Cheesters, Earaffes and Snats, Oh My!

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…?”

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Having a Time

Everybody’s saying it. It’s that time of year. On the surface, it might seem that people are arbitrarily pruning the branches of your decision tree without your consent. If you interact with people in some capacity, you may experience this yourself. Sooner or later, someone will order you to “Have a Happy New Year.”

I know, right? What if you had planned to have a miserable year? You may have spent the last several months designing schemes, honing skills, and researching techniques intended to allow you to experience a horrible year only to have your plans thwarted at the last moment by a cheerful well-wisher. What are you going to say? “No, thanks. I’d rather suffer in melancholy despair.” People don’t usually say that, even though they are determined to do it. Instead, it seems to me that many people assume that the new year will bring events into their path and they are offering a weak, unsubstantiated hope that some of them won’t be too awful.

Ask any experienced time traveler and they’ll tell you that there is a big difference between passively watching times and epochs pass by and actively participating in them. For those who immerse themselves in a particular moment in time, their choices center on how they will respond to events rather than choosing the event itself. There is the sense that the event is of less significance than the attitudes, reactions and decisions of those who experience it.

Temporal Jellyfish seek to passively ride the currents of time, waiting to see what events may drift past them. Their experience of time is radically different from those who embrace the timestream and dive into the current. Chrono-Observers will never truly understand time to the same degree as those who are temporally enmeshed. While those of us who dwell within the confines of time may occasionally chafe at its bonds, we are gifted with a unique perspective of this realm. We may not be able to choose the events we encounter, but we have the incredible ability to choose how we will experience them.

For those of us staring into the depths of 2016, with whatever events may lurk ahead, we will choose the time we will have. For this reason, I hope you have a Contented, Joyful, Humble, Caring, Peaceful and Wise New Year, if that’s what you want. I wouldn’t want to limit your options.

Have a time.