Science Fiction

    Thud! Crash! Meoooow!

    What was that? I am used to the sound of my cat thumping about the apartment, but she weighs only eight pounds. Something far heavier made that first noise. I jumped up from my desk in the bedroom and made my way through the usual piles of books on the floor to the living room. Such is the life of a historian.

    I thought about the sounds as I moved. Something large crashing into …what? I didn’t have anything nice in the apartment. I couldn’t afford anything like that. The third sound was clearly offended kitty, so that one was easy, although it might cost me in treats later.

    As soon as I entered the capsule like space the landlord refers to as a living room, I knew what had bitten the dust—my favorite mug, shattered on the floor. I might have dashed over to see if anything was salvageable, but my gaze was arrested by the cause of its destruction.

    Kitty batted at what looked like an iron ball, sitting on the floor of my apartment. Think the kind fused to a chain of a medieval criminal’s ankle, only maybe one and a half times the size. I thought it was iron, because it looked rusty, although nothing flaked off as kitty struck at the thing with her front paw.

    “Kitty, no,” I said. Lord know where that thing had been. I hadn’t even begun to think of how it might have ended up in my apartment. I looked up, but my mouth was the only thing that was gaping—there was no hole in the ceiling. The one selling point to this hovel of an apartment is the picture window. It was intact.

    By this point, Kitty was almost lying on the thing. “Kitty, no,” I said again.

    Distinctly, in a voice Kathleen Turner would have been proud of, I heard in my head, “why not? I like balls. This one came right to me.”

    I stared at my cat. Aloud, I said, “did you just answer me?” I found myself backing away from my own pet and her new, frightening toy.

    “I always answer you. Did you just hear it for the first time?” I took another step back.

    “Okay, so I don’t know why you have always been able to think your thoughts at me, and why I can hear them now, but I don’t think you should be messing with that thing.”

      “What, this ball? It came to me. It’s mine.” She smothered it with her body. I was sure it would start sending of sparks or something, but nothing happened. Maybe this was just some random iron ball that got through my locked door, and undamaged ceiling and window. Somehow, I had the suspicion that my cat’s new verbal skills, or I suppose my ability to hear the ones she always had, came from that hunk of iron.

    I took a deep breath. This was about Kitty’s safety, and I needed to act. “Nice kitty,” I said, as I stepped toward the ball. At the point where I was close enough to bend down and grab it, Kitty hissed at me. This was no mini-hiss, the kind cats use to warn someone they are too close. This was a, “you are about to lose your hand because I rule here and this is mine,” hiss.

    I stepped into the miniscule kitchen to get some kitty treats. I have emergency canned tuna, but wasn’t sure I wanted to lay all my cards on the table right from the start. I picked up the meat-flavored crunchy snacks and headed back to the scene of the crime.

    As I neared, I thought I heard Kitty purring. However, the sound was a little too regular for her. She tends to go up and down in volume as she purrs. One step closer, and I knew the sound came from the ball. “Here, kitty. Here kitty.” I used my sing-song voice and showed her the treats in my hand. The cat briefly glanced at what she would normally lunge for, and turned her attention back to the purring ball, now much louder.

    I dashed back to the kitchen and opened up the tuna as quickly as I could, taking the last turns with the can opener as I headed to the living room. By now, I could feel the vibrations from the ball through the floorboards.


    I tried wiggling my toes. They seemed to work. I couldn’t hear or see anything, though. The iron ball must have exploded. I hoped I would at least hear Kitty meow. As soon as I thought this, a voice in my mind said, “I’m under the sofa. Not coming out.”

   That was enough to get me moving, even without sight or hearing. I pushed my self up on one elbow, then sat up. At least Kitty was alive. Now I needed to figure out what happened and clean up the mess. I opened my eyes, clearly a positive step toward seeing, but still got nothing. I felt around me, expecting debris. Nothing. I tried blinking, first quickly, then slowly. A grayish haze appeared in front of my eyes. A few minutes later, the room revealed itself.

    There was the ball, sitting where it was, intact. I saw no debris at all, and the humming that had been growing steadily louder before the boom was now silent. Or at least, I thought it was silent. Maybe my hearing hadn’t returned. I thought to myself, “Kitty, make a noise.” I heard her meow, out loud rather than in my head. It was not the happy, contented meow I loved to hear from her.

