by Patch O'Furr
Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.
Mort(e), by Robert Repino. Illustrated by Sam Chung.
NYC, Soho Press, January 2015, hardcover $26.95 (358 [+ 1] pages), Kindle $12.99.
“Before he took his new name, before the animals rose up and overthrew their oppressors, before there was talk of prophecies and saviors, the great warrior Mort(e) was just a house cat known to his human masters as Sebastian. It was a time that now returned to him only in dreams and random moments of nostalgia that disappeared as quickly as they arose. All of it except for Sheba. The memory of her was always digging at him like a splinter under a nail.” (p. 3)
The first dozen pages of Mort(e) are Sebastian’s early life as a housecat, and his meeting Sheba, the large, slobbery dog of the man next door. It’s not until page 14 that Sebastian first learns of the war to exterminate humans, when he observes one of “his masters” watching the TV news:
“It was always the same: a river of text flowed beneath explosions, people running, buildings on fire, green trucks rolling along highways, men and women with helmets marching, building bridges, demolishing things, using flamethrowers to burn massive hills of dirt. And in between all the images were videos of creatures that Sebastian had seen crawling in the grass outside the window: ants. They were always on the television, always marching in a line, sometimes covering entire fields and picking apart dead farm animals. Sebastian saw people running away from ants the size of the Martinis’ car. The monsters could walk on their hind legs, and their jaws were strong enough to lift a human at the waist. […] All the channels were playing the same thing now. Nothing buts ants and fires. But this time, there was footage of a new creature. A pack of wolves, walking on their hind legs, approaching the camera. One of them carried a club in his hands the same way Daniel would hold a hammer. This was followed by a choppy clip of a group of animals marching alongside the giant ants. Sebastian could hear people screaming.” (pgs. 14-15)