Cat-ectonic Shift

in twentyfourhourshortstory •  11 months ago  (edited)

Prompt 

A man comes home and finds his wife has turned into a cat. 

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Day 1 

The sun-burnt golden-brown sand, stretching as far as the eyes could see, was aiding the fiery wind in slowing the onset of the evening chill. Coarse pieces of sand were tearing through anything which dared to stand in their way. Jack and Catherine’s semi-concrete tents were one of those unlucky structures which attempted to stand tall on the Giza Plains. The much larger pyramidal structures inspired the conical structures to stand tall; of course, those pyramidal structures were the wonders and enigmas of the world. The Pyramids of Giza were the only ones tall enough to challenge the winds! 

“This is by far one of the best finds of the century. No, this is by far the best find ever from the pyramids,” Jack was finding it hard to breathe in his excitement. He had been that way for the past half hour since the realization that they had unearthed the most incredible find. 

“Now, relax Jack. Catch your breath,” Catherine had to calm Jack lest he had one of his asthma attacks. As a wife and colleague, she was always there for Jack. Living the Indiana Jones life is what they yearned for and were eventually blessed to live that life. Every day was an adventure, and they soaked in its pleasure every moment of their life.  

“I am so happy. Why aren’t you? It’s your find after all,” Jack was protesting with his eyes trained on Catherine and egging her to jump up with joy. 

“I know, and I am fine with you celebrating for the both of us,” Catherine smiled. Jack’s and her personality were quite different. While he was a bubbling intensity, Catherine was an epitome of simmering calmness. And that probably worked well for both of them as they complemented each other’s style. 

“Oh man, how I wish I could be as calm as you.” 

“No need to be. My man is perfect the way he is.” 

After a good amount of time, Jack’s exuberance dwindled and plateaued much like the bellowing wind slowed and gave way to the chilly night.  

“But we need to understand what it says,” Jack said. 

“I think I already know.”

 “You do?” Jack was so high in his excitement that he did not realize that Catherine took the past hour to understand the tombstone. Although they called it a tombstone, it was not one of those found near the sarcophagus as with most discoveries. This one was hidden. It was beneath a floor tile, and it was their X-Ray scanning which showed the presence of the stone. That was also the reason for the earlier exploring teams to have missed it. 

“Yes, I do. Though I am not sure about it, I guess the hieroglyphs are talking about a transformation. Probably, afterlife.”  

“How do.. how do you fathom that?”

“Take a look at this. See the waves before and after the human structure?” 

“Yes,” Jack said. 

“They might mean the transformation that we are going through every day as a human being. Both in our life and after our life.” 

“The cat. That is the God form. The Egyptians regarded the cat as God. And here it is shown bigger than the others. Surely must mean God.” 

“Correct. And what it means is that we transform into the God state after we die. And maybe it means specifically the Pharaoh and not a common man.”

“I am not sure about that honey,” Jack opined. “Hieroglyphs showing Pharaoh have a different image for Pharaoh. This one seems to be talking about any person. Could be the servants buried with the king.” 

“Servants becoming Gods? Sounds odd, Jack.”  

“I agree, but if it was such an important stone then why was it hidden beneath the floor?” 

“Hmm. So, we need to do some more work on this one,” Catherine added. 

“Not now. Let’s call it a day. I am exhausted.” 

“Alright, let’s go to sleep.” 

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Day 2 - Morning 

“Honey, I am off to the city but will be back before noon. Stay here. We can get back into the pyramid once I am back.” Jack was up early and was his exuberant self.  

“Hmm. Put my phone on charge. You have the charging tray, don’t you?” Catherine spoke in her sleep.

“Yes, but I don’t have anything to set the tray over. Oh wait I do,” Jack took the find of the century and placed it under the tray. He knew Catherine would kill him if she came to know. He had no intention of awakening the beast and so just put the charging tray on the stone and left. 

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Day 2 - Afternoon 

Jack entered the relative coolness of the tent from the punishing heat outside. He had a rather interesting morning with the news of the tombstone discovery preceding his announcement. National Geographic was interested in covering him and his find and not to mention the tons of money that would be coming his way. He wanted to share the news with Catherine. 

“Cathy, I am back, and you’ve got to hear this.”  But Catherine was not there. Jack went outside to take a look. But she wasn’t there too. He was sure that she wouldn’t have gone to the site. She had never done that in the past twenty years. Jack entered the tent again. 

The phone and the tray were still on the stone, and there was a cat close to the tray. Jack knew Cathy loved cats and he did not have much of an issue with cats either. It was purring and brushing against his feet. Jack picked it up.

“Hey, cat. Know where my wife is?” Jack smiled and then laughed. 

“Jack, it’s me.” The cat spoke, and Jack dropped it down in horror.  

“What the heck?” Jack was hyperventilating. “Am I sleeping? Is this a dream? A speaking cat..” 

“Jack, calm down. Relax. Breathe.” 

“Oh my God, the cat sounds like Cathy.” 

“It is me. I woke up and found myself like this.”  

“Oh my God, oh my God..” Jack was finding it hard to believe what he was witnessing. It took him about half an hour to come back to senses and the realisation that his wife had indeed become a cat. He just sat there saying nothing while the cat kept licking its paw and grooming itself. 

“Back to normal?” The cat asked. 

“Yes. But what happened.” 

