Wanta Has His Day
By Rob Morris
There were things he remembered in his life, and some he simply didn't care to. For example, he honestly had no idea how he ended up walking on that beach. He had always liked the beach, that much he knew. But it hadn't meant as much until he met her. Nothing had.
"Oh, did someone abandon you, too? Would you like to be my friend?"
She was a scruffy thing, and he could tell she had been hurt-and that she needed love like no other creature he had ever met. Eventually, he even came to the grim conclusion that someone had tried to litter with her when she wasn't ready. Her sounds were of course gibberish to him, but it was pleasant gibberish, and she shared her food, a sign of love among her kind. These were the hard times, but somehow, being together, they didn't mind as much.
"Well, don't worry. We'll feed him too."
She kept wandering over to this big place, with walls and a yard. He almost wanted to bite her for how long it took to decide for them to stay there. What was there to think about? There was food, and it was warm with a roof. The Papa and The Mama seemed nice enough. He sort-of recalled losing sight of her, being held by someone who he did not like at all. But he went to their new home, and to his surprise, he found her there. He also found the oddest creature he had ever met : A giant cat.
"Nyu! Nyu! NYU!"
She was obviously a cat. There were the ears, the voice she spoke in, and the fact that she kept throwing off the furs they wore. Just like a cat, she was always all over everyone and everything. Also, she would go away basically forever and then suddenly show up again. Unlike most cats, she was fun to play with, and never tried to eat his food-well, except once, then she coughed it up. Typical cat.
"They shouldn't tie you up."
Except when she wasn't a cat at all. This was worse than when they puffed themselves up. There was something wrong with this cat. Suddenly, she talked the others' gibberish, and-and EXTRA PAWS came out of her head! This one, when she was around, looked at the Mama with eyes that no cat ever looked at any dog with, even if that dog had peed on them.
"Hello? Your friend seems to have fainted. Can you talk to me? Don't you like me? Are you being rude?"
Another giant cat, this one with blue fur atop her head. The other one had pink fur. Was it him, or were cats getting weird? This one must have once been a house cat, for she was a lot more well-behaved. Yet she was even weirder-her paws had no real scent to them! He knew there was some reason for this, but his memory again was selective.
He didn't get to sleep with his friend as much anymore, but he was getting prosperous, the master of his own house that she really couldn't have fit in. Plus, she seemed to be doing better. Even her skittishness around the new Papa seemed to fade with time. Then came three awful days. Those days, he would never forget, though he wished he could.
On the first day, someone-something-came into the big house, and it was like it was made up of pure hate. Once, he had been chased by a dying giant of his kind, now emaciated, hungry as sin and almost literally falling apart from disease and rot. There was no soul left in that one, and in this one? He was fairly certain there had never been a soul.
"Time to play with a Human Girl!"
If there was something you should never do in front of him, it was try and forcibly make a litter with his friend. She wasn't ready-sadly, she might never be ready-some of them simply were made that way. Truth was, he used to be driven crazy by her suspicions of the new Papa, always seeing his every move as one to force her onto the floor. But this was no mistake, no innocent head-rub taken wrong. So he pounced on the bastard.
He recalled some more sounds while he slept off the blow that knocked him silly.
"Get off her, you damned Pedo! You want something? You take me on!"
He had forgotten about the other dog she sometimes hung out with, down on the beach. This one didn't really look like a dog, but man could he bark. As he slowly woke up, he heard the big dog chase off the evil one. Neither of them ever came back.
A few dinners later, they all ate in peace, and the girl with the sweet yelp who wasn't housebroken opened a paper. The doors fell off then. Big angry people with no faces held metal and looked ready to use it. The blue-haired cat tried to chase them off, but they broke her into pieces and laughed about it. That's when he knew he didn't like these people. The blue cat was actually pretty nice. He decided to help out, but it seemed like everybody in the whole world had practiced throwing him around. The Papa saw this and went wild, so the people with metal tried to put him down. The pink cat, the first one to live there, saw the Papa fall. Her fur and ears grew, and suddenly the invaders were so much kibble.
The house was not like it was. The Papa was gone. The pink cat was gone. The Mama of The Mama wanted the blue cat gone-he didn't need to understand them to get that much. He kept to his friend, and hoped that this place wouldn't become just a memory. But soon after, they all followed the Papa and saw the pink cat.
She was in hideous pain, and so the Papa put the pink cat down. He realized that the Papa must have known her since she was a kitten, and that was sad.
His friend, who once fell apart whenever he left the room, was growing stronger, and the blue cat got to stay, and the Papa got better too. The Mama still cried a lot.
Walking along, he saw the blue cat talking with someone who might be her Papa, and then on the beach, he saw his friend. The big dog had come back, smelling different, but definitely him. He let them play while he watched. This is when he got the shock of his life.
"Excuse me, please, but are you Wanta?"
Wanta turned and saw another dog-a regular one-with dark eyes, and grey-black/white fur and a tight but friendly face.
"Well, that's what my friend seems to call me. Their talk is kind of hard to discern."
The other dog looked puzzled at this.
