Story: Cat in a space station

Howard, as usual, very much enjoyed this time of day. All the things that needed checking, had been duly checked. The mandatory exercises followed by somewhat less than optional health checks had been completed.

Howard was a creature of habit. With great satisfaction, he entered the inspection results ("one valve determined worn out and replaced") and detached from himself the various health probes. He had named the probes for their location. "There you go, Quincy Quadriceps, and what was that, Stacy Sternum...? Not feeling it today, are we? Well, we all have days like that, don't we, but we don't all go about shouting about it and thinking we can give up on things, now, do we? Now let go of that earlobe, Laurel!"

Placing all the instruments carefully back into their slots, Howard straightened out the keyboard and put the dust cover on. He ran his finger along the edge of the desk with his thumb against the keyboard, and noted very pleased with the world that yet again, perpedicularity had been achieved.

He went to the kitchen and measured exactly 1.75 tea spoons of tea powder as the exactly correct ratio for the 625 ml tea cup of water (filled to .5cm below the rim with water brought to 95C). It being a Tuesday, the date being the 13th in an even year, the movie was going to be Escape from Alcatraz which was one of his favourites.

He noticed the cat in front of one of the view windows. A cat where in all the decades before there had been no cat. A purring fluffy ginger feline obviously enjoying the heat register at the window.
Coinciding with the cat was a sudden computer call-out: "unexpected visual, exterior window alpha SW, estimated distance 10,000 km, shape round on trajectory 30.22.25"

Howard froze.

His training had not accounted for a simultaneous appearance of cat and comet.

"a comet" he thought "could constitute an existential threat, whereas a cat, a cat is a domesticated creature habitating in human domiciles for millennia and as such not so much of a threat as an anomaly".

The cat purred more loudly and turned over. Howard absent-mindedly petted the purrball as he tried to retrieve procedure C53 "unidentified flying comet not on collision course with space stations" from among his memory banks.

Image removed.

"Computer" said Howard, "describe and identify the unexpected visual from alert raised at 15:35hrs"

"Analysis shows an unexpected and unidentified object in view port alpha SW traveling on trajectory 30.22.25" said Jeeves-voiced computer. "Correction, analysis now shows an unexpected and unidentified object in view port beta SW traveling on trajectory 30.22.25".

"I project" said Jeeves in self important tones "that said object will soon" and pauses for effect "will soon be leaving port beta SW and may become visible in port delta South".

The predictability of the trajectory pleased Howard. "Jeeves, calculate the likely course of this object and let me know if it intersects with any planetary bodies with human occupancy". He walked over to view port beta SW and stared at the object. With the dark center and light exterior, it reminded him of an egg.

The ginger cat ambled over and uncurled at his hand, reaching paws to all sides of the universe. Howard stared at the jelly-egg-comet on its journey past the space station. The cat, following his view, playfully batted at the moving target.

As Howard watched, the object seemed to be halted in its trajectory and elongated slightly. "Alert" said Jeeves "the object has changed course".

"please calculate new trajectory with same question parameters" said Howard.

"new trajectory calculated; and confirmed that no human occupied planetary bodies will intersect".

Howard nodded and walked away from the view port. These things, he remembered, we were told to expect this far in space, and the standard operating procedure said to assess & mitigate risk to human life, and if none found, to observe in stance of non-interference and scientific knowledge collection.

"Impact in 08 minutes" said Jeeves.

The cat's ears perk up and they raise themselves slowly, tail batting air atoms to the far sides of the space station, looking eagerly at view port delta South.

Howard had not realized just how big this cat was. Together, they followed the object as it disappeared from view.

Later, Howard found it very hard to describe to the ship log exactly what happened. What he thought he saw happen was the following.

The jelly-egg-comet, on its new trajectory, ever expanding as it came closer to the space station. The cat, with its new focus, ever more eager as it crouched closer to view port delta South.

What obviously could not have happened, is what Howard remembered as the cat nodding to him and purring 'thank you for having me stay long enough". "Long enough - for what" said Howard putting distance between himself and this unknown entity. But the cat thing has lost interest in him and is now fully focused on the incoming egg. Howard thinks he sees thousands of shapes swirling in the center of the comet.

The moment the jelly-egg-comet collides with the space station the jelly blankets the hull and thousand of tadpole like shapes emerge, their tails lashing in attempt for motion.

Howard stares fascinated into the tadpole eyes that look at him from outside the view port.

The now enormous cats crouches and leaps out, turns around, and with long languid tongue motions eagerly laps up the jelly-egg-comet liquids and tadpole shapes splashed all over the space station exterior.

Howard watched in horror how the cat cleans up the life-bearing comet, and then itself with slow and very satisfied motions.

The cat turns to look at him through view port delta South and its purring rumbles the space station. Howard thinks it can see the creature grin. And the next moment, the cat is gone.

Howard blinks. 'Jeeves, please report status"

"Current status: on course for the gemini system, arrival estimated in 10 years 3 months, no issues to report. All systems operating within parameters." Howard straightens the decorative fish bowl which sits in view port delta South.

"Jeeves, anything unusual to report from the last 15 minutes? " asks Howard. "nothing out of the ordinary, Howard, just the way you like it!' says Jeeves.

Howard looks at the fish bowl and the frog eggs that seems to be at the bottom. And walks over to the kitchen to make a cup of tea. Obviously, he has been working a bit too much. A good movie and a cup of tea would be just perfect for tonight.

