The cat did not have kittens yesterday.
I heard her howling by the back door early that morning, lying on her side on the cement stoop, already warming in the June sun. I hadn't known she was pregnant, but I can't say I was surprised. That stupid cat went out every night, always answering the call of some tom or another. Now here she lay, her bloated gray-striped middle heaving with breath, miserable mewling escaping her half-open mouth.
My wife Marta heard her as soon as I opened the door and rushed past me holding a towel. Gingerly she picked up the unhappy feline and brought her inside the damned house and set her on the damned couch.
"I don't want that thing expelling her birth nasties on my new couch," I protested, but not loudly. I already knew just what good it would do.
Marta tsked. "Oh hush. I'll clean it up afterwards. Starlight needs a little comfort right now."
I stood by, watching the panting cat and keeping an eye on my couch. If she got one drop of her cat juice on the thing I would throw her right out the door, birth or no birth. Marta left for a fresh towel and when she returned, she stood right in front of me, her paisley butt blocking my view. "Hey!" I cried, though I knew very well there was nothing happening on that couch that I really wanted to see.
She ignored me, her attention all on the cat. "Oh! Here comes the first one!" she chirruped, leaning down.
Then she froze. "Oh. Oh my."
"What? What happened?"
"My, my, my," she murmured, distracted.
"Come on, what is it?" I elbowed around her to take a look. Stumbling around, covered in cat slime, was...well, it was definitely not a kitten. It had four legs and pointy claws and fur, but the similarity to anything feline ended there. For one thing, it was blue. For another, a row of reptilian spikes lined its spine from its neck to the tip of its tail.
With a loud cry, the cat shoved another blue critter out of her end, then in time two more after that. "My, my, my," Marta muttered again. "My, my, my."
"What the hell are those?" I finally asked.
"Why they're - they're kittens, dear. Aren't they?" Marta looked pale.
I didn't want to lie to her and at the same time I didn't want to scare her with the truth, so we stood together in silence with the new mother. Her young tottled around, their eyes already opening even as she cleaned the afterbirth off them. She then let them nurse...for about thirty seconds. One of the critters sneezed and the cat's belly fur caught on fire.
Marta let out a cry and sprung into action, scooping up her beloved cat and rushing off to the sink. "My poor Starlight, my sweetie-pie, are you hurt?"
I sneered at the stench of burning cat hair, then thought of my couch. I wouldn't even smoke my cigars on that couch; there was no way on God's green Earth I was about to let some blue kitten ruin the upholstery with fire snot. Unfortunately, I wasn't sure how to catch them. They grew visibly as I watched; about the time they were the size of Guinea pigs their backs grew strange, tumor-like bulges. Then like some late-night horror flick those tumors turned into stumps, which sprouted into leathery wings. "Marta!" I called to my wife, who was now curled up on the loveseat, clutching Starlight close to her, wrapped in a towel. "She had bats! Blue ones!" I shook my head. "Damned bats. That cat really will screw anything. Won't she, Marta?"
But Marta wasn't listening. She was staring at the wall above the couch. I turned to find the kitten-bats flapping around the goddamned livingroom, smacking into the walls like horseflies stuck in a window. Really big horseflies. Big enough to knock Marta's country crap onto the floor, anyway. I grabbed a gingham throw pillow and swung it wildly, wading through wooden pigs and ceramic roosters as I slowly herded the creatures out the front door. I watched them until they were distant blue specks in the sky. Then they were gone.
This morning we started hearing about the fires out West. Cities up in flames, millions fleeing in panic, all that. They took out Albuquerque first thing and were heading towards LA now. All the channels showed actors and politicians alike making idiotic speeches about being strong in these troubled times.
What do they want? Will they strike again? I don't know. But one thing is certain: the cat definitely did not have kittens yesterday.