close encounters of the imaginary kind

Since the night we first brought her home, Spain the Cat has slept beside me at night. Sometimes she shares my pillow, sometimes she curls up in the crook of my arm, and sometimes she sprawls out beside me. Last night was no exception, for she was snoring happily right next to my head while I was having a truly strange dream. To summarize quickly (I promise, it's relevant to the story), I dreamed that disembodied Yeti feet with fangs were plaguing my neighborhood, and Tycho and Gabe were the only people who believed me. In fact, these two helpful fellows had obtained photographic evidence of the horror -- and together we were poring over the pictures when the door burst open and a horde of ... well ... fanged Yeti feet attacked us.*

Believe it or not, I know what spawned this particular bit of oddball dream imagery. Last week when Jon was here, he and I traipsed down to Barnes & Noble while moriarty6 was off doing some pre-arranged activity without us; and while we were at the bookstore, Jon and I sat on the floor reading about ANCIENT MYSTERIES and STRANGE CREATURES. One such book was chock full of Sasquatch research, including (and almost limited to) hundreds of plaster casts of enormous footprints. Apparently proper Sasquatch research requires a vast, in-depth knowledge of cryptopodiatry, but that's beside the point. The point is, while flipping through this book I was struck by one of those Weird Ideas which occasionally turns into a story (i.e., elderly Japanese sushi chef battles Cthulhoids), but more often becomes the sort of thing I don't talk about out loud (i.e., fanged Yeti feet). My thought was this: what if there's no giant hairy humanoid making those prints? What if those prints are created by foot-shaped monsters that mate for life, and therefore always hop around in pairs?*

"Oh, har har," quoth my inner monologue. And I completely forgot about the fanged Yeti feet until last night, when they appeared in my dreams with the guys from Penny Arcade.** But anyway. I say all that to say this: I was dreaming about being assaulted by homicidal fanged Yeti feet when my husband leaped out of bed and began to howl like he was being beaten with a sackful of apples.

I don't know what time it was. It was dark outside and we'd been in bed for several hours, I know that much. Also, I know that the cat was every bit as astonished as I was, because -- if the jingling of her tags can be believed -- she leaped into the air, landed awkwardly on the nightstand, almost pulled the lamp down on top of her head, and clattered to the floor ... thus demonstrating that the old addage about cats being ergonomically balanced is a total crock of Yeti poo. But the cat isn't completely stupid, and she stayed out of the way; she hunkered down beside the closet door and whimpered.

Meanwhile, my darling husband was tangled up in the sheets and doing the hokey pokey, all the while pointing at the bed and saying things like, "DON'T MOVE! DON'T MOVE! WHAT IS THAT? WHAT IS THAT? OH MY GOD!" and I was sitting up, trying to scramble out of the bed and join the cat on the floor, because that's what you do when someone wakes you up by screaming "DON'T MOVE!" -- you panic, you holler, "WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON?" and you fall out of bed while trying to kick the covers off your ankles and simultaneously dodge the HOMICIDAL FANGED YETI FEET or whatever it is that your hysterical husband is screaming about.

Since moriarty6 had a head start, he made it all the way out of bed first -- still tripping over the bedspread -- and finally he began to wake up enough to try and calm himself down from whatever freak-out-inducing event had zapped him. "NO!" he said. "NO, IT'S -- IT'S NO. IT WAS JUST THE CAT!" But he was still only half-awake and sounding shrill, like he was trying to convince himself more than he was trying to reassure me.

And since I was in an adrenaline-fueled panic of idiocy myself, I argued with him. 'NO! NO, IT WASN'T THE CAT, SHE'S BEEN OVER HERE THE WHOLE TIME!" which only sent him into an even wilder tail-spin of horror. "THEN WHAT THE HELL IS THAT? OH MY GOD, GET OUT OF THE WAY, GET OUT OF THE WAY, OH MY GOD DON'T MAKE ME STEP ON YOU!" he shouted at top volume, casting orders at the carpet, or possibly the small pile of un-put-away clean laundry which had resolved to remain underfoot. He collided with the chest of drawers, failed to achieve stability, ricocheted into the bed frame, and swore, "IT'S THE CAT, I'M GOING TO STEP ON HER!"

"NO YOU'RE NOT, SHE'S OVER HERE!" I tried to tell him, though by this point our sharp-as-a-tack feline companion was underneath the bed, I think. "THEN WHAT AM I --" "stepping on?" might have been the rest of that question, but right about then he managed to plant both of his feet down on berber firma. Something like semi-calm ensued, which is to say, he held out both hands and said, "Wait. Wait. Wait. What? Wait." a lot while I quit shrieking and began begging instead, "What's going on? Tell me what's going on!"

"Nothing," he said. "I don't know. Nothing."
Then he climbed back into bed and went back to sleep while I, on the other hand, stayed awake -- perched on the very edge of hysterics -- for hours.

Eventually the cat summoned the nerve to crawl back into bed, though she slept down by our feet for quicker get-away purposes, just in case. And this morning, moriarty6 tried to explain it all away by tellling me that he'd gotten up for a bathroom run and he thought he'd stepped on the cat. I understand the fear there; she's a small black animal without the good sense to stay out of doorways in the middle of the night ...

... but my money's still riding on the homicidal fanged Yeti feet.




* Which begs the question, what do they hop on? It wouldn't be like Thing from the Adams Family, who "walks" around on his fingertips; and if they scuttled around on the toes, the tracks would look totally different ... anyway, there I go again.
** There was talk of the PA guys showing up to John Scalzi's reading, but they couldn't make it. I guess they decided to show up for my Yeti foot dream instead. This was probably a bad call on their part.

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