Corry was a gratuti but not an ordinary gratuti with the magnificent golden shaggy fur and the six broad muscular legs that we are all familiar with. Unlike them, Corry had a head.
Now this may seem like sheer fantasy, pure lunacy or even an advertising gimmick for a brewery. ‘Put a head on your gratuti with Stickler’s Ale’. You know that commercial we must have all seen a thousand times on the Evening Entertainer.
But the truth of the matter was that at Rick and Donna Horvinger’s home in Madison, Wisconsin on the evening of October 31st, their pet gratuti gave birth to a litter of two gratutettes. The runt died immediately but the other although weak and wan managed to live.
The Horvingers’ child, Becky, like children the world over, instantly fell in love with the little piece of brown fur. If this attachment had not occurred Rick and Donna likely would have brought the gratutette to the Humane Society to be destroyed. The Horvingers were conscientious people and did not want to add to the alarming pet population problem. The mother, whom they called Bitchy, had been spayed but apparently the veterinary had missed one of the creature’s 84 ovaries. Knowledge is still lacking on a good deal of the anatomy and physiology of extra-terrestrial creatures brought back to Earth to be household pets or farm animals.
Within a week the piece of brown fur had begun to show some of the features of an adult gratuti. Already the browness was giving way to that lager gold that attracted Stickler’s to the creature for a mascot. Through the bottom six nodules appeared. Soon they would become foot long legs. But strangeness of strangeness, on Corry a seventh nodule appeared between the foreshoulders.
The Horvingers, when they discovered this knob of blue flesh, were startled. A seventh leg! Little Corry was a freak. Rick phoned the veterinary at once and told him about this deformity. The vet was somewhat surprised that Bitchy had become pregnant. The Horvingers had never told him about it. In fact they themselves did not know Bitchy was expecting until the gratuti dropped two pieces of fur along with a puddle of copper-green blood onto their living room carpet.
“What about the seventh leg Doctor?” Rick exclaimed.
The veterinary said not to worry. “One out of every hundred or so gratuti develops this seventh leg. It is a simple operation to remove it.”
Rick was somewhat learned on the topic of extra-terrestrial biology and knew that there was no Earth-made anesthesia for gratuti. He asked, “Will the operation be painful?”
“Oh, it doesn’t cost that much.”
“No, I mean for Corry, the little gratutette?”
“To be honest, yes. But it will get over it. When do you want to make the appointment?”
“Never!” Rick shouted. “It is inhuman to amputate a leg from a creature without anything to ameliorate the pain!” He hung up the phone and never called the vet again.
Over the course of the next few months, little Corry became full grown Corry. From its foreshoulders to its hindquarters three feet away, it was a mass of golden fur. The six normal legs had developed and were full length now. Rick and Donna did not know what sex Corry was but that was understandable. It takes two years to determine a gratuti’s sex. It was however the spitting image of its mother Bitchy. The only difference was the nodule between Corry’s foreshoulders. It was now about the size of a human thumb.
Corry was as playful as any gratutette. It smacked objects around with its paws. It dug holes in the backyard where it would hide some of the things that it pilfered from the house. Rick and Donna had taken many memory capsules of the impish Corry waddling into the backyard with a pillow or a trinket held firmly between its two middle legs. They shared these capsules with visitors and all would laugh frightfully.
Rick once remarked that a gratuti is the ideal pet. Since it had no head, there was no hungry yapping mouth. They were easy to feed. All you had to do was immerse them into a vat of mineral-enriched water once a month. The pores in their skin would open up and suck in all the nutrients that they required from the water. You never had to worry about housebreaking or little accidents. Gratuti retain all that they consume and never have waste products to expel. Sure, while they are gratutettes they tend to knock over objects because they can’t see but soon they develop their radar and sonar senses, which allow them to navigate any china shop. They were the ideal pet. One prominent psychologist had referred to gratuti as being love cushions. They were that affectionate.
About a year and a half after Corry’s birth, the young gratuti was digging in the backyard – digging deeper than ever. When Rick pulled the muddy gratuti out of the hole, he noticed that the animal had reached an old septic tank that probably last saw use in the Twentieth Century. And luckily for Rick’s nose all that was originally put in there had now been biodegraded. As he scolded Corry for digging so deep he noticed a brown loam all over the creature’s diminutive nodule. It was time for a bath and a feeding.
Rick filled the tub in the backroom with lukewarm water, added twelve grams of Dr. Ballard’s Gratuti Feed and placed Corry into the liquid mixture. Corry tried to climb out of the tub immediately just like a reluctant canine would do. This was odd. Usually gratuti love the water. Rick put it back into the tub and held it in place. The Horvingers have an Evening Entertainer in their backroom. Rick chose to turn it on seeing that he would have to spend about an hour here while Corry soaked. He felt in the mood for something light so he programmed the Entertainer to provide some zany comedy.
Soon he was laughing his brains out at the antics of Cole Hayward’s Garden of Eden. It was the episode where Adam and God first discovered marijuana. Rick howled at the part where a very stoned God started creating the most ridiculous things such as inside out people where everything outside was in and everything inside was out.