"Hmmm. I've never found it so, once you nail down some basic patterns. But forgive me for not introducing myself. My name is Maron Sairenji."
Wanta thought for a moment.
"I guess-I'd be Wanta Kaede, though again, I guess I have more to learn about how they talk. Pleased to meet you, Maron. You new around here?"
Maron looked at the scene with Mayu and Bando, then back at Wanta.
"Those two are having an argument."
"They're always arguing. The big dog likes to bark."
Maron pulled back.
"Excuse you-for what?"
"Ummm-Wanta? Why did you call that man a dog?"
Wanta glanced over at the pair, who obviously were feuding.
"I know what he looks like. But tell me that isn't some kind of weird big dog with a huge bark."
Maron almost seemed to sigh.
"I can almost see why you made such a mistake. But that is a man. Obviously, a rather rude one fond of making his own voice one everyone must hear. Though not shaped like him, I know a school principal like that."
"You know a what? Look, Maron? I obviously don't have the education you do. So...just bear with me."
Maron looked down.
"I had not meant to make you feel bad, Wanta. I sense this world is not as kind as the one I know. It seems to be expected of dogs and pets in my place that we know these things. But do you mind if I correct you when I hear something off?"
Wanta was not averse to this.
"Sure! I'd appreciate the help. Ow! Those two really are arguing. You mind if we get going?"
"But don't you want to help your mistress?"
"Man or dog, he would never hurt her. He nearly died to save her."
"Hmmph! Perhaps he is a dog, then!"
The two walked along, and they were far enough away that they neither saw nor heard through the noises of town as Mayu burst into tears, ran off, and Bando looked down.
Back by the cemetery containing the grave of Mariko Kurama, Wanta again saw Nana and her 'Papa'.
"I wonder how the blue cat is doing?"
Maron again reacted.
"That-is a girl."
"You sure? See those ears on top of her head?"
"No, No. See? The man brushes aside her hair, and what do you see?"
"Another set of ears?"
"Those are horns. They are made like our own claws. Sometimes, Humans have the odd extra. My mistress Haruna is seeking to co-litter with a girl who has a devil's tail."
"Really? Is she the only one?"
"No-she has sisters and a father, I believe-all have such tails."
Wanta thought this over.
"Maybe we should get our horned girls together with your tailed ones."
"Not a great idea. And-those two are also arguing."
"The blue ca-errr-the blue-haired girl-is easily annoyed and confused."
So the two walked off, and once again failed to catch it as Kurama shook his head firmly, which caused Nana to burst into tears and run off.
"So your mistress is willing to co-litter? Usually, their kind gets all antsy about that kind of thing. The pink cat-wow-the pink-haired girl and the Mama both wanted to litter with our house's Papa-and I think so does the not-housebroken girl."
"The potential mate in this case is one of worth in their eyes-and the eyes of nearly every girl he meets or knows. In fact, I sometimes think even his fellow litter-pup regrets herself being born as such, as mating in that instance breaks one of their laws."
"Wow-hope he has a lot of energy!"
"He must-he seems to shake a lot."
Wanta realized he had no idea where they were going.
"Hey, Maron-are we headed somewhere?"
"I was hoping to keep it a surprise. But we are heading to your ceremony."
"Why, yes. Every dog has his day, Wanta. This is yours. Your adventures have reached a climax, and now you will receive recognition."
Wanta saw a ferret, and barked.
"Hey, let's get him!"
Maron blocked his new friend.
"Please! We are not in the world you know any longer. There are different rules here."
Maron turned to the ferret.
"I trust you are well, Uzume-San?"
The ferret nodded.
"Thanks, Maron. Good to see you. Have they confessed to each other yet?"
"I think you know the answer to that."
"Still? Oh, well. On my front, Aoi and Kaoru are expecting a baby. Myself, I'm staying at the beach with Chika and the girls. I hope I live to see the baby arrive."
"Uzume-San will live forever, I think."
"You're funny, kid. No, I'm eight. It's gotta be soon. But I have no regrets. Oh-is that Wanta? Good job watching over Mayu, little one. I have a Mayu-she's not always as nice as yours."
The ferret ran off. Wanta watched as he receded in the distance.
"I will miss him. I hope he sees that baby. But post-series events are hard to nail down."
Maron seemed pensive.
"There are details on the nature of reality you are not prepared for, Wanta. For example, if you were to go to the city I live in, you would not find me there."
"It's that big a city?"
Maron begged off any further answers for the moment. A yellow creature with stripes huffed as he walked by.
Wanta looked on as the creature left, the vague feeling of static electricity in the air.
"What's his problem?"
Maron kept on walking as he responded.
"He is a merchandising phenomenon. And very stuck-up as a result. Far better to be a cult classic."
"Maron, I wish I got even half of what you say to me."
Wanta also felt a bit ashamed. Maron apparently knew his friend's name. He had to be told his friend was called Mayu. But it felt good to know.
"Hey-was that a cat or a rabbit?"
"Both-now him, he's as big in some quarters as Old Yellow-but he never let it go to his head."
"What's his story?"
"Him? I'm not sure of the him part, but the situation is one of one man and several female suitors."
