A long time ago there was an ancient alien race that wanted to take over the world. They were equipped with superior technology and a total lack of empathy. But still, for reasons now unknown, they did not succeed. They went sulkily into hiding and were soon forgotten.
It is no secret that humans like cats. Everybody loves them a nice, furry cat, except for ninja rat mutants and really strange people. And because of this, you would be hard put to find a town where not at least a third of the population keeps a fluffy feline as a lodger.
But people are also lazy, at the same time as they have way too much to do. This results in a situation where cats are left alone for most of the day when their masters are at work, and are left to entertain themselves when the masters at long last get home and are too tired to suitably socialize. Cats are easily frustrated, and masters are easily guilt tripped.
There was only one way this could possibly end, really.
Really was, by chance, also the name of Riley O. Burrow’s cat. ”Riley & Really” was the signature at the bottom of all Riley’s Christmas cards, and on Facebook his professional status was set as him being an employee of a faux company with that same name. The phrase ”oh, Really” was also not seldom heard echoing through his spacious flat as he discovered yet another product of his furry friend’s innovative play style.
When Riley got back from work one evening, he wearily noticed that Really had, rather imaginatively and quite obviously for want of better things to do, turned his masters excessively expensive headphones into a chewing toy.
”Oh, Really”, he sighed as he picked up the sorry remnants of shredded cable that lay sprinkled all over the floor. The perpetrator himself made big eyes and beckoned him into the kitchen – it was time for his dinner. Riley would have loved to not give Really his food tonight, but he was to kind a master for that. So kind a master was he, in fact, that he drove into town the very next day to get the cuddlesome culprit a better toy to play with than his pricey electronics.
He quickly found what he was looking for. A large sign in front of the pet shop advertised the newest innovation: ”The Decoy” – a mouse shaped toy so engaging that it would keep the kitty busy for hours on end. It didn’t run on batteries and was totally child safe. Riley bought it without any hesitation.
Quite correctly, The Decoy became an instant hit when Riley put it down on his living room floor. Really really liked it and was totally absorbed in playing with his new toy from the moment he laid paws on it. He carried it around, beat it across the room, chased it, threw it into the air and fought it furiously with tooth and claw. Riley was content. Now his stuff wouldn’t have to fear being torn to pieces by a restless cat when he himself was at work. He went to bed.
He awoke in the middle of the night from a ceaseless racket. A burglar? He was instantly fully awake and speeding through the room to hit the light switch. But the source of the disturbing noise was just Really, playing with his new toy.
”Oh, Really?”, Riley said and went back to bed. He didn’t sleep much that night, however. The sound of a cat fighting, running, jumping and attacking kept him awake.
He was deadly tired the next day, and decided to throw The Decoy away – or at least to put it away on a shelf. The problem was, he couldn’t find it. Really followed him through the flat and seemed to be looking for the toy as well. Riley realized that his cat must have lost the toy, just as he had managed to lose all other small trinkets he had been given over the years. It was like with socks in the laundry – once lost, they were never found again. Riley decided it was just as well, and went to work – still feeling like undead shit.
When he got home, the cat was already asleep. Riley put new food and water in the bowls on the floor and followed suit. He had struggled to make it through the day in his sleepless state but now, finally, he would be allowed to sleep.
Around midnight the ruckus began. Really chased The Decoy though the apartment, clawed at it, fought it within the confined space of his transportation cage and generally made it impossible for Riley to go back to sleep again. He went up, took the toy from his cat and put it in the trash. Sleep still eluded him, however, and he spent the night in frustrated and futile attempts to get at least some rest.
At work the next day, he was not the only one to shuffle around like a zombie. A co-worker, funnily enough, cursed his own cat for keeping him awake at night. Riley shared a coffee with him, and together they valiantly made it through the day.
When he was again awakened by the sound of cat violence the next night, Riley knew that something was wrong. He had put that toy away, hadn’t he? But there it was again, being violently abused all across his floor by his completely absorbed cat. Riley screamed at his pet, but that didn’t help. He chased Really through the apartment until he got his hands on The Decoy. Once again he threw it away, but just like last night he was too worked up to go back to sleep.
At work the next day, his coffee mate had called in sick. And not just him, actually. Several co-workers were missing, and Riley had to skip his lunch break to cover for everyone.
The following night, The Decoy was back again with a fury. He threw it out the window, but still it was back again one day later. Riley despaired, he didn’t know what to do. After five sleepless nights, Riley, too, called in sick. He couldn’t do this anymore. The people at the office would have to make due.
What Riley didn’t know, however, what that more than a third of his co-workers had had the exact same thought. And not just at his company. People all over the country, all over the world, were calling in sick – for lack of sleep. Their colleagues had to work overtime and skip their lunches, in turn leading to even more people going on sick-leave. Little by little, the world slowed down – until one day it stopped.
And the ancient alien race watched from their sulking hideout and stopped sulking. Their estimations had been correct – cats were the weak spot of humankind and they had aimed their vicious attack correctly. Now the time had come to employ and deploy their superior technology and total lack of empathy, now was the time to shine. And they crept forth from their dark corners, hellbent on world domination.
Riley O. Burrow had been slumbering on his couch, but now he was wide awake, unable to believe the images that flashed before him on the TV-screen. Explosions, fires, floods, an army of space aliens marching through the capital. What the hell was happening, and why didn’t the army do anything about it? A yawning news reporter was held at gunpoint by one of the invaders.
”…and their spokes…person…has ordered me to tell you that all this has been possible because we let their Trojan Horses” – the news anchor stopped, listened to a voice in his earpiece and corrected himself – ”Oh, sorry, let their Trojan Mice, into our homes. This has allowed them to effectively wear all our defenses and infrastructure out from within. And that’s all from CNN News, I’m afraid. Now they’ll finally allow me to go home again and sleep.”
Riley just stared as the news anchor was ushered away and the sacking of the capital continued. His eyes went to his cat, still playing with The Decoy on the floor.
”Oh”, he said, sudden insight dawning on him. ”Oh, really…?”