We’ll break into your house and pet the shit out of your dog. Not literally. If your dog shits inside then you’re safe. Housebreak your dog. Have some decency for chrissakes. It’s not our job to clean up its mess. But, we won’t go through your stuff or steal anything. We’re not criminals. You’ll never know we were here. Well, if you wake up and your dog seems a little extra cheerful, like she–we prefer girl dogs, they don’t piddle as much when they’re excited–has gotten lots of attention, then you’ve been paid a visit by PETS.
About the time when Perseverance landed on Big Red, the board of directors of Caltech’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory had reached the rather unspectacular general consensus that their initial hopes for the Curiosity Mars rover to function for at least one Martian year, or 687 Earth days, had been amply satisfied. The data sent back to Earth so far was judged invaluable.
Emboldened by these results, the board decided, still unspectacularly, to send another rover on a complementary mission to Mars, but covertly. Unlike its older twin, Spirit of Curiosity, or Soc, would conduct the exploration of the Red Planet’s surface through mathematical deduction based on data fed into its memory banks. An autonomous robot with an open-ended AI on Mars was then ruled spectacular enough to keep it secret. If anything went wrong and word got out, they could still say it was all about the original rover.
We noticed the cat—a standard tabby, dusty from dandruff or dirt—upon entry because we expected the residence to be empty. It gawked from a corner, one muddy eye fixed on us, misaligned other paralleling the wall—not unusual for a cat but it made the stare appear vacant or as though it were looking through us. It also appeared to grin, the way its mouth was set. Ava commented on how the listing made no mention of pets and our agent deftly responded that “it also doesn’t say that there are no pets.” We ignored the cat for the next hour or so, our guided tour, opening cabinets and peering in empty closets, inspecting oddball nooks not really knowing what to look for. The remodeled bathrooms and kitchen had farmhouse sinks and stainless appliances; there was a mudroom in which Ava and I glanced at each other and she absently touched her tummy; in sum, the house was just about perfect. We were already talking about making an offer before we got to the backyard, which is when the cat escaped. It slipped between the agent’s legs in a stealthy trot, nearly knocking her on her ass. “Ope,” she said.