Kitties…

It has been a little while since I made an update about our latest feral kitty, the tiny and very autistic kitty, Zeeta.  And that is because change is slow with Zeeta.  Zeeta is a kitty of routines, and you must never vary Zeeta’s routines.  Sameness is the glue that holds her world together.  “Change,” says little Zeeta, “is EVIL.”

I recently had a very fine reminder of this.

Because I have been sick, I have had a tendency to get up at least 5 times in the night.  And Zeeta had worked this behavior of mine into her “world view”.  We had a routine.  She would come into my room at night, hop up on my bed, get love and snuggles until a  sound or movement sent her fleeing into my closet.  And there she would stay until I got up for my drink of water, and returned.  At that point, Zeeta would come out and make her inquiring “mak” sound, asking if she could get on the bed.  And I was supposed to say, “hup, hup”, pat the bed, and she’d hop up, get love, and then settle until the next thing scared her.

Well, I’ve been doing better.  And one night, after she fled to the closet, I stayed asleep.  Fast asleep, until I was awakened by a very odd noise.

It was a noise that cannot be properly described in text.   It needs … an illustration, and it went something like this:

mak

Zeeta was walking back and forth next to my bed, occasionally doing circles, with hair practically on end.    She was so upset that it took her a minute to register that I was calling her.   When I finally got her to come up to the bed, she continued to “mak” at me, because of the horror, and it took a lot of loving to settle her down, because … Change.  I’d changed my routine and threw off Zeeta’s entire world.

In the morning, after the dust had fully settled, I did find it terribly amusing.  Because I am an evil, heartless, Cat-Mommy.   But the upside was that her experience actually lead to some improvement in Zeeta’s state.

The next few nights, when “the thing” scared her, she hesitated at the edge of my bed.  You could see the wheels moving, as she considered that if she got off the bed, maybe I wouldn’t wake up, and she’d be stuck on the floor, “mak’ing”.   The hesitation led to her sometimes deciding just to settle at the end of my bed looking uncertain.

Nights went by with her discovering that staying on the bed did not lead to carnage and bloodshed.

And last night?  There was no fleeing at all.  She stayed with me, either laying on me or by my side.  The little bugger was actually happy all night!

I don’t know what’ll happen next because I have noticed a definite, “One Step Forward, Two Back” thing with the Zeeta.  Still!  Change!  For Zeeta, that’s really something!

Of course, none of this alters how she is when I am NOT in bed.  I still can’t pet her or pick her up during the day.  Verticle, walking Humans are still quite scary.  In Zeeta’s mind, only being horizontal in my bed makes me safe.   And if we are outside the house, she reverts to completely feral.  Super-duper Feral.  Even the three feral cats we feed outside the house are more comfortable around us than she is when we’re walking.

For an example, Mr. Biggie, our very old, feral cat hangs around us in a mildly social way when we’re puttering about in the yard.  He keeps a buffer zone of at least 8 feet, but generally does not flee like Zeeta does when we, um, move.  And Mr. Biggie always gives her a look for it, as if to say, “Really?  You live in their house.  What the @#$ are you running for?”   I think he figures Zeeta has the good life, and is putting on “feral kitty aires”.

Poor old Mr. Biggie.  Jatina is hoping he will move in with us this Winter.  She worries a lot about him because he is such an old kitty.  I suspect he will.  I’ve caught him peeking inside the house lately when the door is open for a breeze.  I think it is just a matter of time.  He is already testing the waters.

And?  Cienna’s friend “Baby” has been doing much the same.

We’re going to become the Crazy Cat ladies, aren’t we?  That Destiny approaches, and it’s inevitable, isn’t it?

Ah well.  At least it keeps the rats away.

And I really do like having a kitty sleeping on my bed.   What’s one more?

 

 

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The Universe is a Sneaky Bastard

I wake up in the morning, trembling in my body, and aching in my mind, remembering my dreams. The quiet sweetness of them. The scents of home, of family, the faces of friends and loved ones, ripped away by the sudden opening of my eyes into this … different world.

I sit up and swing my legs over the side of the bed and sit there for a while, eyes closed, because I need a moment of not thinking to prepare myself for the day.

The Universe is such a sneaky bastard.

I was raised on stories of Heaven and Hell. I was told that you lived your life, did your best, then died, and went on to whichever of the Big Two you earned by your actions and your words.

