Cat Scratch Fever
by Roger Haller
forum: Cat Scratch Fever
speculative fiction for the internet generation.

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Cat Scratch Fever



           "Ok, this model is going to work perfect. As long as you keep it dry, the final touches on this version blend so well with the feline population, it would take an expert to tell the difference."

           Duck rubbed his stubble for a moment before he replied.

           "Two problems… If it gets wet, it's over and if it runs into catastrophic damage in any way the jig is up."

           Beans was quick to defend his pet project. "I got it covered, Duck. I have a new waterproof skin in final stages in the lab. The next rev will be waterproof to fifty feet, and you know how cats hate water. I got him programmed to fight like hell if forced at more than three ounces of any kind of liquid."

           "You haven't addressed the mess if it is destroyed in view of witnesses"

           "First of all, Kitty has 3900 lives. My Catastrophe Avoidance Teleportation System deals with the issue. If a cat were to be run over by a terrestrial vehicle, you get a red tinged skimming cat. If the same thing was to happen to Kitty, he simply disappears."

           "This is only if he is aware of the impending danger."

           "Kitty has far more sensors than you and I. He can 'feel' danger long before we could see or hear it coming. Any semblance of aggression is the trigger."

           "Ok, so your Kitty sees a leaf falling from a tree and disappears?"

           "No, no, no… He has a defense system as well as the avoidance system. He can observe and react accordingly. He has the right tools to fend off a predator or pest like a canine. His claws are tipped with light fecal microbes to make a scratch painful and not soon forgotten and his motivation is about twice what a normal feral cat would have."

           "Why feral? Would it not be better to have him living with the targets as a house pet?"

           "House pets go to the vet."

           "Good point, but when do you put the real poison in its system and when will the new skinned Kitty be ready for testing?"

           "Early next week. I think everything is ready now but for the waterproofing. I'll call you when we start the first test run on the next prototype. The aggressive cancer accelerator is ready now and will be in system with the new model. Take Kitty 6 here and watch him until the new model is out. You can make a list of questions or comments and I can address them at the next showing. If you find any serious bugs, let me know immediately so I can clean them up in the working rev."

* * *

           "…bless Mommy and Daddy and Fossy. Amen."

           "Who is Fossy, Sweetie?"

           "Fossy is my best friend."

           Shelly climbed into bed and pulled the covers up to her chin. She looked up at her mom with a smug smile.

           "Honey, I didn't know you had made a friend here in the neighborhood. Who is Fossy?"

           "Fossy is my kitty friend. I found her behind the house by the garden shed. She's pretty and she likes me because she let me pet her and even climbed up on my legs when I sat down so she could snuggle with me."

           "Gail, that must be a neighbor's cat. It must live near here. Where did it go?"

           "When you called me for supper, she ran down the trail into the trees behind our house."

           "Did you see her name on her collar? Could you read it?"

           "No, Mom, she didn't have a collar."

           "How did you find out her name?"

           "She told me."

           "Hmmm, must be a special cat. She can talk?"


           "Ok, Honey, time for sleep. Maybe I can meet your new friend tomorrow."

           "Ok, Mom, maybe she will tell you her name too."

           Francis flicked on the night light, kissed her little girl goodnight and stepped out of the room, flicking off the light as she did.

           A pair of yellow eyes reflected the dim glow of the Mickey Mouse night light from the back corner of the open closet.

           In a few minutes, the yellow reflections became blue lights and a low hum began as the hard drives were backed up to the permanent discs orbiting the planet. The hum was rhythmic. Essentially, it sounded like a contented purr.

* * *

           "Captain Remolds, was the upload successful?"

           "Yes, Jenks, it looks fine. Thousands of feeds are now populating the recon database. Get me Duck and Beans."

           "Yes, sir."

           Jenks trotted off the bridge and headed for the lab. Those two geeks would be in heaven with all this data. He popped into the lab, where he found them bent over dueling monitors.

           "Duck. Beans. Cap'n wants you on the bridge."

           Before he had an answer, he popped back onto the transport wheel and rode on toward the lounge. Shift was over and so was he.

           Moments later the Kitty engineer and his manager were stepping onto the bridge.

           "Yes, Boss?"

           "Beans, this is the king's ship and protocol will be followed."

           "Uh… Ya, sorry, Captain. Just not used to military talk."

           "Well, get used to it. Beans, have you a report ready for me?"

           "Just about, Boss... Uh. Captain, we are just compiling the results as we speak. May we?" Beans pointed at one of the navigators consoles.

           "Yes, by all means. I want a project status to baseline this mission. The Marble needs our report by 16:00."

           "No problem, Captain," Duck responded as he flopped into the navigator's chair with something less than finesse. His fingers flew over the keyboard and ones and zeros were soon running all over the monitor.

           Beans pulled up a chair and pointed with comments as needed.

           Within a few minutes a key was turned, a button pushed and the captain's console lit up with a report to inspect.

           He nodded and grunted at it for a few minutes and waved Beans over. "What does this mean?"

           "It means we are almost ready, Captain. A new shipment is on the way down as we speak. The outback of Australia is loaded to the point of saturation. It's a good thing Kitties don't need to eat. By this time next week, we will be ready to implement the project.

* * *

           "See, Mom? Fossy is such a nice cat. All she wants to do is cuddle and purr." Fossy watched contentedly as Francis came over to pet the soft white cat curled on her daughter's legs.

           "She does look friendly, Honey. I've been to the neighbors all around and no one seems to know her, so I guess by the missing collar she must have been abandoned. She is too friendly to be feral, though. I suppose she's just lost. I'll tell you what, I'll post a message at the post box and if no one claims her in a week, we'll have her checked over and you can keep her if she checks out."

