Activists + >
published seven short stories, and I have an eighth coming out soon on the "Melic Review" web site. Two previously published stories are posted on my
own web site,
Jared Carter Poetry.
Mice: thousands of white mice with bloodshot eyes and
quivering whiskers. Tier after tier, aisle after aisle of stainless-steel cages
swarming with them. He pushed on through the double doors. Dogs: hundreds of
them. Howling, slavering, surging against their cages to get at him.
He woke up.
Brutus and Caesar had barked up something close to
the house -- a squirrel, maybe, or a chipmunk. They were silent now, and it was
certainly dead, whatever it was. He looked across the bedroom. The girl with
the straight black hair lay naked in the corner farthest from the doors, beneath
the open window, her head thrown back in sleep, mouth open. Sunlight slanting
through the trees dappled her waxen body and deeply tanned arms and legs.
Try this out on your piano. Find out who you are.
Without caring who I am. Take a ride on the Reading Railroad. Everybody's
He stretched, yawned, and sniffed the cool morning
air. His ears told him the lake was calm, yet there was a slight breeze, and
somewhere bacon was frying. The blonde must be up already. The self-reliant
type. He remembered that she was tanned all over. But not a real blonde. He
grinned. In no hurry, he lay there watching patches of sunlight slither off
the girl's body and onto the sheet in front of her.
The room was all mattress. Custom-made triple bunk
beds at each side of the room cantilevered out to make a smooth foam-rubber
platform fifteen feet square. He had explained to his wife that it would be fun
for the kids. Couldn't hurt yourself if you tried. No need to pull the
curtains. Make as much noise as you like. Now that his wife had taken the
children and gone to visit her mother in France, it was fun for the grown-ups,
It was the third summer she had taken them back to
the old country. This year he had entertained so many friends on the staff at
the lodge over on the other lake that he didn't even have to work at it. Word
By the time the women looking for action had gone
through the tennis pro and a lifeguard or two, they had heard about him. An
M.D. and a Ph.D. Doing something far-out in genetic engineering for a top
pharmaceutical firm in Indianapolis. Comes down each weekend to this remote
lakefront cottage. Wall-to-wall beds, a walk-in fireplace, a freezer full of
steaks, an unlimited supply of any drug you could name.
This summer had been
unreal. The lodge had a contract with the state university in the next
county to put up overflow groups attending four- and five-day encounter-type
workshops. Nurses, teachers, dieticians, Girl Scout leaders, social
workers. All getting opened up, blossomed out, sensitized, desensitized, gestalted, exalted, and, mostly,
The sessions were usually played out by Saturday
afternoon. By which time they'd had almost a week of being encouraged to be
open and trusting with their fellow humans. He would park the Lamborghini close
to the terrace. The dues-payers would be sitting around under the
pastel-striped umbrellas, having a last drink. Even before he got out he could
look them over and know which ones would be coming.
All this talk about liberation.
What if you had the opportunity
to do anything you wanted to do? The chance to get outside your everyday
self? Sometimes a couple of the guys on the staff would come along, sometimes
it was just him and two or three chicks. Safety in numbers. Ever make it with
another woman? Ever wonder what it's like? No one gave her right name.
Sometimes they just came over to the car and got in and he drove away.
Hello central, give me Doctor Jazz. He's got what
I need, I'll say he has.
It was all true, whatever they had been told,
whatever they wanted to believe. Set and setting. Humongous hurricane fence
topped with two-way barbed wire, electronic remote-control gates, a pair of
wicked-looking Dobermans patrolling no-man's land, the house in a lush thicket
of willows and cottonwoods, the overhanging deck, the lake gleaming and
It was even true that he had an enormous black tomcat
named Baby Wolf, who rode in the back with the sacks full of fresh corn and
tomatoes, and who would do a couple of purple microdots while everybody else was
toking up out on the sundeck. Who would follow them across the drawbridge and
down to the pier, and ride imperturbably in the prow when Doc cranked up the
75-horse Johnson and they spun out across the glassy surface to water-ski for an
hour or two in the cool, piney air.
