After a whole morn’s worth o’ thought, not to mention a whole lifetime’s worth o’ the world telling her, she finally decided what she should do with her life: she’d give her life to save someone else’s.
It’s commonly believed that everybody thinks o’ herself as the hero within her own story. Not her. She didn’t think she was the villain, ’course. If she was, she’d have helped the world by getting rid o’ herself long ago, though she felt she had come close to the point in which that would have to happen.
No, she was just a pointless bit player wasting oxygen & everything else. She didn’t e’en have a name, ’cept the one her family had given her & a new friend she met a while ago gave her. The former was “Worthless Waste o’ Oxygen”, which was definitely right.
However, she preferred the one her new friend gave her: Felix.
She thought ’bout choosing the new friend as the person to save, but she hadn’t seen her in a while & didn’t know where she lived or any other info ’bout her, other than that she dressed like a mad scientist. Much like her other friends & family, she wasn’t surprised she wouldn’t want to be round her, since she would have nothing to gain from it. That was why Felix was a pointless bit character.
& why she needed to fix that.
Felix wasn’t depressed. A’least, she didn’t think she was. She was ugly dumb, so she wasn’t e’en sure she knew what the term meant. Anyway, she wasn’t sad. To be sad would be to say that she got less than she deserved in life, which was almost the opposite o’ truth. & to be happy would be to give her pleasure she didn’t deserve. No, since she was nothing, she felt exactly that: nothing.
She tried to interact with others as li’l as possible, ¿for why would anyone want to interact with her? She tried to affect the world as li’l as possible, staying huddled in a secret alley, feeding off food she found in dumpsters. Just ’nough to prevent starvation, though not ’nough that she would soothe her grumbling stomach, which would be a pleasure she didn’t deserve.
¿Why didn’t she just get rid o’ herself completely, which would keep her bad effect on the world as small as possible? ’Cause it’d solve nothing. She had already affected the world in many bad ways, all the stuff she’d wasted so far, that the only right thing to do was to ’ventually pay it all back. Thus, she kept herself alive so she could ’ventually pay her debt back, knowing full well that the chances o’ that happening were slim when she had nothing to offer.
& that was when it hit her: she would kill herself in a way that would benefit the world, by doing so to save someone else, someone useful.
But she still didn’t know who it should be.
She crept out from her hole hidden in the Alleycaves & through its twisting passages to the outside world. When she emerged from the shadowy depths, her eyes cringed, pierced by the glaring light. It had been so long since she was in the outside world during the day that her eyes were unused to so much light.
She could only count herself lucky that ’twas not a particularly sunny day out: the sky was smothered in gray clouds, casting a gray shadow o’er the whole city.
She could count herself as too lucky. ¿Why should the heavens conspire to help her?
Thankfully, the heavens made up for this by showering her with icy rain, which caused her fur to stand up & her nose to fill up with mucus.
Now that she thought ’bout it, she still didn’t know how her costume reacted to stuff like that, or how she could feel it.
Must be just ’nother way I’m broken, she thought with a mental shrug, realizing that doing a real shrug would probably annoy everyone else round her.
Though she thought the discomfort o’ a cold would be good justice, she admittedly worried ’bout it developing into a serious pneumonia, which might end her life ’fore she had a chance to complete her mission.
She walked in a careful sneak, her eyes darting round her to look for potential subjects, but without rudely drawing attention to herself & ’way from much prettier sights. Unluckily, none o’ them seemed to be in any danger. She thought if a tree toppled onto 1 o’ them, she could push the victim out o’ the way & get squished herself; but alas, the trees chose to stay standing.
’Sides, ¿why should those perfectly good trees make themselves fall o’er for me? Obviously, that’d only make mo’ waste than it’d get rid o’, she thought.
She imagined a radioactive bee charging toward someone to sting her, giving Felix a chance to jump in the way & take the fatal sting herself; but the radioactive bees were off on vacation, she s’posed, for none appeared.
’Course, there was always the possibility o’ someone developing an illness or having a heart attack; ¿but how would Felix transfer these ailments to herself?
& that was when Felix realized it’d be harder than she originally imagined to sacrifice herself to save someone else. ¿How would she make sure she would be in the right place @ the right time when someone was in the midst o’ danger? ¿What if she couldn’t save the person — if she was too slow to reach her client ’fore he’s hit or if she was to miss when pushing him out o’ the way o’ a falling boulder?
All o’ these questions made Felix so distraught that she almost turned round & returned to her hole so she could do what she was actually halfway decent @: lying round curled up in a ball, apologizing to the air for taking them ’way from better lungs.
But that would only add to her transgressions. No, she had robbed the world o’ ’nough value, ¡& she would repay her debts once & for all!
