Upon the first evidence of the apocalypse, when scholars argued over toads vs. fur babies, and what did it all mean, many a Bible was thumbed and heads were scratched (fur and otherwise). The sudden drops (so to speak) and spatters (so to speak) of the first storm of domestic cats and dogs charmed the world. Until it was discovered how many fur babies can fall from the sky in a small village called Esperence, NY, just north of the Mohawk River, a town no bigger than a single block, with one signal light (flashing) and all the charm of a James Stewart movie.

     Even the sudden influx of fur babies, come from the sky, added to the storied charm of the place. Tourists came far and wide, to adopt, perhaps, or at least pet the newly dropped cats and dogs. Religious scholars, despite their puzzlement, found their hands reach out to play fetch or stroke a face. Children were delighted. Parents were worried.

     Then it happened again, this time in the quaint town of Messina, north of Esperence by several hundred miles. More dogs fell from the sky, rose to their feet, shook themselves off, and trotted, tongue lolling, to investigate what ever there was to investigate, be it squirrels or chew toys.

     Cats, of course, landed on their feet, rose, stretched gloriously, then nonchalantly strolled off in search of a dry warm place to nap. The people of this town, a tad larger than Esperence, also fell to scratching their heads.

     The new fur babies suddenly seemed to be everywhere. People's pets managed to escape their homes and join in the great puddles of dogs and cats. The Governor of the State of New York scratched her head: was that her own precious FiFi lolling about in the puddles of pets?

     Before the next influx of furry rain, the Congress and the President of the United States was informed by the Governor of their peculiar weather. The Governor asked for financial relief, including a shopping list of two hundred thousand cans of tennis balls, six billion gallons of cream, and an assortment of National Guards to aid in their distribution. The Democrats blamed the Republicans for election fraud and attempts at humiliation, while the Republicans blamed the Democrats of lameness and fake news. Of course, nothing was done. The President charmed the Governor, and made a vague promise.

     And the rains came again.

     This rain was over New York City. Cat ladies were delighted, dog walkers checked their schedules, and more and more dogs and cats fell to the earth. Scholars from all of the churches and religious institutions in the city and around the world joined together, searching their respective texts, and interrogating their elders. No one understood the meaning of the deluge. In the mean time, it was obvious that the storm over New York was a total disaster.

     Of course, fur babies falling from the sky are hungry. No amount of kibble and chewies, squeaking toys and saucers of milk would mollify the sheer size of the pandemic. Both canine and feline have sharp teeth, and a proclivity to gobble any and all foodstuffs available, if they are hungry enough. Purina and Kibble 'n' Bits stepped up their manufacture. Crates of chicken by-products and "carbohydrate enhancements" were crated and shipped to New York City. And the packs of newly-fallen fur babies rose from their puddles and followed the feasts as huge trucks glided into Times Square.

     And still the rains came.

     The sheer influx of more, and yet more, fur babies falling from the sky, put Amazon and Chewy and Pet Smart into despair. There wasn't enough chickens to make "by-products," nor were there enough various other beasts to be slaughtered to feed the next rain storm, this latest one over Washington, DC.

     Of course, the Congress and the President retreated to their protective bunkers to wait out the storm. Hidden within the depths of the White House and Congress, bands of Republicans and Democrats pointed blame at each other. Blows were exchanges. The very snarkiest members of the House of Representatives were shoved out the reinforced door of the bunker. There were many smug smiles as screams could be heard outside, regardless of the party affiliation. For the very first time, the members of Congress, hearing the screams, kept quiet, and learned to respect each other.

     Because humans, full of sweets and bearing neither claws or tough outer skins, were easy prey. Little Susie and Joey, begging to adopt one of the dogs or cats, would be the first to be gobbled up. Their parents, dismayed, would quickly follow. Cat ladies could put off annihilation by the liberal application of cream and sunny windows. Dogs were mollified by games of fetch or a belly rubs.  

     The country went into lockdown. Stories of the populace of both Eseprence and Messina were discovered to have vanished. Meanwhile, the rain must be fed, until a solution could be found.