“I don’t know. I woke up a cat. You tell me. You were the one who left me sleeping in the morning. Was I a cat then?” 

“No, you weren’t. You were unmistakably Catherine.”

“So, what changed between then and now?” Catherine got both of them mulling. “Tell me the sequence of events before you left.” 

“Okay. I went for a walk in the morning and then came back, dressed up, took the car keys from there, placed my hat next to you, woke you up, and told you that I am going.” 

“Hmm. That is normal. Something you do every day.” The cat was licking its paw again. 

“Will you stop doing that?” Jack was freaking out. 

“What?” 

“That licking your paw thingy.” 

“That’s not me. It’s just happening,” Catherine said. “Where’s my phone?”

“Yeah, tell me about it. A cat wanting to check its mail,” Jack said. “Oh, wait. You asked me in the morning to put your phone on charge. I put it on the tray and placed it on the tombstone.” 

“You did what? You placed things over the tombstone.” 

“Somehow, I don’t think that is the most important thing for us to deal with right now,” Jack shot back. He knew he was taking his chances because his wife was indeed a beast right now and could easily decorate his face with claw marks. The impasse lasted for a minute or so, and then the cat walked towards the phone. 

“Well, at least the phone is charged. And there is a missed call.” The cat said. 

“Don’t tell me you are going to answer that.”  

“Ha Ha Ha,” Catherine gave out a sarcastic laugh.  

“Does the tombstone have anything to do with this?” 

“Why? What do you mean?” 

“I mean, that is the only new thing here. It wasn’t here yesterday, and you were still human yesterday.” 

“Yes, but that was true for you too. You are still a human.” 

“That’s true.” Jack furrowed brow gave away his pensiveness. “What else changed?” 

“The only thing that changed was you placing the phone over the stone to charge,” Catherine said while still licking her paws. 

“That’s it. That is the only thing that changed with you alone over here.”  

“That proves what?”

“That proves that we did not understand the hieroglyphs well yesterday. Look, you were a human and have become a cat like in the hieroglyph. And that also proves that the hieroglyph was not talking about the pharaohs but any human.” 

“That’s great, Sherlock. So, I am a God now. Bow to meeooww,” Catherine surprised herself. “What’s happening? Where did that meow come from?”  

Jack was spooked as well but did not want to say anything. He had to keep himself composed, and that’s what he was trying. “So, obviously, the cat does not mean God or even if it does the transformation is possible any time. You are living proof of this.” 

“Which means you do not have to die to become a cat,” Catherine said. “The Egyptians found a way to transform humans.”  

“Forget the Egyptians. Why do you say they found a way to transform humans?” 

“Well, I became a cat, didn’t I?” 

“Yes, but how? Just because of the tombstone or something that we did to the tombstone?” Jack was scratching his head. 

“You did put the phone on the tombstone,” Catherine said. 

“Waves, waves…”

The cat stopped licking for a moment and looked at Jack. “Jack, what if the waves mean radiation?” 

“Radiation? The Egyptians knew about radiation?” 

“Forget the Egyptians, like you said. I am asking what if the waves are radiation? The phone emits radiation.” 

“Oh man, that’s true,” Jack agreed. “But the phone is emitting it even now then why nothing happened to me? Or why did you not change back?” 

“Hmm… True.” 

“Wait a second. These are the new generation cell-phones, so they won’t emit radiation when dormant. Radiation flow happens only during a call,” Jack said. 

“That’s correct,” Catherine knew Jack had hit the nail on its head. “So, the missed call did whatever it did.” 

“Yesss..” The cat jumped around. “So, all you have to do is give me a call again with the phone on the tombstone. Since the waves are both ways, it should transform me back.” 

“I am on it, right away.” 

“Wait.. wait .. wait…,” Catherine screamed. “You have to go out, or it will transform you into a cat.” Jack realised that and ran outside. To be sure he ran another fifty paces and called on Catherine’s cell phone.

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Epilogue 

“So the Egyptians understood radiation, huh?” Jack was excited about the discovery. The tombstone was not just a find but something that worked. And that too from 4,500 years back. 

“Maybe. But that still does not explain why the Egyptians put the stone beneath the floor.” Catherine was happy to be back to her human form. 

“What if?” Jack’s pensive frown came back. He went silent and stayed that way. After a while, he spoke. “What if they somehow stumbled upon some radioactive material which did this. We already know that the tombstone’s composition along with the radiation brought about the change.” 

“It requires some more study, Jack. Let’s get back there and check things out.” 

“I am all for it,” Jack picked up his shovel. “Leave the phones in the tent.”  

Catherine smiled and did as instructed.  

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This story is written in response to @mctiller's short story contest which can be found here

Image Courtesy: Here is the source. Images were combined to make the hieroglyph in the picture.  

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Hello @steemkitten! Did you like my cat(ch)y story? :)

Really enjoyed the descriptions of the setting.

@cyemela, buddy, how are you doing? Been a while. Thanks for stopping by. I have been on and off for sometime but now can hope to stay put.

Will meet you soon in the @bananafish realm as well. :)

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Doing great @oivas. Always enjoy reading your stories with your unique style and formatting. Nice trip to Egypt with this one. Have you ever been there?

Hey @cyemela, thanks for your kind words. I haven't visited Egypt, but mann have I read about the pyramids. That's one trip still to do.

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It would be fun.

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