    What to do about the ball. I couldn’t very well keep a simulating explosive device in my living room. Who knew when it would go off again. If it was some alien being trying to communicate with me, the only message I received was, “get rid of this at all costs.” But how to do that? And I still didn’t understand why Kitty could now hear my thoughts and respond to them in kind.

    I hear Kitty’s voice in my mind again. “Can we get rid of that thing. Not a good ball.”

    I responded with my inner voice, “just as soon as I figure out how.”

    “The dog downstairs might like it.” Kitty, always looking out for number one, and against anything canine.

    Just then, the ball began to wobble back and forth, inching closer to the sofa. Kitty dashed out from her hiding place into my arms. I stood and ran with her to the bedroom, slamming the door behind me. I jammed my desk chair underneath the knob. I didn’t know what that thing would do next, or what might come out of it, but I wanted a barrier.

    More than one. I dashed with Kitty behind the bed, sure there would be another non-explosion explosion. Maybe this time it would produce shrapnel, and I wanted more protection.

I waited and waited. Nothing. Kitty and I spent the next hour behind my bed. Nothing.

    I finally had enough of this. I was hungry, having not had any breakfast and it was almost lunchtime. Whatever that thing was, it was not going to keep me from my food. I cautiously raised my head above the bed. Nothing happened, so I moved to the door, senses alive to any input.

    Trembling, I reached out to the doorknob. A deep male voice from the living room said, “come out, please.” I did not recognize the voice. Now what? Some dude I didn’t know was in my apartment along with some weird exploding non-exploding iron ball and a cat that could read my mind. Kitty, in my mind said, “I’m hungry, too.”

    That settled it. Maybe that guy wanted lunch as well. I walked out.

    A “man,” and I use that term loosely, stood next to what was now a split in half iron ball. His proportions were odd, definitely not human even though he had a head, two arms and two legs. In fact, the only reason I thought he was a man was his deep voice and there were no obvious boobs. I clutched Kitty. “Who are you, and why have you come to my apartment?”

    “Wrong turn. I’m a bit lost.”

    “I don’t think I can help you, other than provide some basic hospitality. My people don’t travel by iron ball.”

    “Something to drink would do nicely.” At this point, Kitty leapt from my arms and went over to this man thing, rubbing up against his ankles as she moved between his legs. I felt a little better knowing Kitty trusted him.

    There was one thing, though. Well, about a thousand things, but one in particular. “How can you know my language?”

    “Kitty is helping me translate. My people can communicate with all sorts of usually non-verbal creatures.”

    “Okay. I need some answers. I’ll get you some water, but I need to know who you are, where you came from, why you came to my apartment, when you plan on leaving, and will my cat still be telepathic when you leave? Be thinking about that. Do you take ice?

    “You put ice in your water?”

    “No ice. Got it.” I went to get him water, and briefly thought about pouring myself a glass of neat vodka. I decided that it was better to keep my wits about me. It was a close decision, though. I brought our drinks back into the living room to find him sitting on the couch with Kitty in his lap. Well, that can’t be a bad sign. I handed him his water and took a swallow of mine. “Got any answers to my questions?”

    “My name in my language is unpronounceable in yours. You can call me Joe. That is a real name, is it not?” I nodded, not wanting to stop any flow of information.

    “As I told you, I got lost after making a wrong turn. I didn’t intend to be on your planet at all. I come from an entirely different galaxy, hundreds of lightyears from here. You didn’t ask, but I was heading to my own wedding and I fear I am going to be late. I will leave just as soon as I can figure out how and I have no idea about Kitty. I think she has always been telepathic but you never listened before.”

    “I see. Do you anticipate it will take long to figure out how to get to your own wedding?”

    “Sadly, I didn’t bring another space unit with me.”

    “That ball is your, excuse me, was your space unit?” He nodded.

    “How can I help you get another one? I’d hate for a guy to be late to his own wedding. Interesting that your people have weddings, too.” I added that last because I wondered how much he was making up just to string me along.

    “Um, no one is giving any treats to the cat.” Telepathic cats can be very needy. I got up to get her breakfast. This was definitely a keep her fed situation.

    While I did this, he kept talking. “Do your people know how to make these things?”

