“I’m sorry, Madam President, but there’s no time to get dressed,” Melissa Gibson’s national security advisor said as he handed her a maroon bathrobe embossed with the presidential seal.
Light from the overhead chandelier bathed the presidential bedroom in a soft yellow hue. As President Gibson put her robe on, her husband picked up the book on his nightstand. He propped himself up against a pillow to read.
An aide handed the president a mug of coffee, steam drifting above it.
Gibson took a sip. “What time is it?”
“What’s happening, Charlie?” Gibson handed the mug back to…
“Wolf, Cat, Panda, Elephant, Bear, do you understand your roles today?” Bunny locked eyes with each member of her team.
“We know what to do.” Panda spoke for the group. The others nodded in affirmation. “Cat will distract them by pretending to be lost, and that’s when you’ll snatch Penguin. As soon as the kid and parent start scanning the vicinity for Cat’s owner — ”
“Owner,” Wolf harrumphed. “We’re not owned!”
“Shh, Wolf,” Elephant said. “We know. But we’re on a mission, and you need to keep quiet.”
“Sorry. I boil when somebody treats us like property.”
The moment I see the carrier, I sprint under the sofa, proning like a baseball player sliding into home. I scamper to the far side, press against the wall, and pull my knees to my chest to make me difficult to grasp.
It won’t last; I know that. I can only buy time.
I anticipated this moment. For the past months, every time they tried to cut my nails, I shrieked and flailed, lacerating their thin skin in multiple places, my anger and fear providing strength I didn’t know I had. …
“You did bring Cecily in to be spayed last year, right?” Kay’s eyes narrowed. Her breath fogged, as if we were having this conversation outside in the dead of winter. She clenched her jaw.
I shivered. A chill filled our house. “Of course I did. You helped me put her in the cat carrier.”
“I remember that, Stuart,” Kay snapped. “But what I’m asking is, when you brought Cecily in for her first checkup, did you tell the vet to have her neutered? You didn’t forget or, worse, tell the vet that we wanted to breed her?”
“I — ”
A pair of bare feet stand a hair’s width from my head, so close I can bite the toes off without hardly moving. That the toes wiggle like dangling worms makes me restless. I bet they taste delicious.
But lucky for the feet’s owner, I ate an enormous dinner of grapthief and clonufac, so I’m not hungry. But my claws flex on their own, my talons extend with a soft whoosh, and my stomach rumbles. Did they hear that?
“Wait, Daddy! Can I have a kiss goodnight?” Billy’s voice is pleading. The little boy is procrastinating. …
“Do you believe in aliens?” Ellen raised an eyebrow. I wanted to slap my forehead, smack it loud. I asked the wrong question, and now she thinks I’m a UFO nut. Great going, Dan. No wonder you never get a second date.
Change the subject! Think fast! “My favorite scenes in the movie, Titanic, are the ones with life preservers.”
Ellen folded her hands together. Her eyes darted to the left toward the pub’s exit. …
When the doorbell rang at noon on Abbi’s tenth birthday, her mother and father burst into tears.
Abbi blew out the eleven candles on her white-frosted cake and said, “I wished for a pony.” Abbi wore her favorite pink dress and black patent shoes. Her Yorkshire Terrier, Alpine, rested beside her, his tail thumping against the floor.
Ian and Carole, her parents, wrapped their arms around each other.
The doorbell rang again.
Ian shouted, his voice broken, “Just a minute!”
Carole slipped out of his trembling arms and hugged her daughter so tightly that Abbi said, “Mommy, I can’t breathe.”
An American writer in Japan, editor of The Binge-Watching Cure books, author of the bestselling book, Outwitting Squirrels. Occasional pilot, 24/7 cat owner.