“Yes. Did you hear it again?”
“Shit, if it’s what I think it is, well. Shit’s gonna ‘splode. In a good way.”
“What’s that? What is going to explode? Let me tell you oh sleepy one “
“Yes, you heard! Me too. Do you think? Do you think it is?”
“Wait, no, nothing.”
Apropos nothing, the cat, whose ear twitches I’d been lazily engaging in dialogue with for several minutes, jumped off my stomach and onto the concrete floor.
She walked gingerly towards the center of the room, eyes fixed at a point under the stairs, tail swishing slightly. She crouched, positioning as if to pounce. She held still for thirty seconds before relaxing. Gradually, she tilted onto her side and fell asleep.
With an awful grunt, I propped myself into less of a recline on the thin futon. I adjusted my line of sight across the cluttered coffee table to keep track of her ear ticks — our key to survival, I was sure.
“Yes. We keen them together.”
She lifted her head from atop her forepaws, shook it, then lowered it back down.
“No? You don’t accept my ‘them’? An epistemological question?”
She turned and opened her eyes slightly, then went back to sleep.
“Anyway. You know who we’re waiting for.”
The ears stayed still for almost two minutes.
After mustering my strength, I staggered over, picked her up, and brought her back. I held her over the table as I lay down on my side, then placed her on my hip. She entered into a fugue state which I knew to usually precede a deep sleep.
Since I needed her ears, I continued our dialogue. “I suppose it could be anyone, in a way. Many might serve the purpose. But you know who is likely coming.”
The cat’s ears pulled back into an acute angle, then twitched three times, before slowly ending in their resting position.
“Okay, all those under the nomenclature ‘them’ are of course a subset of the ‘universal one,’ which we discussed previously.”
The cat shifted, farted.
“Exactly. The fart and the farter. But “
The cat jerked upward, then slowly rotated her neck and head as her reclining body stayed still. She paused at an orientation towards the top of the stairs. I leaned in to make sure. Her eyes were still closed.
“What?” I whispered. Nothing.
She stayed in position, seemingly unconscious or entranced. Eventually, she yawned, returned her head to her paws and entered into deep sleep. I shook my head.
“You’ve been doing that routine all night. What do you mean? Who has your ear?”
I leaned back onto the rickety couch at her non-response. Not just the basement, but the entire complex seemed preternaturally still. I listened to nothing intensely for a long time. I remembered a street fair I’d attended as a child — all the cacophony, whirl and rumble — and then, home, blackout and sheet forts in the basement. All the buzz gone, just earth.
It’s still here, though. The buzz, the hum. I reached out with my body, felt as much as heard the reassuring electronic purrs. My mind’s eye elsewhere, a voice chimed out from a cardboard box atop the coffee table, beneath a pile of old clothes.
“What do you see now?” and “Can you tell who is on which side?” then “Oh, please be careful.” All muffled, but discernible.
I seemed to be hearing one side of a conversation. The box contained a variety of recently discarded electronic devices, including a wideband receiver which must have still held some battery charge. I surmised that I could be listening to a ham radio channel, pulled in from waves of ether which nearly circumnavigate the globe at night.
In a flash, I felt uncertain, wondering if some cell phone had accidentally been thrown in the mix. The words might be arriving through local towers and geosynchronous satellites.
Did I recognize the voice? It was too weak to tell. The half conversation faded away. The cat stayed asleep.
I thought about going in the other room, to bed, so comfortable. I thought about getting up, investigating the broadcast or call, making food or doing dishes, taking a stab at all the things. I stayed still and looked at the cat’s ears.
I woke up with the cat’s paws on my neck, kneading flesh but withholding her claws. Disoriented, I did not immediately realize I had been asleep. The room tilted and spun in vertigo before I dropped into free fall. I clutched the front edge of the couch for support. The cat put a paw on my cheek.
“Yes? Is it time?” I looked towards the stairs. The cat extended her sharp nails into my face. “Ow.” I pushed her back onto my lap and sat up. She curled into a ball and turned her head upside down. She blinked her eyes and continued staring at me.
“I see. The ‘time’ concept again. Time is moving forward because space is expanding. Gravity warps it. If we were to build a time machine and go back a day, we’d need to travel tens of thousands of miles through space, and we’d need a supercomputer to calculate where this room is for a moment, a moment we need to slice as finely as possible. Then we’d need to find a way to match the spinning velocity of the earth so the transition would not be so violent and “
The cat twisted and rolled onto the ruffled blanket next to me. She arched her back and turned away.
“No, of course we won’t. Why bother? All timelines converge and here we are.”
She curled up again, her face towards the back of the couch this time. Her shallow breathing slowed and she was practically immobile.
“Don’t you hear them anymore? Your ears have been so still.”
As if on cue, her left ear twitched twice, her right once. Then, a pounding of feet down the stairs next door. We both winced, turned inward. Not for us.
After some period of silence, we went on. Three more twitches.
“Yes, yes. Yes. The trinity. The magical, transcendent third which creates the world, beyond abstractions. Transcending polarities, energy is converted to matter and here we come. The many from three. Everything. Over time, you “
She twitched twice, first one ear, then the other.
“Oh, you. ‘You.’ The concept.” I shifted into an attitude of responsive repose, contorting my body around hers and continued in a softer tone. “Well, the second, uh, ‘person,’ as you will, is of course the first separation. Some say ‘I.’ I say ‘you.’ The two in you is the superimposition of a division of the world into a so-called knowledge system based on opposites.”
She pulled both ears back at once and released them slowly. I turned to look over my back and shoulder to the stairs, then to the other room, the cabinet drawers, the small high window, the painted over door, before returning my attention to her.
“Black, white. Hot, cold. Good, evil. By dividing, separating into twos, we can apprehend it, ingest it, consume it. The world, that is. We create our imaginariums there, in first division. All of our mental constructs start here.”
I scratched my belly, then hers. She stretched out a paw and pushed herself away from the back of the couch.
“Of course, there are no opposites in the manifestation. There’s no opposite to a rock or a tree. We forget, lose sight of the arbitrary origin of our situation. With the context lost, an attachment to symbols inevitably sets in.”
She covered her eyes with a paw.
“’Two’ is also just a point in ‘one-two-three.’” I rubbed her belly again.
She wrapped my hand, held it in place with forepaw claws, kicked me with her hind legs. “Ah, ah, ah. Let me just “
I used my other arm to disengage and separate us, though not without some bloody punctures and scratches.
“All this duality has nothing to do with ‘you,’ of course,” I said, sitting erect again. “You are wonderful and awful both. We’re part of everything, always. And nothing, if we can find it, outside our idea of it. I’m not sure if nothing is an abstraction or not.”
The cat took a swipe at my arm, still dripping blood, coming close but missing. She pulled her arm beneath her body, eyes glowing.
“You’re me and we’re all. One. It all comes back to “
The voice returned. Rather, a different voice from the same box. The other side of the conversation, possibly. Muffled from beneath the pile of abandoned apparel.
“I can see them turning away now. They’re going in the other direction. I think they won’t be back. We’ll see.” After a pause, “We’ll be left alone tonight, I’d say.”
The cat turned to look towards the sound, then the stairs, before curling up in the folds of the blanket to sleep. The voice faded away again.
I thought I heard something on the top landing. I could not see the cat’s ears, concealed as she was in the blanket, and felt at a loss. I considered rising to find out what I could. Instead, I leaned back into the couch and closed my eyes. The cat started snoring softly.
L. Fid is a member of a pseudonymous arts collective dedicated to world domination.