"Lie down, Isis! Now!"
text was very kindly provided to us by Professor Johann Schnarchhund of
Miskatonic University. Johann assures us that this first person
account, narrated by Isis Resillechat, is very much as it was received
by his daughter, Taurina. For additional information please see
the Iemy Papers
I almost never
heard Mom yell, but she was yelling now. In the background I heard
the Captain's voice, yowling over the intercom, warning the crew.
"Yn ařfyřt ityřlut ... Yn ařfyřt ityřlut ... Ařt arvseaio enz
I lay down, right there on the floor. It was soft, padded, just like
all the walls and floors here. I could hear Dad still
objecting. "No, not yet, no gravity, need gravity! Just a
minute!" His eyes were glued to the screen in front of him; text of
some sort, in script I couldn't read, was scrolling rapidly across
it. I heard him muttering "Crummy documentation ... a mess ... can't
find anything ... needs rewrite..."
But Mom's hands were already flying over the rows of clear, paw-sized keys
in front of her. She glanced at me, maybe to see if I was still
standing up, then snapped, "Those F15's will be here before your gravity
and as she said the word "gravity
", she brought her hand down on
the only colored button on the board, and so brought the argument to a
decisive end. There was a crashing roar, the Captain screamed (an
awful sound), and the world lurched violently -- I was glad I was
horizontal. I also heard a faint splashing noise, Dad said "Oops!
", and with a sudden fizzing crackle the lights went
out. Yet another keyboard had been done in by his morning cup.
The Captain, perched on the "command chair" six feet above the rest of us,
was yowling again. "Edy iřarr! Edy iřarr
Mom replied, muttering through clenched teeth, "Right, need more, not
lifting ... too many tons of sand on the roof ... let's see..." and she
started pressing buttons again while Dad mopped coffee. The panel in
front of him was belching smoke at this point, which could be seen dimly
in the glow of the screen in front of him. Unlike the lights, the
screens in front of Mom and Dad were still lit. "All this
technology, why no circuit breakers", I heard him mutter.
Something Mom did apparently made a difference. The roar became
deafening, everything started shaking, and it felt like someone was
kicking the back of my head. Mom's driving was always a little
rough, but this was really terrible -- even worse than the bus ride across
the desert. I guessed we must be "lifting", at last.
The upper walls of the room were covered with what appeared to be screens,
all of which were dark. I had never seen them turned on.
Suddenly they all lit up, bright blue, with what appeared to be swirling
sand visible in them -- they weren't screens, they were windows! We
were above ground! I heard the Captain's happy yell of "Âtnsen an
" ... and as tons of sand fell from the roof, our
acceleration picked up, the pressure of the floor on my back became a
horrible thing, and I guess I blacked out.
I guess I was out for a few minutes. When I came to, the upper
screens -- or windows -- had gone dark again. The roaring was gone;
apparently Mom had shut down the engines(?) again. And ... I was
floating in the middle of the room. Obviously, we weren't on Earth's
surface. As I stared at the upper screens, I realized I could see a
few bright stars; the rest must have been "drowned out" by the room
lights, which had come back on. I wondered vaguely whether we were
in orbit, or falling, or what. Nobody seemed upset, so I guessed we
weren't falling -- I supposed we must have either escaped Earth entirely,
or gone into orbit around it.
I felt awful. My head hurt -- that takeoff had been terrible! -- and
I felt really sick. First time in zero gravity, and it wasn't
fun. I wished I was close enough to something so I could catch hold
and stop drifting. Mom and Dad hadn't moved from their seats.
Mom was looking at a screen which showed something that looked Earthly;
maybe it was the view straight down. Dad was still staring at text
on his screen and mumbling to himself: "Ouufořhag ... nothing.
Iřtifeatlu ... nothing. Ouufořhafahne ... nothing... It's got to be
here ... rotten design, nothing's indexed..."
The Captain was sitting calmly on the ceiling, licking himself. He
paused and gave me a contented blink when I looked his way. Mom and
Dad were strapped in; I don't know how the Captain was staying put.
