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A Bit Lost – Or What Happened After Mr Arnold Was Found

This is the account of what happened for Tepic after he had found Arnold by following the thread connecting him to Dr. Maddox back in December.

Tepic and Arnold followed the thread back the way he had come, until Tepic could see the cat begin to shake and veer off to one side, looping back towards the giant eye. The urchin couldn’t see anything that could do that, but there must have been something, so he placed himself just before the difficult bit, and imagined he was holding his hand right next to Mrs Lionheart.

“Right Mr Arnold”, he yelled at the retreating figure, “run this way hard as yer can, then jump though me fingers!”

He could see Mr Arnold shaking his head in confusion, youwling slightly, the poor chap was obviously not quite himself, so Tepic puffed out his chest, took a deep breath, and in his best imitation of the Drill Sergents on the Parade Ground, yelled out “NOW, you horrible little cat, pick them feet up, smartly does it, JUMP!”

The unexpected commands must have cut through to Mr Arnold, as he dashed towards Tepic at high speed, and at the word “jump”, he lept into the air with grace, his whole body somehow fitting in the small circle made by the boy’s finger and thumb. Of course, Mr Arnold, being a cat almost the size of a fully grown man, could not possibly fit, but, like many things, if you take the world by suprise, it may take some time to catch up….. Mr Arnold vanished as he passed through, leaving Tepic alone in the grey world, still being watched by the huge eye….

It was at this point that Tepic suddenly saw a slight problem in the plan.

“Bother”, he muttered.

As Mr Arnold had vanished, so had the thread Tepic had followed to get here, he supposed that it now only streached the distance between the cat and the Doctor, both of whom were probably back in New Babbage. He walked over to the Eye, which followed him as he moved. Standing before it, he asked if it knew how to get to New Babbage, but the only response was a sight upward rolling, which the boy took to be the equivelent of a shrug. There being nothing else to do until he thought of something, he sat on the floor, and took out his Jacks, thowing them up to scatter in front of him. Extracting the small ball of rubber from his pocket, he tossed it up, picked up a jack, and caught it in the same hand.

“One”, he said to himself. Carrying on his game, he got to four jacks before the ball hit the ground, bouncing up again. He caught it before it landed a second time, but he had noticed that when the ball hit the ground, the Giant Eye had seemed to wince and shrink back, somehow without even moving.

“Oh…. “, he said, “yer not keen on round stuff hitting the floor? Sorry…. Just as well i didn’t start playing marbles, i guess…”

He put the jacks away, then pulled out his flute, “So how’d you like music?”, he asked, before playing a few trilling notes.

The Eye remained impassive, giving no indication of approval or not. He played half a dozen tunes, more for his own enjoyment than the Eyes, which just watched, then stood.

“Well, guess i’d better get going, have to get back to milk the voles, you know, you take care!”
He turned to go, then back again, reaching into his pocket..

“Dunno if you will like this, but yer must be lonely here by yourself.”

In front of the eye, he placed a marble, patterend almost as it it too were an eye, looking towards it’s larger cousin. With that, he strolled off, still playing, into the distance. Behind him, for the first time, the eye didn’t follow the movement, but looked directly at the small sphere before it.

We know Tepic arrived safely back at Dr Maddox’s house, so must be safe in his journys, but there may well be further episodes as he travels back, in his own, inimitable fashion.

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