Friday, September 23, 2011

Bathroom Monologue: The Last Cat on Earth


Toby slipped on the thick leather jacket. He flipped up the collar to shield his neck and cheeks. Next came a second pair of jeans, buckling them over the tails of the jacket. Gloves and construction boots were necessary. He looked out the window as he donned the ski mask. He watched the undead shuffling on the street corners before flipping goggles to protect his eyes.

He couldn’t risk getting a speck on him. He was the last man who could do the job.

He followed the undead through the windows of his house. Two windows on the west wall, then the one next to the porch. Four of his former neighbors shambled along the driveways. Their eyes were blind, noses turned up to sniff. Maybe they could smell him. Or maybe they smelled Mr. Tibbs.

Scuffling rose behind him. Toby whirled and saw the basement door shake. He rushed over to it, but the button was depressed. It was locked. He heard his sister – his former sister – groaning down there.

He frowned at her through the door. She couldn’t do this job anymore.

“I’ll take care of it,” he told her. “Even though you know I never wanted it here. Do you know how dangerous it is?”

The deck door slid open quietly. There was a little whoosh of air, and then the saddest sound left on earth. A keening, churning whine. As much as he hated these things, it made even him feel a little sorry.

It padded around the plastic deck furniture. It arched its spine, so that when it walked between their legs it would rub its sides. Mr. Tibbs was a self-petter, but that wasn’t enough affection. Even self-rubbing, it looked so damned pathetic.

Toby drew a plastic sheet from the living room and closed the door. No sense in letting dander get inside. This was going to be an allergic nightmare as it was.

“I don’t like you any more than you like me,” he said down to it. It didn’t seem to dislike him, but cats lied with their faces. “This just doesn’t feel right. And you're not eating the food I throw out here. What's wrong?”

When Toby didn’t immediately pet the little bastard, it keened again. It sounded almost human. Kickably human. The kind of humanoid sorrow that’d haunted him up in his safely boarded study the last three days. His wonderful, hypoallergenic study with the view of the wonderfully silent, dander-free undead.

The plastic chair creaked as he squatted into it. He laid the plastic sheet over his chest and lap, hands flattening it into place over his jacket. When it was ready, he patted his thigh. Mr Tibbs quirked its wretched head, then began to climb into the last lap on earth. Even now, there was a little affection left in the world. But only a little. He’d kill the bastard if it got any hair on him.

33 comments:

  1. One man and one cat have survived the zombie apocalypse? Wow, what are the odds?

    Absurd and poignant, all at once. How did you DO that?

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  2. Whatever you write, it engages. It's the detail that places us right there. Am I a fan of zombie stories or even cats? I am now.

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  3. I so love reading your stories, they always make me go gasp in the end, and making me realize that I really should breathe better while reading :)

    I love this one! Highlight: kickably human. :D

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  4. I love this John! You can feel his faux hate for the poor cat so thoroughly. And you got the look on cat's faces nailed - they lie so much. Outstanding story!

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  5. It figures that the domesticated animal that survives would be a cat. Dogs are too closely tied to humans to survive without going unrecognizably feral. Cats are mostly feral anyway.

    Clearly drawn picture of a rotten future, John.

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  6. This made me smile. I like how you build it up so that we think he's going out to kill zombies or something, and he doesn't want to get infected...but really he's just allergic to the cat. And I love that he sees it as a duty to provide a lap for that cat. It's a reluctant kindness, which is the most heart-warming of them all. Look at you, all warming my heart!

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  7. As an allergy sufferer, I felt right at home in this tale.

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  8. Mr. FAR, how do I do that? If I do, it's by experience. I am absurd, so writing about it is my nature. As friends were pointing out on Twitter, this story is about as autobiographical as zombie fiction can get.

    Alison, thank you so much. That's very kind praise. I'll try to keep making my material, undead or feline, engaging.

    Sylvia, did you really gasp for this? That's so winning to me. And cats totally can be kickably human.

    Deanna, cats faces positively do lie. My sister's cat is always trying to manipulate me. Sometimes I let him, because I'm not terribly bright.

    Tony, you bet it'd be cats. Goldfish are stuck and dogs are somewhat loyal and somewhat dumb. Cats, meanwhile, would probably be eating the slowest zombies eventually.

    Elise, I wondered if that build would work on people, or if I was just fooling myself. I'm so relieved you actually liked it! And I'm happy to warm over your heart. Just keep it away from cats.

    Mike, it's a rough existence, ours. Are you allergic to the undead as well?

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  9. That ended so wonderfully different than I'd expected. Loved it! I thought surely your mc was setting out to kill the poor thing.

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  10. I really do love the irony of these last two survivors coming together like this. Well done!

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  11. Kickable human. *snort* Well worth the wait.

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  12. I like how he's surrounded by zombies and the only thing he worries about is his allergies. Can't say that I blame him, mine gets pretty bad during hayfever season.

    Great work as always John!

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  13. LOL I thought he was going to go fight the zombies and instead he needs to protect himself from cat allergies. LOL

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  14. I like this a lot. My favorite line is, "cats lied with their faces." Damn those little allergen factories.

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  15. Oh he was only going to pet it - thank god for that, I thought he was going to kill it to which I would have shouted Noooooo!

    Good story!

    helen.scribbes

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  16. Last cat on earth, those to make a pair. Hopefully its got some mad zombie killing skills.

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  17. I loathe cats. Zombies? I'm undecided. Your story? Thoroughly enjoyed it! :)

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  18. I loved the line: Mr. Tibbs was a self-petter. Don't know why, but I almost related this to The Mars Chronicles. Hope the phone doesn't ring.

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  19. Amazing that he's more concerned by the cat than the zombies. You're on top form, sir.

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  20. Ha! This is pretty awesome.

    You know, I think my mom used the excuse that she was allergic so we couldn't have pets... actually I think she lied to us so we couldn't have pets.

    Maybe it's psychosomatic. I hope it all works out for him--even if it is a damned cat. The last man on earth could use a friend, even if it's feline... although I might be happy with a pocket full of rocks.

    ~2

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  21. Ha! I love that cats lie with their faces. :)

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  22. It's a really comical twist that the last man on Earth is allergic to the last cat on Earth, another nicely unusual story John.

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  23. I'm almost wondering if the cat allergies caused everybody else to go zombie :)

    Very interesting.

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  24. The plastic is a great touch. Course, I'm waiting for the second act where the first pets in a while result in the cat kneading with his claws and puncturing the plastic. Like how you concentrate on Toby and Mr. Tibbs instead of the zombies.

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  25. Even with allergies, he finds a way to touch something that reminds him of how life used to be. That's one way to keep your sanity. A good read.

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  26. Sorry I didn't get back to every comment this weekend. Was so preoccupied, and eventually burned out by editing the novel that I didn't have the brain power. But every time I saw one pop into my inbox, it brightened up my afternoon. Thank you all for the kind words.

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  27. I loved this! Cats are definitely sneaky and no doubt will be the domesticated animal that does survive the zombie apocalypse (or be the ones that orchestrate it).

    Well done, sir! :)

    (p.s. my word verification is catifyi LOL)

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  28. I like that he goes so far as to lay a plastic sheet over his chest and lap, nice touch.

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  29. Awww. As a cat lover, I absolutely adored this. They say you can be starved for touch -- he needed to love something, and get some affection back in the worst way. Allergies be damned! :)

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  30. That was great. Loved the last line, a very conditional love!

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  31. You know what? I can so imagine you doing exactly this once the zombie apocalypse does come.

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  32. But what if the cat has been zombinfected?

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