"At least we know the engines still work, and the hull seems to hold air",
observed Mom, breaking the silence. "I hope you're right about the
rest of the ship, Felix."
Dad didn't answer. He was still absorbed in the screen in front of
him. I heard him say, "Zfat .. nothing. Zpouoa ...
nothing. Ouufořtyfy ... nothing. What did they call it?
tapped his front teeth and stared at nothing for a moment. "Hmmm ...
maybe 'pull' ... that would be 'iřlarar' ... no, nothing with that,
either. Wait, no, wrong form, it wouldn't be 'iřlarar' , it would be
'ahutu', or maybe 'ahut', or 'ahu' ... aha! Found it!
"Really, dear?" asked Felicia. "There's really artificial
gravity? I didn't think it was possible."
"So that's why you didn't want to give me another minute to find
it!" Dad laughed. "But here it is, and I think ...
yes... just ... and ..." He started pushing buttons.
"Here we go..."
" yelled Mom, suddenly looking up from the screen in
front of her and glancing at me. "Everything's -- everybody's --
floating around -- don't
turn it on!" But it was too
late. Dad hit the last button just as Mom said "Don't!"
Abruptly, I wasn't floating, I was five feet above the deck, and
falling. Lucky indeed that the deck was padded! It hurt when I
hit but nothing broke ... nothing in me, anyway. There were crashing
noises from all around us, some close, some distant. The Captain
thumped down next to me, with a soft, high pitched grunt, landing on his
feet, as always. Across the room from us, Dad's coffee maker landed
with considerably less grace; with a crash and a splash, coffee went in
all directions. I heard Dad say "Oops!" just as the lights
went out again.
By the time we got launched, we'd all been awake for so long, I don't know
why we didn't just fall over. We hadn't expected to have much time
after we got to the dig site before somebody
came after us -- and
we didn't. As soon as Dad got the long range scanners up, he saw
what looked like a platoon of helicopters leaving Khartoum, and shortly
after that Mom saw what she thought were F15's heading toward us from
someplace near Cairo.
No matter how tired everybody was, I think Mom and Dad expected a few more
hands on deck for the takeoff than just the four of us! But the
entire rest of the crew had wandered off in search of warm places to
snooze. After that awful bus ride, even Nim-nim had just curled up
and gone to sleep on the first soft spot she found -- and this ship has a
of soft spots.
Once we were "spaced", and in an orbit that wasn't likely to hit anything
(like, say, the Moon, or the Earth at perigee -- you know, when we come
back around and we're at the low point in the orbit) Mom and Dad just went
to sleep right where they were, still strapped into those fancy dentist's
chairs they'd bolted to the deck on the bridge. Did I tell you about
those chairs? They look really funny. I don't know where Dad
got them. They look kind of worn, like they might be second hand,
but they have lots of adjustments which Dad said would be good for getting
at all the controls. But the foot thing (you know, that thing you
kick your feet on when the dentist sticks you with the novocaine) kind of
sticks out and gets in the way, so they have to keep the chairs turned
sideways in order to reach the controls. And even with the chairs
lowered all the way down, they're still too high for the control panels,
which were placed about like you'd expect if the crew were all ten inches
tall (which is about what they are, come to think of it). So, Mom
and Dad have to lean over and scrunch down to get at a lot of the buttons
and see the bottoms of the screens.
I think Mom wants to get some different chairs, if we get a chance to do a
little shopping back on Earth before we head for the Cat's Eye.
Anyway, they conked right where they were, and maybe the Captain did too
(I didn't see where he went), but I didn't feel like sleeping on the
floor, even if it was soft. For one thing I was kind of bruised
after that fall when the gravity came on. I wanted something more
like a bed. So I stumbled off to look for a cabin or
something. I was more than half asleep, and really didn't know where
I was going, but I figured I'd just wander around until something turned
My memories of that walk are all garbled. I was really at least as
much asleep as awake, and the ship's corridors got all tangled up with
dreams. I'm sure I didn't actually
ride a huge white
mouse through a long passage lined with glowing toadstools, nor encounter
the King of the Cats seated on a throne in an inner chamber of the ship,
nor pass through any of a dozen other bizarre nonexistent regions which
were most of what I recalled of my search for a reasonable bed.
