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THE BLACK CAT with death-white eyes sits perched on a spiraling mountain of bones, squinting up as the cosmos above her splinters into chaos. The vast night sky erupts with fireballs that streak towards the tiny planet she rests on, smaller than most moons.
Her back aches and twitches, but she shakes it off, no time to worry about that now.
Beside her is a little ball of yarn. Yellow and red and purple and blue all twisted up tightly. It’s what she came here for—she can’t let it get destroyed. She needs to stay with it. No matter what.
As the universe around The Black Cat roars in thunder, one tiny trail of blue light blows past her and crashes at the base of the bone mountain, shaking everything beneath her. Her tail fattens as she peeks down and sees a sparkling blue spaceship the size of a 7-Eleven lying in ruin, smoke billowing up into the night.
One of the ship’s metallic doors swings open, and The Alien crawls out of the smoking, upside-down ship, and gravity grabs him, pulling him into a web of ruptured cables. One catches him around the neck. He’s dizzy and can’t breathe but can see the fire raging in the distance, closing in.
The Black Cat scampers down the bone mountain to the ship and studies The Alien. He resembles a tall, lanky human but with no skin—just a smooth filthy skull and mouth full of crooked teeth. But most importantly—a cable is wrapped around his neck as he dangles a few feet off the ground, his boots kicking madly in the air. His sunken eyes stretch across his forehead, jet black and empty except for tiny white dots that make eye contact with the feline. He hasn’t seen one of these fabled cats before, only heard stories about their existence. He makes a desperate gesture for help.
Explosions echo from the horizon.
The Black Cat cocks her head, squints, and considers The Alien for a moment, climbs up the ship, and chews the cable relentlessly until it tears, dropping The Alien to the dirt with a thud. The Alien gasps a raspy gasp. It takes a few moments for him to catch his breath, but he eventually looks up at The Black Cat and laughs, pats her head, and thanks her.
He gazes at the hellish fireworks all around and unbuttons his dingy green overcoat. Wiping the sweat from his skull face with his bony hand, he realizes how badly he’s fucked up. His orders were crystal clear … He was supposed to Cluster-Nuke the neighboring planet, Zygone, wipe it off the map because of its conservative health policies.
But he had miscalculated, in other words, fallen asleep behind the wheel—and dropped the bombs on the wrong planet—this planet—a planet he knows nothing about. In his shock, he had lost control of his ship and crashed next to The Black Cat.
The Alien knows this world is doomed; it won’t take long for the Cluster-Nuke to engulf this entire space-island. He reaches into his overcoat pocket and presses his distress signal button. He knows his people will come for him. They’ll understand. Let him off the hook. After all, he’s taken out plenty of opposing political planets with Cluster-Nukes. This was one mistake. A fluke on an empty little world that didn’t matter anyway.
The Black Cat plays with something at his feet. The Alien reaches down and snatches it from The Cat, thinking it could be valuable. But it’s nothing but a stupid ball of yarn. The Alien winds up and throws it; he has a good arm, and the ball of yarn flies the length of a basketball court before bouncing off the dirt.
The Black Cat’s paws spin madly, throwing up dust … she’s a streaking shadow and she’s on the ball of yarn, securing it between her pointy teeth. Her squinting eyes glare back at The Alien. She sees the incoming wave of fire in the distance behind him. The Black Cat moans, turns and begins to walk.
The Alien nods, good idea, and he hurries to catch up with her. They jog into the distance together, fleeing the end of the world.
THE BLACK CAT keeps stopping, dropping the ball of yarn to gaze at something in the distance. The Alien tries to see what she’s looking at, but his vision is still shaky from the crash and not nearly as good as a feline in the dark.
The Alien wonders if The Cat even realizes what’s happening. That her world is ending. Probably not, he figures, because the feline just keeps trotting along, batting the ball of yarn ahead of them.
The Alien presses the distress signal again and knows his people will be here any minute. He pulls his rotten green hood up over his pasty head as they reach a cliff overseeing a giant valley. Beyond the cliff is a rollercoaster-high drop that equals certain death. He turns around and sees a tidal wave of fire closing in.
The Alien figures he might as well relax for a minute until his people rescue him. He lays on his back and looks up into the night sky—nice and peaceful now. The planet Zygone twinkles above him. Taunting him. Mocking him. He takes a deep breath and rests his eyes, but something startles him. The Black Cat. She curls up on his chest, purring as she settles down to nap through the apocalypse. He rubs her chin and pets her back, which is covered in brittle scabs.
Dumb cat, he thinks as exhaustion overtakes him and he dozes off.
AN EARTHQUAKE shakes The Alien awake, surrounded by an inferno. A couple more minutes, and he’ll be burnt toast.
But there’s a new sun in the sky above him now, a savior slowly descending. The Alien sighs in relief. His people’s ship is finally here for the rescue. He nudges The Cat off his chest. She arches her back, stretches out her paws, and yawns. Shaking off the catnap. The Alien stands up and waves his hands toward the sky.
The Black Cat paws at The Alien’s ankles. He looks down, and The Cat stands on her hind legs like she wants to be held. But The Alien doesn’t want to look like a sissy when he boards the rescue ship. Bringing a cat along—they would surely make fun of him. Bad enough he had bombed the wrong planet.
He pushes the cat away with the tip of his boot.
The Black Cat rubs at his legs again—offering him one last chance. The Alien, frustrated, grabs her by the scruff of the neck, holds her up before his bony face, and heaves her over the cliff.
Dumb cat, he thinks.
The Alien sighs and looks up at his people’s ship hovering over him, the wind from the aircraft blowing back the flames licking at the sides of the cliff. But it’s a ship he’s never seen before. A giant sphere with massive sculptures bulging from its exterior. Cats. Enormous cats were sculpted and painted all over the ship’s surface. The brilliant lights of The Cat Ship bathe the entire landscape, and The Alien can see in the distance now; can see what The Black Cat had been staring at … towering statues of Cat Gods. Cat Gods burning in the Cluster-Nuke he had dropped.
The Alien feels something bump against his ankle and jumps, startled. The ball of yarn is lit up like a Christmas tree, lifting into the air, rising towards the ship.
There’s a snapping sound off to his left, and The Alien sees The Black Cat. But now she has black leathery wings jutting out of her spine, flapping beside her as she ascends from beyond the cliff. She glares at The Alien as she clamps her claws around the ball of yarn, hovering in mid-air above him.
A hatch opens at the bottom of The Cat Ship, and a platform descends. A couple of other cats emerge. A hulking Orange Longhair and a wide-eyed Calico. The Black Cat flies up and lands on the platform and drops the gleaming ball of yarn before them. The other cats immediately start rubbing against her, washing the dirt from her midnight fur with their tongues. The entire ship starts rumbling, pulsing like a million cats inside, purring all at once. It’s deafening, the whole universe is vibrating.
The felines only have moments before the hellfire consumes their ship. The Orange Longhair and The Calico turn their eyes down towards The Alien standing on the cliff, waving his arms, calling out, begging the cats to save him.
The other cats look towards The Black Cat—as if awaiting her next move.
The Black Cat looks down at The Alien, squints her death-white eyes, and turns her back on him. The last thing The Alien sees is her raised tail and her butthole as the hatch closes. The Cat Ship takes off, and The Alien is engulfed in flaming death.
Artwork by Steve Ramer