Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A New Family Pet

The couch I am lying on is ridiculously uncomfortable, and I wonder how my parents could have bought it. Next to me, on the floor, my sister is playing with the latest in a long string of attempts at adopting a pet - she's only just now trying to first coax it out of the dome-like den which sits in the corner of its fishtank-like living quarters. My mother is in the other room, apparently unhappy and uncertain about the creature. 

Eventually, a small face emerges, its long anteater snout and rabbit-like ears sitting playfully at the head of a furry, teddybear-like body.

"Ah, it's cute. What is it?" I ask.

"It's a Chuahuaro. Kind of like a Chinchilla," she answers. As the creature crawls on the floor we note that it only has one eye. "Poor guy," my sister notes, "but in a way that just makes him cuter."

The Chuahuaro leaps up to the ledge of the couch, and climbs next to me. I start stroking its head, and purring, it makes its way onto my chest. Its claws are long and seem to push through my clothes, and as they sting me I can't help but squirm. The creature lets out a burst of rapid-fire "ho" sounds, as strange an animal's call as I have ever heard.

"It sounds like... sounds like it's laughing?"

"Yeah, they're extremely smart," my sister points out, proudly. "Apparently it's even possible to teach them to repeat words and sentences, kind of like parrots."

It grabs one of my fingers and brings it towards its mouth, which opens to reveal a set of long pointed teeth. With its head reared back the face seems flatter, more human, and seems to smile like some kind of demented cartoon creature. I try and pull my finger away, but its tiny arms are stronger than I thought, and both of my hands are barely able to save the finger from multiple puncture wounds.

The creature speaks. "Santa Claus! Santa Claus!"

"What the hell?" I scream, trying to back away from it, only to find my clothes are pinned to the couch by the claws on its toes.

"Santa Claus! Santa Claus! Hohohohoho!" the creature laughs as it jams its claws into the fabric of my shirt. I can't tell if they've punctured my skin, I'm too numb with fright to feel any pain. My mother and sister grab the creature by its back and try and pull it off, but the claws hold tightly and the creature squirms violently. Finally, one claw slips and the monster loses balance, and is torn away from my now shredded shirt.

They try to hold the thing at a safe distance, as it is now thrashing wildly, shouting "Santa Claus! Santa Claus!" with a wild smile still fixed to the face. My sister drops it back into its habitat while my mother ties the cage shut with rope, the creature's wild spasms gradually dying down.

"What the hell was that?" I ask, rushing over to the computer to investigate the site my sister adopted the creature from. A few clicks in we find the website of the previous owner - it's a low-budget film company, which specializes in campy horror flicks. We scroll through their countless movie posters, past such ridiculous horror concepts as a mad Ronald Reagan, a lawnmower that comes to life, a retelling of "West Side Story" with zombies... Finally we find an image of the creature - decked out in Father Christmas garb, with its long claws fully extended, film name: "Santa Claws."

We groan at the pun, and sigh with understanding, and look back at the little one-eyed critter, who peeks out at us sadly, once again shy with a sense of confused regret. "Poor thing," my mother says, "it was only doing what they trained it for."

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