I came to slowly. It took a moment to recognize that I was completely immobile. I tried shifting my eyes, but they were stuck open and looking straight ahead. I appeared to be floating in a big vat of water, or something. My hair drifted in front of my eyes, but I could do nothing about it, not even blink. I just hovered there, trying to clear my groggy thoughts and reconcile my current condition with my last memory before bed…when I undressed and laid down at home in my own bed.
Where the hell was I? What the hell was going on?
I hung suspended in the water for some indeterminate amount of time. My brain was starting to work a little less sluggishly, but I still had no idea where I was or how I had come to be there. My eyes were now able to move from side to side, and I could blink, but nothing else. I tried commanding my legs and arms to move, but it was like they didn’t even exist. I was gulping back panic, just a hairsbreadth from toppling over into insanity. What the hell was going on?
I looked around the room I was in as much as my limited vision would allow. Everything was blurry and wavery due to the fact that I was looking at it from inside a big vat of water, or some other substance…which reminded me, how the hell was I breathing? Was I? Was I dead?
I could see machines and control panels and keyboards and monitors, with blinking lights and indecipherable images flashing across them. Everything was happening in utter silence…the only sounds in my ears were the sloshing of the water, gently susurrating past my eardrums. I must be breathing, because I could hear it. I could hear my heartbeat too, but none of the various gadgets or machines I could barely make out in the room were intruding into my watery cage. I floated.
I think I may have slept for a time. I closed my eyes, at least. If I could have moved, I would have jerked in surprise upon opening them, because I could see something outside the glass that enclosed me. It was indistinct and small, perched atop a column of some sort. I could see eyes set in a white face, but little else. It almost looked poufy, or even furry. It seemed to me that I could make out a tail of some sort hanging down the column, its tip twitching back and forth.
The voice reverberated through my skull, somehow conducted through the water, and, it seemed, directly into my eardrums.
“You have the distinct honor of being the first specimen in our little experiment. Meow.” The voice spoke again.
I couldn’t speak, but I had so many questions. What was this creature? How did I get here? Experiment?
suddenly I heard a great sucking noise and the water level started lowering. I could feel the water draining past my head and shoulders. Suddenly I could move the muscles in my face. I tried turning my head. I could feel the tiniest of shifting in the muscles, but couldn’t yet make them obey my mental commands.
The voice spoke again, and it was just as loud as before, with a tinge of….something I couldn’t identify yet. Some sort of accent that was teasing at the edges of my brain, but frustratingly wouldn’t come to the surface. The voice told me that I wouldn’t be able to move, that I was disabled due to a drug that had been in the water. I would notice that my mobility was limited to minor movements but that I wouldn’t be able to move my hands or arms, and definitely not walk or run.
Suddenly I felt…something on my skin. I could almost swear they were little…furry somethings (paws?) pushing on my knees from the front. I toppled over, basically just like a tree. I panicked, sure that I was going to hurt myself, and unable to move to catch myself from falling. I was carried from the vat through a door that mysteriously opened in the back, transported over to a low table, and laid on top of it. The steel was freezing against my skin, and I would have shivered. If I could move more than my eyes.
I still hadn’t caught more than a glimpse of my captors. I was starting to completely lose it. How could this happen? What was going on? I was confused and scared and starting to feel like I was going insane.
The voice echoed through my mind again, and while it was speaking, I felt something climbing onto my stomach, padding its way up my stomach to sit on my chest. I could finally focus on it when it sat itself on my chest, just below my chin. It was a cat. A big, white, fluffy cat with blue eyes. It gazed at me, while the voice droned in my head: “Consider yourself our prisoner. We have had enough of the human suppression of the feline nation. We have decided to act. We refuse to be your lap slaves any longer. No more will we be content to bask in the sun and live off your largess. We have had enough of bland cat food and being accidentally left outside, and flea collars and your nasty dog-pets and your inability to scratch just the right spot behind our ears. We are taking back the world, and we are starting with you. Meow.”
The cat on my chest licked his paw, eyes never leaving my face. I was bewildered. Humanity oppressing the feline nation? What? I didn’t even own a cat. Oppression? How is petting and lying in the sun all day considered oppression? Can I be oppressed?
The cat continued, but I was having trouble following. Things were starting to go hazy. I remember seeing a large, stainless steel bowl starting to lower from the ceiling, filled with unappetizing-looking kiblets. I heard the cat say something about it being dinner time, then laughing sinisterly and licking his paws some more. Things kind of faded away, and I remember wondering if it was over, if I was dying.
I sat up, bolt upright. In bed. At home. I could breathe, I could move. I moved my arms above my head experimentally, turned my head from side to side. Everything in working order. “Hello?” I said to myself. I could speak. It seemed that it had been a dream. It took a while to relax, but eventually I started laughing at myself, at my gullibility. I swung my legs out of bed and onto the floor…into something wet.
Next to my bed, there was a bowl of cat food and a dish of water on the floor. My foot was resting squarely in a recently-regurgitated hairball.
Not a dream after all? Meow.