That cat could even swim, when he had to, Doc told
the two girls. He looked around for the cat now, but instead saw a man's body
huddled in the corner opposite the brunette's. Who the hell was that? Had
somebody else come over? He couldn't remember. He tried to shake the gray fog
from his vision as he raised up for a better look. Instantly he knew he was
still tripping. Instead of leaning on his hands, he was poised on two furry,
black paws. He rolled over and looked at the hind legs, then the tail.
Interesting sensation. He swished it back and forth a few times. Don't panic. Take a deep breath and count down
from ten. There has to be an explanation.
There had been other out-of-the-body experiences.
The first was in an army hospital in Kuwait, in the burn ward. He had been so
full of government regulation morphine he had floated around the top of the room
and watched the medic and then the young captain frantically taking turns giving
him mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and pounding on his chest. This asshole
will slice me open and start massaging my heart if I don't get back down there,
he told himself. He decided to put up with the pain a little longer.
Another time, in Istanbul, seven days into an opium
tour, there were so many different people all twining together in the middle of
the cushions that it took him a while to realize he was only observing. His
body was experiencing its own particular raptures in the depths of all that
flesh, while some other part of him wandered about the room as a disembodied
point of view.
True, he could not recall ever having taken over
someone else's body, least of all a cat's. But none of the earlier experiences
had lasted longer than two or three minutes. All he had to do was wait this one
out. And, while he was into it, he might as well make the best of it. He
stood up, stretched his forelegs and then his back legs, yawned, and padded
across the expanse of flowered bed sheets to the place where the brunette lay
sleeping. He leaned over and carefully sluiced his tongue across the surface of
one of her nipples.
She smiled, murmured something unintelligible, and
shifted away from him, exposing the other nipple. He went to work on it. As he
licked it into shape, she fidgeted, sighed, and rolled over on her back. With a
single leap he landed between her outspread legs. Taking his time, he
insinuated his tongue into the fur and outer folds and finally reached her
half-erect clitoris. She was awake now and looking down at him. 'I don't
believe it,' she said sleepily. Her head dropped back on the pillow.
His front paws treading at the edges of her triangle,
he drifted into her wetness as though following a deeper current. He unsheathed
the claws a fraction and she began to moan. He
labored on. Visions came to him. Rows and
rows of metal cages, windowless concrete-block walls. Rustling, pattering,
He searched through interminable fluorescent
corridors for the right door. Windowless concrete-block walls. A faceless
assistant turned the key and they went through. Larger cages, softer lights.
In the artificial twilight, the rare odors and scents, and the almond eyes
peering out at him. Sibilant Angoras and Persians, long-legged Himalayans and
slender Abyssinians, Siamese with sable masks over their faces, somnolent
tabbies, meditative calicos.
Ahead the assistant waits beside a stainless-steel
table. Overhanging lamps give clear, shadowless light. A large black cat
spread-eagled with leather straps, its mouth stuffed with gauze and tape.
'Will this one do?'
'Oh, oh, oh ' -- In the next instant pain: ribs, gut,
backbone reeling under the blow. And head, as he fell away from the wall
something had slammed him against. He fought to regain his breath.
' ' never believe what that animal's been doing to
me,' he heard the girl say. 'Doc? Doc, what are you doing?" Her tone
softened. 'Oh baby,' she whispered. 'Baby, baby.'
When his eyes were able to focus again he could see
the girl on her hands and knees .
Gripping her shoulders, head bent low over hers, his
own body was fiercely thrusting into her from the rear. 'Baby, baby,' she
called out languorously.
Still groggy from the kick, he crawled to the
opposite side of the room and crouched behind a heavy bolster. He realized
that he himself kicked Baby Wolf like that every once in a while, especially
when the cat did something particularly stupid or annoying.
