It was a mostly empty realm once again, to Arnold’s disappointment…but he saw something in the distance. He went forward a little, without even needing to walk here and saw something surprising. A bearded man wearing goggles and an aviators cap and jacket, a cigar clenched between his teeth in a grin, sat unmoving in a strange device as he was pushing a button. It was a metalic chair with several levers and an odd fan behind him. He appeared trapped with a look of confidence on his face, a puff of smoke escaping from his cigar which too would never move again.
The cat wondered if he could help the man, or even if he should when he checked the man’s pack and found a journal with the label: “Wells Industries! Bringing Villainy to Other Realms since 10,012 PDZ.”
It revealed the man was from a London, though it was a London ruled by some Adder fellow. There were a few instructions for how to activate the device in the pages, apparently if he died he wanted someone to be able to use it to carry on his villainy. Arnold considered it and after a few moments he thought it might be worth a try…the home realm coordinates were there for him to read and if he operated the levers by hand perhaps he could get back home with him! At least he’d be in a realm of time! Arnold attempted to follow the directions, but the device wouldn’t activate. The levers and buttons weren’t working anymore than the gears in his watch.
Disappointed, Arnold put everything down and then looked at the man again. The cat wondered if he could drag the man with him…but then realized the man would probably cease to exist if he tried. In the end he had to leave the man there.
“And it bothers you that you had to abandon him?”
“No,” Arnold answered. In truth he had all but forgotten about the incident. “I tried to help him and simply didn’t know how at the time. Besides, one day someone from his own dimension, or someone like Tepic, may help him.”
The doctor studied him for a few moments, and then accepted his answer, “Did you encounter any other trapped men?”
“Not…like him.” He added, “I kind of stopped looking in those places soon after that. For awhile I thought about checking my watch and seeing if it would move again when I reached a realm that had time…but I had to admit the possibility that it was just broken…until…”
He was in a playground of some kind surrounded by children playing, and wearing clothes that he had never seen before. He had been ecstatic to see normal, human children again, along with the tiny ticking noises that came from the watch on his hat. He was about to go hug one of the kids when he realized that everyone of them was skipping, walking, or just generally moving backwards.
Arnold was left to process this as the children suddenly became aware they had a giant kitty they could pet…
“Time was going in reverse?”
Arnold nodded uncomfortably, “Either that or things just moved in reverse there…I checked the watch before I left…and it was also going backwards.”
“How does that work?”
“I tried not to think about it,” Arnold replied. “But…as usual I couldn’t help it. The way I think it works is you start life by being dug up from the ground and brought to your murderer and he points the gun which takes it’s bullet back…and you’re alive.” He added, “A world where rescue workers break your arm and the villains clean up town with their giant robots.
“In any case after that I started to use the watch as an indicator of whether I should stay in a world or not. If it ever misbehaved, because a place had no time or gears didn’t work there or whatever, I knew I could just move on immediately since it wasn’t home…and definitely not Babbage.”
Dr. Maddox nodded and made her final notes, before she took up his journal, “I don’t want to give you an assignment this week…I think that you’ll have enough to deal with before our next session on Sunday.”
The cat did not like the way that she grinned when she said that.
Arnold had felt the change happen in the night, he had hoped that he was wrong…but one glimpse of the Dr. this morning had been all he had needed to lose that particular delusion.
“Well…this is wonderful!” He said while twitching slightly while looking at her bright orange hair, and that happy smile that said this had been planned. “I’m going to need therapy after my therapy for this!”