Jennifer Williams or jlw (all lowercase, cause that’s how she rolls) and I met on Facebook in the comments section of an update about my favorite pornography.
During the conversation in the comments section, Cannibals of Candyland(Eraserhead Press) by Carlton Mellick III came up and I mentioned how I didn’t like the death of the cute, little kitten in the book. She asked if I liked cats. I said I did, and she asked if I’d like to read a story with cats she’d written. I said sure, thinking how annoying this generally is, being asked by a relative stranger to read their stuff. But, I was taken back by jlw’s prose, her characters, and how nothing seemed amateur. This chick from Australia can write! She is demented, perverse, and I can’t wait to see more from her in the future.
I am proud to present CAT SHIT ARMAGEDDON by jlw
(Jason Wayne Allen)
Cat Shit Armageddon
“They’re everywhere!” A mixture of rapid gunfire and screaming drowned the Colonel’s voice out for a moment. “We need back up! We can’t hold them much longer! You hear me, McAlister, you asshole? We need backup!”
Lynch stopped the tape and leaned back in his chair.
“How many did we lose?” Secretary Hodge asked.
“All of them,” replied Lynch.
A bluster of fear and outrage swelled up from the conference table as the heads of the War Commission all yelled at once. They reminded Lynch of poultry, squawking their terror when a fox entered their hen house. The only silent party was President Mickey McAlister, who looked like he was about to vomit.
“This is outrageous!” Joules Balderdash shouted. His beady black eyes bugged and his eleven leathery chins clapped together as he spoke. “You told us this was foolproof, Lynch. You said the serum would work!”
Lynch slammed a fist on the table. “I said we needed to do more tests. I said I thought it would work.” He pointed an accusatory finger at each member of the war commission, ending with the toad, Balderdash. “You are the ones who said it was ready. You gave it the go-ahead against my advice. This is on your heads, not mine.”
For the last five years, the world had been at war.
The contagion, which had been dubbed The Cat Shit Parasite, started in a small West Virginia town with a woman named Mary Hickinbotham. Lynch wasn’t exactly sure how it happened, but together with some of his colleagues in the scientific community, he’d pieced enough together to form an educated guess.
He knew that Mary had been pregnant and single when she became infected. He also knew from an interview with her sister, Ericka, that Mary had owned close to twenty-five cats and cleaned the fifteen litter pans in the house on her own. What he didn’t understand, and had been trying to wrap his mind around for the last five years, was how toxoplasmosis could mutate into something as horrible as The Cat Shit Parasite. The only way to answer that question was to capture Mary and run tests. They’d tried several times, sent in countless soldiers to retrieve her, but the cats had her under heavy guard.
As the living human host to their cat leader, Mr. Fluffykins, Mary Hickinbotham was essential to the cat’s war effort.
“I’m getting sick of these fucking fluff balls outmaneuvering us!” General Crock spat. “I send men in to exterminate the little bastards, and half end up dead while the other half get a cat for a hat! I’m down to scraps. The Special Forces are gone, the Army’s been decimated. We’re feeding scrawny 17-year-old Navy Seamen to the shredder. We might as well line up right now for our own furry mind-control hat! Personally, I’m hoping for a calico. It’ll bring out the blue in my eyes.”
Balderdash went red with anger. “You think this is some kind of joke?”
“Does it look like I’m joking?” The General jumped out of his chair, sending it skidding across the floor. “But don’t worry, Joules. You’ve got so much fat around that head of yours, they probably won’t be able to get their claws into the walnut-sized brain inside.”
“Gentlemen, please!” Hodge bellowed. “Fighting won’t do us any good!” When the men had regained their composure, he turned his attention on Lynch. “What do you need, Noah?”
“I need Mary Hickinbotham,” Lynch replied.
“You just expect Mr. Fluffykins to waltz in here and offer himself up for dissection?” General Crock laughed. “That fluffy fucker isn’t going to show his smashed-in little face within two hundred miles of this place, and it’s become too dangerous to send troops any farther than that to look for him.”
Lynch shook his head. “No, General, but I might have a way of bringing him to us.”
“How?” President McAlister’s haunted voice echoed around them for the first time since they’d entered the conference room. “How can you do that?”