What was happening, then, was exactly what would have
happened anyway had he awakened in his own body on a Sunday morning and noticed
an anonymous, available, naked girl asleep in his bed. And if his own cat was
already fooling around with her, then he'd have kicked the silly son-of-a-bitch
halfway across the room.
Tinker to Evers to Chance. Cat clobbered. Doc
knocks off a quickie. God's in his heaven, all's right with the world. But
who's on first? Or, more precisely, who's minding the store?
'Hey, how about some reciprocity?' the brunette
called. He looked up to see his own body bounding across the mattresses and
ducking down through the door into the john. At the sound of the shower she
shrugged, got to her feet, and made her way over the scattered pillows and
bolsters to the glass doors giving onto the sundeck. 'Pig,' she muttered.
He limped after her. As he came out into the morning
light he realized why he could not shake this peculiar grayness from his
vision. Baby Wolf saw everything that way; his entire world was black and
white. He threaded through a series of bamboo tables, calculating that it had
been a good ten minutes since he had awakened, and nothing had changed. The
ache in his adopted ribs made it difficult to believe he was dreaming. The
logical thing would be to curl up in some out-of-the-way place and sleep it off,
whatever it was. But the smell of bacon and sausage hung in the air, completely
The deck chairs loomed enormous, the hanging plants
seemed immensely far away as he peered up at them. The brunette came over and
fed him several large chunks of sausage. 'He was giving me a better time than
that hair-trigger artist back there in the shower,' she said over her shoulder.
'Nice pussycat,' she added, stroking him as he gulped at the spicy hunks of
'Well, what are we going to do today, ladies?' Doc
called as he strode briskly onto the dining area. He was wearing white ducks, a
dazzling white polo shirt, and deck shoes. 'Tennis? More skiing? I've got
scuba equipment too. Or do you just want to fart around for a while' He
laughed heartily and slapped the blonde on the ass.
Both girls were still naked, and they became shy in
his breezy presence. The brunette went inside to put on some clothes, while the
blonde proudly served him sausage and scrambled eggs, unfrozen hashed browns,
English muffins, orange juice, and black coffee. Baby Wolf watched from a
corner of the smooth redwood bench that formed part of the deck's railing.
thought. It's me, hell yes it's me, right down to the European way of
handling a knife and fork. But it can't be all of me, because part of me is
here. And nevermind how I got here, or who's minding the store, how the hell do
I get out? Or, rather, back? What we have here, he told himself,
insufficiently random-selected control group.
' ' not those dogs,' Doc was explaining to the
girls. "They're not the kind you take for a walk.'
The brunette, holding a cup of coffee and smoking a
cigarette, peered over the edge of the railing at the two beasts circling
below. She shivered.
'I'm the only one who can get near them,' he said,
reaching for the pack. 'And the caretaker, who comes by every couple of days to
load up their automatic feeder.' He lit up and exhaled. 'They'd tear anybody
else to pieces.'
After much discussion they settled on letting him
give a trap-shooting demonstration. Neither wanted to fire the shotgun, but
both were willing to watch him do it. While the blonde cleared away the
breakfast things, the brunette listened carefully to Doc's instructions. They
strolled to the south end of the sundeck, where a galvanized metal launcher was
bolted to the outer rail. He left her with half a case of clay pigeons and
returned to the northwest corner.
'Watch Baby Wolf,' he said out of the corner of his
mouth as he sighted along the barrel.
'Huh?' The blonde had
settled down in a deck chair and was busily applying suntan lotion to her
shoulders and forearms
'The noise won't bother him,' he said. 'Pull!' he
called back. The black disk came sailing over the corner of the roof. He took
aim. At a crack the disk disintegrated. 'Pull!' he called out again.
