They arrived at the center to find a large painting on the ground, a painting that when they stepped onto it they began to descend into as if on a staircase that was invisible.
When they reached the bottom and their heads had gone below the painting Tepic saw the bodies were now dancing around humming a menacing tune. Birds circled the scene blotting out the sky while Dr. Dinosaur danced in his giant metal t-rex, along with Cortman, some of the inmates, some of the workers who had been gassed by Metier, and there were hundreds of others Tepic knew and some that he didn’t.
In the center of this macabre festival was Arnold, smaller than even Tepic was now, looking down at blood covered claws in confusion and horror while standing over another cat roughly his age. Again and again this happened as if a record were jumping, Arnold would wake up as if nothing was wrong, stare at the blood on his claws and the body, and then run and disappear, to reappear back where he had been asleep.
Seeing his friend, the boy gave a joyful jump and rushed forward, yelling “Mr Arnold!”
The dancing corpses fell where they were littering the distance between them with corpses. The Arnold that Tepic had seen was looking up at him, and at the blood on his claws, confused and about to run again.
“Hold on!” the boy called, “We’re here ter help!” Arnold looked at him confused, and skittered away, but not far or fast enough. Tepic caught up with him and the cat just looked at him horrified. Id had not joined him, and had left Tepic alone to deal with this for now.
“Phew,” he said, hunkering down on his haunches, “Thought yer was going ter run off, after we come all this way ter rescue you!”, he laughed, “That’d be a fine thing, wouldn’t it?”
Arnold looked at Tepic for a few moments, “I…do I know you?” He yowled. “You look familiar…”
“Course yer do, we’s mates, we is, now come an have a sit down fer a few minutes, yer look all done in…”
Arnold stared around himself, at all the dead that littered the floor that had been torn apart by claws, and the others like Dr. Dinosaur that had burned. Tepic even recognized the crew that had been building in Huxley Hall when it was under water. “I killed them all…didn’t I?”
“Eh? This lot? Don’t think so, might have done in some of em, I guess, but that’s Cortman over there. I knows yer didn’t do fer him!”
Arnold didn’t seem to be anymore at ease as he looked down at the cat lying in the center of all of this, the one he had woken up by time and again. “I killed Amobi…”
“Amobi? That the cat in the middle?” Arnold nodded slowly, shrinking into himself even more. “Did yer mean ter?”
“No! I woke up like this!” Arnold shouted.
“So how’d yer know yer killed em?” the boy asked, then out of curiosity “One of yer littermates?”
Arnold shook his head, “Only two in my litter survived…that’s why mother called me Beryl. My eyes, and my luck she always said. And…I woke up on top of him like this!”
Id finally came forward. “I did warn you Tepic–I did several things in our past that distanced us. If we are ever to come together, Arnold must accept that I killed Amobi. And by extension, we did.” Arnold shed away from Id, hissing and spitting while hiding behind Tepic.
“Ah…..” the boy said, pondering the ramifications of this news, “Recon that may complicate the situation some….. errrrr….. so why did yer do it, Id… errr…. Mr Arnold… errr… Beryl?”
“We were young and I was, am, his subconscious in some ways. I perceived a threat, and I acted.” Id shrugged slightly. “How was I to know what would happen afterwards?”
“Blimey, do all cats have lives this……. “
“All the cats that Arnold descended from and his current generation, yes,” Id replied with a rueful shake to her head. “It has been an uphill battle.”
Tepic turned to Mr Arnold, “An he were your friend?”
“We weren’t close…but we were not unfriendly…” Arnold picked up some dirt throwing it at Id. “WHY!?”
“Don’t recon she knows, just that she thinks it were to protect yer…..”
Arnold didn’t relent, staring at Id, demanding an answer. Finally, “I can see things that others cannot, perceive potential futures.” Id explained slowly. “In the future I glimpsed a threat from Amobi, where he endangered others including you. I dealt with him. That…might not have been the best course of action. It is why I have stayed out of some of your more recent…troubles. Even when I did perceive a threat.”
The fox boy looked between the two parts of his friend, amazed yet again at how confused things could be for some people.
Arnold sat back, watching her suspiciously, and then looking over at the giant metal frame for the Mecha-rex, and then Cortman in turn. “Are you saying…that you prevented him from becoming…them?” Id nodded, and Arnold turned back to Tepic, confused and seeking counsel.
“Bit of a daft way of doin’ stuff, I recons, might have been better ter sit down an have a chat over a decent cup of tea, but if the two of yer had worked together, or not split up like this, think yer both would have done stuff better….”, he looked at Id, “Yer can see some futures, well, we all can, I suppose, cus if yer see storm clouds brewin it’s a fair bet ter say it’s gonna rain….”
He looked back at Arnold before continuing, “But it don’t always, ain’t what yer’d call reliable, so if yer jumps in an builds a big boat just cus of a few clouds, well, that’s overdoin it a bit, an yer need yer thinking bit ter reign yerself in….”
There was a pause for a few moments, before he addressed them both “So yer see, the way yer is, neither bit of yer is gettin’ it quite right, yer needs to be all of yer, so’s yer can see stuff how it is..”
Arnold was quiet for a long time, staring at his friend as he slowly began to grow in size to the form Tepic was familiar with. To Tepic he was dressed like the hero he had denied being for so long. Arnold turned to Id one last time and asked, “Which one of us will we be?”
“We’ll mostly be you,” Id replied reassuringly as they both slowly faded away. “Mostly.” She turned to Tepic just before she faded. “Get Janus and run!” Why was answered as everything, the walls, floor, and even air began to quake.
Turning, still with the thread in his hand firmly encircled, Tepic began to run, yelling at the top of his voice, “JANUS!”