But this … this wasn’t supposed to happen. No one even hinted that I might, instead, wake up in some parallel world where I never died, and everything is just a wee bit different. My head now holds a new set of memories, which helps to explain this slightly different life I now live, and the friends who are … close, but no cigar.

I suspect… Hell, I am pretty damn sure that it wasn’t supposed to work that way. I don’t think that I am supposed to know.

That’s the kicker because I remember. God Help me, but I do. And at night, I dream of my old life. Watching like a ghost over those I still love who are trying to go on without me, and wake to strangers who know me so well.

And it’s driving me mad. I wish that there was someone I could call and complain to. “Dear Universe, We have a problem here that needs fixing. Can you send over a man?”

I open my eyes. It’s not an unpleasant room. Though I miss my wife. In this world, I never married her. I looked her up on the net, and she’s married with children somewhere in Chicago. I tell myself that I want to be happy for her, but I feel so cheated. And then I feel guilty because that Helen is NOT my Helen. MY Helen is grieving my death in our house in California. I never gave her any children. So like me, she is now all alone.

It hurts so much that sometimes I wish the Universe had gotten it right. That I had woken up here, mind filled with only this life and gone on, never knowing.

Then I think of my Helen. My sweet Helen grieving so badly, and so alone. In my dreams, I go back to that world. I ghost around her, following her through her days, wishing that I could help. And sometimes, when her friends have left for the day, and she is alone, she talks to me. And oh, how I wish that I could touch her. But at least, maybe, she senses that I can hear. And maybe that helps, if only a little. My poor Helen. How could I want to forget you?

I make myself stand up and go to the bath to shave and shower. I have friends here, I know only from these … new memories in my mind. Marty will pick me up in a half hour, and we will drive to work. He is not unpleasant.

Damn those two words. “Not Unpleasant.” They describe this whole world.

Nothing sparkles. I read once that every action creates a world where that action didn’t happen. Did this world exist before I died? If it didn’t, then I must ask, is it truly real? Or is this just a dream? Is it, perhaps, only my time in purgatory? If I killed myself here, where would I go? To Heaven? Hell? Or another one of these not quite right worlds?

I take several deep breaths, looking into the mirror. Then I finish dressing and go out to the curb to wait for Marty’s car. I see it as it comes around the corner and note that Marty seems to have slumped against the door. It comes roaring in my direction. I never have a chance to get out of the way.

My last thought is, “Maybe this time, I won’t remember.”

We Wait.

I still feel guilty when I don’t behave the way I used to. I have been told that I have nothing to feel guilty for. The fault lies with those who expect me to be the same person that I was before I died.

But I see this … disappointment in their eyes, or hear a strangeness in their voices, when I fail to do that thing I don’t remember anymore. Or when my reaction is not quite right.

I know that a part of it is simply the problem of memory. So much is lost at death. Memories, particularly. And if someone does not come to refresh your memory of them right after reanimation, those memories will fade.

And those who came to visit with me in the hospital, I remember knowing. And if they remained in my life, I even care for them. There is a warmth which is pleasant. But for the living, pleasant isn’t enough.

The living feel things so STRONGLY. Emotions drive them, push them, this way and that. The living cry, they weep, they scream in anger, or grow quiet in the throes of deep depression. They Feel, with a capital F.

The Reanimated do not.

We feel warmth or irritation. Comfort or discomfort. But nothing inside us drives us to any extreme of action.

And today…

Today, my sister told me about the death — a true death — of my old friend, Marty. I don’t remember him.

It was odd, when my sister told me about his death. I felt this expectation from her. And I am not even truly sure what it was that she was looking for.

I tried to say all the right things. I tried to make it sound “real”. But she saw through it, to the coldness. But I can’t help it. I feel nothing. Marty is a blurry image when I try to remember him. He never came to see me after my reanimation. And my memories of him are faint whispers at best.

And that, too, disturbs me, a little. Because I know that without something to freshen the memories after reanimation, most of the time they disappear completely. And I know that I must have cared for him a lot if any memory of him remained. But knowing that still doesn’t help me to grieve for him.

And the living don’t understand. Only another Reanimated could.

So we have meetings, we, The Reanimated. We gather to talk about our struggles. About how hard it is to make the living comfortable around us. How we must always fake emotions we don’t have with the living. And how we sometimes we pull it off, but sometimes we don’t. We talk about the looks that we get, when the living realize again, that no, we’re not quite the same as we were Before. And that maybe, the familiar face they that are looking at is actually a stranger.

And we are. That shouldn’t be a crime.

