When I was nine I was haunted by one great injustice. I could not understand the plight of the Phantom Zone cats.
In Superboy (v1, #136, pg. 22), shown above, I discovered cats had been exiled to the Phantom Zone. Why would innocent cats be exiled with their evil owners? Plus Kryptonians gained super powers such as super intelligence due to being under a yellow sun. This is why Krypto could use human language. The dog equivalent of super intelligence raised Krypto’s intelligence to more or less that of a human three year old. How could Kryptonian cats in the Phantom Zone, minus a yellow sun, talk?
I also had splitting headaches when I was nine and could feel strange eyes burning into my back but whenever I turned around, there was nothing to be seen. Finally, my parents told me that if talked about the Phantom Zone cats even one more time I was going to be in big trouble and I decided that I needed to move on.
For the past week I have had strange dreams of running after mice with giant green ears in fields of purple grass under a red sun. These dreams are strange even by my standards! Last night I awoke around 2:22 am and was startled to see three spectral cats floating above my bed.
The first cat said, “I am the cat of Christmas past!”
The second cat said, “I am the cat of Christmas present!”
The third cat said, “I am the cat of Christmas future!”
The first cat talked again and said “Just kidding we are the Phantom Zone cats and we have traveled across space, time and the metaverse to allow you to interview us.
I said, “Metaverse? You are from the Internet?”
The first cat continued, “Not that metaverse. Metaverse as in metafiction. We tried to contact you when you were nine but your brain was too immature to receive our telepathic transmissions but now you are ready.”
I stammered, “Wh-, wh-, why me?”
The first cat said, “Well you are one of the prophets of the metaverse, the metafiction one not the internet one, but mostly, we love your blog!”
I responded, “Well I can believe that. Cats love my blog! (https://foxhugh.wordpress.com/2012/01/15/why-do-cats-love-my-blog/ )
Zin-Zod nodded at the last cat and said “The ugly one is Tor-Ur of the house of Jax-Ur.”
Tor-Ur hissed at Zin-Zod and leaped at Zin-Zod but went right through the Zin-Zod.
Tor-Ur, “I hate being a phantom! If I was solid for ten seconds I would tear your throat out!”
Zin-Zod, “If you were solid for ten seconds then I would still be phantom and you would still go right through me you dumb kitty!”
Tor-Ur, “I hate you! I hate you! Hell is a cat in the Phantom Zone named Zin-Zod!”
Zin-Zod, “I thank you for the compliment!”
Tul-Ul looked at the other two cats with a bored expression and said, “My human Faora is a beautiful Kryptonian who killed 23 men with her bare hands. She is a master of Horu-Kanu that utilizes pressure points with deadly effect. I will beam an image of her into your mind telepathically.”
I said, “Faora looks just like Sarah Palin!”
Tul-Ul, “We did notice that. Coincidence I am sure. The human of Zin-Zod, General Zod created an army of prototype Bizzaros to take over Krypton. The human of Tor-Ur, Jax-Ur, was building nuclear missiles in order to take over Krypton but accidentally destroyed one of Krypton’s moons along with 500 colonists during a test. We want to explain why we are in the Phantom Zone.”
I asked, “So, why are you in the Phantom Zone?”
Tul-Ul, “Cats on Krypton had been genetically enhanced and were intelligent and could talk unlike cats on Earth and dogs on Krypto. We honor humans for giving us the gift of consciousness and true free will. We asked the Kryptonian Science Council to send us to the Phantom Zone even though we had committed no crime. It was our choice!”
I said, “Your choice?”
Tul-Ul, “Our humans are evil and we acknowledge that and pray to Rao for his forgiveness of their sins but we are still bonded. Our humans even honor us with their house name unlike cats on Earth. The bond between cat and human in Krypton is one of the most sacred of Krypton and we would not break that bond even if our humans must travel a strange road.”
“Maybe I drank too much coffee before going to bed or maybe I have some sort of flu. No way am I talking to you!”, I said.
Tul-Ul, “We are real!”. Tul-Ul’s head grew to the size of a car tire.
I said, “Ok, ok, you are real. So what’s it like to be a cat in the Phantom Zone”
Tul-Ul, “Different cats adjust differently. Cats on Krypton rarely reach the age of twenty Earth years and I have already lived almost a hundred years so I am philosophical and think my state beats the alternative.”
Zin-Zod, “Mostly I miss the mice. We can look at mice all we want. We can see mice on a thousand worlds no less, but we cannot touch the mice and that’s just torture. Oh what I would give to render a mouse limb from tiny limb!”
Tor-Ur, “You kitty cats have gone crazy in the zone. The place is torture. Give me sweet oblivion. Maybe if Zid-Zod wasn’t around, then the zone could be bearable but to be tortured by Zid-Zod every minute makes it so much worse.”
Zin-Zod, “I was just thinking the opposite. The zone is bearable because I have you to tease.”
Tor-Ur, “Tease, you mean torture!”
Zin-Zod, “You know I love you for all my teasing!”
And that is when I noticed that Zin-Zod was female cat and Tor-Ur was a male cat. Zin-Zod licked Tor-Ur’s ear affectionately and Tor-Ur purred loudly. The cats did other things that decorum does not allow description.
Tul-Ul, “Anyway, we just want the humans of this Earth to know that our stay in the Phantom Zone was not an injustice but a choice and that the Kryptonians were a noble race and the universe is poorer without them.”
In exasperation, I said, “Ok I can understand why you would want to hurt Superboy since his dad created the Phantom Zone Projector but why did you try to hurt Krypto if you aren’t evil?”
Tul-Ul, “A cat trying to hurt a dog is not evil but nature. A cat trying to hurt a dog whose human is Superboy, whose father created the ray that sent our humans to the Phantom Zone, is justice!”
With that the cats faded into the blackness of the night as though they had never existed.
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