Felisa was frowning as she fell asleep. Few of the cats who should have been reporting to her had done so in the past few hours. She’d called and called, but they hadn’t answered. Even her sister Hespi seemed to have disappeared. It felt much too much like two winters ago–could her Folk be falling into another kind of trap?
At least this time, she had a different means to find the answers. Once she was asleep, she flung herself into the Dreamfields, assuming her old, black-and-white Feline form. She thought fiercely of Hespi, hoping she’d be asleep, too. And indeed, she was, as Felisa found herself by her sister’s prone form. Their surroundings, though, were a vague, swirling grey, giving no clue of her whereabouts.
She nuzzled her sister. “Hespi–Hespi, are you all right?”
Hespi opened her eyes, but they were unfocused. “Felisa? Is that you?”
“Hespi, where are you? What’s happened to you?”
“I… I don’t know. There was… something… oh, it was wonderful! It made me feel so good! But everything afterwards is a blur.” She blinked. “You’re a blur, too.” She brought her paw forward to her face. “I’m a blur. Let’s all be blurs!” She rolled onto her back, waving her paws in the air.
“Hespi!” Felisa yowled in alarm. “Please, make sense!”
“Oh, I’d like to, Felisa, indeed I would. But I can’t. You see, I’m falling away. Falling up… up… up…” And with that, she stopped talking altogether, just vaguely watching her paws slowly waggle.
Felisa growled in frustration. If the others had also been trapped, and were in the same condition Hespi was, they wouldn’t be much help. She’d have to go back to the real world to find the rest of her answers. She threw herself back to consciousness, opening her eyes to see Arnold getting dressed and checking his pockets.
Sitting up quickly, Felisa said, “Arnold, I need to go. Something’s happening to the cats–I have to find out what!”
“I know, he just told me,” He replied, waving his hand from his crouched position, “They’ve been drugged and taken by-” He paused for a moment, and then looked up at her. She had been asleep when Tepic had told him he was sure, “How did you know that?”
Felisa growled at the news, and answered Arnold automatically, “I talked to my sister in the Dreamfields. She wasn’t herself at all. She must have been trapped, too!”
He stared at her for a short time, his confusion plain to her, “You visit dreams?”
Felisa looked at Arnold, frowning. “All cats do. Though I… have a special way to visit them, and a way to visit the cats through them.”
“I don’t dream at all,” He said unhappily to her, and turned back to fixing his pockets and supplies he’d asked Tepic to bring him. After a few moments he stopped and looked back curious again, “Your sister…is she part cat? What they call moreau?”
Felisa shook her head, and abruptly decided to take a leap of faith in this strange large-cat. “No, she is entirely of the Folk. As I was, until an evil man removed my brain from my Feline body and put it in this human body.”
The crashing sound of the waves below, and the wind passing by the windows, were the only sounds to be heard as the room became uncomfortably silent between the two. She shifted slightly as he stared at her for a long time. Consciously he was surprised, he hadn’t expected this to be her secret, and yet instinctively it felt like part of him had known already.
Finally he broke the silence, “That sounds like what Gadget did to Moriarty….”
Felisa nodded. “He got it from the man’s notebook that I took away when I escaped.” She leaned forward, putting her hand on his arm. “Only a few of the urchins know about this. I don’t want anyone else to know.”
He looked at her hand, and then back to her, “I won’t tell anyone,” He said simply, “It’s not my story to tell.”
She nodded, letting herself be reassured for now. “So what can we do now? How do we find my sister and the others?”
“Tepic went out searching for anyone who’s seen where the raptors go,” He explained, “If he doesn’t find anything I was going to go with my first plan.”
“First plan?” She raised an eyebrow inquiringly.
He shrugged, “Surrender to the raptor, then somehow escape. And…figure it out from there.”
Felisa hissed and shook her head emphatically. “That is not a plan–that is suicide! We will find another way.”
He nodded, and didn’t mention that his death might mean the release of the cats and her sister. He couldn’t make that promise, “I don’t know any other way to locate him right now. Some of the people I was talking to about stopping the devices had been planning something to locate him, but there’s no way to know if they have or how long it will take. And I don’t know what the raptor intends to do with…….our people, but…”
“I’d rather not find out,” Felisa said grimly. “Whatever we do, count me in.”
The large-cat looked at her, and moved forward and stared into her eyes unblinking, “There are going to be metal raptors. Droids and flying machines that will alert him when they see us. Then there’s things we don’t even know he might have at his disposal. We are probably going to die, or at least I will.”
Felisa matched him stare for stare. “I should have died when my brain was put in this body, but I didn’t. I should have died at the hands of the evil man, so he could study me. But I didn’t. I do not intend to die because of a metal thing that has no spirit, nor will I let that happen to you.”
He shook his head, “You don’t know what you’re saying,” She was about to override him when he clarified what he meant. “Keeping me alive is a full time job. But if you want it, you’re hired.”
“We shall see,” Felisa said with a small, grim smile.