Our home is quiet. The crisp fall air comes in through the back door, slid open. Noises of the wilderness beyond the railing accent the monotone hum of electrical devices. A fan, a donation from a generous friend (like so much of our furniture) stands sentinel upon the carpet behind us, head tilted upward and staring. Before it, myself and my ladyfriend bask in the glow of our two monitors, seated near each other in comfortable silence. Behind and around us, the real owners of the apartment idly mark the subtle movements from within their home. They rest and relax with us at the day's end, content and comfortable, happy with life and the bounty it has to offer.
But beneath their soft exteriors, the lords of the household are deceptively complex. This I know, for I have witnessed what goes on while the humans are out.
That night we were called away, whisked away on an urgent mission to the local grocery store. My ladyfriend dons her light coat, and I locate my accessories for driving. While I do so, she approaches the soft mass curled upon the couch.
“Behave while we're gone, Jack,” shes says in a soothing voice. Then to the dark mass resting upon the back of the love seat, she adds, “You, too, Stinky.”
Then we were gone. And it is then, in our absence, that the real story began.
Jack, Piglet, Stinky, Missy: all brothers and sisters; all living under the same roof; all cats. Jack, light orange with a white underbelly, stands upright upon the cushions of the couch, stretching his legs and looking alert, his curled tail swishing softly. Stinky, laying lazily upon the back of the couch, merely sighs, her eyelids slipping shut in boredom. Her fur is black with a dabbling of brown throughout. Piglet, largest of the four, continued to shed his gray and white fur upon my computer seat, where he enjoys my residual body heat. And Missy, smallest of them all, rests atop her cloth house, silky smooth with black and gray striping.
It is her who suddenly got up, stretching her legs and hopping gracefully to the floor with scarcely a noise. She walks to the couch to join the others; only when she gets there, she is striding upon two legs. Piglet, reclining back in my chair, watched with one eye open, his legs sprawled out before him. And Jack, the most rambunctious of them all, is sitting upright upon the couch, considering the strange devices in the entertainment center before him.
For what were once nothing but four idle cats has, in our absence, become human.
“What do you suppose this does?” Jack asked curiously, taking the Playstation controller from the coffee table. He held it up to his nose, right in front of his prominently orange goatee, and sniffed it, inquisitively.
“Put it back,” Stinky said automatically, her voice and manner unenthusiastic. She was laying balanced upon the back of the love seat, her dark skin soft and smooth and with dazzling green eyes that could captivate anyone.
But her eyes were closed now, for she was tired, and not interested in Jack's never-ceasing curiosities.
“I've seen them use it,” Jack persisted, excited. He began thumbing buttons at random. “It does things!”
Stinky, who clearly wasn't interested, heaved a great sigh and turned to face the opposite direction.
A moment later, Jack held a book in his hands. The controller laid on the floor, forgotten.
“What's this do?” asked Jack. He was amazed that the book unfolded, with dozens of pages inside. “What's in here?”
Missy, meanwhile, was squatting nearby on the floor, silently watching her brother poke about. Stinky gave no reply.
“I'm hungry!” Piglet exclaimed suddenly, lifting his muscular girth up and out of the chair. He was large, but proportional: his sizable limbs and chest hid a layer of muscle hiding just beneath his coarse coat.
“You're always hungry,” Stinky replied from the back of the couch, looking idly upon her brother as he stood.
“No, I'm not,” Piglet insisted, looking sour. “When are they gonna get back? I'm hungry. Are they coming back, yet?”
“There's still food over here from this morning, idiot,” Missy snapped, arms folded across her chest, eyes accusing.
“No, there's not,” Piglet whined weakly as he leisurely crossed the distance across the living room. “I'm hungry, and there's no food. They need to get back because there's no—oh.”
Meandering over to the dishes upon the floor, Piglet hunched down in front of Stinky's bowl and began to noisily eat their breakfast from that morning. Stinky did not mind; she hardly even moved to register her food being eaten.
Missy rolled her eyes at him before sitting her small frame down upon the love seat's arm.
Jack, beside her, was watching a fleck of dust upon the bleached white wall, the book resting open by his feet. His attention was solely on the black speck; it was a disturbance, an anomaly on the backdrop that was the painted dry wall. It did not belong.
He reached up, moving slowly and tentatively, before suddenly lunging at the spot above. In his excitement, his feet shot out from under him, striking Piglet's side.
“Hey!” Piglet whined, crumbs of food falling from his mouth.
“What?” Jack replied innocently, unaware of what he had done. The fleck of dust had passed from his mind.
“You hit me.”
“Did not!” Jack replied back, defensively.
“You did, too!”
Leaning back on his haunches, Piglet struck blindly, swiping an arm forward into the air. Jack promptly retaliated, and both brothers leaned back, heads turned away and eyes closed, as they swatted their arms randomly in the other's direction, hardly making contact at all.
Tiring of their pointless fighting, Stinky swatted Jack firmly upon the back of his head, and both brothers shot out of their seats, hastily bolting away, stirring up a great commotion as they knocked more books from the coffee table. In the sudden excitement, Missy hissed violently in their direction as they scurried by.
Across the living room, both stopped suddenly, right behind the kitchen table, and considered the two sisters with wide, wild eyes and tense postures
By this time, they had forgotten they were even fighting.