The scientist held up a small brown kitten.
“Is she yours?” his guest asked, eyeing the squirming beast askance.
“Sure is.” The scientist chuckled and set the kitten back on the floor. His voice dripped sarcasm as he continued, “A truly shining example of evolution, this one.”
His guest watched as the kitten skidded across the hardwood floor, her little paws scrambling for purchase. Though she found herself beneath the gaze of not one but two intent watchers, she would not be dissuaded from her goal. Cooing happily, the kitten bounded across the slippery floor and pounced on the visitor’s shiny black shoe, tiny pinprick claws extended. She made to gnaw at his toes despite the leather in her way.
The scientist sighed. He reached out for the counter, picked up a hefty water gun, and pointed it at the kitten. Nonchalant as you please, he squeezed the trigger, spraying the kitten with water. She murred in dismay and left off the attack, springing sideways across the kitchen. At the doorway she paused a moment, round eyes large, folded ears twitching. Then she disappeared.
“That’s the,” the scientist counted to himself, “roughly, oh, fiftieth time I’ve had to punish her for that same behavior.”
His guest raised an eyebrow. “Defiant personality?”
“Oh, if only. That would make sense; it would be catlike, you know? Cats act up when they know they won’t get caught. She, on the other hand, misbehaves in plain sight. Not an ounce of sense or dignity to speak of in that one.”
“I see that.”
The scientist chuckled. “A sad, sorry example of a cat if ever there was one, but we love her just the same.”
His guest nodded. “Well, thank you for introducing me to her. I’d best be on my way.”
“Ah, yes. I’m a very busy…man.”
The scientist gazed at him curiously but didn’t comment. His guest stayed only long enough to wave goodbye to the scientist’s wife, a mousey little woman with a timid smile. Then he left the apartment—though not before the kitten made another spirited attempt on the life of his shoe. Truly, the visitor reflected as he headed down the stairs, she was a sorry example of cat-hood.
He managed a smile, but it was rather a rueful and exasperated thing.
Another man waited for him outside the apartment building. This man’s hair waved in the breeze, a halo of silver-blond curls that seemed to have a life of their own. He smoothed his hands down the front of his tailored white suit and smiled brightly at the scientist’s visitor.
“Have you gotten the information you came for, My Lord?” he asked.
The visitor sighed heavily. “Yes, indeed I did.” He shoved his hands in the pockets of his slacks and started across the parking lot, muttering to himself. “Evolution! Of all the things I could have picked…”
“My Lord…?” the other man questioned, concerned. He hurried to catch up with the visitor.
“I could have done the whole seven days thing. Made things perfect right from the get-go. But no, I had to be clever. And what does it get me? Scottish Fold kittens!”
He paused at the edge of the parking lot and glanced down at his feet. A line of ants scampered past the toe of his kitten-scuffed shoe. He watched them, scurrying on miniscule legs, carrying great loads they seemed too small to be able to carry. They wouldn’t run headlong into a man’s shoe after being sprayed with water barely five minutes earlier. Of course, they weren’t as cute as kittens, either. Oh, if only he could have both…
“Michael?” he called to his assistant.
“Yes, My Lord?”
“Let’s head a few galaxies over, shall we? There’s a nice planet out there. I’ve got something I’d like to try…”