"Here kitty kitty," sings Caligula sweetly, "C'mere kitty cat." The rats can barely hold their laughter, dangling a piece of tripe over the edge of the back door vent. Claudius holds a mirror so they can watch unobtrusively. The cat starts to bat at the string like a playtoy and Caligula jerks it back up so enticing. Nero is snorting out his nose like he was holding in a big hit of pot from exploding out of his lungs. Even Henry is starting to take an interest, turning in the seat that holds him like a big hand. "Oh no." He smiles a little. "I don't think I can watch this."
They start to wheel in the bait slowly. The cat gets up on his hind legs and tries to hook the little piece of gut on the line. It stares fixedly at the little bit of flesh and then at the window when it disappears from its sight. It stares for a few moments and then flexes its back legs. It does that pause that cats do when they are figuring out the total trajectory and vaults up to the window ledge.
"Hello kitty," lears Titus half a heartbeat before the unfortunate thing was dragged screeching into the mazelike nest. There is cursing, some sounds of beating, the cat is spitting and shrieking and then silence.
"I know I really don't want to see this, but there's a part of me that's more than a little curious," Henry admits. "I mean, I've never been big on cats, well, animals in general, but that pussy really doesn't stand a chance."
"Feed the rats to the cats and the cats to the rats and get the catskins for free," quotes Mad in a different voice.
"Hey, I recognize that."
Mad plays a snippet from the source. Henry slams his hand down on the dashboard. "New Day Rising by Husker Du! I knew I had heard that. Play that whole album. I haven't heard it in years. Man, that brings back memories."
"Isn't that a little before your time? I mean, Bob was mold before you were even born."
"Not quite. I saw him play on his reunion tour."
"But he didn't hold it together very long. Then they pulled the plug on him."
"Yea, but I really dig those unplugged sessions till they start to smell from the decay." Henry starts laughing and beating the dashboard.
"You're a twisted fuck, Hank."
"I remember all my Rock Scripture. 'He rose again on the third day to play accordian with Elvis Costello and is seated at the right hand of Chuck Berry to reign in glory with the New York Dolls and Marc Bolan for ever and ever and don?t forget Bowie. Amen.'"
"All that reminiscing over times never had. Tsk. Tsk. Henry, you ever get a little nauseous over sentimentality for myths?"
"Myths? It's all true. And what else is there? The tribal disco scene? Forget it. Father Deejay Rudiment and his candy flipping chorus."
"You want to know what happened to the cat?"
"Sure," he said without hesitation.
"Here cop a vid on this. Sure you wouldn?t want sexbox too?"
"Now that's sick."
A misty cartoon holo appears in the shadow box in the dash. The cat lay on a small platform. "Wow, I've never really seen in there. Is it dead?"
"Nope, the graphs in the back there are its vitals."
"It's still alive? What are they doing to it? I thought they were going to eat it."
"I don't know. They never tell me about these little projects till they're done."
Titus holds a flexible metal rod in his hands. It waved as if from its own volition. Spikes along each side wiggled. Ceasar grabbed the tail and Titus clamped the contraption down to the cat's back. "That looks like a steel centipede. What are they doing to the poor pussy's spine?"
"That metal thing has fiber optic in it. I saw them putting it together a couple weeks ago. They got the fiber way back in Venezuela. They snuck it out of a high-tech dump down there that used to be one of the major network backbones down there."
"That's not funny."
"Oh, the pun wasn't directly intended. At least not at this level."
Turning around in his seat, Henry rattles some trash at the top of their nest. "What the fuck are you doing to that cat?"
"Leave us alone, we're making a new friend." The rat clan laughs hysterically.