Chapter 1:

The Cat

"Nekofurenzu" (Feline Friends)

I sat at my desk rereading a report I’d written for work. I’d looked at it at least ten times already, but was scanning the lines of text one more time. Not that I needed it. The report was perfect. No more revision or editing was needed. I was looking at it yet again because I had nothing else to do. The report took five minutes to write when I thought it’d take at least an hour. In any other world, this would have been hilarious. But for right now it wasn’t.
I felt something bump my right elbow and looked down to see my cat, Mewsy, looking up at me inquisitively. I smiled, rubbing her tortoise-shell head and stroking her back. Then she got interested in what I was looking at and hopped up onto my laptop, sitting on the keypad with an intrigued look on her face.
“Hey! What are you- Don’t do that!” I said with a grin, playfully pushing the cat off my desk. Mewsy landed perfectly on her feet, licked her right leg, then figured walking through and around my legs would be a better course of entertainment, rubbing against my jeans. I laughed, turning back to the laptop as I deleted all the additions Mewsy put into the report. I took a moment, for grins, to see if Mewsy had written any messages. No such luck, just a bunch of 8’s, y’s, and a jumble of other letters and numbers her paws just happened to rest on.
I brushed my hair out of my eyes and looked back at my cat, nudging her away from my desk. I urged her away not because I didn’t want to play with her, but she shed a lot. Last time I went to work, I had to dust off my jeans before starting my shift, and found hairs floating around for the rest of my shift. I was a computer tech major, but I wasn’t able to find many jobs in my caliber of focus. I knew a lot about computers and how to operate them, but I currently worked as a business executive for a printer company downtown, handling customer service and sales books. But, beggars couldn’t be choosers. Most of this I did at home, which was nice, but for customer service my boss demanded that I be in the office for that. Kept a good reputation for the branch, he said. With that said, I couldn’t have any hairs trailing on me. It might have worked better to just not have a cat, but I needed a companion.
I was in a new town, more of a city, in an apartment complex I still didn’t know the other residents of, only had coworker friends who were always partying and acting stupid, was out of school, and didn’t have a girlfriend. My folks were back east and I would visit for holidays and whenever I could, but plane tickets were expensive.
I wracked my brain for another facet of my online business job to do while I sat here, but I only got more and more frustrated to the point that I couldn’t even understand the designs on my screen. With a heavy moan I turned from my swivel chair and walked to the kitchen, deciding to make a sandwich for lunch and give Mewsy some food. I made a quick PB&J then went to the cupboard to see what delicacy Mewsy wanted.
“So,” I said, addressing Mewsy, “what will you be having tonight? Fish? Chicken? Beef?” I turned on saying ‘beef’ and knit my brow, flexing my muscles in a mock show of strength. Mewsy knew I thought beef was the only food that really made you strong. The cat cocked her head at me, and I laughed. “Guess not, huh?”
I sat in my swivel chair, eating my sandwich as I watched Mewsy play on the floor. My apartment had tongue-and-grove wood flooring. Thing took awhile to mop clean but it made for a better looking place. My office room was pretty bare, save my desk and my chair, so Mewsy’s toys and bed were in there too, to give some clutter to the place. It was a five-room apartment, I had to put stuff somewhere.
My work related items were in my bedroom, along with boxes I just hadn’t gotten unpacked. I only slept in my room, because of how crowded it was. Couldn’t get any work done there. The only other rooms were the bathroom, the kitchen, the foyer and the office. Nice small setup. Had a party in there once, and vowed to never have one again. It was just soda, but it took days for my floor to be cleaned!
I smiled, looking down at Mewsy. “Enjoy your chicken?”
The cat looked up at me, and almost seemed to smile. I could guess she might have said, if she could talk, “Yes, thank you very much.”
I smiled, then inclined my head at the thought. What if she could talk? How funny would that be?

Another night came to a close. I sent my report, getting another good review from the boss, who waited up until all the reports were sent in, then I went to bed. As I walked over boxes, I could feel Mewsy rub against my leg. I looked down and smirked. “Ok, just stay at the foot of the bed.”
Mewsy sometimes liked sleeping in the same bed as me. I didn’t like the idea much, especially since some of those weird cat people who insisted that their cat lay in bed with them like a real person. I wasn’t that crazy, as much as I liked Mewsy’s cat company. I rolled over in my nice fluffy bed, and sleep overtook me quickly.
At around midnight, I woke up. I didn’t know why, I didn’t have to relieve myself or anything. All the lights were off, the stove was off, my computer was asleep; all I could feel was Mewsy lying directly on my feet. I chuckled, then immediately fell asleep again. I had a weird dream after that, where Mewsy smiled at me, a real smile, and said out of her tiny cat mouth “thanks for the chicken!”