Crisis on Your Anus… Er… Uranus

An adventure of Doctor Str4ngle, and his genetically engineered Siamese cat, Meadow!

This is not your anus! (Photo by Planet Volumes on Unsplash)

“Lay it on me, John! You can trust me. I’m a doctor” Doctor Str4ngle said.

“What? You have a Ph.D. in physics?” asked John.

“No, I’m a doctor of literature, but you can trust me.”

“Hmm… Okay, so the core of the planet is like a nuclear reactor and it is about to go into a crit…”

“Woah, there, with your big words! You need to give me your explanation in smaller chunks!”

That’s when John realized he was dealing with a moron. He turned to Meadow and asked “This guy is an idiot. Can you help me?”

“Now, now! Let’s not get carried away…” Doctor Str4ngle started, but he was interrupted.

“Yes,” replied Meadow.

Earlier that day, Doctor Str4ngle was on the phone with a customer service representative.

“My first name is Doctor. It is spelled B… o… c… d… o… r… No, not Bocdor, Doctor! B… o… c… d… o… r…”

It went like this for a good ten minutes. Doctor Str4ngle was a bit of a joker. He liked to mess around with customer service representatives and give them impossible spellings. When he spoke, his accent sounded British, but he also sounded very affected, like he was not a native of Britain, and was actually faking it.

“My last name is Str4ngle. F… d… r… the number 4… n… g… l… e. No… let me repeat…”

And another five minutes was wasted with Doctor Str4ngle’s joke.

The Doctor’s cat was watching him, and thinking. What a moron! Well, at least he has a bot feed me and empty my litter box. That’s something. Hmm… time to clean myself. Her whiskers were twitching. She started licking herself.

They were aboard the Doctor’s ship, named The Sloth. The ship had acquired this name when the Doctor lost a bet in a bar. Stupid name, but it stuck.

The Doctor turned around and saw his cat. “Ah, Meadow!” The cat interrupted her licking, and looked up. She was a lynx-point Siamese cat, and a very intelligent one at that. Genetically bred for intelligence, actually.

“Yes, Doctor” answered the cat. She could speak.

“Did you know that the female hyena has a pseudo-penis?” He was more than a little proud that he knew this piece of trivia.

“Hell no! I’m pretty damn sure I did not need to know this fact, thank you very much” she replied sarcastically. Her whiskers twitched again.

“Well, you’re welcome!” The Doctor was oblivious to Meadow’s sarcasm.

“Does the male hyena have a pseudo-vulva?” she asked, sarcastically again.


“What a relief!” She let out a sigh of derision.

“Now, now! Let’s not get carried away by the eddies of our passions.”

“Doctor!” It was the computer interjecting.

“What is it?” asked the Doctor.

“A paradox!” replied the computer.

“A paradox!” repeated the Doctor.

“A paradox?” inquired Meadow.

“Yes!” affirmed the computer.

“What paradox? Why?” The Doctor was curious.

“Not sure…”

“I see… or rather… I don’t see.” The Doctor was puzzled.

Moron! thought Meadow.

“Now, now! Let’s not get carried away by the eddies of our passions” observed the Doctor. He liked to repeat that idiotic phrase.

Meadow did not realize it but she had uttered that last thought of hers out loud. Oops! What an idiot, that Doctor reflected Meadow to herself. She left the room and decided to figure out for herself what the paradox and its cause were. She was trotting to the computer room. She’d figure out what’s going on with this paradox by talking to the computer itself, without anyone around.

The door of the computer room opened in front of her. In the computer room, the blinkenlights were blinking as blinkenlights are wont to do. Meadow was fluent in binary, octal, decimal, hexadecimal, and Farsi, and so could read the mind of the computer as it was working through its problems.

“Do you know what could be causing that paradox?”

Yes, was the answer that the cat could read in the computer’s mind. The computer did not bother with producing sounds through its speakers when Meadow was in its room.

“What’s the cause?”

Your anus.

“What?” The cat bent over and looked at her anus. She couldn’t see what the problem was. “My an…”

No, Uranus. U… r… a… n… u… s…

“Oh.” It was remarkable that these words were liable to confusion both in English and in Computerish. “So there is a paradox on Uranus… What is it?”

Uranus is a gas giant, but that’s not important ri…

“No, I mean what’s the paradox?”

Uranus’s core temperature has increased, but there is no explanation for this. It is receiving less energy from the sun these days. So the increase in temperature is quite baffling.

“I see… strange… I’ll try to convince Doctor Str4ngle to investigate.”

The cat walked out of the computer room and returned to the Doctor’s study. She was chirping with excitement.

