by Quentin 'Cubist' Long and Hallan Mirayas
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Jubatus is my name. Among other things, I'm a technical writer,
a troubleshooter, and a victim of Stein's Chronic Accelerated
Biomorphic Syndrome. I look like a purebred cheetah, but don't
worry -- a whopping 5% of my human genetic heritage wasn't even touched by SCABS. And don't believe everything you hear about the plight
of all those poor, disadvantaged victims of that awful disease,
either; if it weren't for my condition, I'd never have been been
able to raise my net worth up to the low ten digits. See, everyone
else experiences time at a rate of one second per second. But
thanks to SCABS, for me that rate is six seconds per second, and
when I feel the need, I can push it as high as 40-odd. That's
"upshifting", and I've found it to be a useful trick on occasion.
I can also drop down to the normal rate of one second per, when
I want to deal with you slowpokes, and no prizes for guessing
that's what I call "downshifting".
All of which was fine and dandy, but I had other concerns at the moment. My car was a Ford Extremis; it may be the largest SUV they ever built, but it was positively dwarfed by the tanker truck it was trapped underneath. This was the second car accident I'd been in since I SCABbed over, and neither of them were my fault. This time around, on the road to Chicago, it was almost a comedy of errors -- the truck was coming out of a turn a little too fast, which wouldn't have been bad, except that some of his tires decided that would be a great time to explode. And then the idiot driving the truck got the damn thing to jackknife across five lanes of traffic, after which the tanker broke loose from the cab and started rumbling over everything in sight, like a rolling pin crushing eggshells!
When it happened, I was two car-lengths behind the truck and three lanes to its left. And sure, I could brake in time to avoid smashing up against the damn thing -- but if I did that, the guy riding my back bumper would rear-end my vehicle because he couldn't brake in time. Classic recipe for a multi-car pileup. If it was just me and the tanker truck... but it wasn't. Upshifting wouldn't do my car any good, not with all the damn slowpokes on the road. So the tanker was directly in front of me, losing forward momentum with every car it rolled over, and I was pretty much stuck in a pack with all the normal types who were only just then touching their brakes, too late to do more than cushion the impact, and --
Okay, we'd stopped moving.
I wished I'd bailed out earlier. I really did. But the Extremis was where I live -- literally -- it was my mobile home, with half a megabuck of customization. A good chunk of that went to reinforcing the body and chassis, so my car, at least, had no structural damage. Me, too. Upshifting kept my hide perfectly intact as the steel wall of the tanker crumpled to embrace my Extremis like a dysfunctional lover.
Damn me for a sentimental fool! Should have bailed out earlier, but I didn't, so I was screwed. I just hoped all the slowpokes around me appreciated that I kept full control all the way in. I had an unobstructed view of the tanker's stressed metal through my windshield and side windows; looking back, I saw the roof of somebody's vehicle butted up flat against my rear hatch and window. I could even see a little daylight. Too bad that gap wasn't wide enough for me to slip through. What did get through were ambient odors, like the intense aroma of what's leaking out of the tanker truck. I wondered...
My wireless connection was a little staticky, but it worked, and I pulled in data from the trucking company. Given the date, locale, and license number -- oh, shit. Now that I knew what he was hauling, I almost regretted having found out. It was a nitrogen compound, flammable, even explosive under the right conditions.
I really didn't want to end up frying in an oven...
Okay, Jubatus. You're a technical writer. Solving problems is what you do for a living, so let's see you solve this one. Given: A crashed tanker truck, its cargo (a volatile and explosive chemical) leaking out all over the place. Given: A heavily reinforced steel cage without exits that contains a highly-morphed cheetah SCAB. Problem: How can the nice kitty get the hell out of there before the damn thing blows?
