It’s a great challenge, Mahlee! I hope someone can take up the gauntlet soon. In the meantime, while currently out of the running to be challenged, I couldn’t resist playing with her interesting criteria, which I’ll paraphrase here:
Your characters are in a heated argument at a cat show over a hairless sphinx. Why, when, and where are left up to the author. Who wins the argument and how? Included items: a swimming pool, pistachio ice cream in a cone, gold glitter, and a tattoo of Tutankhamen.
Michael and the Fantastical Flying Feline
“It’s not an alien,” Simon insisted, peering at the hairless animal from the distant side aisle. “It’s a cat, Michael, just like all the others at the show, if uglier.”
“I know what it’s supposed to be. I also know that so-called cat is no purebred sphinx.”
“Fine, Michael,” Simon conceded, throwing up his hands. “It’s not a cat. Now can we move on to the refreshment stands? I’m starting to get hungry.”
“I can’t! I need to watch it.”
“You what? I don’t appreciate this petty, childish game. It’s not like you.”
“That’s because I’m not playing, Simon. I think that creature is up to something. Someone needs to keep an eye out. And if you think I’m dumb, what can I say that anyone else will believe?”
“I don’t think you’re dumb, just exasperating.” Simon groaned. “For the sake of argument, let’s say the beast is not just an innocent mammal. What would an alien be doing here? And what has you so convinced?”
“I believe the ambassador that disappeared last night is likely already dead at the hands of the Zerellian Consortium. One of the member worlds is populated by sentient beings that look like that ‘cat’. When they fly, they shed this,” Michael murmured, showing gold glitter on his palm. “I swiped this off its table.”
“Now it’s a fantastical flying feline?”
Ignoring the interruption, Michael continued, “This glittery stuff is what I saw sprinkled around the swimming pool yesterday before police arrived. It looks like the exact same material they found when Senator Bracken disappeared a year ago. One minute, he was at a party talking to the host. The next, the host turned away and Bracken was gone. From eyewitness accounts, police sketch artists ended up with the spitting image for that wrinkled freak. I saw it all on a vid-file last week.”
“You watch too much of that true-crime crap. And anyway, why would the alien still be here? Why not fly away for good? It makes no sense.”
“It does if the job isn’t done. Ambassador Strom took up the anti-Zerellian cause from Bracken but he’s not the only one here that agrees. You happen to be another. Look, I know you think I’m silly.”
“Well, tell me something more. Give me proof that I’m in danger.”
“I don’t have proof or we wouldn’t be standing here.”
“Calm down, Michael. Tell me what else you saw by the pool. You didn’t see a flying cat, I take it.”
“Well, I did think it odd that the pistachio ice cream cone Ambassador Strom had been eating ended up shattered all over the concrete.”
“He probably threw unwanted leftovers toward a trashcan and missed. There, one mystery solved. Stranger would be that cat having a tattoo of Tutankhamen on its backside.”
“Very funny. I think Strom dropped the food while being dragged into the sky. Never mind. I know that look,” Michael sighed. “Forget I said anything.”
At that moment, Simon laid a hand on Michael’s shoulder. The dark eyes flashed in such a way that Michael tracked his gaze to where the subtle gesture indicated.
“Isn’t that the interstellar police? They’re coming right this way,” Simon muttered.
Not waiting for Simon to comply, Michael felled the older man with a martial arts maneuver. He would apologize later, after they walked away from this adventure.
Twinkling gold showered upon the pair as reptilian wings folded over the back of the airborne homunculus. Where the limbs came from was anyone’s guess. Michael didn’t try. Oversized paws opened into clawed hands as the dreadful little monster dove repeatedly upon the fallen businessman and his horrified lover. Michael shielded Simon as best he could, too focused upon fighting off attack to hear the shots fired over his head.
Michael remained on his knees, half leaning over Simon, whom he’d kept pressed to the floor. The failed assassin flapped one leathery wing, black foam forming on the bifurcated lip as bulbous eyes glazed over. Despite his anticipation, Michael felt utterly discombobulated after the endorphin rush.
“What just happened?”
“I think you officially became my hero.”