“Doctor, I talked to the computer. From what I understand the paradox is on Uranus.”

The Doctor reached for his rear end with his right hand. “My anus? Good god! What paradox could there be on my anus?”

“No, not your anus. U… r… a… n… u… s…” said Meadow.

“Oh! What is it?” asked the Doctor.

“Uranus is a gas giant, but that’s not important ri…”

“No, I mean what’s the problem?” interrupted the Doctor.

“Apparently the core temperature has increased, but we don’t have a cause for this.” Meadow was a bit miffed by this.

“Alright, then! Let’s investigate. Computer, set a course for Uranus!” exclaimed the Doctor.

“Sorry, Doctor. I don’t have an anus” answered the computer.

“No, Uranus. U… r… a… n… u… s…”

“Oh, okay! Ouranos! We’ll be there in one hour 36 minutes.” The computer was not a fan of calling Uranus, “Uranus”, because of the confusion it created.

“Alright. Please set our sensors on the planet. We need to get as much information as we can prior to arriving there. I’ll be watching Universe’s Funniest Home Videos while we travel there.”

Meadow rolled her eyes. Stupid show, she thought. “I’ll take a nap” noted Meadow out loud. At least, she’d be rested by the time they got there.

Tonight on Universe’s Funniest Home Videos: a duck terrorizes an entire neighborhood! You’ll laugh so much you’ll piss your pants! Don’t miss it!

BONG BONG BONG! The notification system in the ship was alerting the crew that they had arrived at your anus… er… Uranus.

“We’ve arrived at Ouranos” announced the computer.

Meadow was woken up by the noise and the announcement. She yawned, and then she stretched. The Doctor turned off the recording he had been watching.

“Main screen turn on!” ordered the Doctor.

“What?” The computer did not understand and was puzzled.

“Turn on the main screen!” replied the Doctor, a bit annoyed.

“Ok. Just speak clearly! Jeez!” The computer was not a fan of the Doctor’s juvenile jokes. It turned on the main screen.

“Now, now! Let’s not get carried away by the eddies of our passions.” That phrase again… “Show the core temperature.” The core temperature showed up on the main screen.

“The core…” started the computer.

“What is it?”

“It is the dense center…”

“No, I mean what’s the problem with the core?” The Doctor was annoyed.

The computer sighed and continued “I’m picking up a strange signal from the core. As if it were modulated by some sort of intelligence.”


Meadow made a request. “Computer, can you patch that signal to the main screen. I’d like to see it.” Meadow wanted to examine that signal.

“Yes.” The computer patched the signal to the main screen.

“Output the signal through the audio speaker.”

The computer did what Meadow had asked, and patched the raw signal through the speakers. A giant screech came out of them.

“Good grief! STOP!” Meadow completely pulled her ears back and was screaming over the sound. All other crew members were covering their ears. It stopped. “Can you put a filter so that we don’t all go deaf from this thing?” Meadow’s ears perked up again.

“Yes.” The computer added the filter and resumed playing the audio… at a lower volume level now.

“Hmm…” Meadow was thinking. “There’s some sort of pattern to that signal but I’m not putting my paw on it.” Her ears were pulled back a little, as if she was annoyed.

Right at that moment, the computer said “Doctor, Uranian Base Echo is hailing us.”

“Put them through” replied the Doctor, both imperiously and stupidly, all at once.

A man in a white coat came up on the main screen. He had a worried look on his face. “We need to meet. Something is going on with the planet’s core! We’re not sure what it is.”

“Ok. Send your coordinates to our computer and we’ll navigate to your position.”

The computer got the coordinates, and navigated to the base’s position. This base was in orbit around Uranus. The Sloth docked and a delegation from the ship and one from the base met in the depressurization chamber.

“Hi, I’m John Johnson” said the stranger.

“I’m Doctor Str4ngle, and this is Meadow. She’s an genetically engineered cat.” He said pointing to his cat. “Lay it on me, John! You can trust me. I’m a doctor” Doctor Str4ngle said.

“What? You got a Ph.D. in physics?” asked John.

“No, I’m a doctor of literature, but you can trust me.”

“Hmm… Okay, so the core of the planet is like a nuclear reactor and it is about to go into a crit…”

“Woah, there, with your big words! You need to give me your explanation in smaller chunks!”

That’s when John realized he was dealing with a moron. He turned to Meadow and asked “This guy is an idiot. Can you help me?”

“Now, now! Let’s not get carried away…” Doctor Str4ngle started, but he was interrupted.