I had plenty of time to think about this puzzle. Sure, detonation was a minute or two away by the clock, but I'd upshifted earlier and hadn't downshifted yet. I had 45 minutes of my time, easy. Probably more. There were things I should do in case I didn't solve the puzzle, so I timeshared, trading off between the main task (finding a way out) and secondary objectives (pre-death prep work). Nothing I hadn't done before -- except, of course, that the deadlines weren't usually quite so literal!
The clock kept ticking. I kept working. Things heated up, giving the Extremis' environmental controls a workout. And in the fullness of Time, I did come up with a solution; several, actually. Even the best of the lot sucked, but it sure beat the alternative, so it wasn't like I had much choice, did I? So I was going to wait (letting the ambient heat weaken the roof) until the spill detonated, at which point I'd upshift as high as I could; jump through the softened metal; and hope to Fortuna I could ride the shockwave to safety.
Looked like the end was nigh, judging by the exterior temperature and the odors leaking through the ventilation system. Time for one last review of my preparations. Let's see... Sent word to Triple-A; they'll recover and restore the Extremis if it's even marginally salvageable, cost is no object. Composed and sent a mass email to all my not-yet-complete contracts, explaining the situation and providing pointers to replacements in case I end up too dead to do their work. Shoulder bag held my laptop, my backup discs, and important documents (legal and otherwise). Message to Wanderer, he'll pass the word along to the rest of the Strikebreakers (who no doubt will want to celebrate my absence). Got the license number, make, model, and parent company of the goddamn tanker truck. Alerted my attorney so that me or my estate, whichever is applicable, will sue the bastards down to the bedrock and then some. The many pockets of my vest were crammed full of food and tools. No changes to my last will and testament -- if it's needed, I'm sure that Sinclair, the rabbit, and especially Carter will all be pleasantly surprised.
And then the ceiling rippled and sagged -- showtime. I was already in position. I upshifted for dear life and leaped with all the force my 60-MPH-capable legs could exert! It was the "straw in a hurricane" show as I blasted through the sheet metal, claws-first, into a world of nitrogenous nose-torture, intense pressure waves, and pure, Hellish flame. My insurance damn well better cover this! was the last thought to cross my mind before I lost consciousness...
= - = - = - = - = - = - = - =
Hi there! Call me Hallan. Please. My real name is Harrison Myers, but ever since I got a Christmas
gift from SCABS in the form of a lion-esque build, complete with
fur and claws, I really don't like "Harry" any more, okay? Especially now that my mane
is finally starting to grow in instead of just looking like a ragged scrub
brush. If I'm going to look like this for the rest of my life,
I might as well look good. I do have my pride, after all!
One of the best things that happened to me this past year was discovering the Blind Pig Gin Mill. My mom thought so, too, even though it's a bar. (A very classy bar, I might add.) Why would a concerned, loving mother approve of her high-school-age son's visits to such a place? Because it's a SCAB bar. The bartender's a SCAB, and most of the regulars are too. Mom's met several of them and feels she can trust my safety there. As for me, I just like the atmosphere.
And mom's right. They're good people at the Pig, even if the communal sense of humor does run towards massive practical jokes. Well, most of them are good... there's also Jubatus, who I can't quite figure out. He's more of a cheetah than I am a lion, he swears in at least14 languages (I've been tempted to start counting), and he set me up for a fight with a school bully. But that bully had been on my case for months already, and he's never laid a hand on me since, which is exactly what the cheetah says he had in mind all along! I think he's older than me, maybe a lot older, and he's a pessimist to beat all pessimists, but he's fair, and rather brutally honest. He reminds me of Professor Higgins from My Fair Lady. Trust me, I know what I'm talking about. I auditioned for the part in our high school's performance my freshman year.
Like I said, I can't figure Jubatus out, but that won't stop me from trying. I know there's a pleasant person in there somewhere. I've seen it once before, and I'm going to find it again sooner or later.