Thus settled, she sat on the edge o’ the sidewalk & pondered o’er how she could start. The 1st idea she had was that, since she had no knowledge herself, she should try to gain some from someone else. ¿But could she just harass someone else just for her own gain? ¿How could she expect someone else to waste their precious time? & yet, if she didn’t do this, she’d ne’er be able to complete her repayment. ¿Would her short-lived extra transgression be worth the possible outcome o’ saving someone else?
These confusions made Felix depressed, which was good, for she felt ’twas a proper punishment for her insistent flaws. She could see clearly that she was so incompetent that she couldn’t e’en properly sacrifice herself to make up for it. She was in a vicious cycle o’ failure.
But then she reminded herself that doing nothing but despairing would be an unfair easy benefit for herself that’d only lead to further waste. @ the very least, she had to try to figure out how to do this if it takes decades.
She looked up & round the buildings to see if any would hint @ greater danger than normal. Her eyes slid by a circus tent with a sign that depicted knife-juggling & fire eating, “Waldo’s Weapons o’ Mass Destruction”, & a McCheesy’s ’fore her eyes stopped on a hardware store called “Hammerbolt”.
After a minute’s hesitation, she finally scraped together the nerve to walk o’er to its door. She took a deep breath as her hand hung before the handle, & then she slowly pushed the door open, poking her eyes inside for signs o’ angry faces. Nobody appeared to notice her, which was the best she could hope for.
She went in & slipped ’way to a corner near the back, her thin pupils swaying left & right o’er the store like a wave flowing in & out o’ the land, combing through the sands for any grain that might trip someone up. ’Course, as always, she avoided contact with others’ eyes like salt water from fresh.
So focused was she on this that she hadn’t noticed the clerk walk up to her. As if he were a giant speaker blaring heavy metal, Felix jumped when she heard him say, “¿Can I help you with anything, Madame?”
She swiveled her eyes toward him without actually looking into his eyes & paused. O… ¿What should I say? Surely you can’t tell the truth: that would only show your problems e’en mo’, which will do no good. He’d ne’er understand her mission, anyway. Many have already tried to catch her in a breach o’ justice, & she sadly revealed herself many times. No, she’d need to keep her mission a tight secret, & thus needed to act normal. ¿How would a normal person act in a situation like this?
She could see that she was failing this by the concerned look on the young man’s face. “Madame, ¿are you OK? Hello?”
“O”, she said, blinking as if waking up from a daydream. “Yes. I’m just… I’m just…” ¡Lie better! ¡If you stutter, they’ll know something! She knew, ’course, that lying would only add to her huge list o’ evil acts, but was worth it if it ended in moral salvation.
“I’m just, how you say, looking round…” she blurted. “Sorry, my English isn’t very good… I’m a, uh, from somewhere else, ¿you know?” She found she was good @ pretending to be: her English truly was bad, e’en if it was her 1st, & only, language.
The young man didn’t look convinced. “Uh… OK. Well, if you need anything, just ask me, ¿OK?”
He kept his eye on her as he walked back to his desk, & she noticed he kept glancing o’er to her every so oft.
Well, that’s ’nother mess-up you’ve done, she thought. If this actually works out right, it’ll be a miracle.
She kept her eyes on the rest o’ the store, ne’ertheless. But no matter how many people picked up sharp, stabable power drills, or how many people mishandled glass lightbulbs with the ability to shatter into many impalable shards, or how many people licked the rusty, diseasable screws, she could see no signs o’ danger. It bummed her out.
She paid close attention to the people coming in, for she ne’er knew when a robber with a gun or a hot dog vendor with low health standards might walk in.
That was when she noticed 2 people walk in who she thought she recognized. The skeleton in the back, who just then revealed his skull when he took his hood off, was particularly noticeable in her mind, since she was pretty sure they were pretty rare. But she also thought she remembered the woman in front with the red ponytail & glasses from somewhere.
When the cool spookiness o’ the skeleton reminded her o’ her time in that mansion before, the memory hit her: they were those treasure hunters who hunted treasure through the mansion. Yes, she remembered they were awfully nice to her, especially the skeleton. Everyone was awfully nice to her, e’en though they probably shouldn’t be.
Mo’ importantly, she remembered that these 2 said they oft got into dangerous situations — ¡the perfect situations for her to step up & sacrifice herself to save them! ’Twas as if the heavens themselves looked down @ her from their coffee & Boskeopolis Times crossword puzzles & took pity on her wretchedness.
Don’t worry, she thought to them, e’en though they were too busy looking @ something to hear her, I won’t squander your gift.
She looked back @ the treasure hunters & widened her eyes when she saw the woman touching the aforementioned impalable lightbulb.
OK, this is it, she thought, feeling her heart charge gainst her chest like a prisoner with a philosopher as a roommate. The second the lightbulb attacks, I’ll jump in & take the hit.