     The United Nations met over Zoom to discuss the problem. More cat and dog deluges had occurred, in London and Moscow and Beijing. Whole countries were annihilated, as the hungry rains fell from the sky. No one complained about lockdown, at least this time, but food--for humans--quickly ran out. A locked automobile was no protection. A run across the street was hopeless. The army could shoot, but it was like shooting into water. No effect.

     And that was the biggest puzzle. Perhaps, thought the world leaders, now huddled in their bunkers chowing down on MRE's from WW2, perhaps the rains could be relocated?

     It was agreed that the nearly empty Sahara Desert was the most obvious place to drop the animals. Well-armored tanks plied the streets, dragging huge cages filled with hoarded kibble. "Here, kitty, kitty, kitty," was broadcast over loudspeakers, as well as "Fido! Walkies!"

     The rains took the bait. A small puddle of cats and dogs were captured, and flown over the Sahara. They were dropped over a remote part of the desert, away from any human settlements. As the fur babies landed and were released, the dog were immediately puzzled that there was so much beach before them, and no waves to chase. The cats expressed their opinions anally, as is their wont.

     It was not enough. The Sahara was the first to see the disaster as the dogs and cats found nothing to eat. Many dogs attacked the cats, and turned on their weaker pack mates. Cats disdained the dogs, preferring to bask in the unlimited sunshine until the night came, where they roamed in the darkness as a pride.

     And the rains continued. Showers of cats and dogs fell over various city airports. Many planes crashed, as wings and tails were knocked askew by Newfies and Rottweilers. Others, mostly the cats, WOULD NOT move from their places on the landing strips. And, of course, the pilots had not the heart to nudge them away or convince them to move otherwise. Any plane that managed to roll down the runway was instantly chases by the dogs, intent on biting the tires as they rolled by. Sudden waves of cat zoomies broke up radar echoes, adding to the chaos.

     And still it rained. Terriers and tabbies, collies and calicos, all fell to the earth, sometimes in fat, cute droplets, but more and more in great cloud bursts, breaking down roofs and denting cars. Occasionally, a few dogs fell together, caught in the vortex of their own tail chasing. These vortices, while not as destructive as tornadoes, would not diminish until the dogs were distracted, usually by a cat, who found the dogs rather silly. Regardless, the vortices did their damage, knocking down trees and telephone poles.

     Any other creatures, such as horses, pigs, chickens and goats, were lucky to escape the plans of various pet food companies. However, grain and grass, the preferred feed of these creatures, were trampled into oblivion as the rains continued. Regardless of their size, these animals found themselves added to the dinner menu.

     The leaders of the world, still huddled in the underground bunkers, watched the camera feeds as more and more cats and dogs fell to the earth. What had caused this? Was this truly the end of the world? It certainly appeared so. Even if they were safe in the bunker with 5 years of "rations", not a single one of these leaders was under the age of 75. Perhaps there were a few humans in heavily guarded compounds and booby-trapped tree-houses. Perhaps not. Nevertheless, something had cause this sudden change in rainfall. What could it be?

     The very last Google search ever performed was done in desperation. Millie, a bespectacled, secret cat lady, and the wife of the Senate minority leader, searched "pets and rain." A single entry sparked her interest, a report from a small home in western New Jersey.

     The generals and leaders grasped their canes and leapt (such as they could) into action, climbing into reinforced armored vehicles. They drove up to New Jersey, and traced the Google citation to a walled compound where a young boy sat alone on the couch, playing a video game. Seeing as the boy might be the last vestige of civilization, the President knocked heavily on the compound door and peered into the security camera. The boy, although alone, was well-taught by his (missing) parents to never open the door. Seeing that the President bore sandwiches and plates of macaroni and cheese, and tiring of frozen pizza, he allowed the President to enter. As the boy chowed down, the President sat across from him. "Where are your parents, son?" he asked. The boy shrugged as he bit into a sandwich.

     A man with far too many medals demanded, "How'd you get it to rain cats and dogs?" The boy shrugged, his mouth glued together by peanut butter. He nodded towards the back yard of the compound.