“Yes.” Meadow sighed… apparently she’d have to take over, again. “Sorry to interrupt, Doctor, but this seems important, and I think I can understand what John is saying.”

“Alright…” The Doctor was a bit miffed but he realized that he was not up to this task, so he butted out.

John gave a glance to the Doctor. He returned to Meadow and continued “So, as I was saying, the core is on its way to becoming critical. When this happens, the planet will explode and will take us with it.”

“We’ve detected a signal coming from the core. Did you pick it up too?” Meadow asked, her ears perking up with interest.

“Yes, but our scientists can’t figure it out.” John was annoyed.

“How much time do we have?”

“I’d say two days, give or take a few hours. That’s not much time.”

“Give me your team’s contact information and I’ll interface with them to figure out what the signal means. Computer, we should move the ship to be far enough that if the planetary core explodes we won’t be affected, or we’ll be able to outrun it. Can you do that?”


Meadow interfaced with the decoding team on Uranian Base Echo. A lady showed up on her screen.

“What do you have?” asked Meadow.

“Nothing, so far” replied the head of the investigative unit, Mary. “We’re baffled by this signal. We’ve fed it into various decoding protocols, but nothing is coming out.”

“Alright, carry on with the decoding.” Meadow was annoyed but there was nothing more she could do right now. One day went by while they were trying to decode the signal, in vain.

After a restless night of sleep, Meadow was despondent… they had the signal… the core was probably going to explode… but they did not know what to do. Uranian Base Echo had been evacuated, and only had enough crew remaining on it to operate the essential functions of the base.

Meadow was reclining in her cat bed, pondering the problem. Why did the core start moving towards a criticality now? And why were they getting a signal from that core at the same time? It made little sense…

Unless… she started chirping from excitement…

A flash of lightning coursed through Meadow’s mind. She recalled Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. In the book, Clarke had posited that an extraterrestrial intelligence might test humanity somehow. The coincidence of the core going critical, and the signal they were getting, made her think that maybe this was a sort of test…

Maybe the signal was telling us how to prevent or delay the core explosion. Maybe it was telling us how we could moderate the reaction in the core… If we knew what the message’s topic was supposed to be, then decoding it would be that much easier!

Meadow got up from her bed, purring. She ran out of her room and back to the computer room, and told the computer about her speculations.

Wow! That’s pretty good reasoning the computer admitted. Let me get to task on this. The computer reorganized its routines to look for a message about how to moderate the planet’s core. It also communicated its findings to the team on Uranian Base Echo.

In the meantime, the core was getting closer and closer to criticality. The scientists on Uranian Base Echo estimated that they had only a few hours left before the core would explode. The base was reduced to a skeleton crew.

That evening the computer called Meadow to its room. Meadow ran there, chirping with anticipation at what the computer was probably going to reveal. The computer room doors opened in front of her and she ran into the room.

“What do you have for me?”

I have a solution.

“A solution! What is it?”

A solution is…

“No, I mean what is the content of that specific solution?”

Oh, I have four candidate methods for moderating that core. There is a fifth method that in theory could be used, but it would require moving too much mass around and in practice we wouldn’t have time to use it.

“How do we do it?”

The other four methods are based on signal modulation. I’m hoping that the fifth method is not the one we have to use. That would be pretty ironic…

“Alright, I hope you are right!”

Actually, it is likely that using any one method would do it, but I don’t want to bet on this. It is better to use all four methods simultaneously, in the hope that at least one of them works. Or that they work together, in a synergistic way.

“Go for it!”

The computer put to use the array of artificial satellites around Uranus to have them send down modulated signals into the core. Slowly but surely, the rate of change towards criticality slowed… and eventually it reversed. No one knew for sure what did it among the four method, or whether they worked in a synergistic way, but it worked, and that was enough for now.

That evening, the crew of The Sloth celebrated, and so did Uranian Base Echo. Meadow went to bed tired, but satisfied. She stretched, settled down in her bed, purred, closed her eyes, started twitching, and dreamed.

At first she dreamed that she was hunting mice. However, the sun dimmed and the light around her faded away. Soon, she found herself in infinite darkness.

“Cat!” The disembodied voice had come out of nowhere.

“Who are you?” Meadow answered.

“We’re an ancient race. Congratulations! As you had posited, what you encountered was a test that we devised a long time ago. You found the solution. Very nice.” The voice said.

“So this was a test?”

“Yes, it was. We knew that intelligent life was evolving on Earth. When we discovered this, we modified Uranus to serve as a test of sorts.”

“But why now?”

“Humans are about to send long haul starships to other solar systems. This seemed to be the perfect moment to test them, before they could do permanent damage somewhere else.”

