Anywhere there are things that Man was not meant to wot of, you’ll find a few lab techs with too much time on their hands. Most tales of Science Gone Wrong hinge on that moment when a sub-basement dweller wonders, “What if…?” Inevitably, they will be aided in their ill conceived plot by a pair of colleagues whose eyes twitch in time with the blinking yellow fluorescent lights and who share their friend’s inadequate grasp of cause and effect.
I’m writing a story that includes a world where genetic engineering passed the point of no return long ago. In the ongoing quest to create animal hybrids without any concept of the consequences, they’ve combined animal DNA that was never intended to play in the same petri dish. Some of their creations are rather harmless. Relatively, anyway.
Cheesters are cheetah-hamster hybrids. Combining the endurance and love of spinning wheels of a hamster with the size and speed of a cheetah, engineers have finally managed to create a specimen that prompts the question, “Why?” An unfortunate incident involving a door that had been propped open with a vacuum cleaner resulted in the almost complete loss of the slothalope population.
Earaffes are, obviously, a cross between eagles and giraffes. Rarely seen in the wild, surviving scouts have returned from the mountains to warn the public not to venture into earaffe territory if they packed a salad for lunch. Beautiful, graceful, and regal…None of those terms describe the earaffe. Vegans refer to them as
“ruthless, selfish, and way too impressed with themselves.” The reality is that there is something genuinely awe-inspiring about the sight of a small flock of long necked, winged earaffes diving out of the clouds into a pack of hikers intent on communing with nature.
Snats, though, are one of the most insidious creations. Snake-cat hybrids, designed by lab techs who had never had pets of their own, were intended to be the ideal house pet. “People like furry animals,” the techs reasoned. “They like having their pets sprawl on them. Having a pet that can hang on to you while you move around the house allows you to keep your hands free, while cuddling with a furry bundle of love.” While the engineer responsible for the creation of the snat was never found, rumor has it that his pet had been observed with a large bulge in its mid-section. Snats love to coil around their owners, purring and cleaning themselves with a long pink forked tongue. The beasts are especially fond of pouncing on guests from between the couch cushions, licking the back of one’s ear when one least expects it, and dropping from a chandelier to land on a pair of shoulders. Snats love to curl up and nap during the day anywhere a sunbeam can be found. At night, they tend to slither under blankets and remind their owner of their presence. Their playful nature prompts them to ensnare ankles at the top of the stairs, lurk in the shadows, and stare deep into their owner’s eyes as if to say, “Soon, this one will be fat enough…”
All of that makes me wonder. How would you feel about having a snat for a pet? Is it adorable or creepy? Creepable? Either way, I suspect that the internet would sag under the weight of snat videos. I just hope that there’s no one reading this in a lab somewhere thinking, “What if…?”