Little Jenny, who wasn’t so little if you asked her, straightened her uniform and skipped downstairs to breakfast. She ate her cereal, drank her juice, and waved goodbye to her mother who, sadly, had not yet recovered from her state of near-catatonia and continued to stare at the TV set as images of flying ships flickered on and off the screen.
On her way to school, Jenny passed three confused postal workers who were trying to puzzle out the addresses scribbled on the sides of many twitching boxes. As Jenny approached, one of the boxes hissed maliciously at her and she kicked at it with her steel toed boot.
“Bad!” she told the box as the postal worker handling the package—a middle-aged man with milky white skin and a waxy texture to his hair –gasped at her.
“Don’t antagonize it!” he yelled, as his coworkers started to back away slowly.
Jenny scoffed. “If it doesn’t want to be antagonized, it should learn to comport itself in a manner becoming a visitor to our planet.” The box continued to hiss, jump, and dance over the pavement as the creature inside tried to scratch its way out. Jenny smacked the lid again and again.
“Stop! Please, Stop!” the man said, “You’re making it so angry.”
Jenny was undeterred. She flipped open the pocketknife her father had given her and sliced open the tape that held the box shut. In seconds she had reached down, grabbed the mewling, spitting creature by its neck—no back—no head—no, ah dammit to hell—she grabbed it and held it aloft. To a human, the creature looked like an enraged housecat complete with fur, tail, teeth, and claws. An alien would no doubt agree with the comparison as the Skreekagog (approximate phonetic spelling depending on the overlord dialect spoken) was a type of pet: quite hardy and self sufficient, so much so that their recently hatched young could be mailed through the United States Postal System with relative little concern for the critter’s health and well being. The Skreekagog was a traditional housewarming gift and more and more were being funneled through mailboxes every day.
This particular Skreekagog had a particularly nasty temper as it tried to turn one of its two heads—or appendage from whence the mouth-like portions originated—to get at Jenny’s arm. It raised its four legs and kicked wildly hoping to find purchase. Jenny smiled, “Who’s a good little kitty, who’s a good kitty! Yes, you’re a pretty princess aren’t you! A pretty, pretty princess!”
The postal workers wailed their protestations begging for Jenny to please, please let it go and hopefully it will run away. Finally with a great twist and buck, the Skreekagog managed to graze Jenny’s hand with its teeth. Jenny was not amused. “Bad!” she yelled and without another thought she brought the Skreekagog to her mouth and bit into its furry hide.
The postal workers stared, open mouthed as the Skreekabog slowly began to relax in Jenny’s grip. A rumbling could be heard in the distance, a deep menacing sound that vibrated in the diaphragm. The postal workers quaked in their tattered sneakers; Jenny hugged the creature closer to her chest.
“Yes, that’s a good, pretty princess.”
The female postal worker raised her hand as if to ask permission to ask a question, thought better of it and blurted it out. “What did you just do and why did you do it?”
Jenny looked for all the world that she didn’t understand the woman’s confusion and in many ways, she didn’t. “One time my pet dog bit me and my father said I should bite it back. Was that wrong?”
While she would have loved to stay and help the befuddled postmen with their deliveries, Jenny realized she was late for class. And since the Skreekagog didn’t seem to want to go back in the box, Jenny took it with her. She named it Mimi.
As Jenny and Mimi disappeared around the corner, so too did the menacing, deep throated reverberations and something clicked in the minds of the three who remained.
“Was that thing purring?”
Yes. Yes it was.