Friday the eight of June had been busy for the black cat. He’d had his short talk with Mr. Harvey, welcomed Yang Moreau back home after nine months, and had a short chat with Mr. Anghkarn about the phlogenistan sign which disturbed him in Wheatstone.
It was dark well after they were finished, and the smog was especially thick tonight chokeing the light the moon would have gifted the streets of New Babbage. The cat made his way towards their home, the airship above the Cocoa Java, on the mostly empty streets when he heard a soft, familiar, giggle.
Arnold twitched and looked around for Lo, but he didn’t see her on the streets nearby. He followed the sound and looked down the stairs near Ahab’s Bane which lead into the canals. The young girl was laying down on the side of the stairs, she was covered in dry grime.
The cat picked her up and took her away from the canals and was glad to find that she was merely resting. He wiped her face with a clean cloth, and was about to take her to the hospital when her eyes sleepily opened.
“Are you okay, Lo?” He asked concerned.
“O hello…just resting…again…” She stretching slightly and yawning. She paused for a moment then smiled sleepily. “….I feel as tho a part of me is…missing…as tho I have awoken from a dream.” She gave a tired laugh. “Does that sound rather mad?”
She looked terrible, as if she had been laying down on the streets for days covered in filth, without food. Worse she kept looking as if she was about to fall asleep into the canal. “What happened to you?”
Lo blinked sleepily several times, “I don’t know.. it is all rather…a blur..I remember looking for Gilly…and falling into the canals…I climbed out and I was shivering..and I was so tired I had to lay down…I think Doctor Mason picked me up and…” She shook her head woozily and wobbled as she stared at Arnold. “I don’t remember much after that.”
Arnold nodded, “So Dr. Mason knows what happened to you.” He wondered how many days ago that had been and if anyone had been looking for her. It didn’t matter for now, he picked her up and gently made his way to the hospital as Lo fell asleep against him.
Lo woke up a few hours later, feeling more talkative and energetic. They conversed for a long time about things in town, Mr. Harvey, Gilhooly, what had happened during the Dark Aether. Pip, Underby, and her mother also came up but he did his best to avoid talking about them directly.
He looked at the time and turned back to her, “It’s time for bed. I’ll take you home.”
“O..I suppose it is…” Lo said softly as she looked at his watch. “But I feel as tho I have slept for days…weeks even.”
Arnold examined her again even more concerned. Had she been affected like the people in the asylum, talking about something coming soon? “Do you know what might have caused this?”
“I don’t remember,” She said biting her lip.
Arnold nodded softly, and tried to explain, “You’re not the first person I’ve seen recently acting oddly…some people have been going around saying something is coming. Sometimes it’s a rapper, others it’s a raptor, rapture…and at least once it was cake.”
“O…a raptor?” Lo asked as she looked up suddenly. “Like doctor dinosaur?”
“…yes.” Arnold admitted as he looked at Lo for a short time. “But he’s been out of town for months.”
Lo was unusually silent, and the cat facepawed, “Nevermi-“
“I didn’t mean to make soporific cakes for him! Honestly I didn’t!!” The young girl blurted suddenly, making Arnold jump. “I only said that to trick him!” The cat continued to stare at her in surprise and she twiddled her fingers slightly. “Well..it shouldn’t have worked anyway.. I could never get the recipe right. So.. everyone was safe really!”
The cat shook his head, “…you gave him soporific cake?”
“Perhaps.. only to see if it worked tho…and perhaps I tried some too…” She grinned for a moment looking guilty as she realized what had happened. “O. Well.. I can remember not to again now! Sorry! And thanks for saving me from sleeping on the cobbles!”
Arnold sighed roughly and massaged his forehead, “I’m sorry that I had to hear any of this..” Lo stopped and blinked at him confused, and he clarified. “It’s just one of those things that I don’t want to get involved in and hope will blow over without anyone getting hurt.” The last time he’d tried to stay uninvolved had been during the Dark Aether, but he had better hopes for this.
Lo smiled and giggled, “I knew you would understand!”
He eventually took her back to the Sonnerstein home and she even shared with him some of her newer poetry. After that he bid her good night and left her to explain to the doctor where she had been the last few days herself.
When Arnold left that night he had no idea that her week was only going to get worse.