Monday night, before he recieved Emersons letters Arnold had been speaking with the Melniks for a short time when he told them that he wanted to speak with Nathaniel in the near future.
“What could Nate do for you?” Sky asked him.
“He’s the only person I know who seems to be working on a new ship every week or sometimes day. I figured if anyone had the resources to provide ships for an evacuation that may occur suddenly it was him.” Arnold explained. “I was just going to request he keep them at the ready.”
“Still plenty of freighter ships in Port and in the bay.” Scottie pointed out. “And most seem to have means of travel, air or otherwise, but not a bad plan, really.”
“Knowing some folks as I do, namely those I’d consider friends…they tend to be folk who would probably dig their heels in before scooting off elsewhere. Not a bad plan, but not all would follow something like that.”
“I do not mean our resourceful, young, and physically capable citizens Mr. and Mrs. Melnik.” Arnold said in order to clarify his intent. “I’m talking of the infirm, visitors, and those who are too young or old.” Basically anyone and everyone who could not defend themselves and would only get in the way as those who could fight tried to protect them instead of being allowed to group together in the same location. It was too easy to forget with so many young, capable, men and women making up the populace that every city in the world still carried the unfortunate, ill, and destitute somewhere in it’s bowels, who had neither the means, strength, or weaponry to fight a battle. They may carry a knife to protect what they owned, but against whatever Dark Aether was and an apparent army of crab creatures in that story? There had to be a large number of vessels to transport them out when they wished to leave, especially since a great many of them might be sabataged ahead of time…
It was around ten o’clock on Tuesday when Arnold had finished his response to Emerson Lighthouse’s letter, and mailing it off had done at least a little to help him regain some iotom of control over himself…
“HERE’S YOUR DAMN LETTER!” Arnold shouted as he thrust the message addressed to Victor into his hands, and resisted the urge to claw his face off for ever accepting such a bet without his permission. He’d think of some way to get him back as well if things went poorly.
Arnold was quite certain, or so he kept assuring himself, that he couldn’t be legally bound to a bet of that nature without his consent, and he was also fairly sure that since Emerson had made that bet without said consent it wouldn’t bind him or the others like a contract, the way they did with the mayor. In all honesty he wasn’t even sure if such things had any effect on him and he was in no hurry to find out. However, he was feeling petty enough that he would still perform the task so long as he collected Emerson Lighthouse first and then used his head to complete the tasks.
He then delivered the parcel and letter to the Brass Bottle for the newly-wedded couple, and held onto the letter for Miss Macbain knowing that she would probably be staying in the home next door again after she got off her shift at Ahab’s tonight.
He was starting to wonder if perhaps he could just give Victor the property and call it even if Emerson was declared legally dead, though he was not surprised at all that Emerson had failed to make such a transfer legal before the crash, when Arnold realized he hadn’t eaten yet. He silently cursed himself again for forgetting to eat the way that Maddox used to about such a simple task and then he went to find what was edible. He shifted things around and noticed there was still part of a pie left in the back well hidden from when he had restocked the cabinets and it had apparently been forgotten, or perhaps the two residents living there had both assumed Macbain had finished it off. He smelt it, and it didn’t smell as if it had gone bad though he couldn’t identify some of the peculiar smells coming from it. He was sure it wasn’t rotten yet, though it was probably going to go bad soon…and though Arnold didn’t trust anything that had been there when he arrived, he’d seen Macbain eat the pie before and she had displayed no change in behavior at all and there was still a significant amount of this one left that would just go to ruin.
It was rather unfortunate for him that he was not aware Macbain was almost always intoxicated in some fashion, not that there was any gurantee this would have occured to him considering how upset he was at Emerson Lighthouse, Babbage, and the whole world in general at the moment.
Arnold loved everything in the world right now, and he couldn’t explain why…no he could explain why…there must have been something in that pie after all!
Of course knowing that he wasn’t quite himself didn’t prevent him from skipping around the town, and trying to balance on the edge of the walkways and trying to walk a straight line without running into, or rather through, a wall. He was so excited when he finally realized that he had finally managed to it, or thought that he had, that he started to run into, or through, wall after wall after wall, laughing giddily at each percieved success, if he was even succeeding at all which he wouldn’t be able to remember in the morning either way.