Take 2

Vladimir hated this part.

He was happy on the ground. He was happy on the station. He did not… absolutely not… like the middle bit.

THUMP, scrabble scrabble.

Image removed.

Vladimir's eyes shot up to the cargo bay from the sound. The white metallic door betrayed nothing. He sighed as the acceleration continued to play on his comfort.

scrabble THUMP, scrabble scrabble

Now his brow was well and truly furrowed. That noise was not in the simulation.


"Roger Launch" His response was almost robotic, eyes still fixed on the cargo door.

Vladimir counted the time down in his head as he wiggled himself more comfortably into his chair.


Vladimir relaxed, all those sounds were part of the simulation.

scrabble scrabble

Suddenly rigid, he craned his whole head up this time. Not the right sound, not in the simulation! Dammit, what was making that noise!

"Launch this is Transit-One…"


silence, and a pause. Eyes glued on the cargo door. More silence


Sigh, "All systems normal, Transit-One out."

Vladimir shifted in his seat again. Glanced up at the cargo door as if willing it to dare make any more noise and then settled into nap during the transit to the station.

…4 hours later…

"Safe Journey Home, ya" Vladimir had practiced this for weeks and felt he performed it well based on the smile of the departing colleague.

His English was not great, but they had managed through the cargo transfer, systems update and transfer of command. This final farewell still seemed the most important so he smiled back, with no small amount of pride, as they both closed their airlock doors. He had the comms piped into the station general broadcast as the capsule departed.

<<"Clean detach, thrusting aft slow">> His colleague's strong southern US accent permeated the speakers.


<<"All Systems clear, distance 1500m, pressing delta-V to 10%">>

<<Roger Transit-Two…

scrabble THUD THUD scrabble

"Huh…" this time Vladimir actually vocalized his concern as the noise drew his focus from the ongoing maneuvers.

Sighing, Vladimir pushed his way back through the corridor to where they had collectively stowed the majority of the cargo, listening intently.

"Uh…" He knew he was alone on the station. he HAD to be alone on the station. But still…

"Is anyone there?"

pause, followed by a few more pauses.

He sighed, chastising himself for his unwarranted fear. Stupid childish thing to…

Scrabble Scrabble, Scratch

"Hey!" his voice even echoed a bit this time but, this time was different, he felt he could localize the sound. It was certainly coming from one of the three larger experimental crates.

"Who's there!" He paused, the radio communications in the background forgotten as he registered that the capsule had began it's departure thrust.


Vladimir held still, listening carefully.

scratch, scrabble scratch…

He moved closer, certainly one of the two larger boxes. He pressed his ear to the closest one.

"Hello?" He voice was slow and careful.

There was no response.

He moved to the other box.

"Is anyone in there?" accentuating his quandary with a gentle knock on the box. He even took a moment to glance at the label. 'Rations, Toiletries, Parts, BIN:772' it read


Vladimir sighed, worried he was loosing it. He wouldn't be the first one to loose it, the prospect of being alone for 8 months (assuming nothing went wrong) with nothing to do but ensure the 'Stable Operation Of The Station Within Standard Parameters' - god that phrase felt like it was tattooed to he brain.


"Ha!" he spun around, overshooting in the zero gravity and had to complete another spin before stopping. There was no question. That noise came from this container!

Scrabble Scrabble

Vladimir glances up at the camera. He knew "they" were watching. Containers were to be stowed in the cargo area, opened in sequence, and contents stowed according to procedure 7-A.5. He closed his eyes for a moment brooding.


Vladimir's eyes popped open, his course set, and he started releasing the clips for the container.

<> the radio crackled

"Status Nominal, Noise detected from container 772, investigating."


6 of 10 clips were off by now as he rapidly snapped off the remaining sets. The door of the container drifting away as soon as it was free of it's restraints.


In the following moments, any attempt to gauge who was in more a state of shocked surprise, Vladimir, or the weightless cat drifting past him, would have been futile. They locked eyes though. Cat and Human. For a moment of bewildered recognition. Prior to the feline panic, claw extension, mad scrabble in open space, that terminated in a torn space suit and the eventual cling of claws to shoulder and accidental anti-gravity hair-ball.

"Uh, Launch this is Station One we seem to have a… uh.. cat on board."


Vladimir felt he was more drifting by as the stow-away feline clung with the desperation of ages to his shoulder. Bu he reached up to holed him there and was rewarded with the sensation of said feline clinging even closer to his neck and shoulder.

<> a pause and then in much quieter voice <> another pause before returning to normal volume <>

Vladimir, struggled not to grin.

"Roger Launch."

Devising, precisely how to 'administer' food packet 7 to a cat through a straw, turned out to be less challenging than one may have expected. Said feline being, shall we say, somewhat ravenous, after the trip to the station. So Vladimir did as directed, and the cat, acquiesced, pausing to give him a contented nod of thanks and a satisfied deep booming purr before curling up into a little ball to sleep. A ball that, given the conditions, tended to float around at random as Vladimir watched.

In the end, his training kicked back in and he checked in with control.

"Launch-One this is Station-One, All cargo stowed, please record one passenger, feline, designation: Ivan" he had chosen the name after his grade school friend, "asleep. Cargo stowed and all systems nominal."


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