Beside that, I still owed him for the gauntlets he made me. When I'm wearing them, they put a strong shell around my fingertips, a shell which may be a little clumsy, but also ensures that I don't claw anybody, accidentally or otherwise. That helped more than I'd hoped: Though I still had to worry about anti-SCABS idiots, I actually picked up a few new friends from people who were just a little nervous about all the built-in switchblades on my hands.
I'll be the first to admit that things aren't perfect, but that doesn't mean we can't make them better!
= - = - = - = - = - = - = - =
The pain wakes me. Pain in head, some of my legs, other places.
I try to move, but the pain explodes! I whimper like... like a...
like a what? Never mind, it'll come to me. I smell blood, my blood.
Head hurts. Hungry, too.
Head hurts bad.
There's something around me... fabric? Yes, fabric. Fabric, something, don't know! Fabric is important, I'm sure of it. Something else around me. It's a strap of some kind. A strap with a bag. The bag is thick, there's things in it, not sure what. Important things. Fabric, the things in the bag, why are they important? Don't know. They just are.
Shapes near me. Some are straight, no, square and rectangle! And trapezoid. That's it. Trapezoid. I remember. And para... something. Head hurts. Shapes, other shapes not straight. Circle. More shapes, not circles -- but not straight either! What are those shapes!? I growl in frustration.
I lie still. Hungry. I can move, but it hurts less to just lie there. Cold. Good smell coming from... fabric, little bags, pockets! Yes. Pockets. Feels good. Smells good, too, and the smell comes from inside pockets. Good smell. Maybe good to eat? I can -- no! Painpainpain! Don't want to try moving that leg again. More whimpering. More hunger. Got three more legs, maybe another... ahhh. That one doesn't hurt. I reach up and over, but I can't get at the smell. The pocket won't let me in! I snarl, move my leg for another try, and then the pain --
= - = - = - = - = - = - = - =
One more week of summer school. That's all I needed to finally catch up with the classes I missed from the Flu and SCABS! I hated health class. It was taught by Mr. Patterson, the most boring teacher in school. Mr. Patterson was an energy vampire, I swear it, able to put an entire auditorium to sleep in minutes. His voice had just the right pitch, just the right rising-falling cadence to put someone out like a light. The school should send him to the hospital as an anesthesiologist. They'd make a fortune. I mean, he didn't even move around to keep people's attention, but just huddled there behind his lectern and droned on... and on... and on...
= - = - = - = - = - = - = - =
Awake again. Something has grabbed the bag -- my bag -- in its forelegs. I scream and slash at it, my claws dig
-- pain! It hurts it hurts it hurts! Can't sleep, must not sleep!
What I ripped into isn't alone; I see, and hear and smell, more
things like it. They move towards me, they must want my bag. But
I won't let them take it! Hurts too bad, can't fight. Got to run!
I move, whine from the pain. Too slow! But it hurts! I can't go any faster or the pain will make me sleep. Funny; I'm too slow, and the moving things still can't keep up with me. How much faster could I move if it didn't hurt so much?
I move, no, crawl is what I do. Head hurts. I crawl and whine. Getting tired. So hungry. The moving things smell like... food? Yes. They smell like food. Or maybe I'm smelling my blood? I'm hungry. I wonder if the moving things will let me eat them? Don't think so, I wouldn't let them eat me. Doesn't matter; they're far away, so I can't eat them anyway. I feel good, but why? There's nothing good about going hungry!
Now I'm in a hidden place, nothing can see me. Now I can stop. I'm tired, hurt, cold and hungry. I curl up around my bag and sleep...
= - = - = - = - = - = - = - =
Another day, another doldrum... Time to suffer through health class again, then on to the library to futz around on the computers before Mom comes by to pick me up. Well, at least I could look forward to e-mail from Aunt Sadie and Uncle Dan, out in Chicago. My family was heavily into the medical profession, and Uncle Dan was no different. He always had Aunt Sadie send me a little anecdote of his day as a paramedic, edited of course for confidentiality. I think he's still trying to get me to follow the family tradition rather than go off after meteorology, which I'm thinking I'd like. Why Aunt Sadie? Because Uncle Dan was as technologically inept as his sister, my mother, who could make a computer weep with terror. Aunt Sadie, on the other hand, was an e-mail master, and an accomplished storyteller. Whenever she visited, everybody wound up in stitches. The laughing kind, not the incision kind.