For the first few hours he honestly couldn’t tell where he was half the time, though he did read that book and saw that there were more urchins on that ship than he’d thought. All the more reason to run into Nathaniel at one point he laughed to himself. He made it his tasks of the day to find Nat…and Macbain. Had to talk to them. That was his agenda for the day.
He skipped along and fell over a few times and finally found Nathaniel at the end of the pier, where he almost fell into the drink. He chuckled incomprehensively several times and tried to explain what he’d told the Melniks coherently the night before…it didn’t come out quite right.
“I’m reallly ssorry you’re going to die Nat…” Arnold said as he tried to say the important thing he had to, though he had to stop and explain to an increasingly worried Nathaniel what the book had written now. “But that’ss why I want you to had your……shipss readyyy. To evacu…evacud…evacudade…”
Nathaniel agreed, and off he went skipping along and almost falling on his face until he ran into Dr. Sonnerstein. Arnold giggled as he pointed down at the short man, “You’re still tiny?”
Dr. Sonnerstein snorted in annoyance, but when Arnold started to skip around him he grew more concerned. Especially after he said in almost song, “I talkeed to Nathaaaan todaaaayyyyy!”
“Have you been near those things…?” Dr. Sonnerstein asked.
“He said he’d keep the…” Arnold paused as he tried to remember what it was and then continued with a chuckle, “The ships ready!”
Kristos grabbed Arnold’s arm, “What’s gotten into you?!”
It took Arnold a moment to realize he’d stopped, and he turned and stared at Dr. Sonnerstein blankly finally realizing he was really there. He smiled and gave off a chuckle, “I think…there was something in that pie.”
The Stormified (that’s what he’d begun to think of it as) Sonnerstein leaned in close. “What pie?”
“Well…there was this…” Arnold paused and tried to remember what they were talking about, “…pie….at Emersons…”
“Oh dear…” Dr. Sonnerstein said, who was familiar with at least some of Emerson’s…habits.
“And I was really mad at the time…” Arnold giggled, remembering it now made it seem kind of silly to be so upset over anything. “Really mad. And I thiiiink there might have been somthing wrong with it.”
He laughed so hard he lost his footing and fell down.
“Fruit ferments even after being cooked in a pie, but no amount of fermentation could make it this bad…Where did the pie come from?”
“I wonder if he put catnip in it…” Arnold said as he thought how that would have tasted with a smile. “Catnip pie.”
Dr. Sonnerstein blinked, “Entirely possible…is there any left?”
Arnold thougt about it and shook his head…after about a minute. “No!”
Dr. Kristos Sonnerstein frowned, “Crumbs? Anything to find a sample and see what might be afflicting you from it?”
“Maybe in my teeth!” Arnold said as he opened his mouth.
Dr. Sonnerstein facepalmed, “Maybe you should come have some tea…”
“Whatever you say Doctor!” Arnold said as he was lead towards Dr. Sonnerstein’s home, not that he realized where he was really. As they walked through the door Arnold giggled. “Why didn’t we just walk through the walls?!”
“Because they’re solid and so are we.” Sonnerstein responded as he guided him to the chair and poured him some green tea. Arnold waited there a few hours, just staring at the wallpaper which he’d never realized was so purple before now, or that his paws were so big in comparison to the tiny cups Dr. Sonnerstein owned.
He did wander off again soon after, exploring the city, but his awareness of where he was had improved by then as he had begun to come down off of the effects. He wandered into the gardens next to the Piermont and informed the owner how he loved the flowers there and how he could have just hidden in them for hours.
“And skip in them too!” She noted as he skipped through them and away.
He was already feeling particularly sleepy when he ran into Professor Lionheart, though he skipped right past him at the time the horse trotted up next to him and found out the situation to his great amusement and with a lot of laughter and snickering on the horses part.
“You are quite cute this way.” Helio laughed.
“Cute?” Arnold asked and he stopped moving and stared at the horse wondering what he meant before he chuckled and started to skip around in a circle once again. “I just can’t stop moving, I just feel…” He laughed again and shook his head as he sat down. He was really tired now…he had been for awhile.
“Almost endearing, if one wasn’t so callous-hearted already.”
