Planet Arth

Response to foone's Tumblr post: "There's a other world much like ours. […] But they have no cats. They know of lions and tigers, but no smaller relatives of them that hang out in their houses and bap objects off counters to see them fall. […] You ever think about what we may be missing and don't even know?"

Cross-posted from Tumblr

"Ah, we've arrived at my house. Or I guess for now it's our house", said Alex. It was weird how eerily similar it seemed to my own house at home, same color, same layout, same place in the street, yet so different at the same time. Still, it was nice to find someone who would let me stay with them until I could figure out a way to fix my alternate universe machine and return home.

We went inside and sat on the couch.

"So you say you come from the Planet Arth?" said Alex. "They must have a lot of arths there to call it that."

"No", I said. "Not Arth, Earth. And what's an arth? You mean like arthropods? Like spiders and insects and such?"

"No, not arthropods, arths. You don't know what an arth is? Do they have a different name in your universe? Hold on, let me Zillion an image…" Ze showed me zir phone with what looked like a Google Images results page with a bunch of pictures of what looked like living teddy bears.

"Oh, bears?" I said.

"No. I mean, yeah, bears are in the arth family, but what do you call the domesticated ones, that you keep as pets?"

"We don't have any domesticated bears, except in zoos of course. That seems like it would be super dangerous."

"Why do you call it Earth, then, if there aren't any arths?"

"Why do you call it Terra if there aren't any pterodactyls? It's just an unrelated word, and it's not like we'd make the connection."

"So do you keep any animals as pets on Earth?"

"We have cats and dogs. Do you have those? I guess those are also related to larger, dangerous carnivores, so maybe that would seem weird to you."

"Yeah, we have cats and dogs here, and in fact, I have one of each. Are you more of a cat person or a dog person?"

"I'm more of a cat person", I said.

"Fluffy!" ze called, and I heard some running in the distance. "Ah, so outgoing an social then?"

"Wait, what? Cats aren't—" Just then I saw a cat running into the room and jump onto Alex's lap, but there was something odd about him. "Wait, does your cat have a mane‽" I asked.

"Of course! He's a boy cat. Do you only have girl cats in your universe?"

"No, it's just that in our universe, only lions have manes."

Just then a fox also walked slowly into the room and curled up beside me.

"I take it that's what you call a dog?" I asked. "Ah, so your dogs are descended from foxes, a less social canine, and your cats are descended from lions, a more social feline? Is that why you think of cat people as more social?"

"Yeah, I take it yours aren't?"

"No, our dogs are descended from wolves, and our cats… I'm not sure. I think we just call them wildcats. What else is different about animals in this universe? Did people ride zebras instead of horses or something?"

"Nope, people rode horses. Zebras are still mythical creatures in this universe."

"Wait, what? Zebras are real in our universe. They're just not easy to domesticate. Too aggressive I think."

"Are they still magical, then? Or are they just like unicorns, but with stripes instead of a horn?"

"No, they're not magical. It's unicorns who are mythical and magical to us. Well, it's getting late, but it seems like there's at least a lot to see in this universe until my universe machine gets fixed."

I went into the guest bedroom, got under the covers, and watched the tiny owl in the birdcage swing back and forth as I went to sleep. Yep, a lot to see in this universe.