But I'm sure I did
eventually find myself crawling
very low passage, leading to noplace I knew. I'm sure of it because
I finally fell asleep in a room off that corridor, and I had to crawl back
along it after I woke up again.
I haven't told you about the ship's layout, have I? The corridors
and cabins in this ship seem to have been designed by a lunatic; certainly
they follow no logic I can see -- no human
The bridge, as I may have mentioned, has a ceiling that's about 20 feet
high. Most of the small rooms (cabins?) which I've seen have
ceilings that are five or six feet high, but a few are much higher or
lower. Dad says there are a couple rooms down toward the bottom of
the ship which are big enough to hold an airliner; he doesn't know what
they were used for. The hallways are just as goofy. Some are
big enough to drive an 18 wheeler through, some are just big enough for me
to stand up, some are so small I have to get on my hands and knees, and a
few have ceilings so low that a squirrel wouldn't fit through them -- they
seem to be sized for mice. And none of them go straight. It's
as if whoever laid them out kept getting distracted and losing track of
where they were going, so that the paths wandered all over the place
(rather like the streets of Boston, which we visited last year).
So the last thing I can remember before I fell asleep was finding a
doorway into someplace where I could stand up, someplace dark, with a very
soft, warm floor, with some squishy things which felt like pillows lying
around, and with some kind of table or shelf near the doorway. I
pulled some of the lumpier items out of the pockets of my overalls -- did
I mention we were all wearing overalls? They were kind of the
"ship's uniform" while we loaded everything in from the trucks and got
stuff stowed before takeoff. Anyhow I fished some of the lumpiest
junk out of my pockets and put it on the shelf/table/seat thing, so I
wouldn't be covered with dents when I woke up, and just flopped right
I woke up in the dark. I couldn't remember where I was, and I'd no
idea how long I'd been sleeping. I wasn't sure what had awakened me,
either -- a sort of soft plop
, I thought. As I lay there, I
heard it again -- a sound of something small falling, right next to
me. I didn't see what it was, at first.
I sat up, and realized it wasn't completely dark, after all. The
light was very dim, but I could see enough to realize I was lying next to
a sort of table. And there was something on the table -- something
moving. There was a faint scraping noise, and a louder plop
and my pocket computer bounced on the floor in front of me. The
shadowy thing on the table seemed to put its head over the edge as the
computer hit the floor. Suddenly I remembered where I was, and realized
what was going on. One of the crew members was on the table in front
me, knocking things off, one at a time, and watching them fall.
As I stuffed pens, pencils, computer, and assorted small items back into
my pockets, I looked around the room, and gasped. Part of my
surprise was that I could breathe at all -- we appeared to be standing on
the outer hull of the ship! The floor was terraced; the level I was
on extended another few feet. That was followed by a drop of a foot
or two to the next level, which was also a few feet wide. Altogether
there appeared to be three or four levels, the last one of which simply
ended; beyond the edge, I could see nothing but star filled space.
The entire far wall and the ceiling showed no signs of being there.
The terraces were warm and soft, as I've already mentioned, and there were
what appeared to be pillows scattered around randomly. In the dim
light, part starlight and partly a very faint glow from the wall through
which I'd entered, I could see a dim form curled up on one of the
pillows. Apparently I was, at best, the third member of our group to
find this room.
I turned to the creature on the table, and asked, "What is this
place? Do you know?"
The only answer I got was a sound sort of like "Rrrowr?" -- a 'meow' with
rising inflection. A general purpose question sound, which means
pretty much the same thing in any language. I realized I didn't know
this crew member ... and have I told you about our crew?
We came from Arkham, on the Chaton Noire, with forty so-called "feral
cats" -- all pure blooded People of Iem. Dad calls them the
Numenorian Cats, and says we should try to figure out which one is
Aragorn. He's just being silly, but certainly they're not like other
alley cats. I know all of them by sight, and they all know me, and
they all understand English pretty well. This cat apparently wasn't
any of them.
