I was staring out my office window again. The sun was shining through the oak leaves of the tree out back. The various birds of the yard created a euphony of song. The little brown ground squirrels ran up, down and around the lawn like they had too much caffeine this morning. Part of me wanted to join them, leave this world behind with all its responsibilities, but I would have to settle for taking my lunch out at the picnic table.
A knock at my door caused my daydream to evaporate. “Come in!” I shouted at the intruder.
“Andy, looks like we got a visitor today. Maria’s calling him Chester. Any chance you have a bowl we can put this cat food in?”
A long-haired, gray cat waltzed into my office like he owned the place. “Uh sure. I think I have a spare in my bottom drawer here.”
Bill filled the bowl and left Chester to eat while I continued filling spreadsheets. I actually love cats, but my landlord won’t let us keep pets at the condo. Chester is a welcome guest.
It is not long before my concentration is broken again. Chester finished eating and instead of going back outside, he jumps up on my desk, purring as he steps over my keyboard. “Hey bud, I wish we could play, but I really have work to finish.” He just meows at me and jumps into my lap. He does a half turn, kneads my lap like he is fluffing a pillow, then promptly falls asleep. It appears I have an office cat now.
Trying to accomplish any work with a sleeping cat on your lap is an acquired skill, one I seem to have lost. One can get away with a slight adjustment here or there, but inevitably there is a shifting the cat does not like and the sweet snuggle session is immediately over. Chester let me know his displeasure of a nap over too soon. I apologize and use the opportunity to go top up my coffee mug in the lounge. He tries to follow, but I tell him he is not allowed and would have to wait outside for me.
When I finish up in the lounge, grabbing a granola bar as I leave, Chester is nowhere to be seen. Slightly disappointed, I walk back towards my office. As I walk the hallway, I notice Chester out in the yard hunting the birds. He is hunched in prowler mode by the oak tree. He pounces, but misses his prey and looks around for another victim. They have all scattered. He catches me watching him and runs back to greet me.
“That was a close one! You will get one next time.” I say reaching down to scratch under his chin. “I really should get back to work, but you are welcome to hang out as long as you like.”
When I try returning to my desk, Chester stops me and beckons me follow him somewhere. He runs a short distance, looks back at me, then runs some more while meowing loudly. “Okay.” I sigh as I turn to follow him.
He leads me towards some overgrowth where a creek once ran behind our building. There is a fence line on the other side of the creek designating the boundary line between us and the back door neighbors. It is mostly a large, empty field with an old rusty tractor in the middle like a nasty scab on otherwise perfect green skin. Chester of course runs to it. I stop to think if following him is wise, it technically being trespassing. He seemed urgent though, like he needed help with something, so I follow.
Between the fence line and the tractor, I lost sight of him. The grass here had not been trimmed down in a while. I looked all around the tractor, but he did not seem to be there. I scanned the field and did not notice any of the tall grass moving, so I decide to look underneath the tractor. There is movement, but it is hard to make out what it could be. Assuming it is Chester, I crawl in for a closer look. All of the sudden, there is a whooshing sound and my ears pop! It is somehow dark out now and at first I think maybe my vision is going bad. I crawl back out from under the tractor and there is a human sitting on one of the tires, almost like he is waiting for me.
“Took you long enough!” he says as he reaches down to pet my head.
Instinctively, I close my eyes and begin to rumble throughout my whole body like a giant shiver. When he stopped, I opened my eyes and took notice of my feet for the first time. They were furry, little paws! It was then I realized what happened. Chester had buttered me up, then took advantage of my kindness by leading me through some portal where roles were switched. In this dimension, he was the human and I had become the feline.
I turned to go back under the tractor while tugging on his pant leg with my little mouth, but it was useless. “Ah, ah little one. I know the secret, so you are going to need to sucker someone else in order to turn back. Besides, this gate is now closed, so you will have to find a new one. Don’t worry though, you’ll know one when you see it. One of the upsides to kitty vision!”
With that, Chester left me alone by the tractor to sit with my new reality while he resumed his ‘human life’. Though it was dark, I could see his figure leaving the property in a sort of yellowish hue. I sat there sulking a while, mindlessly ‘bathing’ myself, before I decided to sleep it off under this tractor and begin plotting my return in the morning.
When morning dawned, I woke slowly. Eventually, I literally ‘cat pose’ stretched, then shook out the morning dew from my fur. I then spent the day canvassing the field and surrounding neighborhood, thinking a new gate could not be far off. No luck. It was starting to get dark out again and I did not want to sleep under the stars two nights in a row, so I went in search of proper shelter. I spotted a large building with its lights still on and headed its direction. It turned out to be a church and I found a side door propped open. This would have to do for now.
I found a nice, cozy spot in a back storage room near a bunch of old file boxes and the staff there did not seem to take notice of me. I did not plan to stay here long, but it was nice knowing I had a home base to operate from while searching for a way back. I spent the evening warm and thinking to myself it may be nice staying a cat instead of returning to my human responsibilities. I could live off the kindness of strangers, maybe even get adopted by a nice family, the world was my bathroom; the upsides seemed endless. The more I thought it through though, I realized I would miss the human things like love and its many aspects, being able to speak and be understood, having opposable thumbs to grab things, the ability to create with the power of my imagination, etcetera.
The next morning came quicker than I would have liked, tossing and turning all night while I wrestled with my thoughts, but I was excited to be on the search again. I continued searching the area nearby and finally came across another gate! It was behind someones garden shed a few blocks over. I had been chasing a butterfly aimlessly, succumbing to the carefree kitty attitude, and a glimmer of light caught my eye.
After some investigating, I had no doubt it was another portal. The space it occupied seemed distorted, almost folding the air around it, and there was a distinct hum when you got real close. The sound must be out of human hearing range because I heard it from the other side of the yard, but the owner of the house did not seem to notice coming in and out of the shed it sat behind. I was never more grateful to be a cat than in that moment, hopping around like a little lamb. The homeowner almost caught me celebrating, so I ran and hid behind the fence to plot my next move.
I sat watching the man garden for a while and decided running through his freshly planted flowers would upset him enough to chase me. I waited for his back to be turned and pounced! It turns out I was right and he gave chase while cursing at me for messing up his flowerbed. I rounded the corner behind the shed and knelt down behind the portal, acting fearfully trapped. When he reached back to grab me, I jumped forward and we met at the gate's opening. A familiar whooshing sound erupted around us and it was once again dark. I got through first and did not bother waiting. He would have to figure this one out on his own. I was too thrilled to be human again! I am sure he would put the pieces together easy enough once the shock wore off.
Time passes oddly as a cat hopping dimensions. A mere afternoon had passed on the other side where I had originated. I would need to apologize profusely to my boss for leaving early and without notice, but I would think of a good excuse. For now, I just looked forward to sleeping in my own bed again. It was good to be back!
As I was heading to my condo from my parking spot, another stray cat walked up to me and began caressing my ankles. I laughed loudly thinking about the absurdity of what transpired. The stray was startled, but gathered itself and tried stretching up on my leg. I gave its head a scratch and told it, “Don’t even try it my friend. I know the secret now.” I winked at the stray and smiled. It hopped down with a huff and a disappointed look on its face. We went our separate ways then, I to my normal life, the stray to continue the cycle.