The Mother Ship

The Mother Ship aloftThe cat hesitated at the top of the steps, looked up, saw the ceiling fan, thought “OMG it’s the Mother Ship come to take me away and perform unspeakable experiments on me!” and ran back down the stairs.

For the 4, 238th time.

The Mother Ship approachingThe cat belongs to my former housemates. The whole time they lived here, before getting their own place, I tried to make friends with him. He’s a handsome orange tabby long-haired cat just asking to be skritched, except he’s very shy, so he doesn’t really want you to skritch him. He was mostly invisible. He would occasionally accept a handout of catnip, but usually…

… he would hesitate at the top of the steps, look up, see the ceiling fan, think “OMG it’s the Mother Ship come to take me away and perform unspeakable experiments on me!” and run back down the stairs.

After a year or so of this, the routine got kind of old.

“Cat,” I would say, “I’m turning the fan off. Why don’t you come and have some catnip? I promise not to skritch you if you don’t want to be skirtched.”

The Mother Ship hovers“OMG it’s the Mother Ship!”


I was beginning to take it personally.

But think of it from his point of view.

He comes to the top of the stairs. He sees the Mother Ship. He has to run away! Otherwise, it will snatch him up and take him away and perform unspeakable experiments on him.

The Mother Ship So he runs away. The Mother Ship doesn’t snatch him up. He doesn’t have to endure unspeakable experiments.

From his point of view, everything works perfectly.

So he runs away.

And it works.

— Vonda

Superluminal, by Vonda N. McIntyre. The eBook.Books make great gifts, and Christmas is coming. eBooks make great last-minute gifts because they arrive automagically when you buy them.

Superluminal is now available at Book View Cafe. You may read it in serial form, one chapter per week, or you may buy the ebook (available in a number of formats) for $4.99.

For a limited time, if you buy the hardcover from Basement Full of Books, I’ll also give you a free copy of the ebook in the format (within reason) of your choice.

Book View Cafe is also presenting Dreamsnake in serial version for free, and as an ebook in several formats for $4.99. On December 20, BVC will present the Starfarers Quartet.



The Mother Ship — 3 Comments

  1. In theory it is possible to change his conditioning. You’ve read about how to do this, right? It helps to have a treat that the cat adores; he will be happy to taste test and help you find the best one.

  2. Perhaps you could explain to him that the Mother Ship belongs to a different set of aliens, who like cats and give them treats?

    My late, lamented cat saw Invisible Aliens at odd times of the day. We named the aliens “Vooms” and when Alexis started running around the house for no visible reason, you knew that he had seen Vooms and gone to do battle. It must have worked; neither he nor my room-mate were ever abducted, and no unspeakable experiments ever performed on any of us. I call that success.

  3. Hi Brenda — The cat and his people moved to their own place, so any cat-training experiments I might want to try aren’t possible at the moment. In any event I did try multiple times to bribe him with catnip. Aside from being afraid of the mother ship, he was quite shy and kind of a one-person cat as well.

    Madeleine — I’m giggling at the idea of the cat sitting under my kitchen ceiling fan looking up expectantly waiting for the Vrooms to bring him kitty treats…