Dreamed 1995/11/12 by Chris Wayan
I'm the first human to visit Planet Cat. My guide, a young female, is very direct, intelligent, charming--as graceful as a Terran leopard. Oh, that fur... I want to touch.
To my surprise, it's mutual. I didn't think skin would go over well... But she's intrigued. She even jokes about the funny mixture of caution, gentle teasing, and sheer curiosity we both feel: "I wonder if our sexual instincts are even comparable, let alone compatible?" We go slow, flirt a lot. It'll take time to learn basics we take for granted with our own species--are cats territorial (are humans)? Does one sex dominate? Is attraction seasonal, casual, long term, lifetime? Are we even physically similar enough to HAVE sex--or enjoy it?
And what about others? The cat men seem unsure how to see me anyway, let alone my ambiguous friendship with my guide. Duels are common here. Might I provoke challenges? And humans don't duel any more! Fight or refuse, either choice might cause an interstellar crisis.
One day she says "You remind me of one of our Y'rrraow monks. I think you'd like them. You want to risk a visit?"
"Well, they're rough, unpredictable clowns. Dangerous, I guess, but fun. Like you."
And so, the next day, she leads me up on foot through a rough volcanic landscape of broken rocks and water to the Y'rrraow monastery...
And she was right--we get along famously. The Y'rrraow sect ignores the Cat dominance hierarchy in order to break through to spontaneity--to God. The result, of course, is chaos--but humans are comfortable with chaos. I can see it'd be torture for a high-ranking, honor-bred male Cat, but for me, it's a holiday!
Later, in a roadside diner, she tells me she hopes to be the first Cat to visit Earth, based on what she's learning from me. But she worries about hidden dangers, the human equivalents of Cat honor and dueling. I say you "I think you can make friends and flirt and even experiment sexually without much danger. We don't often kill over love any more. Politics and religious bigots...watch out for those!"
The dream changes.
Now I'M a cat, and SHE'S the first human on Planet Cat. I'm HER guide. Not much else has changed--our flirtation-dance, her ape-inquisitiveness, my cat-curiosity about Earth...
No, there's one big change: I'm a representative in the global Cat Parliament. Have been for years. Till now, a respected voice. Won this diplomatic job (not that many wanted it) because I was trusted.
But now, my political enemies use my friendship with this space ape to ruin my reputation. To hear them yowl, I'm a traitor... worse, a pervert.
I walk to the doors of Parliament and stop. The door is open, but as I look in and map the powerpools and currents by the dance of tail and ear, I can tell there's no room for me. A liability to them all, now. I could force my way in, but I turn and go. Not yet the time.
Let more ordinary people meet the Earth woman, let these Cat aristocrats get more out of touch in here. Don't force it now--let them climb too far up the tree, till they're stuck and yowling.
Our time will come.
NOTES NEXT MORNING
Freedom is a nervous bird.
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