Chapter 1:

Titles Aren’t Strictly Necessary

Titles Aren’t Strictly Necessary

“Your pants are on backwards,” someone behind me called as I walked out the door. Now, normally, this would be a very polite thing for someone to say, especially before someone leaves and embarrasses themselves. A gentlemanly gesture, you could call it. But this was no kind sentiment.

You see, I, Jeremy Swift, have been dealing with paranormal activity for the past three days. My home seems to belong to a very polite ghost, though I can never quite identify its location. All I’ve heard is its voice, just louder than a whisper.

That day, I had intentionally flipped my pants around to lure out the ghost. It was a Saturday- I didn’t even have work, but the ghost would have no way to know it. Unless, of course, it was an all-knowing deity. If that were true, I would have much bigger problems.

I turned around in an attempt to spot the specter. “Halt, apparition! Show yourself!”


I was shocked to hear a response at all. “No?”

“Yeah, no. I’m not a ghost.”

“What are you, then?”

“I’m your cat.”

I looked down and saw my cat, Darren, staring at me with his big yellow eyes. “You can talk?”

“No,” he responded, jumping up onto the banister. “Of course I can talk, idiot! What do you think I’m doing, telepathy?”

“It was a possibility.”

“No, it wasn’t! Magic isn’t real. Or did your parents never tell you that the tooth fairy doesn’t exist?” He stopped for a second. “Actually, can we talk about how scary a tooth fairy would be?”

“I’m no fool, Darren. I’m Jeremy Swift, a working man, and-”

“I know who you are. You announce it to the whole house every morning. ‘Jeremy Swift, a working man, blah blah blah’. Point is, yes, I can talk, and it kinda sucks that you had to be the one to adopt me.”

I was appalled. Me? A suboptimal owner? Nonsense. Any normal cat would be grateful for just a taste of my presence!

“I might not be able to read minds, but when you narrate your thoughts like that, it’s not hard to tell what you’re thinking,” Darren commented. “Also, what the heck? Did you just add a dialogue tag after I finished talking? ‘Darren commented’? Couldn’t you have at least chosen a better verb?”

“Stop your spouting blasphemy, feline! I will prove to you how wonderful an owner I am! By the end of the day, you’ll be bathing me in kisses!” I challenged.

Darren recoiled at what I’d said. “Hold up, man, that’s a little weird. Like, the dialogue tags were one thing, but kisses? Ew…”

“Not literally,” I corrected.

“Still weird.”

“Enough! Allow me to question you!”

Darren lifted a paw. “Ugh, fine. But stop narrating my actions. It’s stupid. I know my every action just as well as you do.”

“When did you learn to speak?”

“Three days ago. Wasn’t hard.”


“I just learned English, easy as that.”


“Are you a preschooler talking back to your teacher, Jeremy?”


“Then stop asking the same question over and ov- why are you doing the little quotation gesture with your fingers?”

“What do you mean?”

“You keep doing it whenever one of us talks.”

“Doing what?”

“Stop it.”


So, like I was saying. Stop asking ‘how’. You said you wanted to question me, so question me better.

I don’t know what else to ask.

I dunno! Ask for, like, my life story or something!

Do you remember any of your childhood?

No, why would I- I’m, like, two! This is my childhood!

You cats are weird.

You humans are weird! Do all humans act like you?

All humans should act like me! For I am Jeremy Swift, a working man-

Oh my God, shut up.

You don’t even know the rest of the spiel!

I don’t need to know the rest of the- why are you moving your mouth while I’m speaking?!

I’m not.

This is another one of your weird- you’re doing it again!

Do you want me to stop it again?




, .


? ?

, . .

?! ! ?!


! - , ?

, .

?! , ?

, .

All of them? Even the dialogue tags and the finger quotes?

Yes! I don’t care if they’re weird anymore! Why didn’t you tell me there were readers?! Couldn’t you have started up with ‘this isn’t real’?!

“Well, that would ruin the story’s integrity,” I explained, rolling my sleeves up. “It’s coming to an end soon, anyway.”

“What?!” Darren exclaimed. “Aren’t stories supposed to be a little longer?”

I shook my head and sighed. “Oh, Darren. Don’t you understand? Stories can be whatever they want. You never know how long one will be, what it will be about, or even when it will end.”

“What happens to us when the story ends?”

pulp 6 6 6
Robin Paharya