= - = - = - = - = - = - = - =
The next while is sea... no. A sea. Of sleep. Every so often, a piece of awake rises up out
of the sea and sinks right back down.
Sight, smells, noises are different in each piece of awake. Pain is less, even head hurts less. Different shapes around me. Still hungry. Something puts food in my mouth; I swallow it.
Where is my blood? I don't smell it any more, just sharp odors. I feel straps around me; my strap, the strap of my bag, and other straps. Fabric is there too. It's not cold! Another good thing: Whatever has me, it hasn't eaten me yet.
I am warm. Not hungry. Safe. Life is good. I purr as sleep rises up around me.
= - = - = - = - = - = - = -
At last! The final day of summer school! I thought to myself as I settled into a chair in the library
computer lab. And now for every lion's favorite part of the day -- checking
Another virus hoax. Translation: Spam. Delete.
Chain letter. Spam. Destroy -- no, wait. On second thought, save to 'chain letter' folder for later printing. Sometimes I just felt like shredding something, and chain letters worked nicely for that.
Credit card offer. More spam. Nuke. With extreme prejudice.
Hey, this is interesting. News from the Capitol says a bill's in the works to let SCABs back into food companies. I felt my ears perk forward at that, and chuckled slightly. And here I used to think being able to wiggle my ears was neat. I've heard all sorts of people with SCABS complain about how awful their life has been since coming down with it, but I think it's been more of a blessing for me. My hearing is better, my sight is better, and I've often ribbed my friends over a meal with the line 'If you knew what you were missing...' while tapping my nose. Sure, it can be annoying at times, and frustrating, too, but at least I don't have to worry about acne or glasses or walking with a limp anymore, I thought to myself. The limp was from getting hit by a car several years ago, and it had vanished along with my nearsightedness when I came down with SCABS.
The flicker of the screensaver brought me out of my reverie, and I reread the 'news from the capitol' e-mail. The people at the Pig might want to hear about this, I decided, and clicked the printer icon. Print.
The machine remained silent. I scowled. Print.
"Print, you Stone Age piece of junk!!!!"
Oops. Judging by the look I'd just gotten from the school librarian, I must've said that last one out loud. Matter of fact, the way my throat hurt, I must have roared it. Ow... When I'd first come down with a fur coat, I soon discovered I had enough lion in my head that it would sometimes try to punch the volume up to a roar on perceived need. Unfortunately, my vocal cords are too human to handle that kind of stress for long. On the plus side, this means I can still talk without a voder. Anyway, the printer was now going like crazy, a fact that earned me looks of admiration from the few other people in the lab. I smiled sheepishly, sat back down, and opened the last e-mail, which was addressed from Aunt Sadie and Uncle Dan. As I started reading, my eyes widened in shock and the frenzied antics of the printer passed right out of my mind.
= - = - = - = - = - = - = - =
Room. Where I am is room. Lots of straight shapes, room included.
Other shapes -- curves! Curved. Yes. Circle is not the only curved.
Straight is just straight, but curved is many curved. I feel good.
Room has lots of things to see and hear. Thing to see, box, elec-something, monitor! That's it. Monitor. More than one monitor, and they all show different things. Some go whong, whong. One goes whong in time with my heart! Another, in time with... air, lungs, breathing! In time with my breathing. I know, because I stop breath, and that monitor stops whonging. I can't stop breath for long, I feel worse and worse. Heart goes faster, head hurts more, and monitors show different things. One monitor doesn't care when I stop breath, but the rest get busy with new things to see and hear.