“Sso, I have some bad newss….and some good newss…” Arnold said and he tried his best to explain the situation and focus for a few moments. “The baaad news is…Mr. Lighthouse went and tried to bet my services to Victor…so I’m going to have to use him as a mop soon.”
Heliotrope Lionheart smirked, “Well, good for you.”
“And the good news is…I talked to Nathan toaaay…an he said…he’d do it…”
“Nathaniel?” Arnold nodded his head and tried to make his explination as good and coherent as his last one, and after awhile Helio understood, “Ah yes, the automaton.”
Arnold finished by adding, “Before they got bad…I want to make sure Maddox an Blackberry an peopless had a way to go away!”
Helio grinned, “At least your sense isn’t totally lost.”
Arnold started to feel really sleepy as he stretched out and tried to get comfortable on the stone pavement, and he was almost instantly comfortable. However there was one nagging thing he hadn’t done yet, and he picked up his head. “I was supposssed to give a ledder…a letter to Macbain…”
“Don’t look at me,” Lionheart said. “I think she’d flatly refuse anything I brought to her.” Arnold tried to stand back up but he went back to his spot on the ground rather quickly. “Dizzy?”
“I haven’t fallen into the canalsss!”
“Your catlike grace, I imagine.” Helio said while looking down at him.
Arnold laughed and let his eyes close…
Id stood up, smiling and looking directly at Professor Lionheart who quirked an eyebrow. “Hello, Professor.”
It nodded and started to clean one of Arnold’s paws with their tongue, and then used that to clean his face. “He’s had a busy, if exciting and fun day. In fact he’s NEVER been that happy, so I let him enjoy it.”
Heliotrope chuckled, “Well, take care with the body, it’s still intoxicated I imagine.”
“Oh yes, no lie about that.” She grinned but went to stand beside him without any apparent trouble.
“What brings you into the waking world?”
“Well, I couldn’t leave him to pass out on the ground right here like he was about to.” Id pointed out, they were in the open just a little south of the road that would lead to the asylum. “In all honesty he’s probably going to wake up in another hour, and wander again, but still it’s good to keep him out of harms way during it all.”
“Indeed. He seems aware enough to not be all that dangerous to himself at least. Though you might lead him home anyway.”
“Oh, I think he’ll be fine. If anything he needed a day like today. He’s been worrying too much.”
“Agreed. Good to see he’s capable of loosening up, even accidentally.”
“We’re still slowly coming together in some ways, it’s more testimony to his recovery than anything.”
“I heard the news that his temporary landlord is presumed dead. I wonder what he’ll want to do now.”
“Oh, Arnold doesn’t think he’s dead at all.” Id winked. “And what I think is my secret to hold.”
“Well, Maddox and I have a few things to speak to him about, once his little adventure is over.”
“There would be little point right now, I doubt he’ll remember it very well.” Id’s grin took on something of a wicked aspect, “I could make sure he did, but then I wouldn’t be able to hold onto it and embarass him later!”
The professor smiled in amusement, “If he were anyone else, I’d take full advantage of his condition, but ah well, married life has changed me.”
“Full advantage of his condition Professor?” Id put Arnold’s hands on his hips and raised an eyebrow, and then chuckled happily.
“Heh, not like that. He’d never forgive me for that, nor would my wife. I meant emotionally and mentally toying with him.”
Id shook her head, amused at the torment that Arnold would undergo from all his friends and assosiates in the morning. “Well, I’ll get him home. I’ll see you later professor.”
“Good evening. And sweet dreams.”
“Heh.” There was no chance of that one way or another. After a moment, it turned back to Lionheart amused. “I do have a question…have you ever seen someone just step into the darkness and vanish? Tepic? Tenk? Pip perhaps?”
“Tepic, no. Tenk… not quite like that, though he can round a corner and be gone. Pip, yes.”
Not completely disappointed, it waved, “See you later, professor.” It then walked off into the night and vanished into the darkness.
Arnold woke up in darkness, or so it seemed like and he soon found himself falling near the stairs of Emersons home. He didn’t remember walking this way at all…and he shook his head and stood up. He still felt rather sleepy, but his sudden fall had stirred him a bit. He chuckled and wondered if he’d hurt anything. He certaintly hadn’t felt any of his hands or feet for several hours after the initial tingling feeling. Perhaps he should go talk to Mr. Harvey, he thought.