     In the back yard of the compound, beneath a crumpled swing set, sat a flying saucer, glinting in the sunshine. The hatch was open, and within sat a watchful guard of dogs and patrolling cats. The boy swallowed his bite of sandwich and explained, "They said I could play with the dogs, that it was all a terrible mistake. The king is awfully sorry."

     "The king?" asked the President. The president rose from his chair and slipped out the back door. The dogs immediately stood at attention and growled their displeasure. The patrolling cats hissed and raised their hackles. The President stopped, and backed away.

     Millie told the President, "I've got this, sir." She peered within the boy's kitchen, and found what she needed. "Here kitty, kitty, kitty," she called, setting out saucers of milk and chunks of tuna fish. The hissing cats began to purr and wind their bodies around her legs. In a moment, the cats were content, and circling warm patches in the sun to nap.

     Next, the dogs. Fortunately, the boy's parents were avid tennis players. Millie found a supply of tennis balls. She tossed one towards the space saucer. One of the guards spotted the ball, and broke ranks to chase it. The other guards started. "Help me, generals," said Millie. "Toss the balls. Play with them," she advised.

     Charmed, the generals tossed the balls towards the dogs. In turn, the delighted dogs raced to find the balls and return, to drop them at the generals' feet. Dog and man played fetch until both their tongues were hanging out.

     Next, Millie turned on the garden hose, and the dogs immediately attacked the water spout, barking and dancing as they got their drinks in this new game. After a while, the dogs panted and were ready for their naps. They curled up in spots of sunshine, and dozed off.

     The President was gratified that the cats and dogs had been so easily tamed. Until a single creature emerged from the space saucer. It's face was square like a dogs, but it's back end was stripped, with a long, slashing tail. It observed the President with intelligent brown eyes as it sauntered down the ramp and walked among the sleeping fur babies.

     The President stood before it, at once impressed by the power of the creature, its rippling muscles, and it cat-like aloofness. "Hello," said the President.

     The creature hissed, a just-discernable, "I am King Thylacumusss. Who are youuu?"

     "I am the President of this country, the leader. King Thylacumus, why did you invade our land? We've done nothing to you."

     "Quite the contrary," Thylacumus growled. "Sso many of my people have been ensslaved by you, made to walk with leashess and collarss tied around their neckss."

     "And fed and loved and cared for," said Millie. She poured the last of the cream in a bowl. "Come, King Thylacumus, have you ever had cream?"

     The king looked askance. The smell of the cream entered his nostrils, a promise of rich goodness. But a part of the king feared a collar. The old woman approached him boldly, set the bowl before him, and backed away.

     The king touched the bowl tentatively, then lapped greedily. He licked his lips and wiped a wayward drop from his paw. "Good," he mumbled. "What iss thiss sstuff?"

     "It is called cream, your majesty," Millie explained. Mr. President, perhaps the king would like to make treaty negotiations for more cream supplies?"

     The President nodded. "King Thylacumus, could we make a treaty? I can guarantee you all the cream you could ever want, if you will remove your dogs and cats from our planet."

     The king agreed. Since King Thylacumus was from another planet, it was arranged that the moon would be a base, where the cream could be manufactured. The dogs and cats that had fallen to the earth would be gathered up, and returned to the king's home planet. In return, the President announced that all cats and dogs would leave the planet, including earth-born.

     Millie was dismayed. She was a secret cat lady, after all. She said, "Mr. President, King Thylacumus, I would like to be in charge of this project. I would be happy to live on the secret base on the moon, and prepare the cream supplies for your people. As an aficionado of all things with four legs, it would be my honor to implement this treaty, and serve as a liaison between our two planets.

     Arrangements were implemented. Cows were gathered. Purina and Kibble 'n' Bits were decommissioned, and all was right in the world. But, dear reader, should you ever wonder why there are cows that allegedly "jumped" over the moon, now you know.

March 01, 2024 19:34

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RBE | Illustrated Short Stories | 2024-06

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