My cat keeps telling me that the world ended. I don’t know why. It could be an idle moment. Maybe I’m watching TV or making lunch or whatever. And my cat just sort of…walks up to me, looks up into my eyes and tell me the world is over. Just like that. No explanation. No provocation. No nothing. And I’ll just look down at my cat as he looks up at me. And we’ll share some kind of a moment of silence.
And I’ll resume whatever it was that I was doing before the cat interrupted me. And the cat will walk off and do whatever it was that the cat was doing before we had our moment together. He’ll hop off the counter and chase a ball or head off to eat something out of his dish or go use the litter box or whatever. Things go back to normal again until the next time the cat decides to remind me that the world ended.
I don’t know what I’m supposed to do with this information. I don’t think that the cat really has any specific reason for telling me what he was telling me. It’s like he’s telling me the world is over by way of saying hello or something like that. I should point out that my cat never exhibited this kind of behavior prior to his insistence that the world had ended. At no point did he notify me, for instance, that the world was coming to an end. At no point did he suggest that maybe there was something that I needed to do about the situation. In fact…prior to having told me that the world was over on the couch that first time, he had never said anything to me at all.
Okay. It’s kind of weird. But I think it’s interesting. And every time I tried to tell other people about it, they would look at me with those weird and strangely sardonic expressions. I guess that maybe I should have led with the basics. Yes: my cat keeps telling me that the world ended. But he never tells me with words. It’s not like I’m crazy or anything. I’m just aware. And you could stand anyone in front of my cat when he’s willing to look at them and ask them what it is that they think he’s saying at that moment and they’ll all tell you the same thing. They’ll all tell you that he’s saying that the worlds ended. I can’t describe it or explain it. All I know is that anyone looking at my cat would know. Granted…he doesn’t exactly like when I have people over and he never seems to be in the mood to tell me the world is over when I take him to the vet or anything like that, but trust me: anyone else looking at him when he’s saying what he’s saying will know exactly what it is that he’s saying. No question at all on that.
It’s just something in his face. It’s something in his eyes. It’s something in the moment in which he’s saying what he’s saying without words. The only thing that anyone could possibly think in those moments is that he telling us all that the world ended. I wish there was a better way of explaining it, but there really isn’t and it’s really, really frustrating trying to put all of this into words, but it’s undeniable. And it’s unenviable too. Because he’s said what he’s said enough times that I guess I kind of wonder whether or not he might be right.
Maybe he’s right. Cats are really, really tuned-in to the world in a way that the rest of us aren’t. They see things and hear things that we couldn’t possibly pick-up on. Like…I remember as a kid we used to have a cat and I’d be hanging out at home and doing my homework and the cat would be there and out of nowhere the cat would perk-up and shoot out of the room. Sure enough about a minute later my parents would walk through the door. Just like that. It’s like they know what’s going to happen WAY before it happens.
So maybe my cat just…knows. His head s totally uncluttered with all the useless trivia and senseless bits of knowledge that the rest of us have to have in order to function on a day-to-day basis. So it’s only natural that he’s going to know some things that the rest of us don’t, right? Maybe he just knows that the world is over because he doesn’t have to know anything else. And that’s what feels a little strange to me. Because if it’s all already over I don’t know…maybe it’s worth quitting work and such. I mean…if it’s all already over, what’s the point?
On the other hand, y’know…maybe my cat DOESN’T know what the hell he’s talking about. I mean…what the hell does HE know? He’s just a normal American Shorthair living in an apartment somewhere. He doesn’t have any weird sort of clairvoyance does he? He doesn’t even have a name, how could he have the inside track on the end of the world? I mean…he doesn’t know anything outside the apartment that I don’t bring in from the outside world. So it’s safe to say that he’s probably mistaken…especially what with it being the case that no one else has bothered to mention that it’s the end of the world. I mean: you’d figure that would have to be a pretty big deal, right? You figure someone would think to mention it on social media or on the evening news or something. Someone else would notice. It wouldn’t just be my cat. Of course…now that I think of it, it’s ben a while since I’ve seen my cat. Now that I think of it, it’s been like…days. Maybe I’d better go look for him. And maybe I’d better. go look for the rest of the world while I’m at it. Y’know…just to make sure.
Russ Bickerstaff is a professional theatre critic and aspiring author living in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, with his wife and two daughters. His short fictions have appeared in over 30 different publications including Hypertext Magazine, Pulp Metal Magazine, Sein und Werden, and Theme of Absence.