    I shook my head. “Sadly, we haven’t figured out interstellar travel yet. We’ve sent things to other planets in the solar system. I really don’t know a lot about this, but the little I’ve read talk about big powerful rockets or miles-long sails. Not iron balls that could almost roll under a piece of furniture.” He sighed. I realized he hadn’t said anything about the wedding coincidence. “So, did you hear about weddings from Kitty, or are you really talking about the same sort of coupling on two different societies on different sides of the universe?”

   “Kitty provided the word, and without knowing more, I can’t say. I don’t think it matters. I just need to get there.”

    “So we are back to, what can I do to help. Is there someone from your world who can come to your aid? Will they try to look for you?

    “If I can send a signal.”

    “What about the last guy you dated? Didn’t he know something about those things?” said Kitty in my mind.”

    I responded in kind. “You mean Steve. The guy I told to bug off and never bother me again? The one who tried to kick you?”

    “Oh, yeah. But I bet he could figure out a way to signal Joe’s friends.”

    Just the way Kitty said it made me think for a minute. Some random dude jettisons into my living room and wants to send a signal to some other outer space dudes. How does this not sound like the start of an alien invasion, where the evil but handsome alien dupes the idiot girl into making her apartment a beacon for all of the other aliens to find.

    “Kitty?” I thought.

    “Yes,” she thought back.

    “I think this guy needs to go see Steve, don’t you. Like right now.”

    “You mean, see him at home where he works all hours at his IT job?”

    I nod, hoping “Joe” will think all is well. I didn’t think I had to tell Kitty to stop translating for him. She jumped off the sofa and moved closer to me.

    Out loud, I said, “Let me call you an Uber. Kitty’s right. My old boyfriend is just the guy.”

    I set the address for the Uber, told Joe to follow me, then texted Steve. I don’t know if Steve would believe me, but his roommate at least used to have a cat. “Guy in the Uber coming to your door is an alien. Do your high tech shit, but I think he’s up to no good. Check with Sam’s cat.”

    We left Kitty in the apartment and I took “Joe” downstairs and packed him into a Ford Fiesta. Then I went upstairs and gave Kitty more treats. 

March 03, 2023 14:38

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.


Jane Jackson
20:01 Mar 09, 2023

I don't read a lot of science fiction but do enjoy some of the films. The narrator in your story seemed very calm considering the situation. Are you intending to write a sequel to this? Will the narrator get revenge on her ex-boyfriend? Or will Steve strike up some kind of friendship with his alien visitor?


Show 0 replies
Graham Kinross
10:31 Mar 07, 2023

“you are about to lose your hand because I rule here and this is mine,” hiss. Every cat is a Lion King/Queen. ““I don’t think I can help you, other than provide some basic hospitality. My people don’t travel by iron ball.” How can your MC be so calm? I’d be freaking out and shouting for it to get out. “Guy in the Uber coming to your door is an alien. Do your high tech shit, but I think he’s up to no good. Check with Sam’s cat.” And all Steve can think is, how high is she?


Ann Miller
18:06 Mar 07, 2023

I figure Steve would pay attention if only because it was all so weird! You are right about the cat as lion!


Graham Kinross
22:42 Mar 07, 2023

If it was me in Steve’s position I don’t think I would open the door. I would definitely assume it was some sort of prank. First of all, “I think he’s up to no good.” If she doesn’t trust him then I would want nothing to do with that. Maybe that could be your next story? I want to meet Sam’s cat.


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Marty B
07:24 Mar 06, 2023

Very creative story! I see this as a treatise on establishing relationship priorities. The cute alien is desirable and -a plus- is a good communicator, but in the end, he might have ulterior motives. The real relationship worth keeping is with the one you trust. Even if he is a little needy, furry, and has poor communication skills.


Ann Miller
16:52 Mar 06, 2023

Thanks, Marty! Yes, Kitty may have her own ulterior motives regarding the dog downstairs and wanting more food, but they are much less scary!


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Wendy Kaminski
18:48 Mar 05, 2023

So cute and fun! What a wild imagination, too - very creative! I thoroughly enjoyed this story, Ann! Favorite lines: - I looked up, but my mouth was the only thing that was gaping - “The dog downstairs might like it.” - hahah :) Thanks for sharing it this week, and welcome to Reedsy! :)


Ann Miller
16:51 Mar 06, 2023

Thanks, Wendy! I love trying to guess how animals are thinking.


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
RBE | Illustration — We made a writing app for you | 2023-02

We made a writing app for you

Yes, you! Write. Format. Export for ebook and print. 100% free, always.