That was no surprise, though, since we have a lot more than forty cats on
board. The word had gone out before we got to Africa that we were
going to try to make the trip back. Most cats don't seem to care or
don't understand, but some do, and we were met by more cats in Tripoli who
wanted to join us. At every stop on the trek down to Sudan we picked
up a few more cats, and when we got to the dig site we found a crowd
waiting for us. I lost count, but altogether there are at least a
hundred cats on board. All that I'd seen up close looked like People
of Iem, with six toed feet, tabby stripes, and long tails.
The African cats obviously didn't all understand English, though, which
was a problem, at least for me. I tried some other languages, also
without much luck:
"Cette piece, qu'est-ce que ce est?"
"Rrrowr?" ... French was no go; must not be an Algerian cat.
"Wissen Sie, was ist diesen Zimmer?"
"Rrrowr?" ... German, no go non plus
. No surprise, I
suppose, there's not much German spoken in Africa.
"¿Qué es esta sala?"
"Rrrowr?" ... Not a cat from the Spanish main, I guess.
"Говорите ли вы русский?"
"Rrrowr?" ... No Russian. Wouldn't have helped, anyway, that was the
only Russian phrase I know: 'Do you speak Russian?'
At this point, the cat said, slowly, sounding kind of bored: "Hihi
iřtla Iemy iiřutyř ... iřřřřřřv
I sighed. So that's where we were going. In English, that's
"Isis can speak Iemy ... riiiight?"
I suppose all the cats know who I am, even if I don't know most of
them. And I suppose they all know I can speak Iemy. But I
speak it badly, and slowly. Dad's Romanized Iemy seems simple
enough, but the real thing isn't quite the same as how it looks written
down. Trying to say it right makes my throat hurt, and I'm sure the
cats think I sound really funny. I wish I could tell when they're
laughing -- I mean, laughing at me
And it's kind of funny, they all call me "Hihi", never "Isis". Not
even Nim-nim will tell me why, but I think my English name, with those
hissy "s" things in it, sounds too much like a kitty insult of some sort.
Anyway I tried asking it in Iemy. "Aiofařeetu tiat, ti eet sofa?" --
this room, what is it?
Bother. I must have snargled the grammar, or my accent's too thick,
or I somehow said something rude ... I decided to back up and start
over. The proper
way to start a conversation with a strange
cat is to introduce yourself, and then compliment the cat, or so Dad
says. I tried that.
"Arn fiřtarar ar sofa?" -- 'One calls you what?'
I guess I got that wrong ... let me see... I think I used the wrong word
for 'call'. And maybe I'm supposed to say my name, even though this
cat already knows who I am. I tried it again:
"Arn ararfar ařt Hihi. Arn ararfar ar sofa?" -- 'One calls me
Hihi. One calls you what?'
Progress! I now knew I was talking to "Iehyarj" -- In English, that
would be ... um ... Snidly
. How appropriate -- from what I'd
heard so far, this cat sure seemed like a "Snidly
" to me, tee-hee.
And now, I needed to say something nice. I could barely see this
animal in the dim light, and I thought she -- or rather he
sounds like a boy's name -- was kind of priggish. None the less, I
had to say something nice...
"Irlu ype eet eetvr ořtu" -- 'Your fur is very handsome'.
In the dim light, the faint gleam of Snidly's eyes vanished for a
moment. Was that a blink
? I hoped so; coming from a
cat, that's a smile. I decided to try to get back on topic, now that
we were introduced.
"Aiofařeetu fyřzk, ti eet sofa? Fey, ti ofi ařlu en
-- 'This room here, what is it? And it has no
walls -- how?'
Snidly seemed to blink again, but said nothing -- and then suddenly
bounded off the table and down across the terraced room, and leaped
directly up from the last terrace into the void. I gasped ... but
Snidly didn't continue on out into space, as my mind's eye pictured it
happening in the split second after he left the floor. Instead, he
froze, legs splayed out, in midair, apparently clinging to nothing.
I saw his head turn back at me, and I think he blinked again.
