Natalie was notoriously obtuse, which was what Herman was thinking after she found him with Clementine’s remains and started screaming. The look of innocence had not worked and neither had the submissive posture for which she usually fell. He sighed, and decided to let her in on a big secret. “It wasn’t me,” he yowled, as he tried to keep his eyes averted away from the circuits that were hissing, popping, and snaking their way out of the corner of Clementine’s head where her right ear should have been.
“First off, if you hadn’t left the door unlocked, the man never would have come in,” Herman continued.
Natalie was trying to wrap her mind around the fact that the door to her flat had been partially open when she came up the stairs, and as if that had not been odd enough, there was the matter of the gun on the coffee table. But it was Herman’s absence from his usual happy post by the door and the sound of running water that made her want to cry right off. Herman was her best friend, the little Beagle she had rescued last fall from the shelter; he was always there at the door. Except today. And was it at all possible that she had left the tap on in the kitchen all day? She vaguely remembered switching it off after washing her breakfast dishes, but after a full day selling trousers and sporty shirts to wanna-be trendsetters, who could keep track? The thought of the next month’s water bill made her shiver. Clementine was mewling and it sounded like it too was coming from the kitchen; after pushing open the swinging kitchen doors, she stood, slack-jawed. And Herman had just spoken to her.
“I know this may come a shock to you, Natalie, but yes—I can speak.” Herman stood on his hind legs and after a good stretch was able to push the button to turn off the tap. “And as you can see, Clementine was not a real cat in the sense of flesh and blood but was rather a cybernetic cat.”
Natalie looked around the room and noticed a particularly nasty stain next to the bin. “What’s that?”
Herman stepped gingerly around the still-whimpering Clementine to sit at Natalie’s feet. “Well, yes. The man. You see, when you left this morning you didn’t lock the door. I hadn’t realized it until the man came in, demanding that I turn over Clementine to him. Evidently, she belonged to some master scientist who hid a valuable formula in her matrix. The scientist was killed, Clementine took off. The pound got her and that’s where you came in.”
“Ah, yes,” Natalie had a far-away look in her eye as she remembered picking Herman and Clementine up from the same shelter.
He cleared his throat. “The man had been hired to bring her back to his supervisors and was evidently some sort of cybernetic being also. That is how he was able to track her here.” He looked sympathetically at Natalie, who was trying to use a single wooden chopstick to push the wires back into Clementine’s injured head. “Since he already knew she was here, I don’t think that door would have stopped him long. Anyway, he came in and demanded I give her up. When he couldn’t intimidate me with his gun, he put it there and was about to grab me.” He paused. “Natalie,” she stopped poking in Clementine’s head to look at him, “please don’t tamper with that. She’s evidence now.” As Natalie stepped back, he continued. “I ran into the kitchen where it turned out Clementine had gone to seek refuge. As soon as he saw her, he grabbed her and ripped off her ear with plans, I presume, to just take her brain.” Natalie grimaced. “Knowing that most non-human life forms hate water, I popped the tap on.” He pointed to the puddle next to the bin. “That’s what’s left of him.”
“Excuse me; is anyone here?” A voice called from the living room.
Herman looked at Natalie and whispered, “Ah, that would most likely be the constable. I called him a moment ago. Why don’t you come out and sit on the couch and let me do the talking, hm?” Herman strolled out to the living room. “Yes, constable—here we are. My owner will be out in a moment. She’s trying to get over the shock of it all, you see. It really isn’t her fault, even though she doesn’t pay attention very well.” Natalie blinked, wiped a tear from her eye as she looked at Clementine once more, and trailed Herman out to the living room to find out what would happen next.
How appropriate that our prompts from yesterday and today for Story A Day would involve pets. My big dog went quite ill yesterday and we are still dealing with that (updates as they occur), but I popped into my email and when I saw these I had to stop for a moment to write something that would fit them both.