I have read articles on the web calling us not “The Reanimated” but “The Undead”. That claim that we are cold inside., soulless, and this is why we don’t feel strongly about anything. They call us harbingers of the End Times, bringers of Armageddon.

Some people fear us. Like the family of that woman in Texas who was reanimated last year, whose children won’t let her touch them, because she is “not the same”.

I feel bad for her. The living feel bad for her children.

But as much as people talk about how spooky The Reanimated are, nobody wants to die. And right now, most have “Reanimate” clearly marked on their driver’s licenses.

We talk about this at our meetings. The Reanimated cannot have children, and since death is inevitable both for those who want reanimation and those who do not, eventually, excuse me for saying so, we will win.

I don’t think people see that The Reanimated will outlast the living. Death will empty the world, and eventually, there will only be us, The Reanimated.

At the meetings, we all agree that we would like that. No more emotions to fake. No more eyes filled with disturbance and disappointment because we are different. And we have decided to keep quiet, and wait.

We wait for the whole, wide world to die. So we can finally be ourselves.

 

 

And the wind smells of petrolium

Once upon a time, things seemed so much more hopeful. Full of wistful memories and warm feelings.

I just wish that had been true. But I am older now, and I know better. I stare out at the world at night, feeling the warming wind of late spring. And everything looks so coldly mechanical. You can smell the petroleum in the air, not leaves or rain or grass. Just the scents of civilization going the way of 1984. A little late, here in 2018, but it found its way into our world and finally settled in.

We were all so blind. I wonder why that was? Humanity ran manically toward the world that is. So happy, so sure it was perfect, and all around us signs of corruption in the shiny new things. So many bright sparklies. And we kept giving up more of our time, working more, living less, just to have that large screen TV and all the gadgets and toys.

We kept having kids, but we had no time for them. And so when the internet arrived, everybody began living two lives. The one in the real world where we were working, struggling to find time to eat, and falling exhausted into our beds at night. And the internet, where we just wanted to be entertained. Just wanted sit and forget about the life that was becoming more and more meaningless. We typed to strangers, and made fragile ties and called them more meaningful than anything we had outside the led boxes. And sat in rooms with our families, not talking, just looking at our cell phones.

We stopped going to places without internet access because the connection with the people living in our gadgets had become like an I.V. It kept us, hydrated human. Take it away and we dehydrate and die.

I don’t know how it happened. I remember the slide. But the new generation knows nothing else. We watch stories about family units on the Tele because we’re starving for connection. But no one knows how to talk to anyone real anymore, without checking our texts every few minutes.

Our homes grow smaller. Because there is no need for extra chairs for visitors.

And the wind smells of petroleum.

And sadly, as much as I wish my rose-colored memories of the past were true. If they had been truly, better times, we would not have created this cable and wireless world to escape it.

We live days, working enough to get home and play the newest game online. We work to look at cats on Facebook. We work to spend hours texting our invisible friends.

In the beginning, I remember thinking that the internet was such a Godsend to house-bound folk. People living in wheelchairs, or too sick to leave their homes and go outside to find people. Now? It’s trapped us all. We can’t go outside without our talking boxes. It’s become an addiction. And now we are more comfortable with invisible friends than real people.

Where will it go from here? Sex dolls that walk and talk, with imitation brains that think programmed thoughts to keep us company? That provide all we need so that we don’t have to go outside to find people? Comfortable, fake people that won’t bug us when we won’t get off the computer, and who will bring us food and drink and sex, so we can get it easy and not waste valuable internet time?

Real people get mad, real people make demands and are work. Real people are a bother. In the future, we won’t have to bother with them at all.

And the light fades.  Humanity grows cold, alone, but satisfied with its computer dreams. Eyes filled with imitation worlds, as it sinks into the eternal sleep.

And the wind smells of petroleum.

Breakthrough Baby

Well, at least a very nice step forward.

For some time now, Jatina has listened to me talk about poor, wee Zeeta and her unsuccessful attempts to sleep on the bed with me and Maggie-dog. Every night, usually more than once, little Zeeta would tippy-toe into my room, and kitten-cry asking to come on my bed. I would call her up, and she would jump up and try to settle, but invariably somebody would move, or cough, or I would pull the blanket over my shoulders … and it would scare the crap out of Zeeta and she would flee out my door and down the hallway.

So Jatina went and prepped a tiny cat box for my room, and told me to take Zeeta with me when I went to bed and just shut the door and lock her in. Maybe then, she’d know for sure that I wanted her in there with me.

