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About the Author

Ted Kosmatka was born in Northwest Indiana where he now lives with his two small children and wife, Tamela. He has an associate degree in Biology from Indiana University and works as number one analyst at LTV chemical laboratories.

[an error occurred while processing this directive] Outside In: Review by A.L. Sirois

The Extinction of Ursus Theodorus

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(continued)

She reaches up and unclasps my cage door. It swings open and I jump into her arms. My throat starts making that strange ticking noise that I can't stop when I'm happy. She calls it "purring", and it's one of the differences between Three and me. She told me once that children prefer pets that "purr." More lovable, she had said, but wouldn't explain what a "pet" was.

I lick her neck and she laughs. Her laughter is like food for me. It fills me up inside. I want to make her happy.

She takes me over to our special table and sets me on top of it.

"I've got a couple of new ones for you to try today," she says, pulling two small colorful books from a briefcase. "Which one would you prefer to try first, The Curious Little Kitten, or My VR Friend?"

"Kitten, kitten." I say. Kittens are cats, and cats purr like I do, so I like reading about them.

She puts the book in my lap and sits down in her chair to listen. "The curious little kitten," I say, then flip the little cover over. My stubby fingers make turning to the first page a little difficult, but finally it comes. "There... was once a kitten... who was... born in a dark... cozy... close it?" I say, not sure of the last word.

"That word is closet."

"What is a closet?" I ask, trying out the new word.

"It's a place where people hang up their clothes when they aren't wearing them."

"Oh." I wish I had clothes.

I read her the rest of the book, all the while expecting the man to come in at any moment. He usually arrives just after the woman. Today he is late. I am nearly done with the second book when he finally bursts into the room so fast that it startles me. His face is red and he smells very unhappy. He slams his clipboard down on the table and collapses into the swivel chair next to her.

"That bad?" she says.

The man just looks at her for a while, not saying anything at all. His eyes cast about the room, then softly, he answers her. "Worse than you would believe."

The woman gets a funny look on her face. She stands and carries me back over to my cage and puts me inside without shutting the door. "Stay inside, ok?"

"Kay," I say.

Now she smells unhappy too, and that full feeling inside my belly is gone. I want her to be happy again, but I don't know what I can do. I poke my head out of the cage slowly. They aren't looking at me. I watch and listen and sniff the air.

The woman walks back over to the man and sits down. "What's going on? What did the promotional board say?"

A long sigh from the man. "We over shot the mark on Seven."

My ears perk up at the sound of my name.

"What are you talking about?" she says, leaning forward in her chair.

"The board says he's too smart. The reading thing backfired on us. It really got them in an uproar." The man gestures toward the books on the table.

"Well, that shouldn't be a problem. We can stop teaching him. His clones will never learn."

"You don't understand. It's not just that he knows how to read. It's the fact that he's capable of learning to read at all. The promotional board rejected him as a prototype. They want us to start again with Six as a template."

I can smell the woman's disappointment now. I'm not sure exactly how, but it has something to do with me. I'm the cause. I try hard not to mewl, but it's difficult. I don't want to be like Three.

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