You are invited to read Marcus of Abderus and the Inn at the Edge of the World, a fantasy adventure novel available at Barnes and Noble Online.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Sylvester the Cat-

His name was Sylvester. Sylvester II, to be exact. He didn't really know that, however. Neither did he know that he was so named simply because of the black and white coloration of his fur reminded people of a cartoon character, as had been the Sylvester before him.

Sylvester was, quite simply, a cat.

Well, perhaps not quite so simply. Yes, he was indeed a cat. He did have a remarkable similarity to his namesake. However, below the level of his complete set of cat instincts Sylvester had another layer of instincts. It was one of those deep instincts that had his ear twitching at this moment.

It was early morning at the jail farm, and Sylvester was beginning to wake. The inmates in the bunks around him were asleep, and the guards were at the guard station. The ear twitched a few more times, and then the eyes opened.

The eyes saw a row of bunks much like the one on which Sylvester lay. The inmate with whom he was sharing the bunk had curled his legs around Sylvester in a most accommodating manner. The cat stood up in that comfortable half-circle, stretched, and jumped to the floor.

He padded silently down the rows of bunks, hearing but not listening to the breathing sound, the snores, and the occasional moan. He started slightly as a baritone fart greeted him in passing, but did not slow his pace. As only a cat can, he accepted this place, these men, the food and the affection as his due.

Sylvester padded past the latrine, ignoring the rustling sound of a news paper page being turned somewhere in the enclosure that held the row of commodes. It did not occur to him to be curious or amazed at these creatures who shit in their living spaces, or the efforts they made to create systems to eliminate the resulting waste. He had a bit of similar business of his own to take care of, somewhere outside.

The cat padded purposefully out through an open back door, and wandered to a planter on the far side. He made a deposit in some soft dirt, and scratched some earth over the scat. His ear twitched again. Sylvester turned away from the dormitory and loped purposefully toward the dump next door. Through a hole in the fence he went, and then across an open space.

He went to a pile of discarded machinery that was rusting quietly along side a hillock of buried waste, and slipped through an opening in the debris. A tunnel wound deep into the heap of scrap, and opened into a small chamber. The chamber was clean, and free of rust. Several probes pointed toward a single point in the center of the chamber.

Sylvester walked to that point, and curled up there on the floor. The ear twitched twice, and was still.

Lart Kohln became fully aware of himself. He was sitting in his chamber, with probes aimed at him. Lart remembered himself. He was a multi-dimensional being, and this projection was called "Sylvester" in this particular dimension. He relaxed as the sensory data transferred from his projection into himself.

"One of them is aware." He said. The others in the chamber leaned forward. "One of the authority figures. He has somehow guessed that the projection Sylvester is an alien. There is not enough data to indicate how he knows. He has spoken of it several times to Sylvester."

Elder Da thought for a moment. He bathed his own awareness in the beam of a projector for a moment, and thought some more.

"He only suspects. It is a speculation. These creatures live largely in delusion, and he is no different. We shall continue the project. Sylvester will continue to live among these creatures, for a time."

Lart nodded. Sylvester's ear twitched.

"I am curious." asked Acolyte Simph. "Why do these creature remain in this place? It is a place of confinement, yet there are no fences. Still, they remain."

"That is why we chose this particular site to study these humans." Answered the Elder. "The situation is complex, and they are conflicted. There is a convenient concentration of the beings in this place, and the projection Sylvester is accepted among them."

"I have all of the current data." Lart said.

"Good." said the Elder. "Send the projection back to the facility."

"Elder, I have a question." said Acolyte Janz.

"Please. Let Lart rest up from projecting. He will be available for questioning later." said Elder Da. "Lart, we will be awaiting you in four saas."

Lart nodded, and waved his hand over a node in the wall.

Sylvester's ear twitched. He stood, and stretched. He then padded out of the chamber, through the small tunnel. He loped across the dump, through the fence, and across the jail parking lot. He sauntered in through the open door, and across the latrine.

The humans were eating. Sylvester sat next to his bowl. He only had to wait.

"Morning, Sylvester." said one of the inmates, as he deposited a bit of sausage and scrambled eggs in the bowl. As the cat began to eat, the man stroked the fur along his back. Sylvester accepted the food and the stroking as his due.

His ear twitched. He continued eating.

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