Mr. Mittens stared out the window. A bird, some finch or other, bounced along the branch just outside. Sweet little bird. Crunchy, tough, yummy little bird. Mr. Mittens licked his kitty maw, and stared, and stared.
In the sliver of a second before he was going to pounce at the glass, Mr. Mittens lost his head. He could still feel his tail twitching, his hunches wiggling in anticipation, but his head— Well, that drifted through space, through galaxies. It reminded Mr. Mittens of the time he’d played with a garden snake. When it was tired of playing, he had dragged the snake, a full four times as long as he, through the grass in the yard. It was a difficult task, but he loved the snake so, and he wanted to introduce it to the family. It felt like that. A long journey stumbling through the grass.
Mr. Mittens watched. The stars did not twinkle out here. They emitted, like pinpoints of lasers. Hot, bright spots in the cold space. They glared at him and he glared back. What did they taste like?
His brain ached; it spit out commands in fragments of energy, neurotransmitting in spurts. His tail was a memory, a ghost that lingered. He gave a little meow bark. How was he supposed to be a kitten if he couldn’t play? Maybe his eyes could grow claws. It wouldn’t be as fun, but it would be something.
One blob winked at him. Mr. Mittens yawned. He wasn’t tired. It was this aura of light, this great eye in space; it did something to him. The feeling coursing through him was better than curling up in a pool of sunshine. “Brrryao?” he asked.
It extruded another ring of light, and the whole eye glowed pink, and blue, and green.
Mr. Mittens stopped moving.
A deep sound poured through space. “Meow,” it said.
His eyes widened.
“Thank you for coming,” the eye said.
The tone of its voice made Mr. Mittens feel something. It was like when a bird was gone, except for a few feathers. Or like when friends didn’t want to play anymore. Empty. If he had had his paws, he would have kneaded the soft squishy overflow of the eye. A sigh blew across his face, and stirred his whiskers.
“I am dying, little star. I am called NGC 6543, and I get lonely in these final eons.”
Mr. Mittens closed his eyes, and flicked out his tongue, raspy, to lick at the eye. He purred and the eye roared a purr in return. They nuzzled for a moment, stared at each other, and came to an agreement.
The first star they pounced on burst sweet juice into Mr. Mittens’ mouth. The galaxy was a nest full of them. Captive toys. Sometimes he used his eye claws, sometimes his teeth. Each star was a wonder. Each star had its own peculiar flavor, and when it finished playing, it tore holes in the curtains of space. By the end, a huge drain sucked at the center of the galaxy.
“It was a good play,” NGC 6543 said, purring.
Mr. Mittens licked his kitty lips. Yes. It was.
He returned home soon after. His head felt wide and diffuse like the sky, but his body— so tiny and small. Constricted, he felt as if he was contained inside a box. It took a great bit of effort to move away from the window, where his body had been waiting that whole time. He staggered to the fireplace, where a baby star sputtered.
Once he settled next to the warmth, he felt something squirm in his teeth. He snatched it with his tongue. NGC 6543 glowed over his taste buds. He swallowed it, he loved it so.