The monitor that doesn't care is different, it shows different things than the rest. The others show lines and dots and patterns that make me feel funny when I look at them; the one that doesn't care shows pictures. No -- pictures don't move, and what this one shows does move... window! It's a window. I like looking at the window box, the monitor boxes get boring fast.
I wonder why monitors are here. Then I know: Monitors are for me. All for me! Goodgoodgood.
And I've noticed something else. There are two kinds of shapes; one kind moves by itself, and the other kind doesn't. Even though both kinds of shapes have a lot of different scents, the moving ones all smell kind of the same.
The moving shapes smell like food.
I feel bad when I think about that, so I try not to, but it's true -- moving shapes do smell like food! And there's... something, label? 'Doctor'. 'Nurse'. There are a lot more of nurse than doctor. At first I thought all nurse were female, and all doctor male, but this is just mostly true. Now I think it's age; doctor are older than nurse.
= - = - = - = - = - = - = - =
I guess word had already gotten around by the time I reached
the Pig. Wanderer, my favorite wolfmorph, was talking to the rest
of the Strikebreakers, the mostly-vocal band Wanderer's the leader
of, and Jubatus does percussion for.
"Forgive a suspicious old wolf, Ring," he said gently as I pushed the door open, "but given your general opinion of him..."
"Sure he's an unbelievable pain in the neck," Ringwolf said. Well, technically, that wasn't exactly what he said, but I didn't feel the need to remember the list of swear words he'd used. "But he's our unbelievable pain in the neck, okay? No way I'm gonna stand by and let those idiot Feds lock him up and throw away the key, alright?"
"What!?" I had figured from my aunt's e-mail that Jubatus was involved in a bad accident, but lock him up?
Wanderer turned his attention to me, his ears dipped with stress. "Ah, Hallan, my young friend." He sighed, visibly trying to put a good face on things. "The long and short of it is that Jubatus, that prosperous cheetah, wound up in rather an automotive mess today." He raised his hand before I could speak. "He's alive and well, and healing as rapidly as one would expect from him. However, he received a concussion..."
For a moment, he stopped to pull himself together, and he looked horribly tired. Just for a second. Then, smiling again, he continued. "The crack on the cranium seems to have rather crossed a few wires. And the government, sweet souls that they are," he somehow drawled sarcastically in that weird British accent of his, "feels that he might be better off in a... what's the term? 'Professional Care Facility'. Or was it 'Permanently Compounded F --" He checked himself, hard. "Forgive me. I've had a very long day."
"I had initially considered Mr. Acinonyx's fears on that score to be exaggerated," said an unfamiliar voice, "but in view of the message I have today received from the Department of the Interior, it would appear that his was the more accurate point of view."
"Department of the Interior? What..." Who is this guy, and what's going on with Jubatus? I wanted to shout. "Will someone please tell me what's going on?"
"I'm afraid I must away," Wanderer sighed. Then, to the stranger, "If you might please explain to him?"
"Many thanks. If I may..." With that, Wanderer hurried off.
Whoever this new person was, I'd never seen him at the Pig before. He was a norm, looked Oriental, maybe 5 foot 6 and 120 lbs. Straight black hair, and he wore a black suit with silver pinstripes. "Well," he said, extending his hand for a shake. "So you are Hallan Meras, also known as Harrison Myers?"
Thankfully, although he grabbed my hand rather than the wrist, his grip wasn't heavy enough to make my claws ache. "Ah, yes sir. Um..."
He smiled. "And you're wondering who I am. My name is Kevin Tanakata, and I have been Mr. Acinonyx's attorney of record since October of 2037." Then he released my hand.
The last name didn't ring a bell for a few moments. "Mr. Assinonni -- Oh, you mean Jubatus?"