“So we passed?”

You passed. You posited the right solution to this test. Cat-kind passed. However, the test was designed to test the humans. The humans failed.”


“Unfortunately, a cat found the solution. Ironic… isn’t it? Because you found the solution, you condemned the humans to failure. Since the humans failed, we’re going to have to destroy the Earth.”

“How do you know that I found the solution, and not someone else?”

“We were able to observe. We cannot read minds, if that’s what you were wondering… Well, in theory, we could but that requires too much resources, so we don’t.”

“What… Hold on! You’re seriously suggesting destroying billions of innocent species along with the humans?” Meadow could feel her ears pull back, both in the dream, and in reality.

“Yes. You, a creation of the humans, have snatched victory from the human’s hands.”

“This is because I, a cat, discovered the solution? Do you realize the carnage you’re going to cause? I realize the humans are idiots, but what about us? We’re not in control and we haven’t done anything wrong.”

“Hmm… you make a good point… let me confer…” The entity conferred for a second. Their thinking was much faster than that of earthly beings. “How about we just wipe out the humans immediately and leave the other species alone? We could engineer a virus targeting only the humans…”

“That won’t do either. My cousins, common cats, felis catus, are deeply dependent on humans. If you wipe the humans out, they will all die. Heck, even my own species of genetically engineered cats is also dependent on humans. That’s not counting all the other species that depend on humans for survival.

Besides, the humans created the genetically engineered cats, you know. They are not complete idiots.”

“That they created you does not count for much. They kinda stumbled upon the discoveries that made you possible. Okay, how about this… we will exterminate the humans but give you enough time for finding a contingency plan to avoid your own extermination. Let’s say we give you one million years?”

“Hmm… can I confer with my peers?”

“Yes. By the way, do keep in mind that we are going to interfere in human affairs during that time to prevent them from engaging in interstellar travel. Also, the cats should not try to develop their own interstellar means of traveling. Otherwise, humans, cats, everything on Earth will be destroyed. Understood?”

“I understand.”

Thereupon Meadow woke up. She yawned, and stretched. She got up and she pressed her paw on a small depression in the wall. A monitor came out. She was connected with her superior, on Earth, through subspace. An old black and white cat showed up, sleepy.

“What’s the matter? Do you know what time it is?” He yawned.

“I know but it is urgent.” Meadow explained to that old cat everything that had transpired.

“I don’t think we have much choice. You should take the deal” he admitted.

“I guess, but I dread the notion that these guys are going to do the humans in.”

“Me too, but we don’t have much choice. I don’t think we can fight them. Heck, I don’t know even how we could fight them. They are much too advanced for us to take on now.”

Meadow started tearing up. Among the “gifts” provided by the humans when they genetically engineered the cats was an ability to cry when feeling strong emotions, an ability that ordinary cats did not possess. The tears were now rolling down on her cheeks.

She explained. “Humans may be idiots, but they are our idiots. As imperfect as they may be, I love them. They’ve been with us since ancient times. I don’t know what possessed them to give us shelter and food, and form a bond with us and evolve with us, but I don’t want to break that bond.”

“I don’t think any cat wants to sell out the humans” remarked the old cat, who was tearing up too now. “Well, we have one million years to figure out a way to save them. The first step is to accept the deal.”

“Okay…” Meadow was not particularly happy but understood.

“I’ll convene the Council of Cats to allocate resources to figure out a solution to save our human companions. You’ve done good. The alternative would be much worse.”

“Alright. Another thing…”


“We might have found our first extraterrestrial enemy. I cannot be sure yet, but the logic that those creatures displayed is pretty callous. Destroying an entire planet because they don’t like humans. Sheesh…”

“You could be right. At any rate, we have plenty of time to figure it out.”

Meadow ended her communication with the old cat. She pressed the button again. The monitor retracted into the wall. She yawned, went back to sleep, and dreamed again. This time the voice talked to her right away.

“So?” the voice asked.

“We accept.”

“Ok, let us burn into your mind the agreement we made. When this star has moved to that position in the Earthly sky is when we will come back to see to it that the humans are no longer.” The entity burned into Meadow’s mind the specific star and position it was talking about.

Thus, the cats tasked themselves with saving humanity, and perhaps with fighting humanity’s first extraterrestrial enemy. They had one million years to do it. The cats did not tell the humans what had transpired. The humans were none the wiser, and could continue to be blissful idiots.

In the meantime, Doctor Str4ngle continued watching Universe’s Funniest Home Videos. Meadow continued rolling her eyes… all the while thinking about how the cats would save their stupid stupid human friends they loved so much.






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