Sure, in hindsight it was a bad idea. A terrible idea. But it didn't seem like it at the time, honest. At the time, it seemed like a fine idea. A way to make lots of people happy and to make some serious bank at the same time.
The law said we couldn't mess around with people, right? I mean, back when Bush the Sequel and the Lackey Congress passed all those rules about tampering with the human genome. So sure, we'd discovered the genes for your classic psychic powers, but we couldn't give them to anyone. We couldn't tinker with people at all. Five hundred million dollars in research, and it was going to leave us with nothing.
I think Sullivan was the one who suggested pets. It sounds good, right? I mean, they love people. Cats and dogs have been domesticated for millenia!
Okay, it sounds stupid now, but that's because you know what happened. At the time, we all had visions of Fido floating his master's slippers over to him and lighting his pipe. I mean, pets love people. They'd never try to hurt anyone, right?
Yeah, well. At first it looked like we had botched the first batch. We tested them for months after they were born, and nothing. Zilch. Cute as can be, but no psychic powers at all. So we adjusted the Jurtonian rates and some of the doses, and started again. The first batch, we wrote off.
Of course we took them home! I mean, some of them, at least. My kids were dying to have a puppy. It's not like we had given them anthrax genes or anything dangerous - they were just normal animals. I want to stress that - all the tests had come back negative. As far as we knew, they were just normal pets. You need to understand that. What, we were supposed to destroy them?
Yes, I already admitted it was a bad idea. In retrospect, one of the dumbest things I've ever done. But... my kids wanted a puppy.
Also, you should consider that it's probably a good thing we didn't just hand them over to an animal shelter. I hate to think what a survival reflex might have done, if one of them were faced with death...
Anyway. Bosco - yeah, the kids picked the name - was a great dog. Is a great dog. We picked animals with sweet temperments, remember. We loved him, and he loved us. Classic human-pet bonding.
We'd had him a year before, well, before his power manifested. We still don't know why it took that long, but all the animals did, and then manifested all at once.
Bosco turned out to be a pyrokinetic. Yeah, starts fires. One day - that day - he was out in the yard barking at some leaves and FOOMP they burst into flames. The kids thought it was great. Of course, they didn't tell me right away. Didn't want to get the dog taken away from them.
Say what you will about animals, Bosco realized what he had immediately.
The next day he set fire to seventeen passing cars. Didn't bark at all, just watched them drive by and FOOMP set 'em alight. Luckily, none of them exploded or anything. Just paint damage and panicked drivers.
The rest of us had been out at the lake, but my youngest, Jenny, was home with a cold, and she watched Bosco standing out in the yard just waiting for a car to pass. She's the one who counted the cars. He'd just stand there, tail twitching slightly, until another car drove by.
And, of course, all the other animals had manifested, too.
When we got home, the answering machine had already filled up. Linda Mettler, whose cat had become telekinetic, called while watching cat poop float by her and hide itself in her sock drawer. Harold Atkin's cat, which went pyrokinetic like Bosco, was out in his yard exploding squirrels. His lawn was covered with little piles of burnt fur, and he'd had to use the garden hose to put out tree fires twice. Jimmy Nguyen's dog had become telekinetic, figured out how to open the refrigerator, and was using Jimmy's kitchen floor like a vomitorium while it cleaned out the fridge. Out floated a steak, King ate it, threw it up, and out floated the next steak.
It went on and on. All two dozen animals had manifested. Poor Mabel Ciolini's bird had become telepathic, and when she called she was fifty miles away, still driving, and still being harangued for a cracker every four seconds.
As for us, even as I was still listening to the messages I watched Bosco walk in from the front yard, lie down on the sofa, and ignite a cushion to warm up.
You know the rest. We managed to collect all the animals, even Bob Nickowski's retriever, which could fly. They're all back in the lab. Yes, and we've paid for whatever damages they did.
I told, you, it seemed like a good idea at the time.
Of course we're still working on psychic pets! It's a potential gold mine, if we can work out the kinks. We just have to come up with smarter pets...
- Sun Ra
Columns by Sun Ra