. And the noises! Two-leggers yelling at each other, the growling of their beasts as they barrel about, and other unknown squawks and high-pitched squeals that defy imagination. As I make my way through this cacophony, I see that the source of the smell appears to be a large shiny box, perhaps a smaller cousin of the traveling beast as it has the same circular legs that they do. There is steam coming out its top. Is the two-legger next to it roasting it alive? I’ve never been on fire myself – the forest would catch alight at times and we made sure to avoid the burning areas – but I can’t imagine it’s very comfortable. And yet the other traveling beasts seem to complain more than this one, roaring and grumbling as they gallivant about. I walk over to it and the smell gets stronger.

The two-legger standing next to it is grabbing at the beast with some tool, pulling all sorts of things out of it – long, skinny tubes of meat, and what appears to be plant life as well. I’ve eaten some grass before but I don’t know why anyone would want to eat anything else that grows from the ground. He places all this on a… well, I don’t really know what it is. Looks bland and soft but it holds its load as though it were designed to. From what I’ve seen so far, these two-leggers are pretty crafty, I wouldn’t put it past them to create an edible food container.

The recipient of this strange meal points at me once I’m next to the beast, and the food preparer turns to look as well. They talk a bit and then expel air in short hiccups. Interesting that they would afflicted by such a fit at the same time. The food preparer takes one of the meat tubes out of the beast, tears off a piece, and throws it toward me. I jump backwards out of its path of flight and they do the hiccuping thing again. Twice is not coincidence, it must mean something. I’ll figure it out later. Time to sniff this meat. I can feel the heat of it on my nose, and the smell is not of fresh kill. Heck, it’s not even of one animal! So this meat must be from somewhere else, but then why was it in this beast? Do they make this particular beast carry the results of their hunting? I guess that sort of makes sense, but so many questions are raised from each new experience. I can only hope that half of them are ever answered. In any case, meat is meat, so I pick it up and leave with it to eat in solitude. A gap between some of the nearby cave-mountains should suffice.

All manner of objects litter the space between the mountains, really too many to account for, though there is a predominance of floating, rustling objects which may or may not be alive. They seem to move of their own accord, though this may just be the wind (or maybe that’s just what the creatures want me to think). I remain alert as I start to break down the meat into eatable fragments. It’s not bad, but there’s no blood, no bones, it’s obviously not fresh, and I really don’t know why anyone would prefer it to fresh kill. Then again, I’ve not seen too much prey around here, so perhaps it’s a matter of convenience. This thought has barely left my mind when I smell something alarming. There is another cat, and I get the feeling that this one is no illusion. A moment later it appears, short hair and striped. Smelled the meat, no doubt. I slowly step forward and it finally notices me. As is traditional for an encounter between two cats, the first few moments are spent stock-still and staring. Then the growling starts, and I can see in the other cat’s eyes that it is starting to realize that it has picked the wrong feline with which to mess. A take a step forward, it takes a step back, and I spit a warning shot. This is the final straw, and the cat flees, leaving me to finish the meat tube uninterrupted. What a win.

Once I’m done, I head back over to the storage beast. I don’t necessarily want any more of its mixed-meat, but I would like to take a closer look in the cavity where the food is stored. The two-legger hiccups at me as I approach and says something. I pay him no heed, walk up to the beast, and jump up onto it. He doesn’t seem to like that, and attempts to pull me off, but I extend my claws. The beast does not seem to mind, though it shakes a bit, but the two-legger keeps pulling, grabbing round my middle. Then he tries to push me off. He finally gives up, panting and bent over slightly. I look at the beast while he’s recovering. As would be expected from what I witnessed earlier, there are different sections on the beast’s back, each with one of the food types that he placed on the meat tube for the other two-legger earlier. The meat tubes are in a compartment of bubbling water. I dip a paw in and realize how hot it is – so apparently water bubbles when heated up to a certain point? And I guess that’s why the meat tube was hot. The two-leggers must be attempting to simulate live flesh. Again, why not just hunt for it… oh whatever. The food preparing two-legger is attempting to pull me off his beast again, so I jump down and go on my way. Maybe I should try talking to the next cat I see instead of fighting. Might learn something.

( ©2016 Sean Dorsey )

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