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A CAT AND HER GIRL

Dreamed 1979/5/15 by Chris Wayan

Futuristic girl's neuralinked pet cat.

I'm a doctor working in a free clinic in the future. A girl walks in holding her pet, a neuralinked cat. A high-end link, I notice--she and her cat can share feelings not just sensory data. Cozy, but it blurs the diagnostic picture when things go wrong. She says "we don't feel quite right, but we're not sure who's sick or what's wrong. Could our link be damaged?"

I say "Let's stick with the physical first. Let me check your valve settings" and look on her upper back. Below her distributor is the power intake. The cord ends in a plug of sorts: a little ring of copper bristles. I pull this out and inspect the socket. It's also lined with bristles. They look clean enough. Pull the socket too. Under that's a big ball-bearing floating in place, transmitting the current to the main armature of her motor. Something smells subtly wrong but I can't place it; so I pop the pieces back in and ask her symptoms in more detail. Aches and pains, bad smells, toxins accumulating... vague but pervasive, and worsening.

Run a few tests. The results are horrifying. This girl's dead! She has been for days. Smart implants like the neuralink kept her muscles galvanically moving, but she's clinically dead. Oh, her heart pumps, but her brainstem's all that's running. The girl who walked in here, asking me for help, is really... the cat! Their shared consciousness still lives in her--she's operating a pet human, a DEAD pet, on remote--WITHOUT REALIZING! The cat thinks she's a girl linked to a cat--no reason not to, after all... they've shared so deeply, so long, they truly were one. I'm sad and moved: the error proves just how close they were. Futuristic girl's neuralinked pet cat.

I have to break the news to her. I retreat to dry clinical truth. "Your human body is dead. It's irretrievable by now, I'm afraid. I recommend you get a fully android copy made, but leave your present cat brain in control, since it obviously works quite well. At most, you might want to supplement it with extra math and language modules in the android. You may not need to, you're quite articulate for a girl using a cat brain." There, I softened it a bit. A girl with a cat brain? She's not. She's a cat--a brilliant cat.

Maybe I'm wrong to soften it like that and distract her with hardware. Her first task isn't ordering parts! She has to face that she's not a girl with a sick pet cat, but a cat genius with a dead pet girl. Then, it's time to grieve. And then... go on from there, get a healthy humanoid body, build herself back up. Dream sketch; brown and cream catgirl with green eyes, standing on hindpaws, staring at us.

But build from the truth.

NOTES

A CAT AND HER GIRL feels like a dream-critique of Harlan Ellison's story A BOY AND HIS DOG. To survive, they kill and eat his sheltered suburban girlfriend at the end. The story (I didn't see the film) felt misogynist to me. She was expendable, even laughable, not for anything she did but just cuz she's 1) female and 2) middle-class. Just an extreme version of skewering the bourgeoisie. Shishkebab, then roast 'em. Very funny, Harlan.

Exploratory operation, weird ball = the news today mentioned a crazy guy who castrated himself to prevent masturbation! Yeah, that works. And beheading cures dandruff.

The last couple of years, I had a slew of feminist and girlpower dreams, but lately they've been trailing off. I think the dream's warning that this identity is DEAD--just doesn't know it yet. The new me is feline! Self-sufficient, but able to bond deeply with another--the right other. Animal, but smart enough to pass for human. (Not that humans are hard to fool).

But I better not fool myself.



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