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The Royal Pet
I felt numb, but peaceful. My eyes were closed but I heard people speaking English. “How long do you think it will be before she wakes? She is stable.” “Anytime now. The drugs should be wearing off”.
I opened my eyes and saw two women standing beside the bed. I slowly sat up as they smiled and one said, “My lady, I’m glad you have awoken. We gave you medicine for the pain, and operated to remove the bullet. You are healed but may feel some pain or itching for a few hours”. For a moment I was confused, but then it all came back to me, disembarking and being shot at. I had taken a bullet in my arm for the queen. I looked around and saw a room that seemed like any hospital room on Earth, except for the bright orange stone walls, ceiling and floors.
While one woman talked to me the other had moved over to a computer and said something into what vaguely looked like a wristwatch. A moment later a door opened to my right and Freya ran in. Human! You are well? They have been taking good care of you? She jumped onto the bed and sniffed my arm. Yes, it seems they have healed me. Amazing. We don’t have this kind of technology on earth. I moved my arm and felt only a tiny bit of pain. There was no visible sign of there ever having been a bullet in my arm. Freya beamed. You will find that feline technology far surpasses that of earth. I thank you for saving me and I am pleased you survived. Now, I have had your bag moved to the royal suite, where you have your own room. Are you ready to go home?
Definitely, I responded. It was then I realized that instead of the jeans, black t-shirt and winter jacket I had been wearing, I was now clothed in a white, Victorian style nightdress. As I got out of bed, the doctor held up a thick black robe that seemed to be made of some sort of short fur, and, thanking her, I put it on. She bowed slightly and moved away as Freya and I exited.
As we passed down the hallway I admired the wall tapestries which depicted cats and humans engaged in battle with dogs. Before we left Earth I had been made aware of the centuries long war the Feline Empire had with the now widespread and dwindling Canine Consortium. I wasn’t a lover of war, and as I had been friends with dogs in the past I wasn’t thrilled about this war. I had initially been a little unsure about leaving Earth when I learned of it. But Freya said I did not have to be involved in any capacity. She didn’t understand my love for dogs but she accepted it as part of being an Earth human.
The human who attacked me was apprehended by the city guard and is being held in the dungeon. An investigation has been started. Apparently there have been rumours that not all allies of the pretender have been caught. There is still a resistance to my rule. As Freya explained the situation, I knelt to pick her up to comfort her but she moved back a little. I know you mean well, human mine, but it is unseemly to be showing affection in public. It could be seen as a sign of weakness. Especially now, when I have yet to be sworn in as the ruler. The ceremony will be in a few hours. But it comforts me to know that I have your support. I replied that I understood.
Just a minute of walking down the hall and we came to a set of matte black doors trimmed in shiny white. Two human men who looked related stood to either side of the door, each holding a stick which matched the design of the door. They both followed tradition and greeted the queen and then turned to me to bow slightly, quietly saying, “My lady”. They opened both doors and we entered. As the doors closed behind us I looked around at the bare walls. I supposed whatever the usurper had used as decoration had been removed. The room was large but it held only one small black dinner table, with dark green chairs around it. There was one door on each side of the room. A woman who was standing in a corner greeted us both as the guards had.
That is Ada. She is now my personal servant, as you have been freed. She and her family have served mine for generations. The guards are her cousins and they are brothers, Arthur and Alfred. Adas niece, Evelyn, is your personal maid. She will be here, in your room. Freya led me through one of the doors as Ada opened it.
After a quick version of the traditional greetings, a woman who looked about twenty years old, squeezed her clasped hands together in front of her and gushed, “Oh my Queen, how pleased we are that you have returned to us! The pretender was just horrible to us! I know you will put the empire to order again! And I am honoured to be granted the role of royal pets maid”, she beamed and bounced in glee, her shoulder length dirty blonde corkscrew curls bouncing.
“I am glad to be home and I will take care of the people as my ancestors did before”, Freya said. Evelyn grinned in pleasure. It was the first time I had heard Freya, or any cat, speak out loud. She had a strange accent, something I couldn’t really compare to any of the accents I had heard on earth.
