It's raining pretty hard. The awnings have been deployed over the main thoroughfares, where people might be nyooming fast enough for hydroplaning to be an issue, but on the side streets that wouldn't comprise the majority of any journey taken at speed there aren't any awnings, and there definitely aren't in alleys with the trash bins and spare mop bucket and extra folding chairs belonging to a fried dough joint. The toasty sweet smells of the dough and all the toppings leak out a little into the alley, but mostly it smells like trash bins and mop bucket and rain.
Faintly, under the noise of the rain, there is an intermittent and discordant honking-whistling noise, as if someone decided an alarm clock should be equipped with very small bagpipes and then didn't improve on the first prototype.
The rain covers the sound pretty well, but eventually someone on the third floor above the restaurant is going to stick their head out and see if they can figure out what is doing that.
There's a thoroughly rained-upon clump of black fur which doesn't look like a usual sort of alleyway occupant. It has a couple of limbs hanging slothlike off the rim of a mop bucket.
Wow, that is the saddest looking cat ever. The head pokes back into the apartment and texts animal control.
Animal control arrives ten minutes later, in rain ponchos and leather gloves, and approach the furheap.
The furheap hasn't moved, and it's shaking in apparent shivering or upset. Its two extended limbs hooked on the mop bucket have a single claw visible on each tip and bend more like tails or tentacles than paws; they shift in time with the intermittent whistling in two unstable notes.
...maybe it's two... cats...? with something stuck to the ends of their tails? One person attempts to get a gloved hand under the furheap.
It tenses but does not struggle. There's definitely just one body there, in a tangle of long limp limbs; its underside feels furless and muscular.
Maybe it's a mutant cat. It must have legs in here somewhere but maybe it got fat before it got loose and this is just a ton of cat belly and also it has two tails. Weird. The rescuer maneuvers it into the cat carrier.
Its claws scritch on the plastic of the bucket as they slide off.
It is definitely not a cat! The six two-foot-long tentacles attached to its body are going to have to be shifted into the carrier too, because they're not inclined to be anything but sprawled out right now. Also, it's now whistling in five or six repeating notes instead of two.
"What the fuck is it," says the rescuer.
"What makes you think I know? Let's get it out of the alley and show it to Jaha, it's annoying people here whatever it is."
They tuck the tentacles into the carrier and load it aboard their nyoom.
Handling reveals that the discordant tune is coming from each of the tentacles in turn; each one is interrupted in its noisemaking by being handled.
It gets a little quieter and steadier as it sits in the carrier, even when the carrier is picked up and loaded.
One rescuer drives the nyoom, one sits in back with the critter.
"You're a singy critter, aren't'cha," he says.
It shifts a couple of tentacles in the direction of his voice. They find the door and try poking through and wrapping around the metal bars.
The undersides of the tentacles are hairless pink-gray skin with an odd pattern to it, almost scalelike. A few inches back from the tip, each tentacle has a small opening which, going by the quieting sound and the tentacles' expansion and contraction, it seems to be breathing through.
He takes photos.
The creature continues to not be a hallucination, and water drips off its fur into the bottom of the carrier. One of the tentacles makes a feeble effort to scrape some water away from where another lies.
...would the creature like a towel? He can open the carrier a little bit and slip it a small towel.
It makes little “sss” noises, and the more active tentacles snuggle the towel! But overall, the creature remains extremely flop.
Hopefully that is a sign that it likes the towel??
They arrive at the animal rescue. They go straight past the entrance for normal animals like cats and dogs and birds and stuff and to the back door for nondomestic wildlife (currently occupied by a squirrel, six penguins someone was trying to personally domesticate, an alligator, and an injured owl).
The rescuers put the cat carrier into one of the larger cages, most recently home to a bobcat, and, from outside the larger cage, pull the bar that releases the cat carrier door, letting the thing out into the rest of the enclosure. They both watch to see what it will do.
It investigates the noise, finds the lack of door, feels — and sniffs, maybe — the floor outside, and it makes a little bit of effort to stretch and push itself out of the carrier, but seems too weary to get more than halfway out.
Well, there's a dish of water in there. They have flatly no idea at all what it eats but maybe it'll perk up after it's had time to dry off. Eventually one of them wanders off to submit the paperwork for the dispatch. The other one, the one who gave it the towel, keeps supervising it and taking photos.
Over the course of a couple of minutes, it drags itself out, taking the towel with it, and spreads itself across the floor of the cage, partly on top of the towel, and hangs one of its tentacles on the side of the cage. (The tentacles' tip-claws demonstrate that they can retract.)
It seems more content with its drier and warmer environment; it is no longer shivering or whistling constantly, though it occasionally makes a sighing "sss" sound or a peep. It discovers the water bowl but does not do anything with it.
Eventually the guy who's watching it decides to try offering it a dish each of cat food, a defrosted rat, and timothy hay.
It immediately perks up at the smells, and on the back of one of its tentacles a large-pupilled eye opens squintily, still mostly hiding under a very thick eyelid-brow. It sees the human and shifts back, but when the cat food is set down it immediately reaches for the food and starts picking up pieces with one tentacle (or for the smaller scraps, two tentacles chopstick-style) and eating them with the mouth that turns out to be located on the side of its body between two of the tentacles. The mouth has lips but not apparently a tongue; the tentacles occasionally help it from outside, and soon the dish of food is fairly neatly gobbled up.
Afterward, the creature picks up the rat, but puts it down again, and tries a nibble of the hay but neither spits it out nor eats the rest. When there's no more food to investigate it lip-licks its tentacles cleaner, and settles down again but in a less desperately flopped configuration, a couple of eyes very slightly open.
Well, it can have another helping of catfood if it wants.
It will eat that too! While it's working on that it rearranges itself with the tentacles on the opposite side from the mouth standing up (one hung on the side of the cage, one on its own), and the other two curled up in spirals next to the body, eyes also looking around.
It finishes the second bowl a lot less urgently, and settles one cleaned tentacle next to the rest, sounding a soft breathy chord, while the other looks at the human.