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Feline
Ponk Vonsydow
ponkvonsydow@gmail.com
State Trooper Pulver was driving along leisurely when he received new orders over his radio:
 
“Unit 222, Trooper Pulver, you are instructed to travel to Flathead County to investigate numerous abandoned vehicles on US Route 93 coming into Whitefish.”
 
Trooper Pulver replied:
 
“Roger that, headquarters, this is Unit 222, leaving for US Route 93 now out of Kalispell.”
 
During the hour drive up to Whitefish, Trooper Pulver noticed a lack of vehicular traffic going the opposite direction out of Whitefish. Then he came to the first of what would be hundreds of abandoned vehicles on both sides of the highway. After inspecting examples of them, he discovered many of the vehicle’s engines were still running and there were personal items left behind such as purses, eye glasses, watches, and inexplicably what appeared to be the driver’s and passenger’s clothing, neatly folded and resting in the empty seats.
 
It was the same bewildering sight in other vehicles Trooper Pulver inspected for at least twenty miles going into Whitefish. But once Trooper Pulver drove into the town proper, he discovered it was abandoned because there weren’t any people anywhere he could see. After getting out of his vehicle and inspecting some businesses, it was the same as the abandoned vehicles with personal items left behind, as well as the vanished people’s clothing, folded neatly on sidewalks, benches, and in chairs inside several Whitefish restaurants, where there were still servings of food on the tables.
 
Trooper Pulver stuck his index finger into a cup of coffee and it was still warm. Evidently whatever happened to all the people in Whitefish happened as recently half-an-hour before he arrived. But then Trooper Pulver noticed something else.  It seemed to him that everywhere he went around downtown Whitefish he saw stray cats. And there were more cats insides the various buildings he entered. After seeing all the cats, it occurred to him there must be hundreds of them because once he started paying attention to them, he saw them everywhere. It was damned peculiar. Whitefish had a population of 6,357 but for all intents and purposes, now it was a ghost town full of cats:
 
“Headquarters, this is Unit 222, Trooper Pulver, in Whitefish. There’s something wrong with the entire town. The whole population seems to be missing. Please send more units to investigate. I’ll be proceeding to Columbia Falls.”
 
Trooper Pulver waited for headquarters to respond but all he got was static. He repeated his previous message but still only got static. That too was damned peculiar.
 
Trooper Pulver drove twenty minutes to the nearby town of Columbia Falls that had a population of 4,688 and discovered it too was abandoned, with the same features as Whitefish, and again he noticed a preponderance of cats all over the place. Trooper Pulver tried to contact headquarters to advise them of the situation but no one replied to his hails. He decided to drive the hour-and-a-half back to Kalispell, where the Flathead County State Trooper’s office was located. During the trip, Trooper Pulver saw hundreds of abandoned vehicles and the closer he got to Kalispell, the more cats he saw wandering around along the highway and going in and out of the woods.
 
His heart sank when he discovered Kalispell with a population of 19,927 was devoid of human life but teeming with felines. The cats in the roadway ran all directions, away from his car, and then jumped onto his hood and trunk or stood on top of the vehicle as soon as he stopped for longer than a minute.  Trooper Pulver got out of his squad car to try and examine the cats up close. He felt drawn to them and wanted to stroke their fur and cradle them in his arms, which he ended up doing after one of the friendlier animals walked right up to him intertwining around his legs and meowing at him.
 
Then Trooper Pulver heard a woman laughing. This excited him because if it really was a human being he heard, then other than himself, it would be the first person he’d come across the past three hours in three different towns. Leaving his vehicle running, Trooper Pulver walked in the direction of the woman’s laughter, which was still audible.  Then he found her.  Sitting on a sidewalk was a little old lady, dressed in filthy rags next to a shopping cart filled with blankets and cat food.  Trooper Pulver immediately recognized her as one of Kalispell’s three homeless people. Everyone called this homeless woman The Cat Lady.  And on this day she was living up to her name because she was surrounded by hundreds of cats, and they alternated taking turns getting in her lap or sitting on her shoulders. The cat lady ignored Trooper Pulver and seemed only interested in talking to the cats:
 
“That’s a nice kitty, Mommy has a treat for you right here in her hand. Be a good kitty and take your treat and then go play so another can take you place and get its treat!”
 
The Cat Lady had a bag full of cat treats in one hand and fed whatever cat was in her lap. Trooper Pulver decided it was time to investigate and spoke to the old woman:
 
“Excuse me, Mam, but I need to ask you a few questions. You’re not in any trouble, it’s just that you’re the only human being I have seen in the past three hours in three different towns, and I am hoping you might be able to tell me what’s happened here in Kalispell?”
 
The Cat Lady cradled the cat that was in her lap, kissing it on the top of its head as it purred:
 
“Why officer, nothing’s happened, except the answer to my prayers. I just love cats, and there were never enough of them around but now I have cats coming out of my ears and they are all so cute and precious and sweet to me, unlike people, who treated me poorly and are nasty. They would say, “You can’t come in here because you smell like an animal,” but these kitties love the way I smell. In fact, it’s my smell that attracts them, see, they come to me one after the other. There are as many cats now as there used to be people.”
 
Trooper Pulver was about to say something when he was overcome with the desire to take off all his clothes. Finally he was compelled to do it and did so until he was standing naked on the sidewalk next to the Cat Lady’s shopping cart.  His last human thought was how delicious one of the Cat Lady’s cat treats would taste. If only he could manage to convince her to give him one. After Trooper Pulver’s transformation from human being to feline, he didn’t have to wait very long to get his treat once he jumped right into the Cat Lady’s lap. The Cat Lady inspected Trooper Pulver’s empty uniform reading his name off the badge:
 
“Pulver! Now that’s a nice name for a kitty!”

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