Un-Un-Cat Episode 6. — Dog never gives up hope for his people to one day become friends with the people of Earth.
In the fall of 1994 over a decade and a half after the Cat-person U.G. and the extraterrestrial-Dog-person Lee had stayed friends, Lee had a Eureka moment and did a wild dance running around and around leaping in the meadow outside of the garden wall.
Of course, U.G. was obligated as a Cat-person to act nonchalant, walk calmly along the wall and pretend not to stare at Lee by licking her paw while waiting for the inevitable explanation for his dance. Lee was an often overly verbose Dog-person and she knew an explanation was inevitable.
“Hooravine-bow-bow-wow-moy-vah-ald-bow-wow woof, hooray, the best idea to start fixing everything for everyone!” Lee was howling a bit, not making sense.
U.G. was just starting to worry if Lee’s mental marbles were loose. But Lee calmed down enough to prance over and announce more clearly, with a bark that nearly blasted poor U.G. right off the garden wall into the rows of carrots, turnips, and yams.
“Everyone working together to save the world with the hive-mind and the collective consciousness via transparent structured shared ideas, votes and polls. Anybody who cares and knows anything about a subject weighing in, to the shared plan for every idea, on the entire planet Earth!”
In other words or as far as U.G. understood it, this BIG idea was the collective consciousness shared over a Dog-simplified free-internet-network. Lee was sure, that if everybody weighed in to figure out how-to-save-the-world together, then they could do it.
“Save the world from what exactly?” U.G. asked. “Humans?”
“Ha Ha!” Lee replied imitating a tone from one of the popular cartoon TV show they had been watching together. “From everything of course. You know, war, world hunger, pollution, global warming, disease, solar flares!…” Lee went on like that for a while, his dancing and leaping around gradually slowing in-between bursts of words barked.
“Okay!” Howled, U.G. several times, trying her cat best to vocalize above Lee’s carrying on, she had no choice but to surrender, when Lee’s mind was made up, there was nothing else to say but ‘Okay’,… until he calmed down.
Lee did the research via the Dog computer on how to get the human internet installed in the middle of nowhere Idaho. U.G. agreed it was worth the cost, besides they were becoming increasingly aware that the hacking they had been doing to post on a rotating series of remote servers wasn’t sustainable and neither of them wanted their posts deleted.
Lee thought nothing of human money, all types of currency were useless and confusing to him, … The first time he saw U.G. pay for something he muttered. “Why all the fuss you can’t eat cash?”
U.G.’s feelings about money were similar, except while the Dog-people attributed value to food, she and the Cat-people placed the highest value on territory. Because in the Cat dimension property was currency.
When U.G. spent money she didn’t think about the numbers of dollars and cents, she thought about the story of how her family came to this dimension.
U.G.’s Grandmother was killed because a flock of turkey-like birds their Cat family had been raising strayed over a territory-line into the woods on a neighboring Cat families’ land. She crossed over the marker wall to herd the birds back over the line and was basically legally murdered by a border patrol agent, who shot her on sight. There was no trial, he was a hired gun doing his job.
As a newly married young Cat-person, she left behind two tiny kittens and a widower. U.G.’s Grandfather was an inventor, mourning the death of his wife his focused shifted from bird slaughtering robots to building a time machine in hopes of bringing back the love of his life.
Grandfather went to the nearest alley and found a widow with a young son, both nearly starved to death. He brought them home to take care of his baby kittens. When it came time to test his time machine, step Grandmother was the only one who believed in him. In the end, she and her son, Grandfather and his two young children were the only ones to travel across. The time machine failed to travel back in time to save the flock of birds and prevent U.G.’s Grandmother’s death. Instead, the five Cat-people landed on the beach of Northern California in the human dimension in 1841, to join the gold rush for a few years.
Eventually, the Cat-family made their way inland to some rocky hills they hoped would be useless to humans. Grandfather still valuing a territory for his family above anything else made sure they held the title to 103 carefully marked acres. After Grandfather and step-Grandmother died, people bought a chunk of land they wanted to cut a road through. U.G.’s parents and her Uncle Jack kept 74.¾ acres and after watching the trucks and cars go by, built a corner store. A few years later they were approached with an offer to install a gas station in front of the store. With that money, they built a house in walking distance from the new store and five very simple cabins to rent out to hunters, fishermen, and folks passing through.
Uncle Jack was restless. He became a truck driver. He drove from coast-to-coast, South to North and everywhere in-between, always searching for some other Cat-people who may have crossed over like them. Uncle Jack never found another. U.G. inherited everything.
Lee spent thousands of dollars of Uncle Jack’s savings that U.G. had inherited with the cabin, and still the only way Lee and U.G. could afford to install a tower on the top of the hill in range of U.G.’s cabin and the gas station store was by selling off a few more acres of her Grandparents land and three of the five cabins.
We can advertise Wi-Fi and make folks come into the store to get the password, it will pay for itself eventually.