By the time he had arrived in the Cocoa Java where the bunny just so happened to be with Dr. Sonnerstein and Maddox he had forgotten why he had gone in the first place.
“Arnold, perhaps you should stay with Helio and me tonight.” Dr. Maddox suggested after she saw his behavior and heard Dr. Sonnerstein explain what he knew about the situation which wasn’t much.
“After I deliver her ledder.” Arnold insisted with a point of defiance…and almost fell off of the sofa.
Dr. Lionheart lunged forward and caught him before the fall. She then sat next to him, “Whose letter?”
Arnold ended up having to explain about where he’d been, and a little about the cannisters though his explination didn’t seem to make much sense to the two. “Canisters? Mr Harvey, what is he babbling about?” She never did get an answer as Mr. Harvey gave him some more coffee which he began to drink. “Arnold, are you even listening to me?”
It wasn’t until Arnold had downed almost the entire cup that he remembered something important, “I just remembered……I hate coffeeee!” He dropped the cup and laughed to himself as if this was the funniest thing in the world.
“Arnold, can you tell me how many fingers I’m holding up?”
Arnold stared at her, but at this point he couldn’t tell which hand she wanted him to count from, her left which was up or her other in her lap, “No.”
“Arnold, do you know where we are?”
A few hours ago he wouldn’t have, but now he was quite certain, “The Cocoa Jabaa…”
“You’re coming home with me tonight. What have you eaten to make you so… off?”
“One of Emersons…pies…”
“You are not to eat any more of his… pie. You are not well.”
“I knew that Stargirl had some…and ssshe was alright.” Arnold chuckled. “I guessss she just has a high toller…tollerence for…..whatever!”
“Mr Harvey, what does Mr Lighthouse DO in that house?”
“You know, I don’t know. I know there was a clock… that’s about it.”
“And he’s got a graveyard in the back, and he wants me and you over for coffee…and I kept tellin him no…”
Maddox looked up at the doctor, “Kristos, is there any way to know exactly *what* he ingested in that pie?”
“Unfortunately there’s none of the pie left to test. It seems less severe than it had been though.”
“He’s BEEN this way?”
“I’d dare say he’s coming down from it gradually, whatever it was, and yes since early this afternoon.”
“And no one came to get me?!”
“It didn’t seem to be doing any harm aside from him wandering around so giddy and silly.”
“He could have fallen into something… I am not letting him go back to that place tonight.”
“I have to deliver letter, to Miss Macbain. Last thing I have to do…already talked to Nathan…”
“You can deliver it later. You have to sleep this off first.”
Blackberry offored his advice, “An urchin can deliver it…”
“Send urchin to get her?” Arnold thought for a moment about them carrying her kicking and screaming, and she was worse than they were. He chuckled. “I don’t think that will worrk.”
Kristos giggled and Harvey smiled, “Nevermind, I will deliver it.”
Arnold reached into his pocket and hands over Emersons last letter to Mr. Harvey though, and then sliped and appeared to have had his face meet the floor at some point.
“Oh dear… I’ll deliver this. Get him somewhere, Dr. Lionheart.”
“I think Arnold needs a bed.”
Dr. Maddox leaned over to help him up. “Oh Arnold…”
He was already trying to get up, unsteady on his feet still, “I’ll be fine…I’ll be fine…”
“Not until I take you home.”
“I’ll go take care of this now.” Harvey said as he left, and Arnold skipped off while Maddox said goodbye to Kristos.
It wasn’t till he was on main street that he realized he had no idea where home was supposed to be…so he just wandered until he ended up back at Emersons…and he’d had such a wonderful day…he just needed to do something he hadn’t done in years…
He had to sing!
So an inebriated cat sang at the top of his lungs in his native language an ode to food, “RAAAAWWWRRRR!”
Some people could swear they could hear him all the way in Academy, and others maintained they had been getting their Pie Howitzers ready and aimed at the clocktower, and there was at least one call to neuter whatever was making that racket. In the end though, it was exhaustion alone which ended his ballad and he fell over and slept.
He woke up the next morning, groggy, tired, and what little he did remember made his already strong desire to bring bodily harm to Emerson Lighthouse to grow exponentially.