On Dogust 23rd of the year 1726 of the Cynian Age I, Lemuel P. Schwanz, was requested by His Lordship Rudolf Muttington, the Chancellor of Cynia, to travel to the planetary system of Alpha Canis Majoris, which the Gods knew as Sirius. With a grave heart, I bade farewell to my wife and my seventeen pups. I gently licked the curly fur locks of Luther, my eldest, and reminded him to always protect the honour of the Schwanz family and the pride of our Schnauzer breed, should I never return. With moist eyes, we lovingly urinated on our favorite patch of dirt near the porch, and I presently embarked on my journey.
Upon entering the gravitational pull of the brightest star visible to a dog’s eye, I carefully navigated my trusty spaceship, the CS Laika, towards the ninth planet of the system, which, according to the dossier I had received from the Chancellor, the indigenes called Ailuria. Circling around its orbit, I sent out a signal and was almost instantly granted a permission to dock at Ailuria’s largest spaceport.
As I disembarked, a group of locals approached me, adjusting the electromagnetic waves of their cerebrolinguistic adapters to intercept those emitted by my own, ensuring mutual intelligibility. The aliens looked remarkably similar to my own race, being clearly mammalian and covered by rather splendid fur coats of various colours; they had prominent whiskers and flat faces, like the Pekingese, though their overall countenance invoked the likeness of the Pomeranians, and the small stature reminded of the Chihuahuas.
I wagged my tail vigorously at the sight of these creatures, but my courteous gesture was met by a murmur of apparent disapproval on their part. Only much later did I learn that their etiquette was quite unlike ours, in that rapid motion of the tails was considered among them a sign of vexation rather than joy.
Their leader, a stout reddish Ailurian with round green eyes, addressed me through his cerebrolinguistic adapter.
“Welcome to Ailuria, traveler, and may the blessings of the Lion be upon you! State your name and your business in our humble sector of the galaxy.”
“I am called Lemuel P. Schwanz, and I hail from the planet Cynia, known to the Gods as Wolf 359 a,” I said. “I am a space pilot and an adventurer, aspiring to compare with such fearless explorers of the past as Sun Wukong, my namesake Gulliver, and Ijon Tichy.”
“Gods?” uttered the leader sharply, exchanging suspicious glances with his followers. “Are you a heathen, traveler?”
“Not in the least!” I exclaimed. “Why, I consider myself fairly Orthodogs. I have never deviated from the dog-matic teaching of the Church of Ben Kelev, the Anointed One.”
“Who are these ‘Gods’ you are talking about, traveler?” asked the leader quietly, arching his back.
“The Gods used to dwell on the now deserted planet they called ‘Earth’,” I replied. “One of them, the Blessed Nahum Horshan, gave his Divine Spirit to our ancestors, who had been like wild beasts before he –”
Unexpectedly, the leader released a set of claws hitherto hidden within the soft pillows of his paws, and howled:
“Purrversion! There is only one God, the Lion, in whose image all Ailurians were made! Attack him! Decapitate him! Pull out his whiskers! Bathe him in water! Meoooowwww!!”
As they hissed and mewled, preparing to launch their cowardly assault, I noticed that the path leading back to my spacecraft was now blocked by several heavily armed guards. In one gracious movement, I leapt over the railing and sprinted towards another group of Ailurians, which unmistakably beckoned me to join them on board a smaller vehicle, one that was probably used on the planet for local transportation. They closed the hatch behind me just when the laser emitted by the blasters of my attackers grazed its outer layer.
“We apologize for the behavior of those brutes,” said one of my new allies, a lean, gray-furred, blue-eyed creature with a bushy tail. “They are Catolics; you should know that they are worse than unbelievers. They persecute dissenters and subject them to unspeakable tortures, such as petting their fur the wrong way.”
“Catolics?” I mumbled. “What a curious name. And who might you be, kind sirs, to whom I owe my gratitude for this sudden, yet fortuitous rescue?”
“Oh, we are the Purritans,” spoke the blue-eyed Ailurian cordially, shaking my paw. “We follow our own cat-echism. It is fairly simple: never eat sour cream, and after your death you’ll end up in a place with a lot of sour cream.”
