…those of you who didn’t major in biology can look it up
Life On The Magic Bus
Chapter: REDACTED due to being out of temporal order
Winker’s final bow
Things go cattywonkers
Winker Sue Clay was a month past her 18th birthday and knew her time was up. 18 was old for any dog and especially old for a basset hound that had been through the adventures she had been through. Now, her life was near it’s end and that was ok. One of the good things about being a dog, and there were many, was that you knew when your life was coming to an end from old age or illness. You felt the weight of it, your appetite decreased and you found that your energy was seriously diminished. You looked forward to the Long Sleep, as some humans called it. But unlike humans, you did not fear it, even if, like Winker, you were as smart as a human. One of the advantages of never having invented religion.
She had spent that morning saying goodbye to Sasha & Daisy, who, like all dogs, were sad to see her go, but would not grieve overly much. Daddy, by contrast, had cried and said goodbye at length. You’d think that a man who had terminated several humans as part of his spy job would have been more pragmatic about death.
Well, actually, he was pragmatic about humans dying, just not about animals. To this day, he felt bad about the time he had to kill a huge killer guard dog in a Chinese secret chemical plant. Later, he found the man who trained the dog to be so vicious and dropped him into a tank of acid after telling him “this is for the dog”.
Anyway, once she had finished with Daddy, Winker got in the car with Mom for a drive way out into the boonies. She had told everyone that she wanted to die in the old way, alone and out where nature could return her to the earth. So now, she and Mom stood beside a trail that was about half a mile from where the car was parked on an old logging road. It was a pretty area to do this thing in. She sat down and looked up at Grace.
“I can feel the Energital wearing off. Won’t be more than a couple minutes now.”
Grace looked at her, sorrow and something else showing on her face.
“This reminds me of Roscoe, when he left us after 22 years. I can’t help feeling sad.”
“I just wish it wasn’t so damned hard on Daddy. He stayed drunk for a week after Roscoe went.”
Grace petted her and said, “Well, I don’t think he’ll do that this time. He’d had Roscoe with him since he was 17. He’s older now.”
“Hey, let’s not go all crazy here.”
They both laughed at that.
A few seconds later, Winker laid down on her side. Her breathing became shallow.
“Here we go, Mom. I love you.”
A tear rolled down Grace’s cheek as she said, “I love you too, sweetie.”
Five seconds later, Winker stopped breathing. Grace took a deep breath, then looked at her watch. It was 11:38 and 40 seconds in the morning. She looked back down at her girl and started counting off seconds.
18 seconds later, Winker started to glow. Within a few seconds, she was glowing so brightly that Grace had to look away.
It took a minute longer for the glow to fade so Grace could look back, much longer than it had taken with Roscoe. What she saw caused her to gasp, then giggle. Oh, this was going to be fun to watch.
The creature formerly known as Winker opened it’s eyes and blinked twice.
“That took way too long. Why are you smiling? I feel smaller? Collar is WAY too large. Am I a chihuahua? No…feel fluffier. A Pomeranian? I’ve wondered about breed switching. Sex switching was bad enough, even if bitches are superior. Wait…is that cat I smell? No! Kitten! Did you bring a kitten here?”
Jumping up, there was a quick visual and nasal inspection.
“I’m a fucking CAT! A CAT! No, not even a cat yet…a kitten. Oh shit! It must have been those gene samples Sasha and I spilled. Well, could be worse. Could have been an echidna or an opossum. Don’t think I could stand being an opossum. Uglyass fuckers. Hey, look Mom, I have testicles and a penis again! Welcome back, boys! I knd of missed you. Ooh, look, retractable claws. Handy!”
By this time, Grace was laughing pretty hard. The kitten kept talking.
“Nice colors…not a ginger, but I look like a little tiger. Short hair, too. I’ve never much liked long hair. Sense of smell is moderately crappy. So is hearing. Oh well, maybe the improved night vision will make up for it. Wait, I’m going to have to learn to use a cat box, aren’t I? That sucks.”
Grace picked up the kitten. She had thought to bring several sized collars with her. She chose a small and rather butch looking one and put it on him.
“So, sweetie, cat body aside, how do you feel?”
He looked thoughtful for a minute, then said, “Less sciencey, more adventurey. Rather badass, actually. Probably turn out more narcissistic because I’m a cat. Feeling pretty male again, which is kind of like going home. I suppose the rest will gel over a few days or a week. How old do I look?”
Grace studied him. “I’d say 10 weeks or so. Old enough to be on your own. So how do we play this?”
He thought for a minute. This was the tricky part. Grace had shown up two weeks after Roscoe had “died” with a 9 week old basset puppy that she told Doc she had seen in the local shelter. She had said the pup was due to be euthanized. In reality,Winker had been hiding out in a neighbor’s barn. Despite it being so soon after Roscoe, Doc had taken to the puppy immediately.
“I think I need to test this body out for a bit. How about if I meet up with you all in Milwaukee during GenCon next month? You can find me in the alley next to The King and I. Sneak me out some softshell crab.”
That seemed like a good idea to Grace. This whole regeneration thing always seemed to require a shakedown cruise. She had no doubt that this time it would take the next five weeks.
“Ok, sweetie. We’ll see you at the con. Take care of yourself. Make sure you lose that multiversal translator before then.”
She hugged the kitten, then set him down on the path and started to walk to the car as he went in the other direction. After about 5 steps, she turned and called out, “Hey, pick out a nice new name, okay?”
The kitten turned back to her and said, “I already have. Call me Flash.”