I looked around the room, taking in the large bed with dark purple cover and pillows. In another corner was clearly a computer terminal of some sort, though the screen was paper thin. For a moment I was surprised to see what looked like a regular Earth type keyboard. The ships consoles had large icons, all the better for cats paws to operate. Then I remembered that many humans lived here, so having computers for them wasn’t strange.
Usually the humans here use holographic computers, but this is an older style one. I thought you might like it for the similarity to Earth computers, Freya said. It’s great, I replied, admiring the shiny black desk and cushioned dark blue chair. I noticed my wheeled suitcase in another corner, and what seemed like many closet doors around the room. Evelyn went around, opening them and showing me the clothing Freya had had made for me. I was surprised that she seemed to know my size. “These are for every day wear, and also your nightdresses are in here”. It was a closet of beautiful but somewhat plainly styled linen dresses, in so many colours. The nightdresses were all similar to what I was now wearing. Another closet held dinner dresses, which were a mix of silk and linen, a bit more elaborate with lace, pearls or other gems. The third closet had the most fancy dresses, like I had only seen in museums. I saw styles from what seemed like every era in Earth up until the nineteenth century.
I know these coverings are not your usual style. But they are what the nobility wear here and I want you to fit in. Do you like them? The queen looked up at me. They’re beautiful, this whole room is beautiful, thank you. It’s alright to pet you in here right? She said it was, so I bent to pet her a bit. What about decorations? The walls are bare in here and out there, I asked. The usurper did not believe in decorations. We will decorate this place together. Later. We have two hours to rest before my inauguration, or you can explore the C&A (Communications and Archive). It is what we call internet here. There are also holographic computers which humans use for recreation. Those are called RHS’s (Recreational Holographic Systems). You can explore those another day. I’ll show you my room now.
I followed the queen and saw that surprisingly, her room was smaller than mine. Aside from a large-iconed console built into the wall in one corner, there was only a fur covered bed that was about the size of the dog beds sold on Earth. The fur was black and I realized it was probably dog hair, which made me look down at my robe in discomfort. Freya noticed my expression. Yes, it is all dog hair. Usually that is what we use here. Though commoners often use the fur of other animals. I know it brings you discomfort but it is my hope that eventually you will become accustomed to our ways here. Maybe someday you will even dine on canine flesh as we all do. I looked down at her apologetically. I don’t know if that will ever happen but I promise to try, my Queen.
She seemed satisfied with that as we went back into the main room. I just realized I am hungry and you must be too. We shall eat now. Ada said, My queen, I anticipated your needs. I had food brought for you and your pet. She moved to one side where I hadn’t noticed a box about the size of a microwave attached to the wall. She opened the door and removed two covered plates. Freya and I sat at the table (though in her case she sat on the table. Unlike on Earth, it wasn’t my place to tell her to get off of it). Fresh canine for you, your majesty, Ada said, setting one plate in front of Freya and removing the lid. And for you my lady, a salad. I removed the lid, and saw some sort of lettuce type leaves, with strange small fruits or vegetables on them. One type looked like pears. Another had patches of what looked like peach and apple, and the third looked just like blackberries. They all tasted different to those fruits, but they were all good. The pear type one was sort of like a cross between potato and cauliflower, the peach/apple was slightly sweet, a bit like asian pear mixed with cucumber. The blackberry looking ones were the biggest surprise, they tasted like butternut squash with another flavour added which I could not describe. The leaves tasted like kale and the salad had a light, sweet dressing that was a bit like vanila. I ate the delicious salad while Freya sat on the table beside me eating her dog meat. I avoided looking at her bowl. I had never had a pet dog but had always liked dogs and was uncomfortable with the idea of eating them.
After we ate Freya went to the console in her room, to prepare for the coronation which would happen soon, and I went to my room to check out the computer. I wanted to learn more about this culture of cats. Their flag was orange and black, the official colours of the Feline Empire. It was a cat standing proudly over the dead body of a dog, all in orange, on a black background. There was something written at the bottom of the flag, and the page I was on said it was in the feline language. The translation was, ‘The only good canine is a dead canine’. I was surprised at how violent it looked even though Freya had told me before of the war between the felines and the canines which had gone on for centuries. The war had been going for so long now that no one knew why it had started. It was simply a fact of life here.