“I don’t even like sour cream –” I began, but at that moment one of the Ailurians sprinkled the blue-eyed leader with water, grabbed a parachute, and, in the ensuing commotion, opened the hatch and jumped out of the plane. It appeared that there were traitors in the midst of my rescuers, and the two groups began fighting each other with claws and teeth, hissing relentlessly. I was pushed through the open hatch and would have surely plunged to my untimely death, had not one of the insurgents, uncommonly large for a local, grabbed me by the scruff as he was descending on another parachute.
“Meow, meow, mrrrrmeoo-owwww!” he yelled.
I realized that he either did not have a cerebrolinguistic adapter, or it was malfunctioning. We presently landed in a barren rocky area, and were quickly surrounded by other Ailurians.
“Well done, Meow Zedong!” they exclaimed, caressing his chin. “Let those reactionaries have a taste of their own medicine! Purrletarians of all countries, unite!”
Shortly thereafter they noticed me and carefully studied my appearance for several minutes, seemingly impressed by my unruly beard, so characteristic of the breed I belong to. They led me to their headquarters, where Meow Zedong, having repaired his adapter, held a labourious speech, addressing me as their future comrade in arms in the struggle against the Catolics and the Purritans.
“We are Meowrxists!” he enunciated proudly. “We want everyone to clean their own litter boxes, and in return get as much sour cream as they want – because we believe everyone will want only as much sour cream as they need.”
“That is a sensible thought, sir,” I said politely. “Yet I doubt whether it is feasible, for the nature of sentient creatures is such that their desires for bones and bitches ... err ... I mean ... for sour cream and pussies ... I mean –”
“Not a word more, esteemed foreign comrade!” exclaimed Meow Zedong. “It is simple: once the Catolics and the Puritans are eviscerated, dewhiskered, and drowned all over Ailuria, the rest will know that, for the sake of felinity, for a brighter future with more fish and milk, they shall not consume too much sour cream.”
“That last part is no different from what those Purritans have told me,” I remarked. “Except that they generally seemed to abhor the harsh measures you mentioned.”
“You do not know those types, traveler!” spoke Meow Zedong, his eyes sparkling angrily. “They say that there is some sort of a Lion – which is, basically, a large Ailurian! – telling us what to do, and punishing us for our shortcomings with eternal hellwater. A Lion! Who has ever seen such a ridiculous thing?”
“I have not seen a Lion either,” I uttered sternly. “But if your morals rely solely on your belief in the natural kindness of your species, I foresee a grave disappointment.”
Indeed, the Meowrxist society was functioning far worse than its leader had envisioned. I stayed with those Ailurians for a few days, and witnessed how my careless words about the foundation of morality sowed the seeds of doubt among them. Many of them arrived at the logical conclusion that, if there was no Lion, everything was allowed. The ethical codes of the Purritans were discarded with alarming velocity, and the idea of Felinism emerged, which announced all values to be dependent only on what was pleasant to the Ailurians themselves.
Professor Clawdius Katz further developed that idea, saying that a true Felinist must worship all things feline, and consider such non-feline mutants as myself an abomination. Having gathered enough followers, Prof. Katz proposed to exterminate me by submerging me in water. The adherents of his teaching were so astonished by my ability to dive and to swim, which I readily demonstrated during the execution, that several of them immediately lay on their backs in front of me with their bellies unprotected, crying out:
“Lemuel is the true Lion! Guide us, tell us what to do, teach us how to swim, and we’ll comb your marvelous beard day and night!”
In vain did I try to persuade them to abandon such preposterous folly. However, their enthusiasm subsided within a few days, as they saw that my alleged supernatural properties did not exceed the simple skill of swimming. Eventually they became suspicious and mistrustful of any idea at all. Meow Zedong and Prof. Katz were both captured and punished by having their noses abide in close proximity to their own excrements; yet even that event failed to entertain them for long.
Then Professor Pussyslav Grimalkin came up with the theory that everything was relative.
“What is the difference,” he declared pathetically, “between the best forty-percent fat sour cream and the thinnest milk diluted with water? I say: none! Why do felines exist? I say: for no reason! Should we still industriously lick our faces and keep our fur coats clean and shiny every day? I say: meow!”