Laughing, this time? I suspected so ... obviously, there was
a wall there, one which I simply couldn't see. I fished a flashlight
out of one of the pockets of my overalls and pointed it at the
"wall". The beam showed nothing at all, not even dust clinging to
the surface. But whatever it was, it was solid enough for Snidly to
dig his claws into it!
I was about to ask Snidly for a little
more information on this
place -- if, indeed, he knew any more than I did about it, aside from the
fact that it had climbable, if invisible, walls -- when the Captain's
voice boomed out from all directions at once:
"Asat no yřutz yn ořtui ofarar irrtu ufiitařeear, umař
pa-aosi-ehet-oley-net oun, ysuřtao ařhela!
The first part was "All of crew, do toward..." and
then I got lost for the whole middle. The last bit was "Twelve
minutes!". But do what
in twelve minutes? Lucky for
me, the Captain repeated the announcement ... and then repeated it
again. I guess he figured most of the crew was asleep to start with,
so the first time through was just to wake everybody up, the second was to
get their attention, and the third time was to let them know what he
Anyhow on the second pass I realized that most of the messy thing in the
middle was a number, and the third time through I managed to pick out the
digits. The whole thing seemed to be:
"All crew members, go to Hall of Assembly, Room 8,9001, twelve
I groaned. I had no idea where -- or what -- the Hall of Assembly
was; I couldn't make head or tail of the room numbering system, which
seemed to assign rooms to numbers in no particular sequence; at least half
the rooms had no room numbers I could see; and I didn't know where I
was. And what's more, the room number he gave had two zeros in it,
so even if I found the room and it had a room number beside the doorway I
might not recognize it.
Have I told you about Iemy numbers? Iemy numbers use place value,
just like Arabic numbers, except that it's base 12. Dad says it's
because they have six digits on each of their front feet, while we use
base 10 because we have 5 digits on each of our
front feet, but I
think he's really just guessing. Anyhow they use base 12, but Iemy
script only has 11 digit symbols. They don't use a zero
they just leave a gap
where a zero digit should go. This
isn't so bad, unless there are more than one zero in a row, and then the
only way you can tell what the number is, is by the length of the
gap. The room numbers marked beside the doors seemed to have been
drawn on by hand, and they were a bit sloppy, so I wasn't sure I'd be able
to tell room 8,9001 from room 8901 or room 89,0001. But maybe there
wasn't any room 89,0001 (that would be a lot of rooms!) and maybe room
8901 had no room number (which seemed likely, since so few were marked) so
maybe that wouldn't be a problem.
But, I still didn't know where I was. By this time Snidly had
climbed back down from the wall and was sauntering up the room toward me,
and toward the door. I asked him, "Ar yřenz yřv, ařt eet sotut?" --
'You know? We are where?' I sure hoped he did.
True to form, he replied, "ituafe", 'obviously', and then added, "Ar eet
fyřzk." So, 'You are here'. Thanks, Snidly, that's a big help
... not. "Where are we" and "Where am I" are the same in Iemy, and
he had answered the second, when I had obviously asked the first.
I tried again. "Ar yřenz yřv, ofarar irrtu ufiitařeear eet sotut?"
-- 'Do you know, where is the assembly hall?'
Again, Snidly replied "Ituafe", and immediately sauntered out of the
room. I scurried after him (the doorway was low
-- I had to
scrunch through it) and hurried along the corridor after Snidly, on my
hands and knees.
After what seemed like a long time crawling through a maze of low
corridors, Snidly's gray striped form suddenly turned left into the wall
and vanished. I scrambled to catch up, and found he'd gone down a
side tunnel barely higher than his head -- and I couldn't possibly
follow him there. Whether it was a shortcut, or just an attempt to
lose me, I had no idea. I yelled "Hey!" in plain old English.
From some distance down the tunnel I heard, "Roooowřřřř?", followed by
"Hihi irha ene?" -- 'Isis fits not?' Now it was my turn to say "Ituafe!"