Lynch cleared his throat and pushed his glasses up the bridge of his crooked nose. “When the war first began, Mr. Fluffykins was a lot more vulnerable than he is now. Our men were able to get closer to him but could never quite take him out. During a Special Forces mission carried out by Delta Team Five, one of the soldiers was able to rip out a few of Mr. Fluffykins’ hairs before he was killed. A scouting team later found the soldier’s body and brought the hairs to me.
“It wasn’t enough to get what I need for a serum, but I was able to create a synthetic, genetically coded catnip. When it’s dispersed it should be impossible for Mr. Fluffykins to resist. He’ll come to us.”
“Why the hell haven’t you told us about this earlier!” General Crock exploded, flying out of his seat for a second time. “I’ve lost countless men, and all the while you’ve had some kind of Mr. Fluffykins kitty crack in that hole you call a lab that could’ve saved them?”
Lynch stood, meeting the General with his own anger. “I hadn’t perfected it until a few days ago! I’m not even one hundred percent sure it will work! But at this point, what do we have to lose?”
“Okay, Noah.” Secretary Hodge nodded. “Do it. Release the catnip.”
Lynch’s lab was housed in the lower bowels of the underground government facility that had become his home shortly after the Cat Shit Parasite spread into the ghetto areas of Washington, D.C. He wasn’t quite sure where the actual facility was located. He and several other key members of the scientific community were driven to Langley Air Force Base and ushered into the belly of a C5 aircraft late at night. When they landed, they were blindfolded and led underground, where they’d remained for the last four and a half years.
When Lynch entered the lab, Xavier was hard at work, bent over an electron microscope while Sonny and Cher wailed about how a cowboy’s work is never done through a beat-up boombox on the desk beside him. Xavier Fuentes was one of the first people Lynch met when he’d entered the facility, and they’d become close since that first introduction.
“How’d it go?” Xavier kept his eye pressed to the lens, cranking knobs on the microscope.
“About how I’d expected,” replied Lynch.
“Balderdash’s chins clapped the Macarena and Crock spewed profanities the whole time?”
“Yeah.” Lynch grinned. “That’s about right.”
Xavier pulled away from the microscope and turned to Lynch. He’d lost quite a bit of weight during their time in the facility. When Lynch had first met him, Xavier weighed close to three hundred pounds. Now, left over skin from rapid weight loss drooped off his frame like hanging chicken fat, giving him the look of a melting candle. Three square meals of synthetic, vitamin and mineral enriched sludge a day would do that to a man.
“Did they at least give us permission to try the catnip?”
“Yeah.” Lynch could hardly contain his excitement. “Hodge gave us the green light.”
“Yes!” Xavier punched the air and a flap of skin from his upper arm slapped him in the face. “Ouch!”
Lynch patted his friend on the back. “Soon as this mess is over, we need to find you a decent plastic surgeon who hasn’t been assimilated and get you a trim.”
“Assimilated?” Xavier snorted a laugh, rubbing the side of his face. “They’re not The Borg, Noah.”
“Might as well be. You end up looking just as pretty.” Lynch pulled his lab coat from its hook and slipped it on. “Let’s get the catnip ready. The sooner it’s dispersed, the sooner we get our hands on Mary Hickinbotham and this nightmare can be over.”
They worked in tandem for the next hour. Lynch prepared the catnip and Xavier made last minute adjustments to the bazooka they’d confiscated from the armory, which would be used to shoot the payload into the atmosphere.
Lynch wasn’t really sure his plan would work. The catnip’s reach was an issue. Prior intelligence suggested that Mr. Fluffykins’s home base was just over three hundred miles from their location. Lynch had adjusted potency for a five-hundred-mile radius to be safe, but if the intelligence was off, and Mr. Fluffykins was farther away than they thought, the catnip wouldn’t affect him and it would all be in vain.
“You really think this will work?” Xavier asked, like he could read Lynch’s mind.
Lynch sighed. “What choice do we have? If we don’t do something soon, we’re all dead anyway.”
“No,” replied Xavier. “We’re worse than dead.”
Lynch funneled the last of the catnip into the rocket. He and Xavier had designed it to keep the delicate mixture safe until it reached 1,000 feet, where it would then be blasted into the atmosphere like a particle bomb. “How’s that bazooka coming?” he asked. “You get that glitch fixed?”
“Yeah.” Xavier wiped sweat from his brow. “It should work now.”
“Good. Let’s get this thing loaded and then–“
The lab door swung open and Mickey McAlister entered the room. Lynch and Xavier stopped what they were doing and watched as the president casually locked the door behind him.
