Copying The Cat

Entry by: Alex Fleet

18th November 2022
Beatty stared at Erica sleepily, his eyes still drowsy from the effects of the anaesthetic. Erica stared back at Beatty, studying his face, his head, his body. He was perfect. Beatty’s eyes were perfect, focusing first at Erica, then, slightly hazily, beyond her. His little nostrils flared slightly as he breathed, his fine whiskers stood out like fine needles from his cheeks. Erica couldn’t believe the quality of his fur: every detail was perfect, the colouring, the texture. Erica tentatively put her hand out and gently stroked Beatty’s fur. Beatty purred and put his head down to stroke his cheek against Erica’s hand. Not only did he look perfect, even his behaviour was perfect. He sat on the table like some sort of fine sculpture. Only he was for real.

Erica could not believe it.

She turned and looked at Alfie. He was pretending to be asleep, lying curled up near the radiator, but she knew that he was watching herself and Beatty closely. Erica was interested to see his reaction to Beatty, his identical twin.

The three of them sat close together in her studio, as she called it. It was actually more than a studio: it was more a laboratory, maybe more a workshop. For here, Erica had worked on 3d printing for the last decade, first of all producing models of things in three dimensions using printers she had bought. Then, being frustrated with their shortcomings, she used her skills as an engineer to develop them further. She increased their quality, increased their accuracy. Early printers she had bought could print items to resolution of 1600dpi. Erica could now scan and print at molecular level. This of course required incredible computer capacity, but Erica had formulated software which simplified the structure even of living tissue. The printer itself, similarly, was impossibly complicated, with tiny needles extruding matter of a size that could not be seen with the naked eye. But she had found a way of producing mass extrusions of differing materials from banks of tiny needles which enabled much faster production times.

Erica had started off small with inanimate objects, had then tried her hand at simple living forms, and now she was confident enough to reproduce living creatures. Alpha – Alfie – was her first cat to be copied. She liked the name Alfie – A Life, if you swopped things around a bit. Beta, the copy, was Beatty – that meant “voyager through life”. He was her latest living copy: he was a perfect copy of Alfie. She couldn’t help smiling proudly as she admired her work.
She would change the medical world, revolutionise it, producing tissues, organs, complete limbs, complete bodies even. As she sat and mused, she could perhaps even – goodness – give people eternal life by reforming them into younger bodies. Now that would be interesting.

Alfie also thought Beatty was interesting. Very interesting. He had been watching Erica and Alfie out of the corner of his eye, pretending to be not at all interested. He didn’t like this new cat on the scene. He didn’t like the way that his beloved Erica paid such close attention to him. Even stroking him! And looking him in the eye like that! This was too much. He waited his opportunity and he didn’t have to wait long: he saw Erica’s eyes glaze as she thought of her strange dreamy thoughts: so he pounced.

Beatty scarcely saw what was coming: he scarcely had time to widen his eyes before Alfie was upon him, a solid missile of teeth and spit and hair and claws, scrabbling sharply for a hold on him as they tumbled together onto the floor together. Beatty managed to recall from his reproduced brain the basic instinct to defend himself and together the two cats became one screaming, hissing bundle of fur writhing on the floor, locked together by their identical sharp claws. Alfie of course had the advantage, with Beatty scarcely awake and still getting used to using a body that felt slightly strange because even at molecular level there were always going to be microscopic manufacturing tolerances which would make him slightly different to the original.

Somehow Beatty managed to tear himself free from Alfie and ran frantically around the room trying vainly to escape, but no matter how he leaped up onto tables, hid behind chairs, ran behind Erica’s legs, he could barely escape Alfie’s snapping teeth and scratching claws.

Erica meanwhile screamed in hysteria as she saw her masterpiece being torn to shreds. Then, as she watched, Alfie caught Beatty again and together they rolled on the floor again, just one big mass of fur and legs and hissing and claws. Erica couldn’t even tell them apart.

Then, there was an agonised scream, and the explosion blew Alfie across the floor to hit the filing cabinets at the end of the room with an impact that knocked the breath out of him. Erica was knocked off her chair by the explosion and now she too sat dazed on the floor, covered in blood and teeth and lungs and liver. The walls were grossly sprayed with internal organs and part of Beatty’s fur hung limply from the door handle.

Alfie and Erica exchanged dazed glances.

Erica swore under her breath. She needed to do more work: her printouts were still proving to be unstable.