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Fiction #312
(published January 11, 2007)
Killing Kittens: My Living Hell
translated by Alex Kim
As I am writing this, I await today's email from my employer. Attached to this message will be a list of kittens, selected by Glasner Original Designs to be exterminated. By me. Strewn across the floor of my small apartment are past lists of targets and blood-stained rags from last week's work. A sliver of scarlet dawn creeps through the window, stirring up raw dread at the bloody day that awaits me. I rub at the dark rings hidden by brown fur under my eyes. Looking hopelessly ahead, I face with utter dread yet another day of soul-crushing, horrifying hell.

I never thought that things would ever be like this. With my job as the mascot of NHK (Japan's BBC), life was great. I lived with my friend Usajii, a wise old rabbit who let me watch his TV. I spent my days idling around on sun-drenched fields and hanging out at friends' houses, being paid to simply let my cute self be caught on camera for TV shorts. And through these shorts, all of Japan knew my face, having had watched as I hatched from an egg, passed gas, met the girl weasel Ta-chan, and watched TV. My merchandise was extremely popular, as plush cubes, lunch boxes, and t-shirts, all with my face on them, brought NHK huge profits. And even on the internet, I had my very own emoticon ("[: #]"). But now, none of that matters at all.

My entire life changed that day when Tanaka-san drove out to the property where I stayed with the rest of the cast. He told us all that, due to budget cuts, the show could no longer be produced the way it was currently. NHK had to sell the fields and houses and fire all of us, replacing us with stop-motion animation. And that was it. A month later, after the last footage of the non-stop-motion cast was shot, we had a farewell party- filled with emotional goodbyes and an unprecedented amount of liquor- and in a moment too soon for any of us, everything came to an end. It was all over. I had to start a new life.

I had hoped, with my lifetime of television experience, that some network or producer would approach me for something- anything. I was willing to do reality TV, advertisements, and even a role as a walking pile of excrement to be chased by this super-detergent character in a campy children's show with the eccentricity to be expected of Japan's media industry. But in the end, every single role was for one reason or another denied to me. It seemed that the public was content with its share of Domo-kun and friends from the stop-motion fakes that had replaced us. Two Domos are apparently too much for TV.

Heart-broken, I decided to accept my fate of obscurity and get an anonymous job in the working world. I went to America to go to college on the savings accumulated from my days at NHK, and after a few years got an internship at Glasner Original Designs, a publishing company in Chicago. There, I became good friends with my manager, who eventually introduced me to the head of the company, Scott Glasner. Glasner was a very warm and likable senior who always gave jocular comments on my Japanese accent and my days at NHK (which he had been a big fan of), and he would oftentimes invite me over to his home to meet his family, the moguls of the Glasner publishing and software mini-empire. Eventually, I secured a two-year contract at G.O.D., and became more and more involved with Glasner and his family.

One day, while watching a Cubs game with Mr. Glasner, I was checking the messages on my cell phone when Glasner suddenly grabbed my paw, gave me a strange look in the eye and asked me what my opinion was on masturbation. A little shocked and caught off guard, but remembering Mr. Glasner's conservative leanings, I told him I thought that masturbation was a selfish action that benefited no one and objectified women, purposefully leaving religion out of the answer as I still was uncertain on how to tread such a touchy subject in a foreign language.

Apparently satisfied with my answer, he sat contemplating in his seat for a minute before suddenly whisking me away to the parking lot and commanding me into the passenger seat of his Escalade. Without a single word, he marched me right into a restaurant that I've never seen before, nodded at the host, and took me into the employees only room.

He then pulled out a contract, told me to read it, and explained that it was the terms for me to work on a secret project for G.O.D. Without giving me much chance to read it, he placed a pen in my fuzzy brown arm and told me to sign the contract quickly. Something in his voice made me comply. He then took back the piece of paper and told me what would change my life forever.

The Glasners are a part of an underground organization called the Church of Witch Killers, an organization which has for "ages" (according to them) battled against witches in the guise of cats whom have plagued humanity for centuries. Recently, they've apparently developed some method of documenting the trends in frequency of masturbation, a social phenomenon which they call a diseased curse brought unto mankind by the evil witches (cats). Since this affliction is supposedly the fault of no one but the witches, the Church of Witch Killers doles out punishment not to the masturbators, but to cats, specifically, their most devious individuals, the kittens. What Kami-Sama must think of this crazy group of people, I could only imagine. However, I was soon informed of my new role in this misguided organization, as the contract I signed earlier made me the official kitten-exterminator for the rest of my career at G.O.D. And what was worse, Mr. Glasner told me that if I tried to terminate my contract or somehow get out of my new job, he and his men would make sure that I would regret it. And with the power of Glasner's publishing and software mini-empire behind him, I knew that I would.

And that's how my total hell began. Every day, I am emailed a list of kittens with their names, locations, and supposed crimes against God and humanity. And every day, knowing that Glasner's agents are watching my every move, I go numbly from target to target, putting my rectangular mouth and stubby brown arms to use against those poor, defenseless kittens in ways that no one should ever have to see. The metallic taste of their innocent blood comes to haunt me whenever I can smell the hands of that guy who works at the arcade (he sits next to me on the bus). The images of their large, pleading eyes on their furry, kawaii faces are seared permanently into my mind, never letting me sleep, never letting me eat, never letting me forget that this is the life that I am stuck with and there is no way I can escape. I no longer eat apples as they do nothing to stop the pain, but every night I just have glass after glass after glass of Powers until I pass out. But still, there is no way out.

I have given up on my pleadings to Kami-Sama to somehow save me from G.O.D. No miracle is ever going to save me from these delusional captors of mine. But I still hope that somehow, some day, I can escape from this hell and stop killing kittens; and maybe even find Ta-Chan. I miss her so much right now, I feel like I am falling apart and only she can tape my fuzzy self together.

I have a favor to ask of anyone who reads this story, and I know it's pretty demanding, but if you were in my shoes I know you would want the same thing to be done for you. If you would please, please just cut back on your self-enjoyment by whatever amount you can spare, I would greatly appreciate it as it would reduce the number of kittens I would have to kill a day, and hopefully, if the number is kept low enough at a long enough time, the people at G.O.D. would deem my position unnecessary, and set me free. I admit this is a long shot, but this is the only chance I have at freedom, the one thing that I want most out of anything in this world. So please, think of the kittens.

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