I try to focus on the road and think about what has been transpiring over the last hour. “What shit ain’t right?” I ask. “That veggie plus shit” the cat replied. “You’re crazy, that shits delicious.” I pause for a second and add “Plus, it’s good for you”. The cat snickered. If you’ve never heard a cat snicker you should make it your life's goal to hear a cat snicker. “It’s the plus part that's delicious. It’s also the plus part that’s bad. For people.” He said ominously. I chuckle a little and reach down to the console and grab my cup of cold coffee. I finish the cup and set it back down into the cup holder. I’m still mulling over what exactly had happened and is happening and I look over at my passenger and state “Hey, you never told me your name”. The cat's response is curt “You could’t pronounce it”. “Well, you can pronounce my name, try me” The cat put a paw up to his head “That's...not...how..pronouncing..names..works” My autopilot shows a veggie plus up ahead on the right. Adi’s soothing voice comes over the
speakers of my van “You deserve to treat yourself Y.N.G.V.I”. The A.I didn’t know how to pronounce my name either so it just spelled it out. “There's a veggie plus fifty meters ahead, on your right”. “Thank you Adi, I’m starving” I pull into the drive, there's only ten vehicles ahead of me. Not bad, I think to myself, especially for a Wednesday night. I pull up behind a small car with blinking advertisements cascading down its hatchback from the L.E.D film. My eyes are heavy and I’m fighting to stay awake. I look over at the cat again. “So, what’s your name?” The cat blinks at me and his visage becomes solemn. My eyes close for the briefest moment.“Yngvi, there is power in names, far beyond your ken”. I startle myself awake. “Did you just say your name is Ken?” “Yes, you can call me Ken” I respond with “Hmmph”. Ken,the cat, spreads his lips exposing teeth in the most frightening smile I’ve ever witnessed first hand. It’s truly horrifying and I laugh like a 7 year old hearing his first knock knock joke. “Adi” I say the command phrase in between chuckles “full autopilot” “You got it Y.N.G.V.I” the disembodied voice replied cheerfully. “Go ahead and get me the usual while you’re at it” “Sure thing Y.N.G.V.I” her chipper voice responded. I lay my seat back and look over at Ken. “I’m getting some shuteye”. I close my eyes and drift off before the cat can respond.
I awake in my driveway. The heads up display of my autopilot shows 3:30 a.m. The aroma of something delicious is wafting through the cool night air. I look around the cab of my van for the veggie plus bag. “Adi” “Yes Y.N.G.V.I?” “Where's my veggie plus order?” “Your guest said he would lay it to rest” I ran the words through my mind a few times, trying to make sense of them. “Well, what the hell does that mean?” I growled. Something smelled very good and my empty stomach was rumbling. I was tired and hungry and the combination made me more than a little grumpy. “I’m sure I don’t know Y.N.G.V.I. Shall I do a search for the term?” she asks, happy and chipper as ever. “NO” I snapped back as I opened the door and stepped out of my van. “Adi-sleep mode”. “You got it Y.N.G.V.I”. The windows rolled themselves up and the H.U.D shut down. I slam the van door angrily. “Back here, Yngvi” the familiar voice of the cat shouted, only this time I was actually hearing it with my ears and not in my mind. It was the same voice, yet somehow different. It still had a slightly feline quality, but reminded me of the old autotune songs my parents used to listen to. “the fuck” I said in sotto voce. Smoke was wafting up over my backyard fence, as well as Ken's voice “Stop your whinging Vanir. I know you’re hungry, come eat, it’s almost ready”. I look around at my house, my neighbors homes. These would all be gone soon. We’ve all been given notice that we had five years to vacate before the council would take over our homes and land, and decide what was best for the common good. I’d been grandfathered in, like most of my neighbors, because it was under forty acres and none of us were anywhere near the top 50% of wealth or land owners. All this went through my mind briefly as I approached the gate to my backyard. The gate was latched, but not locked. I pull on the latch and follow the scent of deliciousness and the voice of my newfound cat/elf friend into my own backyard. There, I see an old man, or at least on initial inspection he looks like a man, cooking over a spit off the back of my patio. He has long white hair, covering his ears and most of his face. His eyes reflect the fire back at me, almost like a mirror. His face is a roadmap of scars, one in particular standing out, down his nose.