"Yes. And he is far and away my most interesting client, I assure you! He being a SCAB, there were a number of occasions on which we discussed the possibility that his instincts might someday overwhelm his conscious mind. I felt that it would be best to set up mechanisms to ensure a smooth transfer of authority in the event that he did become mentally incompetent. He disagreed sharply, on the grounds that any such mechanisms could be used to facilitate his involuntary incarceration in a SCAB colony for life. I felt his concerns were somewhat exaggerated, particularly those related to Government action, but at the same time I could not deny their factual basis. So in accordance with his wishes, I arranged his affairs in such a way as to present the greatest practical degree of difficulty for any outside agent who wished to usurp control over his life and property.
"I regret to say that events have proven Mr. Acinonyx to be correct in all particulars. While there are certain substantive details of the current situation that I am ethically bound not to reveal, one thing I can say is that had Mr. Acinonyx followed my initial recommendations, he would be in 'protective custody' at this very moment. As it is, we have --" he checked his watch "-- 69 hours 46 minutes to find him a caretaker that will be acceptable to a duly appointed representative of the Federal Government."
"And if that doesn't happen?" I asked warily.
Mr. Tanakata frowned. "In the event that such a person fails to appear within the allotted time, Mr. Acinonyx will then be inducted into the deceptively-named Federal SCAB Acculturation Program."
= - = - = - = - = - = - = - =
I have a new trick! I can make the world go fast or slow!
I was in room, like always. There were two shapes that move; very very slow, but I can see them move, more easy if I look away for a while and then look back. The shapes make noise, groaning slow and deep. I think maybe there is something more to the noise, if the shapes would just hurry up about it.
But the shapes don't hurry! The shapes never hurry! And the shapes don't stop making the noise! It's pissing me off -- and then the shapes do hurry. The shapes get fast, and the sound goes fast and high, and light goes weird, and I get very heavy. And the noise makes me feel funny, just like the patterns on the monitors make me feel funny. I'm missing something, but I don't know what!
What am I missing? I don't know, or care, because I feel very very good about making the world go fast. But I get so tired, so quick -- and the monitors go beep instead of whong, and the shapes get busy around me, and my head hurts -- so I let the world stop being fast. Then after the monitors go back to whonging, and the shapes quit being busy, I wonder: I can make the world go fast, and when I do, I get heavy. Can I make the world go slower than usual? And if I can, will I get light?
So I try it. And I can, and I do. Fast world means high sounds; slow world means low sounds. Light goes funny, color goes funny, either way. But my head hurts bad, so I let the world go its own speed. And I sleep...
= - = - = - = - = - = - = - =
Jubatus had been taken to the Worthington HMO just outside of
town. I've never been there before, and I wouldn't be there now
except that Mr. Tanakata asked me to come along. I'm not sure
why he asked me, but I'm glad he did.
We went through the checkpoint at the admissions desk, and a few minutes later we reached our destination. And... this was Jubatus? A lot of his fur was shaved, and he had bandages and casts and IV lines and sensor patches all over his body. The whole effect was kind of weird, and even weirder was something I might not have noticed if I hadn't been from such a medical-oriented family: Even though the accident had to have happened only a day and a half ago, he looked like he'd been recuperating for a couple of weeks! And he wasn't moving... right, one of the IV lines was feeding him a mild sedative. He was probably asleep.
"Well, it would appear that his injuries were less severe than we had been led to believe," said Mr. Tanakata. He was quiet, but not quiet enough. Jubatus' pulse and so on increased by a factor of three on the monitors, his ears twitched, then he cocked his head and looked at us, first the lawyer, then me. I didn't see any hint of recognition in his eyes, just curiosity.