Another thing I learned were that every so often a feline ship would go to earth, to rural communities to invite humans to come to the Feline Empire. All through earths history this had happened. As history and mythology were hobbies of mine, I wondered why I had never read anything about this on earth. Then I read that apparently every time this had happened, the small communities had accepted, and gone away with the cats. Apparently they had chosen places where there were either telepathic people who they could communicate with or they brought humans who could speak in the earth humans languages. I had wondered before how everyone who could speak telepathically could understand each other and apparently for some reason telepathy always translated to a language that a person could understand. So Freya had been speaking to me in feline and yet to me it sounded like english. English was apparently a popular language here among the humans, along with many other earth languages.
Next I read that earth culture was popular in the empire, and that among the common humans there were styles of dress from all eras of earths history. The human nobility only wore clothing from the fourteenth to nineteenth centuries, which explained the clothing in my closet. Anything to do with earth was fashionable here, though different time periods made for different earth practices being popular. There had been a time in the past when it was common for the nobility to only wear roman togas, and another time when it was popular for the common folk to go naked. I giggled as I read that last part. There was also music, in all of earths styles and some new genres that seemed to have been invented in the Feline Empire. As an avid music fan I looked forward to hearing this new music.
I was so engrossed in reading that I didn’t hear Evelyn come in. She cleared her throat behind me, “My lady? It is time to get ready for the coronation”. I turned off my console and we went to the closet. “I don’t know what to wear, what’s appropriate for this occasion”? “Choose something from this closet”, Evelyn said, opening the fancy gowns closet. I chose a shiny satin maroon dress that had light green accents and bows. It seemed the least elaborate of all of the dresses and I wasn’t used to dressing so fancy.. Evelyn also gave me the official necklace of the royal pet, saying it was important for everyone to know my rank. She said I should wear it whenever I left the royal suite. It was an orange circle bordered in black, on a black chain and it had feline script on it. When I asked, Evelyn told me it said, ‘Royal Pet’.
The coronation was a short affair followed by a party which included dancing. The ceremony was all in speaking out loud feline and included Freya kissing (licking) a flag of the empire. Humans and cats stood around the large room while Freya performed the ceremony alone. Her speech and the flag licking took only minutes. After, everyone in the crowd, cat and human alike, performed the traditional queen greeting, then some started dancing while others got food from the tables lining the room. The music changed from techno to various styles of classical, to rock. As I stood at a table, trying to decide if I wanted to eat, a redheaded woman wearing a bright blue velvet gown accented with red gems stopped and smiled. “So you’re the new royal pet. I’m Violet, it’s great to meet you.” I introduced myself back and learned that her family had come from earth when her parents were children. She invited me to a dinner she was having with friends after this gathering, and I accepted. She said they couldn’t wait to meet me and that everyone was really glad that Freya was back.
Later as I tried to leave the royal suite to go to dinner, Evelyn stopped me. “Oh no my lady, you can’t be going in the same dress as you wore earlier! We would both be embarrassed if you were to be seen like that!” Although I thought it was silly , I allowed her to choose a dress from the dinner dress closet, a light purple one accented in gold. She also insisted on styling up my hair, in a bun made of braids, with one ringlet left down over one shoulder. She said it was the most fashionable hairstyle now.
Outside the castle, I found an orange hovercar waiting for me.It had the Feline Empire flag on one side. I got in, feeling like I was in a sci fi movie. There was no driver, just me. “Good evening, Royal Pet”, the computer said. “Are you ready to go?” I answered to the affirmative and looked out the window as we took off. I was surprised at how fast we were going. It was so fast that everything outside the car turned into a blur. Inside the car it didn’t feel like we were moving at all. Now I really felt like I was in a sci fi movie!
A butler greeted me at Violets house, a large white building with fancy turret on top like a castle. Looking around I saw that the other houses nearby were in a similar style. Inside, the house was also white. I was brought to the drawing room, where Violet sat with fifteen other people. I admired her dusty pink dress which had white bows at the wrists and waist. The butler introduced me as I walked in, “The lady Grace, Royal Pet”. Now I felt like I was in a costume drama movie. Violet welcomed me and introduced her other guests. We stayed in the drawing room enjoying alcoholic drinks for about twenty minutes until the butler informed us dinner was ready.