But to her surprise, the lightbulb didn’t move @ all. Neither did the ponytailed woman pay it any attention, ’stead sneaking some aforementioned diseasable screws into her pocket, only to stop when the skeleton whispered to her. The woman responded, & then stopped & turned back for the desk.
OK, this is it, Felix thought ’gain. ¿Who knows what that clerk — as nice as he was — might do to them? Maybe he’s the armed robber… or — she gasped — ¡he might be the hot dog seller with low health standards!
She crept closer so she could hear their conversation.
“Good afternoon, Madame”, said the clerk.
“Terrible weather, ¿huh?”
“That’ll be 800₧1”.
Felix scrutinized the clerk’s hands as he handed the treasure hunters the lightbulb & screwdriver. But ’fore anything violent could happen, the treasure hunters turned back to the front door, the skeleton re-covering his head with his hood, ’fore going out.
She must have sensed danger, too, thought Felix. They sure are smart. Keeping them ’live will definitely be worth all o’ my sins.
She followed them out, remaining @ a distance so she could mo’ easily hide if they turned round. She knew she’d oft sensed the Specters o’ Just Deserts following her, & made a habit o’ looking ’hind her every so oft. In fact, with the fear fresh in her mind, she did so just then. But all she found was a hot dog seller with low health standards.
“Care for a hot brat, ¿Madame?” she asked. “They’re freshly microwaved”.
Felix considered taking 1, knowing that it’d save a’least one poor soul from the bacteria & worms lurking within those puffy beef sticks. But when she picked through her pockets, she realized she had no money, remembering that she would always give any money she e’er somehow got to the 1st person she’d see, knowing that she herself deserved no money for her crimes.
“Sorry, I don’t have any money”, answered Felix, filling with particularly powerful regret for her rude lack o’ consideration to this polite hot dog seller.
¿What if this poor woman has kids she needs to feed? Well, I’m only helping them starve now.
With ’nother fresh crime on her list, Felix was only reminded o’ the urgency o’ her mission, & rushed forward to catch up with the treasure hunters.
She followed them to a brick apartment complex & watched them enter the rightmost door on the 2nd floor from ’hind the stairwell. When she saw the door shut ’hind them, she edged up to it to spy on them through the windows, only to see that they were covered by shut blinds. Peeking round the corner o’ the building, she could see that the same applied to the other window.
Felix’s blood froze, which should have caused her to die from heart failure, but ’stead just made her panic o’er how she was s’posed to save the treasure hunters if she couldn’t watch them.
They could be slipping in the shower & breaking their heads open on the tub or sticking spoons in the toaster oven right now, ¡& I’m not there to catch them or hold the spoons for them!
She s’posed she could knock & convince them to let her in, but they’d ne’er want to let her in. ¿Who would? No, they’d tell her, “No, you’re ugly”, & slam the door in her face, which’d hurt, but’d be perfectly proper.
Feeling her spirits fall once mo’, which seemed to be a common pattern throughout her whole life, she sat on the floor with her knees drawn up & her head held in her hands, sighing.
It’s just 1 li’l thing I want to do, & I can’t e’en do it. ¿Could my failures be any greater?
She had to remind herself once mo’ that sitting in self-pity would do no good for the world. In fact, considering her great urge to do it, ’twas actually a shameful, wasteful luxury. No, she had to use her utmost energy to push past her terribleness.
¿But how could she succeed when her very essence was failure?
& then Felix felt her mouth twist into a smile — the 1st time in a’least a decade — as an idea hit her. She couldn’t intrude on the treasure hunters, knowing what a pile o’ garbage she was; but someone else could — someone else who just so happened to secretly be her ’neath.
Edgar was just searching for a spoon to stick in the toaster oven while Autumn showered, when he heard a knock on the door. He glanced @ the bathroom door, wondering if it’d be worth it to bother Autumn ’bout this. She’d probably tell him just to ignore whoever it was; but Edgar feared that that would be rude. He swung his head back & forth ’tween the front & bathroom doors as the knocking noises continued.
O, I hate having to make decisions. ¿What if I mess something up?
His spirits rose when he thought o’ a brilliant idea: he would check outside the window & see who it was. He gently pushed 2 blinds open & peeked out, just ’nough so that he could see without the people outside seeing him. Unfortunately, the latter part o’ his plan fell apart when the person standing before their door turned & looked @ him.
The man was a black anthropomorphic cat wrapped in soggy, ripped-up newspaper, — though, thankfully, he appeared to have other clothes ’neath — as well as a dirty red cap & a… mustache made with a hot pink marker. Something ’bout this young fellow seemed familiar to Edgar — probably the fact that he was an anthropomorphic cat, since Edgar was pretty sure they were pretty rare.