So … Night Number One … was mostly about Zeeta roaming around the room crying.

Night Number Two, however, started the same way, but after about an hour, she gave up and got on my bed. This didn’t mean that she didn’t flee the bed over various sounds and movements, but after each one, if I called her, she did hop back up on the bed and laid down.

But then, after a couple of nights, to my delight, I noticed that Zeeta had begun going into my room during the day to nap. After this, she suddenly became much more confident in my room at night. I’d lay down and Zeeta was now a cute, cuddly kitten-cat, rubbing her head on me, rolling around, wanting and demanding much, much love. Before, of course, hearing something scary and jumping off. But now she always comes back and makes it plain that EVERY TIME she comes back, I must cuddle/pet her for at least five minutes.

Zeeta even, one night, when I put my “cat-petting hands” away by stuffing them under my pillow, she pushed her head under, found my pinky nail, grabbed it with her front teeth and tried to pull it out from under the pillow. Then, seemed to realize what she was doing and almost jumped off the bed, but I kept on saying “you’re such a cute kitty, so cute, so cute” and she came back. Though she looked chastened about the teeth grabbing thing. I think she expected me to punish her for the “nip”.

And now? Best of all? Zeeta has decided that instead of freaking out when she is in the hallway and someone comes toward her, that instead, she can LEAD them to my bedroom. BECAUSE if she can get the human into my bedroom, and on the bed with her, it is all good. She can be silly and get cuddles, because my room, is, I guess, A Magical Place.

Outside my room … however, is still “The Valley of the Shadow of Death” for kitties. There is much work yet to be done with Zeeta and the rest of the house. Really. You should hear her howl if we have to pick her up. But hey, still! We Haz Improvement! And I feel really proud that she has decided that my room is her safe place. Jatina was right!

And that’s where we are right now. And it’s a good place.

Time to Talk About Zeeta.

As you may have noticed, I haven’t really talked about Zeeta.  Mostly because it has been a great deal more difficult working with her.

With Cienna, that darling little, black cat was TRULY feral.  She was born wild, and her main fear of humans was that we were an unknown, and might want to eat her.

Zeeta, however, had learned about humans.  And none of it was good.  This was a cat, we are pretty sure, that was beaten and abused.  She was lame when she first showed up, and still favors that leg from time to time.  She is afraid of being picked up.  Afraid of hands.  Afraid of anyone getting too close.  Terrified if we pick something up, certain that we are going to throw it at her.  Or if we walk by her she flinches and freezes as if we might kick her.

She has gotten better.  But it has been very slow.

She no longer hides, unless startled by a sound, and she does come back out before too long a time.  But she still “tip-toes”.  I thought at first she had malformed nails because we always heard “tick tick tick tick” when she walks.  But recently, as she has become more settled, we noted that the sound came from her walking on her toes like an abused child does.  But when she’s happier, she doesn’t, so no “tick tick”.

She also has very “Autistic” behaviors.

She will, for instance, come and sit on my lap IF I have the fuzzy blanket.  And IF it has the right side up because she can only lay on the dark-colored side.  The light-side seems to be Evil.  Also, my legs have to be in the right places.  Bend one knee different, and she gets scared.

How it works is this: she walks up, and makes this “Ack” noise.  If I call her and pat my lap, and if the blanket and legs are right, she hops up and lays down happily.

If they are not right… she freezes when she sees the “wrongness”.  Then she backs up, makes the “ack” noise again, comes forward, sees the “wrongness” again, and backs up again.  This continues until I fix it.  It is like it creates a malfunction in her mind.  She sees that I am on the couch, and there is a blanket, and so it must be right, but then it isn’t, and she can’t accept that reality, so she keeps on trying and stalling.

She will come into my room and get on my bed at night now.  But she can’t stay.  She comes in, gets some loving, but when I go to sleep, she lays there until she starts to dose.  But the moment that happens, she startles awake and flees in a panic.  This happens multiple times every night.

On the upside, she no longer hides under the sink.  And she will play where we can see her now.  And occasionally, if the right side of the blanket is up, she will lay between Jatina and I on the couch, and THERE she will sleep.  Just as long as nobody has to get up, needs to move a leg or wants to read a paper.

And?  The best thing?  She looks at us now.

Before she was too afraid to meet our eyes.  She’d walk around the house with eyes closed or nearly closed.  And whenever we petted her or picked her up, the eyes always slammed shut.

So… Baby Steps.  One tiny, tippy-toe step at a time.