A flying turtle passed overhead.
"Just-how many of those situations are there?"
Maron avoided even trying to answer that one.
Inside the arena were dogs of all stripes, spots and coats. A poodle signed autographs despite having no real fingers.
"Well, the movie is probably the end. But you never know with Phineas And..."
A small white bulldog answered excited questions from a legion of pups.
"Well, Professor Quest has to sign the papers for a Blu-Ray release, but of course there will be extras galore..."
Wanta passed by impressive statues of a Collie, a German Shepherd, and a Bloodhound, and felt a stirring he couldn't explain.
"You're Wanta, right?"
This dog walked like a Human.
"Pleased to meet you, on behalf of all the H-B dogs! My name's Augie. My Dad and Huck couldn't make it-Yogi's premiere was the same exact night. But they love your work. Says its stuff they could never have gotten away with."
Wanta was about to tell Maron that these dogs were getting too far afield, when one more Human-like one showed up.
"Well! Hello there little feller! Saw some of what that horned girl Lucy did to those soldiers-kind of reminded me of my friend."
"He has horns?"
"Nope! Feathers-he's a duck."
Wanta watched the awkward-looking creature enter an aisle 'Reserved For Elites' and then he and Maron found seats of their own.
"Just sit tight, Wanta. After the induction names are read off, you'll have a personal meeting with-The Dane!"
Reading off the names was a dog who had 'starred' in something called 'The Thing'. The list included a lot of dogs Wanta would have wanted to get to know, but something nagged at him.
*Mayu needs me. I can feel it.*
The induction list over, Wanta was guided to his meeting with 'The Dane'.
"Rello, Ranta! Eeeehheeeee!"
"Um, Hello-Dane Sir."
"Raw, Rucks! Ru can rall me Rooby-reverybody roes."
The Dane got a serious look.
"Ranta, reven ro re rome from rifferent rorlds, re are rogs together-reld rogether ry our rove ror the Rumans re adore. Re roud of rour place rin rour rorld."
"I promise I will, Rooby."
"RO! Rot Rooby-Rooby! Ry oh Ry roes reveryone ret that wrong?"
Wanta sighed as the Great Dane left.
"I think I insulted him."
Maron shook his head.
"He speaks Human so much, he forgets the accent it gives him. I think you did fine."
Wanta ate some choice steak, then prepared to leave.
"So how do we get home?"
Maron knew he did not have a prayer explaining quantum alternate realities to Wanta, when he barely understood it himself.
Suffice it to say, while a blue-haired horned girl was tending the weeds at Maple House, another girl appeared, holding Wanta.
"Excuse me-is this your dog?"
Nana scooped up the little bundle of licks, and the other girl looked at her in turn, and seemed to speak to Wanta.
"I think she does look a little like a cat."
Nana became confused.
"Umm-my name's Nana. Thank you for bringing Wanta home. My friend Mayu and I have been feeling low-and-she'll be very glad to see he's okay."
Nana then panicked.
"Oh-I'm not wearing my hair ribbons!"
Nana pointlessly covered her horns, but the other girl calmed her.
"My name's Nana, too. And don't worry-"
A tail with something on the end Nana couldn't make out came up from the other Nana's backside.
"We all have our quirks. Me-I hate traveling using one of my sister's new inventions-but Maron insisted that I owed him for using him in one of my games without Haruna-Chan's permission-and I'm the only one who can speak to animals."
"You can? That's wonderful-no wait, that's silly."
The other Nana raised an eyebrow.
"Sillier than artificial limbs and limbs made out of energy?"
Nana thought for a moment.
The other Nana looked at Wanta.
"I take it back-most cats are quite savvy."
The other Nana vanished amidst glares between the two. The Nana Wanta knew brought him back inside to see a grateful Mayu. Both girls were obviously upset, but weren't saying anything about it. Instead, they prepared dinner for Yuka and Kouta, not yet back from their teaching assistant jobs at the university, and then sat down to watch cartoons.
Wanta looked at the screen. He saw bats flying about, then a creepy house. Then-a dog appeared onscreen-a large dog-a Great Dane. Wanta yelped and ran from the room like a rocket. Mayu wondered at this.
"Wanta! There's no need to be afraid. The ghosts aren't real."
Nana shouted as well.
"Yeah! It always turns out to be some guy wearing a mask."
Mayu went after her friend, whose experience in the other world was fading. But there was one thing he was determined not to lose. As she found the small dog, he yelped something, a new weird bark that would be an occasional part of his vocabulary.
"What did you just say?"
Wanta said it again.
Mayu grabbed him up and hugged him.
"Nana? Did anything strange happen today?"
Nana was intently watching the cartoon.
"Oh? Some girl brought Wanta back."
"Anything special about her?"
As the unmasking was near, an impatient Nana glanced back.
"Nothing out of the ordinary-PARK RANGER HARRISON!"
Two of the residents of Maple House had experienced the bizarre realms of alternate realities that day.
One was unable to tell Humans what he saw.
The other was too busy watching Scooby-Doo.
At least it wasn't a Scrappy episode.