Somewhat to my surprise, Snidly didn't simply continue on down the narrow
tunnel and leave me stranded. He came back, and continued on along
the "large" corridor in which I could, at least, crawl. Shortly
after that we turned into an even larger corridor, and I could stand up
and walk. A few minutes later Snidly turned through a large doorway,
and as I followed him I found myself in what could only be the Hall of
The Hall is round, and somewhat larger than the Bridge -- which, come to
think of it, I've never told you much about, have I? Like the
Bridge, the Assembly Hall has what appear to be display screens around the
upper part of the room, but they were all dark when we entered. The
screens are about six feet above the floor. The walls tip in a bit,
so the screens are angled so that someone on the floor could look up at
them comfortably. They are large
-- each one must be five
feet across. I think there are around 20 of them, all the way around
the room. And, also like the bridge, next to each screen, between it
and the next one, there's what looks to me like a TV camera, pointed down
toward the center of the room.
There are half a dozen doorways into the room, scattered unevenly around
the wall. Like all the doorways on the ship, there are no closable
doors; they're just openings into the corridors.
In the center of the floor there's a dais, with a broad cushion on the
top, about five feet above the surrounding floor. On the dais, I saw
the orange, stripey form of Captain Boots, standing, with his orange eyes
wide open, glaring his orange glare down at the rest of the room.
The floor in the rest of the room sloped down, from the edge of the room
to the dais, and all around the room were scattered cushions. Mom
and Dad were there, sitting on cushions, and there looked like about eight
or nine cats scattered here and there around the room. And the air
was filled with an intolerable yowling.
With at least half a dozen excited cats talking at once, and Mom and Dad
trying to get their points across, and the Captain yelling down at
everybody, all I could tell for sure was that there was an argument going
on. After a few minutes I decided they were arguing over who
the "crew" really was. Apparently some of the Arkham cats felt they
were the "rightful crew", and the African cats were "just
passengers". As far as I could tell, the African cats were divided
on this, some feeling they should have the "privilege" of being crew
members, with others feeling they should have the "right" to be carried as
passengers, with all actual work done by the "crew".
At some point Dad stopped saying anything, and just looked down at the
computer in his lap. He was typing something, and staring at the
screen. Suddenly he jumped up (not quite
dropping the laptop
as he got up), and hurried up the room to the wall. I thought I saw
him pushing some buttons set low in the wall, and the Captain's
voice suddenly boomed out over everything. Dad had turned on a PA
system! That ended the argument, as the Captain's amplified angry
yowl drowned out all other sounds. I'm not sure what he said, since
after the first few moments I had my hands over my ears.
When the Captain stopped talking, there was silence (except for the
ringing in my ears). Whatever he had said must have been pretty
convincing, quite apart from its volume level.
After a short pause, during which Dad did something further to the buttons
on the wall, he called across the room to the Captain, "I've cut the
volume -- and you have all-ship now!"
Captain Boots started talking. I could hear his voice from in front
of me, and I could hear it coming through the open door behind me, echoing
in the corridors. I guessed that's what Dad meant by "all-ship" --
everybody on the ship could hear him.
The words of Captain Boots's speech and
comments which follow are shown in English. Readers interested in seeing
the Iemy of the portions which Isis recalled may find it here
-- Johann Schnarchhund
"In my hereditary position as Captain of this Vessel, as Direct Descendant
of Boots Eelstopper, Captain of the First Expeditionary Force, and by the
power vested in me by my aforementioned position and heritance, it
behooves upon me to assert..." and at that point he switched into Old Iemy
and he lost me, totally. If a pipe organ could purr and talk at the
same time, it would sound something like Old Iemy -- it's fun to listen to
but really hard to understand!
While the Captain was talking (and talking, and talking...) I sat down on
a cushion and looked around the room at the cats. There were a bit
more than half a dozen cats when Snidly and I arrived, and we were already
pretty late -- it had taken a lot more than twelve minutes for us to get
from the place where I slept to the Assembly Hall. A few cats who
were even later trickled in after us. But still, now that everyone
was settled down to listen to the Speech, I realized there were hardly
more than a dozen cats in the room, out of a total complement of about a
hundred. Furthermore, as I looked at them, I realized that several
of the "crew members" who appeared at first to be frozen in rapt attention
to the Captain's words were, in fact, asleep
And then I noticed a faint sort of scuffling
noise in back of
me. The room lights had been dimmed when the Captain started talking
(Dad's doing, I guess), and my eyes were a little dazzled from the bright
light which was still turned on the Captain, so I wasn't quite sure what I
was seeing at first. There was some sort of commotion taking place
up right against the wall, just to one side of the door. Lots of
whirling gray fur; it almost looked like a fight of some sort ... but it
wasn't, not if a fight requires more than one participant! It was
Snidly. I thought at first he was having a fit of some sort, a
seizure, and I was about to go try to help him, when I realized what was
He was chasing his tail.
