When a cat wants
“Go on, don’t be afraid.” she smiled at Puffles with pride. The doctors and nurses waited for the cat to enter the cryochamber.
Once, she had been ridiculed for talking with her cat. Now, she was letting Puffles make the most transcendent decision of his remaining lives. The cat had learned much since the neuro enhancement. A frowned upon technique to complement a cat’s brain with human-like temporal, parietal, and some frontal lobes functions. She began a new relationship with him after that. Puffles life was uniquely changed. He could articulate emotion and understand her. Elene didn’t even think about it. Now, they were both about to go into a second milestone of their lives.
The cat was standing beside her in all fours. Puffles was looking at the cryochamber where the operation was to be held. He felt afraid. Since he had developed his sense of self, the dangers of the world were intolerable. The fear and panic that triggered a fight or flee response were nothing compared to those of ceasing to exist, brought to him by the horrific notion of self awareness. Below the ears and from the back of Puffles head, a sleek metallic implant appeared. It creeped down the cat’s spine, elegantly disappearing in his long hair.
“Meow” he said.
Elene took a hand to her chest, touched by such honesty. And crushed by a similar feeling to the cat. Close but not quite, Elene confused her worry with Puffle’s angst. It was common for Elene to overconfidently guess what Puffles needed. This inter-species lack of empathy is nothing but natural, and the artifact on the cat’s spine was a unique way of twisting nature. Communication between pet and guardian had been groundbreakingly surpassed all expectations. The procedure on the cat was complemented on the guardian’s side. As a citizen of Stygia you were required by law to have a multi-purpose neuro-enhancement hub. They would simply install a proper translation software to process the cat’s meowing (which now was a complex use of feline vocalization). The cheap versions had dermal outlets; Elene’s shined behind her ear when standing in the light.
“Oh, I know you are scared. I’m scared too.” she replied. “I’m here with you, and I’ll be there with you too. We will both be together in the grid space, forever! But you must go first, Puffles. It is the only way to make sure you and I both cross to the other side.” She was not authorized to touch the cat after the sterilization, but the doctors allowed her to stay and support Puffles. If the guardian was present just before the operation, there was seventy nine percent higher chance of a successful transition. “Go. Don’t waste time.”
“Meoow”. The cat stood there staring at her for a while, and then began his elegant walk.
Elene could hardly face him. As the cat went to the pond, she felt him far away. The nurse standing next to the pond and cryochamber helped Puffles to connect all the transmitters. Another assistant requested her to leave the room. As she sat down in the waiting room her fears crystalized for a second, and a slight hint of sympathy crossed her. What if Puffles’ dies? The silence made her feel uneasy. She could not bear the guilt nor the sadness. She could hear a slight background noise. Elene distinguished human voices, angry voices, and worse of all, angry at her. She doubted herself once again. What if they are right? Should we do this? Is this what Puffles’ really wants?
She stopped to breath slowly. It was the only way to stay together. A couple months to live don’t give you much time to reconsider. If they didn’t transition to a digital persona now, they would both die and be lost forever.
“I love you too, Puffles.” she answered.
Outside the cryochamber facilities, a large parking lot in the middle of vast prairies was filled with protestors. The Center for Assisted Persona Digitalization was a private medical foundation, whatever that meant, but it held support from the Administratum. This meant that there was nothing legal to do but complain. A privilege that had been temporarily granted during spring. Digitalization of a person was only past the verge of acceptance, enhancing your cat’s brain to humanize him was still on debate; doing both of those at the same time was an easy target. Extremists took Elene as the poster child of perversion. Consequently, security provisions were doubled for Puffles’ operation. Everyday operations of the APD center were hacked directly on their internal servers and major outlets. For the same reason, this persona digitalization procedure was usually done off the grid.
As it usually is whenever disaster strikes, they didn’t see it coming. The guards were gathering as a big part of the crowd began storming the main doors. When the distraction had done its part, a couple of young parents with a stroller were running towards the back of the building. A few guards saw this and alerted the others. Only in time to see the spectacle. The young mother had taken the baby from the stroller and hurled it behind the generator’s fences. Both pseudo parents ran but the bomb exploded as it hit the ground. Two whole generators the size of a bus blasted into the sky. The terrorist couple lied flat dead in the floor. Flashes and deep bass vibration complemented the explosion, and then all lights went off.
A few minutes earlier, the nurse had finished connecting Puffles to the cryochamber. The cat was now trying to relax in the amniotic liquid. They all insisted on calming down, so he tried to cooperate, against his instincts. He didn’t have much time to think, he hated it! So, when the doctor requested his consent for the last time, he didn’t even blink. “Meow” he said. And the doctors began the procedure. Whenever Puffles thought if he wanted to lose his body or not, he tended to ignore such a selfish thought. The adolescence he experienced with his new brain enhancements were troubling at first. Born as a kitten, with his kitty love and kitty life, the abstract world of meaning and logic were terrifying. He only wanted to go back. Learning about being oneself was the worst part of it. For the little he had understood about human wisdom, he knew that taking things to the extreme was a bad idea. So, it was logical to think that being too full of himself would be bad for him. His timid way of expressing compromise led him to this procedure. But defining what was extreme was also a difficult thing. The only extreme he could not deny or ignore was his love for Elene.
Suddenly the room went dark. Panic invaded him. His instincts creeping made his muscles spasm. Run! Run! He fought the fear. There is an explanation for this. We trust the humans; without them I wouldn’t be myself. For much true that this thought could be, the collective alarm and concern in the room was a sign that this wasn’t normal. He could feel the chill now. The spinal implant was malfunctioning. Coldness hugged him in a blast, and then crunched him. He never really wanted this. If he had any remaining life after this one, he would not want this again. Icy pain brought Puffles together, and he gathered all his strength to be. In his guts he felt a deep sorrow, his lungs and neck stiffening with sadness. He didn’t want to die. He wanted to scream it. He wanted to let Elene know! That he would prefer to die tomorrow at her feet than living forever in the grid. He wanted to tell her not to do it. He wanted to cry out all his pain and hopes. To yell how much he wanted to snuggle with Elene one last time.
“Meow.” he said.