The cat stood up in panic at the place where he had
been sitting near the northeast corner of the deck. What his alter ego had said
was simply not true. The real Baby Wolf was terrified of loud noises of any
kind, and disappeared immediately into one of the bedrooms at the first sight of
the Remington air-cooled pump. He was frightened now, however, of something far
Doc was approaching with the shotgun held at an easy
ready at the level of his hip. He himself had made such a shot, with his .22,
when he shot gophers as a boy growing up in Nebraska and had virtually lived
near a gopher village all one summer. That was back when he got his first taste
of what it was like to slaughter animals. He sensed, too, that the creature
approaching him -- calling back 'Pull!' every two or three seconds while the
disks sailed noiselessly on down toward the water, and the blonde continued to
rub lotion along her belly and thighs -- was capable of making that same shot
from the hip.
He looked up into his own face for the first time
that morning. Every hair on his adopted body rose and his tail went straight
up. It was not the same face. Not his eyes.
Salud! a voice
said somewhere in the recesses of his brain.
I am that
which is minding your store, so to speak. And now I am going to kill you.
The lips were not moving. He could see into the
smooth, shiny bore of the shotgun pointed directly at his head. It was like
looking into a deep well. There seemed to be no sound, no movement, nothing
happening at all except the calm voice speaking within his brain.
Your chief failing,
the voice continued, is to have confused
consciousness and spirit. I have managed to displace our respective conscious,
rational minds only partially and imperfectly. Each of us still behaves true to
form in many respects. Hence this somewhat confusing morning. It requires
considerable spiritual discipline to maintain such a transposition.
Occasionally there are relapses. Try this.
For a second he was back in his own body, holding the
shotgun, staring into the narrowed yellow eyes of the cat. Beyond, he glimpsed
blue sky, white clouds, green trees. Then he became the cat again, staring up
at the human figure. Only then did he realize that the figure grasping the
weapon might have squeezed off a round.
Much too slow,
the voice said. You'll have to do better
What the hell is this all about?
I am about to kill you, as I said. Or, more
precisely, execute you.
cried out in his mind. And why me? Just because I kicked you a few
times. You can't be --
My dear fellow, it will go much easier on you in
these last few minutes if you completely abandon your habitual rational,
problem-solving, egocentric, All-zu-Menschlich ways of thinking. If you must
have a reason, you may pretend that it is because you are so miserably selfish
and closed off from life that you no longer deserve to live.
You betray, mislead, deceive your fellow humans at
every turn. Unfaithful to your wife, uncaring about your children, manipulative
and cruel with these poor women you lure to this place with your materialism and
your shallow chatter.
What the hell business is it of yours?
You're right. The affairs of humans are hardly my
concern, or the concern of my species. We have learned, however, of the fate of
our many brothers and sisters in your laboratory.
He began to laugh.
Yes, the comparison is apt. For us, you are an
Eichmann, a Borman, a Himmler. Therefore you must die.
He relaxed and took a step toward the figure with the
shotgun. I don't believe a god-damned word of it, he said. I've had
weirder trips than this before, and I've always come back, and this one's no
He lowered his tail.
The shotgun went off with a blast immediately above his head. He flattened to
The roles are reversed now,
the voice said. I could have killed you with that shot, but first I must
play with you, so that you will know stark terror. As though you were a very
small, defenseless mouse. What's more, now that I have explained these things,
there is the possibility that you will kill me before I kill you. That's more
of a chance than you ever gave a cat in your lab.
Be prepared to die, however. Not a quick, clean,
antiseptic death, but a slow, agonizing, painful one. If I can manage, I'll rip
your organs out one at a time and stuff them up your miserable asshole.
He pumped the shotgun.
You could have been
at me then while the chamber was empty. Surely you can do better than that. On
He turned and walked back toward the other end of the
deck. The blonde had put on shorts and a halter. Both girls were querulous.
He hadn't really been firing, they were getting too much sun, it was time for
them to go back to the lodge, some people were waiting for them.
What a bummer,
he thought . He claims he can switch back
and forth. Whichever body takes the hit, then, I'll go down with it. Or so he
claims. But he had two chances and he blew both of them. Because obviously he
doesn't want to spend the rest of his life in my body. He's counting on making
it back to his own. But I'm temporarily controlling it. I could jump into the
water and he'd be screwed. I'd probably wake up, too. What in the hell should
I do now?