I sighed. I guess this was the best we could expect. Getting
the entire crew together for a meeting -- getting them all to come to the
same place at the same time, and getting them to concentrate on one thing
for more than a few minutes -- was a lot like ... well ... like herding
Only the Captain is different. Other cats I've met are all pretty
relaxed, but Captain Boots is intense
. He's the closest
thing I've seen to a truly driven cat. He is absolutely determined
to get back to Arbr, if he possibly can, and bring as many of what he
views as His People along as he can. It even keeps him awake
worrying, if you can believe it! No 20 hours out of 24 spent
sleeping for the Captain! In fact I'm not sure I've ever
seen him sleeping, at least not for more than a few minutes at a time.
The Captain's speech sounded like it was winding down. With a last
musical warble of trilled A's and U's, he reverted to modern Iemy, and I
could understand what he was saying again.
Iemy for the Captain's words may be found here
"All occupants of this ship are subject to the law of the duly appointed
Captain, and so all are part of the Crew. And I shall now appoint
the Bridge Crew, who will have specific Duties and Tasks during the
Flight, and will be Expected to be On The Bridge when not Otherwise
"Chief Engineer shall be Felix Resilleserre, of Arkham.
"Chief Pilot shall be Felicia Vitechat, of Arkham.
"Chief Science Officer shall be Nim-nim, of Innsmouth. (Nim-nim
was from Innsmouth? I had no idea!)
"Chief Protocol and Security Officer shall be Snidly, of Britain.
"Assistant and Alternate Bridge Crew will be named As Needed."
Since most of the Bridge Crew could be expected to be asleep at any given
moment, I figured he'd have to name about 5 additional cats to each
position, but if so, he was putting that off. In any case, some of
the positions sounded kind of strange to me. I wasn't at all sure
what a "science officer" did -- wasn't that Mr. Spock's position?
Just what was
his job, anyway? And I sure
know what a "Protocol and Security" officer was going to do, and I had a
hard time picturing Snidly doing it, whatever it might be.
And, thinking of Snidly, I suddenly realized what I'd just heard -- Snidly
is from Britain
. "But if Snidly's from Britain, then he must
I said, to nobody in particular, in an
outraged tone. I was looking at the Captain, but it was a voice from
behind me who replied.
"Of cooaauřse" I heard someone say, in oddly accented but perfectly clear
English. I looked around -- It was Snidly
spoken! As far as I knew, lots of the cats could understand English,
but the only language any of them could speak was Iemy. Even Nim-nim
could speak very little English, slowly and with a thick accent.
"Snidly -- You speak English!
" I said.
"Of cooaauřse. Et fřaaunçais auuuwsi."
I wondered if being appointed "protocol officer" had anything to do with
the fact that he could speak human languages. But before I could ask
him, I realized that the meeting wasn't over. Mom was talking.
"You've left out a lot of positions. What about communications? What
? If someone's hurt, who takes care of it?"
In Iemy again, the Captain replied, "I said, I'll name additional bridge
.. but maybe you are right about a medical
person." He paused. "All who are interested in the position of
please report to the dais in the Assembly Hall at
I heard the echo of his words coming in through the door behind me.
He was using the intercom again; everyone on the ship must have heard him.
Snidly was washing a paw. Most of the cats in the room seemed to be
napping. There was silence in hallway behind me; the ship might have
been deserted for all the response the Captain got. After a long
pause, the Captain added, "Does anyone
know what to do if a person
There was another silence, and then one of the cats snoozing closest to
the dais lifted her head and said, sleepily, "Yřsy irvhut ioni tiat"
-- that's 'Could do this thing."
