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The Cheetah and the Courthouse

He kept his arms to his side and dove after the fur covered bag.  The crystal and his other clothes flailed, but the hat seemed immovable as he plummeted.  The bag was inches from him now, he extended his claws and grabbed it as he heard raised voices—

–Arnold sat up, heart racing but soon the memory faded and he calmed down.  Petra and Lottie were finishing a discussion in the basement of the Plank, when they came up they assured him that he had been asleep, but it didn’t feel like it.  But Petra insisted she had snuck up on him while he was unconscious, and he had no memory of that.

Patrons and staff appeared and for a time Arnold had meant to take Lilith to see Dr. Sonnerstein when he blacked out again–

Arnold found himself floating at the bottom of the shaft and struggling to keep his head above water as he was swept away in the rapids while clinging desperately to his retrieved bag.  He tried to see where he was going, but the water thrashed him under its current and it was all he could do to fight his way upright and hold his breath when he went under.

There was another sound that was growing louder as he was swept away.  The sound of machinery. The sound of spinning turbines.

The cat felt a chill run down his spine and continue through his tail.  He looked about for some kind of landing. He thought he saw a light to his left just before he went under again.  He flailed the three limbs that were free in his attempt to reach that lone star in this ocean, and fortunately the side passage was narrow. He crashed roughly into the side and tried to cling to it with one arm.

The force of the water pulled and pushed him under.  His grip was lost and he was carried down.  Water flooded his nose and he choked and spluttered as he fought his way up for air.

He gasped for fresh air as the sound of the turbines were getting closer.  He tried again for the shore.  This time he was ready for the pull that forced his body to become horizontal.   He refused to let go of the bag, despite how it threatened to drag him along the current and weighed him down. He used his hind legs instead, and started to drag himself out of the water.  

He paused as he broke out of the waters surface completely and breathed heavily as he held himself against the rough wall, and then climbed the rough stone.  

He rolled onto his side, panting and bedraggled from his trials.  

“Are you alright,” a familiar voice called out at the same time a loud piercing screech filled the air–.

The two worlds bled together, as he sat upright screeching.  He could see someone in that dark sewer approaching him, a soft light behind them, but he could also see the Plank.  He looked about disoriented until the sewer and the memory of it faded quickly from his sight and mind.

Lilith had just played a sharp note on her flute when he hadn’t woken up to take her to Sonnersteins today.  He nodded and took her there to see about her medications she would run out of today.

He spent several hours there, and then at the Asylum before he blacked out again–

Cyan had lead him to the safety of a hidden Trolley Shack hidden inside a sunken Courthouse far below ground.  He had eaten and rested, and had gotten out of his ruined nurse uniform.  He was wrapped in a blanket for now, though he still had his hat, medical armband, and everything else but his bag which was drying along with his clothes.

“Still can’t believe you survived all that,” Cyan told him.  “I’m really glad you defeated the lizard before I went back up to the surface… but how many lives can you possibly have left?”

“I’m not sure I have any ‘lives’ to spare.”  He didn’t think he’d ever have more than one.

“I’d give you one of mine if I could,”  Cyan replied earnestly, “Though I don’t know if I have any, I’m not much of a cat really.”

He was about to say it was alright, when the Cheetah cub brightened, “But I do have something…a little more good luck!”

He fished into his bag and produced a four leaf clover. “You are a lucky cat, considering all the things you’ve survived, maybe your real name is Lucky.”  Cyan grinned.  “Even if it isn’t you could always use more.  I’ll put it on your shirt.”

“I don’t really have one now,” Arnold reminded him.  

Cyan winked, “Sure you do, Lucky.  That white outfit you had on under the uniform.”  Cyan said as he went to a corner of the shack and put the clover on the lapel of his ‘heroic’ outfit.

Arnold frowned as he stared at the clothesline surprised. The nurse uniform was in tatters, but the heros outfit was like the hat; dry, pristine.

He was dressed and ready to leave before he knew it, and Cyan showed him the way to a mine shaft and an elevator to the upper city.

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