Felisa hurried away from Gadget’s building, still not sure she’d done the right thing. At times the boy sounded so much like Ambrose, it was frightening. But if the information really could help him in this current situation…
With such thoughts filling her mind, she nearly missed spotting Arnold ahead. She ducked out of sight, into a large building, out of habit, and then wondered why she had. He was, after all, feline-like; it would be interesting to talk to him. But before she could reemerge, she heard him talking, and then another voice, one that raised the hairs on the back of her neck.
She stood on tiptoe and peeked out a window. Standing in front of Arnold was a white figure, glowing even in the evening light. ‘A spirit-figure!’ she thought, startled. ‘He must be the one Tepic spoke of a few weeks ago.’ Evidently, whatever Tepic had had planned to trap it hadn’t worked.
Arnold sounded very frustrated with the spirit-being. Felisa didn’t understand what they were talking about, but she heard the spirit say, “Well, come along, or else you’ll never understand!” She peeked around the doorway, and saw them heading east.
She might be in a human body now, but she still had a cat’s usual curiosity. Felisa slipped from cover to cover in their wake, finally seeing them enter a courtyard next to the large building where the one called Moriarty was staying. She took a chance and ran around to the back of the building, so that she could approach the wall of the courtyard without being seen.
She heard the spirit urging Arnold to look closely at a crack in the wall. “See time, and space, and the realms beyond,” it said. “See everything. And then do try to hold on.” It laughed, a laugh that shivered up her spine.
For a few seconds, there was nothing but silence. Then she gasped and clapped her hands to her mouth, as she heard a terrible scream on the other side of the wall. She started toward the corner, then stopped in her tracks, seeing the spirit-being exit the courtyard.
“Well, that was fun,” it said. Then it looked straight at her, as if it had known she was there all along. “Did you enjoy the show, miss?” It grinned as she shrank back.
“What…what happened to him?” she managed to get out.
“Now that would be telling, wouldn’t it? Run along–someone had better tell his friends!” It laughed maniacally and drifted away south.
It took a moment, but Felisa finally plucked up the courage to enter the courtyard. She looked around, and saw a glowing crack in the wall, such as she had seen in other places in the city. But of Arnold, there was no sign…except for a faint scream that lingered, like a never-ending echo. Trembling, she backed out.
She stood there for a moment, at a loss about what to do. But then the sounds of music and voices from next door impinged on her consciousness. That seemed as good a place as any to start. She peeked inside the open door, saw a group of people dancing, and slipped inside the entrance.
“Please do come in,” someone said to her. Another person, younger and with pointed ears, tilted his head, looking at her. “Is everything all right?” he asked.
The first person who had spoken said, “I heard a scream a moment ago. Do you know what happened?”
Felisa gulped, and stammered out, “Arnold…it was Arnold…”
“Oh, dear!” exclaimed the younger one.
“He followed a…a spirit-being to the courtyard next door,” Felisa continued. “I heard them talking–something about Arnold looking deeply into a crack in the wall…And then he screamed. And now…he’s gone!”
There were exclamations from those gathered at her news. The youth stopped dancing and came to the exit. “Show me,” he said. Felisa led the way out of the building, and back over to the courtyard. Even now, she could still hear the faint scream, and she shivered. “They were in here, looking at this crack.” She gestured to it, being careful not to look too closely at it. “He must be trapped in there, somehow.”
“Arnold?!” the youth shouted. “Arnold, can you hear me?” He frowned, tipping his ear toward the crack, then stepped back, sighing. “Lovely how life loves to throw you situations you haven’t even the first answer for at times, isn’t it?”
Felisa nodded. “Life certainly does.”
The youth looked at her. “I don’t recall catching your name…”
“My name is Lisa,” she replied, smiling slightly.
“Lisa,” he replied, and smiled back. “I’m Kristos. Are you an urchin?” She nodded, and he continued, “You remind me a touch of a girl I adopted some years ago…Not quite at home in your form…”
Felisa looked at him keenly, and then nodded, just a bit. He smiled softly. “Sorry, I don’t mean to pry…”
“Perhaps later,” she said, being polite for now. She was warier than ever about letting her story become more widely known.
“Hm… Metier seems to know something of what just happened to Arnold.. But I don’t think we could get the answers we want out of him…” Kristos mused. “A dimensional rift…A crack…”
Felisa shrugged helplessly. “I’m afraid I know nothing of things like this.”
Kristos smiled abstractedly, his attention obviously turning to the problem she’d handed him. So she quietly took her leave and went back to the urchins’ hideout, feeling disturbed at this strange turn of events.