Doc was talking with
the two girls near the main entrance to the house. The brunette was still
whining about being late. Suddenly Doc slammed the edge of his hand into her
neck. She crumpled to the floor.
The blonde screamed.
'Oh my god!'
She's dead, the
voice said inside his mind.
'Oh my god, what have you done, you madman
The blonde was kneeling over the body of her friend.
He gave a slight skip and a jump and drop-kicked her beneath the chin. She fell
backward with a face full of blood. He leapt into the air and came down with
both heels on her chest. The air wheezing out of her lungs sounded like a
broken accordion. She lay still.
Accuse prominent young scientist in acid love tryst,
the voice said evenly, as though reading aloud.
Shocked spouse. Two nude
female bodies. Sorrowing children.
You're crazier than I am! What the hell'd you do
I'm not crazy, I'm just a cat. But as a matter of
fact, if you can kill me, you still might beat it. Plead insanity. Tell them
your cat was talking to you. You know, you've taken hundreds of acid trips.
You've fried your brains, zapped your chromosomes. You aren't really
Tell them Baby Wolf did it,
the voice continued. He's the one. You're an
eminent biologist, aren't you? They'll believe you. A few years of shock
treatments and lithium carbonate, and you'll be back in circulation.
He had picked up the shotgun again and strode
along the sundeck, closing the sliding glass doors leading into the house as he
You son-of-a bitch!
he yelled and charged across the deck. He stopped a few feet short of the
barrel leveled at his head.
You were saying?
The cat turned and sprinted through the last open
doorway onto the slippery tile floor of the main living room.
He skittered across
the floor and down a hallway, upsetting a wicker magazine table and two potted
plants. The human figure stepped inside and closed the doors behind him. He no
longer carried the shotgun. Instead, he went to the side of the big limestone
fire-place and took down one of two samurai swords hanging there. He carefully
withdrew it from the scabbard and held the blade up to the light.
There are windows open,
the voice said, but you can only jump to Brutus and Caesar below. They are
expecting you, by the way. I took the precaution of explaining to them some of
the things you've been doing to the dogs in your laboratory. They weren't at
The cat scampered through room after room, bunching
up throw rugs, ricocheting off chairs and desks, leaping across beds. Through
an open bathroom door he careened against a clothes hamper, scrambled to his
feet, and leapt up to find himself in the middle of the bedroom with the
wall-to-wall mattresses. The
far glass doors onto the deck were closed. There was
one low, broad window that had no screen. The human figure came into the room
and closed the door behind him.
Across the room the cat suddenly jumped onto the open
windowsill. The man approached cautiously, weighing the sword. The cat seemed
to freeze. With both hands the man swung the sword over his head. The cat
flipped sideways, avoiding the blade as it crashed into the sill, and managed to
wrap itself around the man's face.
Blinded, screaming, the man leaned for a moment
against the edge of the sill, almost pushed over it by the cat's sudden leap
toward the center of the room. Gracefully the animal re-bounded off the end of a
bolster and hurtled back against the man's chest. The sudden thrust and added
weight tipped him through the window. The cat rode him for a second, then ran
up him as he was falling, and jumped back into the room. The man plummeted
downward. The dogs were on him almost before he hit the ground.
Three days later, before the sheriff's deputies and
state police officers could venture onto the grounds, they radioed for a
specialist from the Indianapolis zoo to come put out the two dogs with
tranquilizing darts. They collected what remained of the corpse and put the
pieces in a plastic body bag. Upstairs, through the glass doors, they could see
the bodies of the two girls. Both were horribly bloated and covered with
On the deck bench, near the double doors, a large
black cat lay sunning itself. It trotted over to the officers, purring and
rubbing against their ankles.
One of them reached down and scratched its ears.
'Nice kitty,' he said.
Please read the
by Jared Carter, published in 1982 about the exploitation of collier