"Now, perhaps, but certainly not when he was first brought in." It was Wanderer, who entered the room with a steaming Styrofoam cup filled with some commercial relative to chicken ramen, if my nose read the scent right. "Good day to you, my friend," Wanderer said with a smile, then turned his attention to Jubatus' lawyer. "And to you, Mr. Tanakata. I hope you don't mind, but I've taken the liberty of arranging a small welcoming committee for the governmental representative." He dipped his head to lap from his soup, and I tried not to grin as I watched him work to keep from getting noodles stuck to his muzzle. I quickly looked away toward Jubatus before Wanderer could catch me trying not to laugh. "We shall guide him here with all appropriate speed," I heard him say a moment later. Whew. He hadn't noticed. The door opened, then closed as Wanderer left the room, and the cheetah laughed with his tail and a purr.
Trying to restrain a smile, I murmured, "Cut it out, Jubatus. That's not polite." It was funny, though.
The big cat rolled his eyes and laid his head back on his pillow, looking out the window at the birds outside.
Watching him lie there, I found it hard to believe that this laid-back cheetah was the same person as the abrasive, tightly wound feline I knew from the Pig. Maybe the experience would be good for Jubatus, in the end. I hoped so, anyway. Nobody should be so alone in the world.
"So... how did you come to know Mr. Acinonyx?" asked Mr. Tanakata, who was watching me curiously.
"Umm, I met him at the Pig. He made me kinda nervous at first, but he's a decent guy once you get to know him. Even if you do want to smack him with a clue-by-four from time to time."
The lawyer smiled. "An apposite observation. One can only wish that a different kind of enlightenment would befall him now, before Wanderer returns with that Government gentleman."
"Yeah." I didn't have anything else to say, until I thought about exactly which branch of the Government Mr. Tanakata said he'd been contacted by. "Sir? What does the Department of the Interior have to do with SCAB colonies?"
"It's a question of land. Lapine SCABs can be warehoused very densely; carnivores, such as my client, require a great deal more space. Since the Department of the Interior controls most Government-owned land, it was inevitable that most SCAB colonies would end up in that Department's portfolio of responsibilities."
Loud yelling out in the hall cut off my next sentence, as suddenly, the door slammed open and in stormed a man whose clothes and demeanor screamed 'government'. He was trailed by Wanderer and a man-sized bug that I remembered seeing from TV. Dr. Derksen, I think his name was. The man and Derksen were arguing loudly, and it was quickly clear what the man had come for.
= - = - = - = - = - = - = - =
Moving shapes in room -- why are they here? They are not doctor,
not nurse, and not hungry. But I am not fear! Not as long as I
can make the world slow. Still can't run, I hurt when I move too
fast, but I don't need to run. If the shapes try to hurt me, I
can make them stop moving and they will never hurt anything again.
I like their scents. I don't want to make them stop. Don't think I'll have to.
I feel good.
Can't figure out why shapes are in room... I guess it will come to me. And if it doesn't, who cares? Room is boring to look at, the shapes are different. Good shapes, good scents. And they make noise that makes me feel funny. One shape, not dog, cane, a lot of canes? That's wrong. What does a lot of canes have to do with anything? And that shape isn't a cane anyway! Not even -- rrrrrr! Never mind. The cane-shape that isn't a cane makes noise that sounds very good. I wonder if these shapes will stay in room? Maybe they will. That might be good.
And then there is a new shape. I smelled it before I could see or hear it. That smell, pine? Yes. I think it's pine, and a lot of pine, too -- it's a skunk! Not sure if 'skunk' is right, but this shape is covered in black and white, and it stinks real bad, so what else can it be? Skunk. For some reason, I only feel a little bad when I think about hurting the skunk-shape. I don't like the skunk-shape, and neither do the shapes I do like. It doesn't like them, either.
I don't get it: The shapes I like want to hurt the skunk-shape, I can smell it on their scents, so why don't they? I guess it doesn't matter. At least the skunk-shape sounds good when it makes noise. It makes a lot of good-sounding noise at me, even does something with ears -- scratches! The skunk-shape scratches behind my ears, and it feels good. I'm glad I didn't slash at its forepaw. I still don't like the skunk, but I guess it's good for something...
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