The first thing Lynch noticed was McAlister’s demeanor. He wasn’t the weak, haunted man that Lynch had come to know over the last few years. He stood before them dressed in a crisp pinstripe suit, the salt and pepper in his hair giving him a distinguished look rather than adding to his usual haggard appearance.
Lynch cleared his throat. “Mr. President?” A wave of unease washed over him, turning his belly into a bag of snakes. “Is everything alright? Secretary Hodge hasn’t changed his mind, has he?”
“No,” McAlister replied, “but don’t worry. I took care of him.”
Lynch and Xavier exchanged a wary glance.
“What do you mean, you took care of him?” Xavier said.
McAlister grinned. The action reminded Lynch of what it might look like if a piranha tried to smile.
“You just don’t get it, do you?” he said, pacing back and forth in front of them. “There’s no way we can win, no scenario where we come out on top. Our only option is to surrender. ”
He’s finally gone insane, thought Lynch.
“It’s okay,” Xavier told him, crooning like McAlister was a child throwing a tantrum in a crowded shopping mall. “The catnip will work, sir. It will work. Then Lynch can make the serum, and this nightmare will finally be over.”
McAlister stopped pacing. “And what if I don’t want it to work?” he asked, eyebrows rising. “What if I don’t want it to be over?”
“Then I’d say you’ve lost your fucking mind,” spat Lynch.
The president smiled at Lynch and slowly removed his yellow cravat, revealing the head of a Cornish Rex sprouting from his throat.
All Lynch could do was stare, slack-jawed, at the gnarled second head jutting from the president’s neck like a mutant Adam’s apple.
The cat’s mouth worked as McAlister spoke. “We’ve been watching you a long time, Noah Lynch. My master wasn’t sure at first, but I’ve convinced him that you’re the one.”
Lynch didn’t want to know what McAlister meant. Instead of asking, he grabbed a screwdriver from the nearest table and made a run at the president, yelling like an invading Comanche. McAlister laughed before backhanding him into the nearest wall. Lynch slammed into the wall and saw stars. Xavier made a run with a metal tray and received the same treatment, crashing to the floor on the opposite side of the room.
“Humans,” McAlister sighed, brushing the wrinkles from his suit. “I just don’t get your kind. All this pain could have been avoided had you accepted your fate in the beginning.”
Lynch spat out a mouthful of blood. “I guess we’re just stubborn like that,” he said. “Being turned into mindless sockpuppets isn’t our idea of a party.”
McAlister walked across the room, pulled a ginger kitten from his pocket, and tossed it on Xavier’s back. He turned to Lynch and smiled. “But it’s precisely what’s going to happen to you.”
Not long after they’d met, Xavier had told Lynch that being taken by The Cat Shit Parasite was about as horrible a thing as he could imagine for himself. He’d made Lynch promise that he’d shoot him right between the eyes if it ever happened.
Lynch just sat there, frozen on the floor like he’d been glued to it.
It looked like he wouldn’t be able to make good on his promise.
The kitten clawed its way up Xavier’s back, growling like a tiny chainsaw. Xavier flailed, screaming and trying to rip the creature from his spine. Nothing he did could stop the furry beast. Within seconds it had scurried up his back and down his gullet.
The sickening sound of cartilage popping made Lynch cringe as the kitten chewed its way through the wall of Xavier’s esophagus. Bloody faced, it poked its head through the ragged hole it had made and began to purr.
Xavier’s eyes rolled back and closed.
When they opened again, Lynch’s friend was gone.
“You won’t get away with this, McAlister,” Lynch hissed. “You’re outnumbered and outgunned.”
McAlister grinned. “Am I?”
The intercom suddenly cracked to life. “They’re in the building!” General Crock yelled, the pop, pop, pop of semi-automatic weapons firing around him. “The fucked-up little fluffers are in the building!”
“You see?” McAlister said. “It’s too late.”
As if to emphasize the President’s words, Crock shrieked over the intercom. “No, no!” he said. “I want a calico! I want a calico!”
Lynch began to weep. A whimpered “Please,” was all he could manage.
The president crouched down beside him and placed a gentle hand on his shoulder. “Don’t worry, Noah,” he said. “You’re going to be spectacular. You’re going to be special.”
The lab door burst open, and what was left of Mary Hickinbotham came shambling into the room.
jlw moved to Australia nine years ago to see if the toilet water really swirls backwards.