           Gail beamed and hugged the big white cat close. Fossy returned the affection with a purring snuggle and Francis felt a glow at seeing her daughter finally in a positive mood in their new home.

           "I love you, Fossy. Show Mom how you can talk. Tell me you love me."

           Fossy meowed quietly and nuzzled in further.

           "Come on, Fossy, don't be shy." Fossy just cuddled more.

           "That's ok, Honey; she doesn't need words to prove it. Look at how much she loves you."

           Francis turned for the house but a tiny little frown crossed her face as she pulled the screen door open. As she closed the door, her hand reached for the phone book. She would feel much better when this cat was checked out, de-clawed, had all current shots and was spayed if needed.

           She found a listing and dialed. In a moment, the answering system spat out a person.

           "Kettle Valley Veterinary?"

           "Hi, my name is Francis Pennington. My family just moved here and we have been adopted by a huge white cat. I haven't been able to find an owner, so I would like to bring her in for a visit to make sure she is healthy, tagged and safe… Yes, Friday will be just right. See you at two."

           She hung up the phone and watched as her daughter enjoyed the back yard with her new friend. She was amazed at how the cat followed the girl around more like a dog. The poor thing must have been starved for attention after being lost from a very loving family. Maybe there is a chip or tattoo in her ear.

           She made a mental note to give the cat a bath before she took it in to the vet. Maybe she could see a tattoo.

           Another peek at the happy scene in the back yard and she began to prepare dinner. Ted would be home soon and a good movie was primed for after-dinner entertainment.

* * *

           "Major, we are ready to launch."

           "Good work, Captain Remolds. Next month we can start clean up operations and with a few months dealing with the carnage, the teams will have the exiles ready to retake our homes."

           "Thank you, Major. The Kitty project is ahead of schedule and we have identified and fixed every bug we have found in the system. I have to say this eccentric team of lab rats has outdone themselves with this Trojan horse scheme. We don't have to risk a single exile life."

           "Who are these 'lab rats' you are so proud of?"

           "Well, sir, they are an unlikely duo named Henry Benson and Donald Ducuvney... They have become known as Beans and Duck partially from their names, but more so from their mannerisms. I'm sure you don't want the details."

           "Remolds, when the dust clears, I want to present medals for those boys. Their work is going to free us from the Marble and allow us a great life on an unpopulated planet. Our people deserve a home."

           "Yes, sir. I will deliver them when we get settled in."

           "Ok, I see all the continents listed here and all the major islands. Have there been measures to deal with the smaller pockets of Earth civilization?"

           "Yes, sir. As you can see on the next screen, kitties were supplied by grid to any land mass more than a mile across. If any local population is left, they may as well be on a deserted island if they are not already. I'm sure there will be the odd local to deal with, but case by case will take only rudimentary effort and there has to be no trauma to exile personnel."

           "It looks like you have it covered, Captain. Good work. Begin at 06:00 Marble time and send me hourly reports. The general is going to be most interested in the details."

           "Yes, sir."

           "Oh, and Captain, send me a benign version of the WMD. I want to really scrutinize the workmanship."

           "Yes, sir. On its way."

           The signal died abruptly and Reynolds labeled a box for Major Hernandez. 'One kitty for the Marble,' he thought. 'I bet it becomes a pet.'

           Captain Remolds turned his attention to the launch count down.

* * *

           Gail filled the sink with water and brought out the new pet shampoo. She laid out towels and laid a mat on the floor near the counter. She was excited. It seemed there was a large family of these abandoned cats and the neighbors were taking them in all around. She was proud; she had been the first to help the poor things.

           "All ready, Mom."

           She smiled as she thought of how her mom had tricked Fossy by wrapping her in a towel. Fossy was content and purring with her eyes closed in her mother's arms.

           "The temperature is just right. I can put my elbow in it without jumping."

           "Thanks, Honey. Fossy is going to enjoy this when it's over. You watch, she will be as frisky as a kitten."

           The Kitty was dipped towel and all into the warm water with eyes bulging, but it could not move. It tried to enable teleport, but the trigger was not met. It did not sense danger or aggression, only distaste for water. It stopped struggling as the wrapping became heavy with water. The soggy blanket was loosened and Fossy stood still as it was removed. This was a new experience to its sensors and there was no action bound to the environment. Fossy was quickly a dripping mop of clotted hair with a warm vinyl smell. Things progressed without event until the shampoo was applied. Eyes wide, the WMD was neutralized as its coating melted slowly and sagged heavily under its belly. Metal and wires became evident and a shocked mother and daughter backed away as their new cat sparked and sizzled in the sink.

           Francis ran for the phone, dialed 911, and explained the event to a skeptical dispatcher. She had just enough of the right tone to spark a call to a cruiser near by.

           Morning brought wild stories on the early news as masses of the robotic cats were discovered. Word spread like a tsunami around the world, where people were washing and hosing down cats with fervor and watching most disappear as realization seeped in.

           There were stories of cat attacks and the bulletins were full of cat scratch fever. All ended with death. A pandemic was in full force and quickly attributed to an attack from an advanced enemy.

           The exiles fled back to the Marble to wait out the events, where Beans and Duck never got their medals.

           Under attack, the vast majority of kitties teleported back but the incident provided the extinction of the common house cat and there were huge fatalities including one on the Marble, where Major Hernandez died of cat scratch fever when swatting at the WMD in anger.





copyright 2007 Roger Haller.

Roger Haller, a cowboy geek with a seemingly paradoxal love for gripping fiction and quiet cowboy logic has several works published to the web and an old history of newspaper drama stoked up as fuel behind his consuming need to have his first novel see print.

Many and varied short stories and the odd poem are published at the Adult Creative Writing contest site at,, and many short stories available to browse on (See the Author’s links)

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