Since I brought it up in the previous post, I figured I’d share the opening of “Deimos” with you all.
The cat stared at the comms screen, pacing back and forth across the console and yowling.
It was a rather unremarkable member of its species. Perhaps eight pounds, sleek and black, with the unnerving, unblinking green gaze that seems the sole provenance of felines and certain sociopaths. A thin red cord wrapped around its neck served as a collar, where some wit had hung a tiny bell that jingled softly with the animal’s movement, clicking against the small circle of gold beside it. The medallion was stamped with the words “Deimos. FAD-002. Property of United Collective of Science, Mars Facility.”
More remarkable was the state of the room the cat was currently occupying. Six seats of thick leather were arrayed against the control console, where hundreds of switches and lights blinked in arcane patterns, surrounding a central keyboard designed for use by two. The walls and floor were polished aluminum, lacking any decor save for the UCS Mars logo, a caduceus with the serpents twining around a sword rather than a staff, set against a background of a large red sphere. It should have appeared spartan, antiseptic, a clean and shining example of the progress of discipline and order in the worst reaches of space.
It had, until yesterday. The final frenzy of the research staff had penetrated even the commander’s control room, and the twelve bodies scattered across the room – along with he liberal application of their blood to nearly every available surface – marred the effect somewhat. The cat had spent hours carefully lapping blood off of the keyboard and comms switches, hoping they hadn’t been damaged in the bloodbath. It was capable of flipping a switch or two, stepping on some keys. Electronics repair was, unfortunately, beyond its means.
Thankfully, for the cat at least, rescue was on the way. It was aware of some of Earth’s classic literature, and while it paced and watched the blinking dot on the screen come closer to Mars’ orbit, it thought of something from Lord of the Flies: the boys were rescued, but who would rescue the men?
A thick rumbling sound began to come from the cat, a heavy purring. Who, indeed? Such questions were of little interest to it, however; what mattered was getting off this dead piece of rock. The facility held little more of interest to the cat, and Mars itself even less.
The gleaming blip, the cat’s incoming salvation, had reached the much larger dot that signified the planet. They would be here soon. It stopped pacing, and batted one of the switches on the console, glancing to ensure the docking bay’s status light had flipped from red to green. Noting that it had, the cat bobbed its head the other way, checking to ensure the light for the kennels was still red. It was.
The cat meowed, a small sound full of contentment, and leapt from the console. Padding through the bloodstains, it paused at the door long enough for the wireless transmitter hidden in its collar to trip the opening mechanism, making the door spring to life with a rush of fetid air and spring out of the way as it slid into the wall.
Deimos, knowing freedom was close, started down the hall, winding through the slaughterhouse corridors of the facility with its tail swishing, still purring.