Rick laughed so hard that he slapped the water where Corry was soaking. It splashed up into his face and mouth. It had a very salty taste. His eyes began stinging. He wiped his face with his sleeve and noticed that the water in the tub now was a thick green. Copper green. It was blood. Corry’s blood.
With his eyes half shut from the stinging, he grabbed the gratuti and pulled it out of the water. The golden fur was soaked in green. He grabbed a nearby towel and threw it over Corry and began drying the animal. As his hands fumbled over the well-known contours of the gratuti he felt something strange that was not there before.
Rick pulled the towel off and to his surprise the thumb-long nodule of the gratuti had swollen to the size of a soccer ball. It was round and bright blue. There were some markings on it. It was almost like a rudimentary face. Tiny pinhole nostrils opened and closed in rhythm to Corry’s heaving chest. There were three oval slits that had a green mucous membrane within. Could these be eyes? At the bottom of this face were four long jagged black lines.
Rick called for Donna to come quick. She responded immediately as did Bitchy who always followed her around the house. When Donna stepped into the backroom she screamed at the sight of Corry. It was hideous to see a gratuti with a …. head?
As soon as Bitchy stepped into the room a rapid change occurred in Corry. The four long black lines opened revealing four mouths with sharp quarter inch teeth. The mouths hissed in unison. Rick in his fright accidentally let go of the usually docile animal. Corry charged at Bitchy and set all four of his mouths into his mother’s fur. Green blood spewed out like fountains. Within seconds Bitchy was dead.
Before Rick and Donna could do anything, Corry raced out of the house and down the street. Rick tried to follow but the gratuti was too fast and soon disappeared in the distance.
Rick instructed Donna to call the police and the veterinary and then he hopped into his car to give chase. Donna made her calls and the police laughed her at. “What? An insane gratuti with a head? Yeah right lady, I don’t know what planet you are from but this is Planet Earth!”
When she told the veterinary what had happened, he told her to stay put. He would come over right away.
Rick drove four miles down the road when he noticed a gathering of people in front of a house. They were watching something or other. Rick guided the car to a stop and went out to investigate.
He pushed his way through the crowd until he was able to see what was drawing their attention. There was a sign over the gateway to a large house. The sign read ‘Robinson’s’ Kennel and Gratutihuts’.
Throughout the yard were strewn the carcasses of several gratuti. Then his eyes spotted the blue head of Corry. It was tearing at another poor headless gratuti. At the same time he saw a man come out of the house with a shotgun.
Rick cried “No!” as he straddled the fence to race to his pet gone berserk. A gunshot sounded and he saw blood gush out of Corry’s hind. The man was taking aim again. Rick charged at him. There was a second gunshot. Pain roared in Rick’s shoulder. He had gotten in the way of the line of fire.
“Are you a mad man?” hollered the man with the gun.
“You’re trying to kill my gratuti!” Rick retaliated.
“You’re damn right I am! That animal is crazy!”
Once more the gunman took aim. Corry was whimpering away, dragging his hind legs as it tried to find shelter. The gun went off and the gratuti was dead.
Rick in his fury took the gun from the man’s hand and shot him straight in the head. The police arrived seconds later.
Meanwhile the veterinary had arrived at the Horvinger home. He investigated the hole to the old septic tank. He dug his finger into the loam and sniffed it. He muttered, “Sulfur and carbon.” Then he snooped the tub and dipped a finger in the still present liquid. “Sodium and potassium,” he said.
“What does all this mean?” Donna asked.
“I just never thought that this could occur. If I had I would have gotten a court order to demand that you get that frontal nodule removed!”
“What are you talking about?”
“The mixture of these chemicals, sulfur, carbon, sodium and potassium, along with certain pollens in the air can irritate a gratuti’s nodule. It starts a process where the tiny nodule will grow into a full fledge head and it sets about a cannibalistic tendency in the animal.” The vet turned his eyes on the tufts of golden fur that was all that remained of Bitchy. The vet shook his head, “I should have amputated.”
“You knew that this might happen?” Donna put her hand to her mouth.
“I am a veterinary specializing in exobiology. Of course I was aware that this could happen! On the planet Graegon where the gratuti are indigenous, there are an abundance of these chemicals in the atmosphere and on the surface. As I told your husband one out of every thousand of so gratuti are born with the frontal nodule. When they reach adulthood, the mixture of the chemicals will cause the nodule to grow into a head. Once this happens all hell breaks loose. These headed gratuti are voracious hunters of their non-headed counterparts. They could kill the species into extinction if it were not for a biological time clock in their newly formed head that will cause them to die within a day of becoming transformed. But this is time enough for these gratuti to keep the population of the species under control. There are no other predators of gratuti on Graegon. If it weren’t for these headed grats the planet would be overrun with these furry creatures.” The doctor shook his head again. “I wish that I would have amputated. I hate to think what damage your pet may have inflicted.”
The phone rang at that moment. Donna answered it. It was the police. They were not laughing any more. They had her husband under arrest for murder.