This is my entry for the March 2017 TCWG short story competition. This story is totally bonkers because it’s based on a dream I had a few years ago. The South Korean scientist and his experiment were real but everything else was a product of my dreaming mind. It’s about 1650 words long.
Green Fluorescent Electric Cats
The security guards’ uniforms were somewhat different to any I’d seen before. They looked like Confucian figures in long, flowing robes and caps. Each man or woman held one arm horizontally and this was because a cat rested in each of those sleeves of each of those arms. Thus, a guard who was right-handed would carry a cat in his left sleeve and a guard who was left-handed would carry a cat in his right sleeve.
It seemed strange that security guards would do their jobs while carrying around cats. But the cats made a vital contribution to the security of the complex. They could do something that other cats and other animals couldn’t do.
It all started with a South Korean scientist who managed to introduce the gene for Green Fluorescent Protein into cats. His work was purely academic and intended as a genuine piece of scientific research. However, it wasn’t long before there were rich people clamouring for Green Fluorescent cats.
Someone with less honourable intent managed to reproduce the experiment and started to sell these GM animals to the highest bidder. Soon people wanted other freaky features in their pets and someone somewhere successfully incorporated the gene from an electric eel for generating an electric shock into a cat.
All was well and good in this genetic engineering underworld until someone took delivery of a male green fluorescent kitten and a female electric kitten. What happened next was feline sex and more kittens. Two or three generations on, evolutionary amalgamation of the two introduced traits had a very strange and ultimately useful effect.
Now I was coming to the entrance of the complex where I was going to work nights for the next few weeks. There was a large van painted with a logo and the company name FSPC plc. I knew that this was the company providing security, not my employer. FSPC stood for Feline Security and Pest Control and it is a new entrant to the security industry.
I entered the complex for the first time. I had a three-month contract and, before I could start, I had to go to an induction meeting. At the meeting I was shown a video about the company’s security arrangements.
The video began, “FSPC is the UK’s newest and most radical security company. Using trained cats instead of dogs, we have revolutionized business premises security in just one year. We have introduced cats to the UK’s security industry, currently on an experimental basis. So far there has not been one burglary or security breach at any premises we patrol. We believe that our genetically modified cats are invincible!”
The complex was large and in addition to the cats being carried by security guards, there were other cats wandering around the corridors. I asked the person conducting the induction if they were a part of the security arrangements. “No,” he replied. “They’re for pest control. The complex comprises many old buildings and there’s a persistent rodent problem. These are, though, cats with the same genetic modification.”
I was wondering about this genetic modification and why it made the cats special. On the surface, they did just look like ordinary cats, though they did glow green in the dark. “Surely that glowing makes them vulnerable to an armed intruder?”
“No. The cats only glow when they’re happy, a bit like visual purring. The more contented they are, the brighter the shade of green that they glow. However, as soon as they sense danger, they stop glowing. When they get angry or wish to hunt, something strange happens.”
No one seemed interested in telling me what the strange thing was that happens. I was just warned not to do anything nasty to the cats.
I settled down to my job, which was pretty much a lone affair, with no one for company most of the time. From time to time a cat would walk by. Then, at about 9pm, I noticed a cat with a large rat in its mouth. There was a strange smell a bit like singed flesh. I didn’t connect it with the cat or the rat but at about 11pm another cat went by with a rat in its mouth and there was the same smell.
Someone brought me some more work and I asked, “I’ve seen two cats with rats this evening and each time there’s been a smell like singed flesh. Why?”
“I don’t know. Maybe the rat has been gnawing electricity cables. Maybe the cats have been sleeping too near the boilers, “ was the reply that I got.
I like cats but there was something very odd about these GM animals. And the security guards outside were now reminding me of zombies. This was all too strange, particularly as no one would tell me how and why these cats were better than dogs for patrolling the complex.
As the night went on I saw more cats with rats they’d caught and each time there was this singed flesh smell. I decided not to press issue as it really didn’t matter and it was obvious that no one would tell me what was going on.
I finished my shift at the complex and went home. I didn’t know what to make of the surrealist scenes that I’d seen. Anyway, the first day was over and I’d be there again the next evening.
And so it was. The next evening came and I arrived for work at the complex. There were the Confucian figures or zombies patrolling the grounds and inside there were cats catching rats and mice and the strange singed smell. I settled down to work.
At about 10.30pm I needed to go to another building in the complex. As I was walking down the link road, I came to a junction and saw a big juicy rat. Across the other side of the road there was a cat, eyes fixed on the rat. I decided to watch. The rat seemed quite unaware of either the cat or me. As the rat got near the cat and I expected to see the cat pounce, something else quite strange happened. The first thing that happened was that the cat stopped fluorescing. Next, it simply stayed where it was and didn’t pounce at all. Then I noticed its eyes. The appearance of the tapetums changed from reflective green to red. They then quickly got brighter, turning orange, the yellow and then yellow-white, all in a couple of seconds. Then two lime green beams emitted from the cat’s eyes and blasted the rat! The cat ran over and collected its quarry.
I was quite taken aback by what I’d seen. It seemed like something from a horror film, a cat with laser eyes. I did what I had to do and returned to my workstation. There was no one around to talk to and, as it seemed no one wanted me to know what the cats could do, I decided that I’d better keep what I’d seen to myself.
At about 1am a messenger came to me and said, “Mr Simpson, Head of Security, wishes to see you now.”
I didn’t have anything to fear and I reckoned that it was a routine check. I went to Mr Simpson’s office and knocked on the door. “Enter,” he said. I entered. He immediately knew who I was, even though I’d never seen him before.
He beckoned to me, “Come in and sit down.
“Our CCTV shows that you witnessed a cat catching a rat earlier. If the abilities of these cats become widely known, what do you think will happen? Don’t answer! I’ll tell you. The populace will either want them all destroyed as freaks or they will all want one. Neither outcome would be good for us. I’m afraid that you’re going to have to die.”
Looking like Blofeld from a James Bond film, he didn’t have a white Persian but he leant over to pick up an extremely large Maine Coon and started to stroke it. Its eyes turned red and I realized that Mr Simpson was going to shoot me with a cat!
Remembering the time taken by the cat firing at the rat, I decided that I could duck just before this cat would fire. That is what I did and the cat’s laser eyes blew the door right off its hinges! I took the opportunity to escape and ran like I’ve never run before. I left the building and didn’t head for the complex’s main entrance and this possibly saved my life. When I managed to compose my thoughts, I decided to run for the river at the back of the complex and swim upstream. Because the security guards were looking to protect the complex from intruders, they weren’t expecting to try to stop someone from escaping. At least, that’s what I surmised because I got to the river a swam away without being challenged.
When I got out of the water, I ran to the local town and ran into the police station. Of course, when I tried to report that Mr Simpson had tried to kill me using a cat as a weapon, they thought I was crazy. No one believed me at all. I really wasn’t sure what to do and I didn’t know whether Mr Simpson would come after me or not. One thing was for certain and that is that nothing would or will make me go back to the complex.
You know, I was really quite pleased when the men in white coats came to take me to the funny farm.
© Charles Stuart 2017