Captain Boots immediately announced, "Chief Medical Officer shall be
Benga, of Egypt". As he said that, I thought about what it meant to
have a bored Egyptian cat as your doctor
. I sincerely hoped
that I was not going to get sick on this trip!
But the meeting still wasn't over. Dad was saying something
now. He'd been absorbed in his laptop for most of the meeting.
I think he'd somehow tied it to the ship's computer.
"What you may not realize is this wasn't just an exploration ship.
It has some pretty strange weapons, if I've read this right.
Somebody should take on figuring out what they do and how to use them."
Captain Boots was staring at Dad as he said this. He seemed to take
this more seriously than the question of whether we needed a ship's doctor
or not. He blinked once at Dad, and said, "Yes ... we need gunnery
A cat I couldn't see, close to the wall on the opposite side of the room,
meowed, in Iemy, "Gunnery officer does what?" I suddenly realized
all the cats in the room were awake, and looking intently at the Captain.
"Gunnery officer ... operate weapons, defend ship, chase enemies."
"What sort of enemies?" came a question from the same cat. This
conversation was being heard everywhere on the ship; I could hear the
echoes coming in from the doorway behind me.
"Whatever we encounter. Persons, animals, aliens, mice, ..."
At the word "mice" there was a sort of yell, which seemed to be echoed
throughout the ship: "Ařřřřřrt!
" In English,
that would be 'Meeeeee!'. A rumbling followed, like the sound of
hundreds of little feet galloping along the corridors, and cats started
pouring into the room through all the doors, repeating the cry,
"Ařt! Ařt iřtla irvhut!" -- 'Me! I can do it!'
But the cat who had asked about gunnery, a huge calico, had climbed right
up on the dais with Captain Boots, and was talking to him. I guess
the Captain liked what he had to say, for he announced, loudly,
"Gunnery Officer shall be Skritch of Algiers. There will be no
further discussion of this now".
There was a sort of disappointed "Mewwww" sound from the crowd of cats,
some of whom immediately sauntered back out the doors they'd come in
by. The rest settled down on cushions, hoping, I suppose, that
something else interesting might happen. But actually what happened
next was pretty boring: Dad had apparently decided it was time to
talk about supplies, schedules, where we were heading from here, and what
needed to be done before we took the Big Jump. Even with Dad's usual
concise -- or cryptic -- delivery, this was likely to be pretty tedious.
"We need to make some stops, we need to test the ship's systems, we need
to test the engines, the warp engines. We've got cat food, we've got
almost no human food, and need vitamins, ones that won't keep in the food,
C for humans, taurine for cats, need new pilot chairs, obviously need to
make a stop, maybe more. Maybe need different or more fuel and ev--"
But at this point there was an interruption ... from me
Something had been bothering me, a little bit, and it was bothering me
more as time went by. I finally realized what it was, and realized
I'd better ask the Chief Engineer about it, and soon
something certainly seemed to be wrong -- very wrong. And just as
Dad doesn't worry about protocol when he has something to say, he also
doesn't care if somebody else just butts in, if
something worth saying. "Wait" isn't in his lexicon. So, no
point in waiting for a convenient pause; I just broke into the middle of
his discussion of supplies, right in the middle of his speculation about
fuel, and called out,
-- What's that smell?
He stopped talking in mid-syllable, and just looked at me. At least
half the cats in the room looked at me, too. Everybody was sniffing
... and it didn't look like any of them liked what they smelled. Dad
was looking all around the room, and up at the ceiling. He muttered
something that sounded to me like "Life support -- something in life
support" and suddenly jumped up and ran up to one of the doors.
There was a gray streak across the room, and Snidly followed him
out. I wondered why -- was Snidly taking his role as "security
officer" so seriously already? As Dad disappeared into the corridor,
I heard him call over his shoulder, "Isis -- Felicia -- follow me!"
And that was pretty much the end of the meeting.
And that also ended the first episode.
We have since received an additional communiqué from Johann, which we
have titled The Shopping Trip, Part 1.
Page created on 1/28/10. Minor updates, 2/21/10