Queen of all she surveys
Notes from the Prairie Hollow cat, number first
by Brandon Smith, copyright 1993
I stopped and looked around for the source of the voice, but all I could see was grass and bushes and trees. I swished my tail a few times to show my displeasure at being yelled at, then settled down for a grooming session. Like any reasonably alert cat, I kept an eye cocked and both ears turning while I licked my smooth coat of many colors.
A few seconds later I was rewarded by a movement in the grass a few feet to my left. I froze in mid lick, ready to pounce or flee. A strange shape, kind of like a garden hose, raised up just above the grass.
"Welcome to Prairie Hollow, stranger. You come in with this new set of humans?" It said, with a kind of lisp I can't properly show in writing. Cautiously, still ready to pounce or flee, I replied.
"Yes, my servants brought me here. I don't know why they had to leave a perfectly good house in the city, but they did. You know how hard good humans are to come by, so I made sure they didn't escape without me."
"Humans are sure hard to put up with, I'll agree with you there," the creature said, moving closer, "but I've never heard of 'servants' or 'city.'"
I wasn't quite sure what to make of what the creature said, but now I was sure that it wasn't a garden hose. It must be a snake. My uncle once told me about snakes, but those had been short and black. This one was long and brown. I decided that fleeing would be better than pouncing, but not quite yet.
"Servants," I explained, "put food out for you, keep your litter box clean, brush your coat and provide pets when you ask for them. Mine have been very loyal and caring ever since I was a kitten."
"That sounds like quite a deal! But what's the catch? What do you have to do? How do you pay for all this?"
"Eat the food, use the litter box, and present myself for admiration every day or two."
"That's all?" the snake asked.
"Well, when there's a baby in the house I'm supposed to keep it entertained by playing with bits of paper. And my uncle Joe says we're supposed to catch mice, but I'd rather sleep in the window."
"The mice around here are mine, but if you really want I can let you have a couple now and then. Speaking of which I think I'll go eat two or three. Come visit some time, over there behind the barn." The snake began to slither off towards the other building, the one I was heading towards when rudely interrupted. Just before it got out of sight, it raised up added, "Watch out for those humans. Whenever they see me or my kin they try to kill us. I wouldn't trust 'em any more than I could eat 'em."
I returned to the house and told my humans to let me in. I told them about the snake that was eating the mice in the barn, but, as usual, they ignored me.