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A House Divided

When the Smart Flu spread among the local animal population, we worried about our pets. Sure enough, Pumpkin the cat and Gizmo the Chihuahua soon showed all the symptoms: coughing, runny noses, reading the news. The vet said keep an eye out for behavioral problems, but they seemed affectionate as ever to us. True, there had always been tension between them. Squabbles over food, the best spot on the bed, nothing unusual. Then a week later, just before dinner, war broke out.
Like a long-haired orange missile, Pumpkin shrieked into the living room and kicked off the recliner to strike Gizmo in the back, bowling him off the sofa. He yelped and ran off. The kids screamed, "Stop that, Pumpkin!" Pumpkin had done this before, but this time, Gizmo retaliated.
What Gizmo lacked in size, he made up for with technology. He'd spent quiet afternoons upgrading the Roomba in secret. Now, out he rode on his rejiggered chariot, barking a war song as he fired round after round from a modified nail gun.
Pumpkin immediately leapt atop the bookcase. Moments later an orange paw began tossing finger-sized cylinders down. As each one landed, it exploded in a gunpowder stink. A fire started in the rug.
We, the unarmed humans, ran for the bedroom.
Behind the door we trembled as they unleashed their arsenals on each other. So many hidden war machines! The building shook. Dust fell from the ceiling while the neighbors pounded the walls. Finally it ended.
Nervous, we poked our heads out. There they lay. Two still lumps in the wreckage, casualties of their mutual aggression.
I looked back to the perch in the bedroom. Our grey parrot Niccolo turned a gimlet eye at us. "At last!" he squawked.
The End
This story was first published on Monday, June 20th, 2022
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