In the dining room Violet sat me next to her at the head of the table. “I’ve been informed that you don’t eat canine. I had fish made for you instead, is that to your liking?” I told her it was and that she didn’t need to go to the trouble, I could simply have eaten vegetables or fruits. I felt a bit embarrassed and out of place. I noticed that some of the people at the table were looking at me a bit oddly as they ate their dogmeat while I ate fish. Violet noticed also. “Oh don’t worry about them. They turn up their noses at anything that’s new to them. I think it’s cool that you do your own thing”. I thanked her for putting me at ease and admitted that I had been a little embarrassed but since she said that I decided I wouldn’t care either. I did wonder why she was friends with them as she seemed really nice.
Near the other end of the table sat two women who kept glancing over at me as they talked. The blonde whispered something into the ear of the brown haired one while they both looked at me. The dark haired woman laughed into her hand as the blonde smirked. “Olivia and her flunky, Nancy. Two of the biggest gossips around. Ignore them, they compensate for their own stupidity with cruelty”, Violet whispered at me.
Suddenly, just across the table a man stood, gagging. The man beside him grabbed him and performed the heimlich manoeuvre. A piece of meat flew out of his mouth, across the table, and smacked into Olivia, right between her eyes. It slid down her nose and onto her ample cleavage. She shrieked, “Get it off me, get it off, get it off!”, and batted at the hand of the man beside her who, smirking, tried to remove it. She glared at her friend until Nancy took a napkin and removed the offending meat. I couldn’t help my own smirk and put my hand up to cover it. Violet snickered.
The rest of the evening was uneventful and I thanked Violet as I left. Later, I lay in bed thinking of all that had happened that day. I still felt wide awake even though I hadn’t slept the night before because of the spaceflight and how it was morning when we arrived. I looked over as the door to my room opened. Human? Are you sleeping? Without waiting for an answer she jumped onto the bed. I’m too amped up from this day to sleep. This has been unlike anything I ever imagined. Freya purred and settled onto my chest as I pet her. Tomorrow there is a customary day that I must spend in meditation, preparing to take on the duties of my office. You should go into the city and shop. The money you need will be provided. I thought that sounded like fun, and was soon lulled to sleep by Freyas purring.
The next day I wore a simple yellow dress and carried a black purse with a credit chip in it, lip balm and a comb. The credit chip was about half the size of a credit card. Get whatever decorations you desire for the royal suite my pet, and anything else you want, said Freya. Thanks my darling, I petted her as I followed Evelyn out. We were also joined by a guard, a big, muscular, silent man. The queen still had concerns about supporters of the pretender and wanted me to be protected. I still marveled over the speed of the hovercar, though Evelyn seemed confused at my reaction. I learned that her family had been in the Feline Empire for many generations, and she didn’t know much about earth. She was surprised when I explained that our cars had wheels and traveled only a fraction of the speed of these hovercars.
We stopped at an open air market that smelled of sweet and spicy foods. Vendors sold everything from food, to clothing, to data rods containing music, videos or books, and much more. My heart raced in excitement at all of the colours and smells, and the many different languages I heard spoken. We walked along slowly as I took it all in. We came to a street down which I saw a shop that seemed to have paintings in the windows.. Thinking of the bare walls in the royal suite, I brought the store to Evelyn and the guards attention and we started that way. The guard went in first to make sure it was safe. We waited a minute, then another, and grew concerned. Evelyn decided to go in and see what had happened but I thought it was a bad idea. I suggested we contact the palace and have them send more guards to check it out first, but she insisted, so I followed her cautiously in. As we went into the shop and the door closed, I looked around in confusion. There was nothing in the room except for the window display and a door across from it. And a man standing over the fallen body of the guard, holding a bloody knife. Just then I felt a sharp pain in the side of my neck. I turned to call for Evelyn and saw her smiling oddly at me. Her eyes were cold and dead. She pulled a needle out of my neck and I fell to the floor, to darkness.
[To be continued]
© Rose Night
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