The top of the hill, Uncle Jack’s house, her Grandparents’ tiny stone house (they now used as a barn) because it was next to the garden on the only flat and cleared area of the valley, a couple cabins and the corner store were on the 53 acres of land she still owned. U.G. wouldn’t sell the land, she rented out the land, tho the commercial buildings, the store and gas station businesses were now owned and run by somebody else, a human family her father had befriended. She didn’t need more than she could manage anyways. By renting out her parent’s house near the store and living simply in the old run-down homestead was how U.G. make her survival for provisions, auto insurance for the truck and property taxes and anything else she decided to spend a little money on, which generally speaking wasn’t much, until Lee came along and fixed-up everything.
To make another long story short. Lee and U.G. made a deal with the human owners of the businesses on U.G.’s family’s land. After a bit of back and forth with permits via the corner store and the gas station, plus paying a crew (who never got a good look at either Lee or U.G. and thought they might be a very strange couple indeed). The internet was up and fast with very few folks in the area on devices to pinch the bandwidth. 1996 was still pretty early in the internet era to install a wireless tower out there in the sticks in the middle of nowhere.
A few months and a year after all of that hassle dust settled, U.G. decided Lee might be right. She liked the human internet, granted Lee was reading more scholarly blogs and she was more fascinated by gossip, advertising, and cute gif animations than news.
On a chilly autumn morning before sunrise in 1998, the air smokey from a smoldering wildfire, Lee and U.G. seated on the porch stoop watching the distant glow of coals scattered here and there in the scrub of the rocks on the hill across the valley, Lee said. “U.G. I am a very old Dog and the cancer has metastasized to a point where the AIC and I don’t know how long we can continue to teleport chunks of tumors out of my body to keep it from spreading to vital organs.”
“You heard me. Cancer has metastasized in my body cavity. I realized I should tell you, watching the way the wildfire runs out of fuel in the rocks here and sputters to smoke, the wildfire reminds me of how the cancer spreads.”
The wind had shifted and the fire was not heading towards the house anymore and U.G. had just started to feel her fear of the fire jumping the gap subside, and now, even with telepathic help from the AIC, she was struggling to process what Lee was saying. “You are dying?”
“I am a very old Dog, my people would say, I am accepting the limitations of my lifespan.”
“You are giving up?”
“Never. I will never give up hope for the people of Earth to be friends with my people and I will give every moment I have towards the goal of saving life on this salty smelly little planet.”
“Do you want to go see a doctor, get a second opinion?”
“Medical treatment is primitive here on Earth. This is one of many illnesses that should be smelled and healed long before the disease has progressed far enough to harm the host. U.G. you and both AICs know it is true, we could not go to a veterinarian, nor a human doctor. Even if they understood what’s wrong with me and could get past the Dog-person anomalies of my anatomy as an alien, there’s nothing they could do that would be superior to the AIC’s medical knowledge of my species.”
Lee’s AIC interrupted her sputter as the two critters touched tentacles together to exchange data. Lee’s stomach lining and the fat around the body cavity over his liver was riddled like swiss cheese with bloody little holes. Some of the areas were healed scars and a few were fresh. Lee had been fighting to stay alive for a while now. The pollution and various spectra of electromagnetic radiation the humans generate on this planet is difficult for an old Dog’s immune system to battle against.
“I have smoke in my eyes.” U.G. lied.
“I have a little smoke in my eyes as well. I’m sorry; mortality is something we must all learn to accept as part of the fragility of life. ” Lee tried to sympathize but he seemed more stoic than sad. He and his AIC were relieved to have this conversation with their friend out into the air.
One evening over dinner a few days later during a quiet pause while Lee was eating U.G., looking out at the sun starting to set behind clouds of many hues of pink orange and red over dark purple-black rugged treed hills, remarked. “You know they changed it from global warming to climate change and back again I think, but I’m not sure.” She was just saying this to make conversation and it worked because she and her AI-Critter had been making a list of Lee’s favorite topics.
Lee looked up very seriously over an empty plate. “Data about reality doesn’t change by what name they call it by. Humans and their knowing things only by agreeing on a few words shorter than most news headlines is confounding. Can’t they tell anything by the smell? Climate change or global warming, the data is in, fact — a yearly total average of recorded weather shows a clear warming trend with extreme weather and record-setting hotter days everywhere, is happening. A couple decades from now it will be completely obvious to all life on this planet. Did you make more pickles mixed with extra garlic?”
“Of course, they are down in the basement pantry, you are always welcome to help yourself, you know. Go fetch one, you finished the last open jar upstairs.” U.G. said counting on how much he moved around or not, to tell her more about how he felt than what he would say. She watched the sunset listening to Lee’s toe-nails on the floorboards clickety-click, down and back up the stairs and back over to the table. U.G. preferred sweet or fishy flavors. Lee liked pickles with extra garlic. They were, Cat and Dog type people after all, of course, their tastes were opposite, at the end of the day she liked to listen to Lee lecture about his favorite topics, just to hear her friend talk. “So how does this collective problem-solving work again?” She asked.
Lee gripped the jar lid thinking for a second with the tip of his tongue sticking out of his mouth and the new jar of pickled vegetables in his paws made a good loud ‘pop’ noise.