Edgar looked back @ the bathroom door, still unsure whether he should open the door or not. On 1 ear, he felt bad for the poor man, who seemed to be… not altogether there in the cranium; on the other ear, this person could be dangerous. ¿How was Edgar to know he couldn’t secretly be some armed robber or hot dog vendor with low health standards?
He considered ignoring the door, pretending that nobody was home — ¡’cept, the person had clearly seen him! He would know Edgar had rudely rejected him & he would think mean thoughts ’bout Edgar all day. Edgar could feel his heart sink as he contemplated the possibility.
Edgar knocked on the bathroom door & then waited for an answer, fidgeting with the expectation that Autumn would be annoyed by his frivolous interruption. He listened for a response, the sounds o’ the showers in the bathroom matching the showers outside.
The door opened & Autumn poked her head out, her hair splayed down & o’er her face like strings, dripping all o’er her cheeks & the floor. Such a detailed image rumbled him so much that he idled like a clogged car.
“¿What’s wrong?” she asked with withering eyes o’ concern.
“Um…” Edgar squirmed.
“Puke it”, Autumn asked mo’ urgently, her eyes widening.
“Well, it’s just that someone’s outside the door & he saw me see him & I wanted to know if it’d be safe ’nough to answer it or if it’d be too rude to ignore him”, blurted Edgar.
Autumn exhaled, realizing ’twas nothing important.
“Well, ¿who is it?”
“Uh… I don’t know. I mean, I think I recognize him from somewhere, being a cat & all, but he’s covered in newspapers & has a mustache drawn in marker &…” Edgar trailed off when he realized he had nothing to add after that last “&”.
Autumn’s eyes narrowed in confusion. “¿A cat knocked on our door? Next thing you’ll be telling me ’twas able to read our address”.
“No, no, no”, said Edgar. “It’s a… He’s a person cat. He stands on 2 legs & is ’bout 1 & a half meters tall & everything”.
& as if to confirm Edgar’s claim, Autumn heard knocking from ’hind the front door. Autumn’s eyes narrowed e’en mo’.
“Hold on a sec”, she said ’fore closing the door.
A second later, she came out wrapped in a towel & peered out the window the same way Edgar did before.
“¿Is he still there?” whispered Edgar.
“You heard him knock, ¿didn’t you?” said Autumn. “Funny, I think I recognize this person from somewhere, too; but I don’t remember where”. She backed ’way, letting the blinds drop back into place. “Probably someone I gave money to before who now needs mo’. He must be worse off than before, though: I don’t remember e’er seeing someone covered in newspaper”.
“He has other clothes ’neath it, though”, said Edgar.
Autumn nodded. “He’s probably trying to protect it from the rain. Clever”.
She opened the door, causing the cat person ’hind it to back ’way with a look o’ shock.
“Don’t mind the towel; I just came out o’ the shower”, Autumn said as she pointed a thumb back @ her bathroom. “¿You need to borrow money?”
“I… uh… I mean…” Felix was so surprised by this sudden answer, after expecting them to continue ignoring her, that her tongue had betrayed her.
After a second’s thought, she finally answered, “Uh, no. I, uh… ’Scuse me for my bad English… It’s bad. Uh, anyway, I…”
¿What’s my ’scuse for coming here? ¿How could I be so stupid not to come up with a ’scuse after being given so much time? ¡Stupid! ¡Idiot! ¡Philosopher!
Finally, she blurted, “¿Do you mind if I come in?”
Autumn squinted. “¿Why?”
“I, uh… I need some time to collect what I’m ’bout to say…” said Felix.
After a pause, Autumn said, “OK… But you should know that I’m a professional thief & have acute attention, in addition to years o’ experience. I am already offering to give you free money; you would be wise not to squander that goodwill by attempting anything contentious”.
Felix shook her head vigorously — so much that Edgar thought it might break off its neck.
“O, no, I would ne’er think o’ doing that”, she said quickly. “In fact, if I had any money on me, I would give it all to you in a heartbeat. Honest”.
Though Autumn’s bullshit sensor was screeching, her expression was unchanged, & she stepped back to let this cat fellow in.
“If nobody needs me, I’ll return to my cooking”, Edgar said as he walked back to the kitchen side o’ the room.
Felix’s eyes slid toward Edgar as he walked into the kitchen & then bulged when she saw him pick up a spoon in front o’ the toaster oven.
“¡No! ¡Don’t!” she shouted as she rushed toward him, which Autumn could only witness in amused bemusement.
Edgar stopped & turned to Felix in confusion himself. ’Fore he could say anything, Felix stopped next to him & swiped the spoon from his hand.
“Let me do that”, she said breathlessly, tired from so much running.
“¿Don’t you know sticking spoons in toaster ovens is dangerous?” asked Felix.
“No, it isn’t”, said Autumn. “That’s forks in regular toasters”.
“¿But how am I s’posed to clean the strudel crumbs from the toaster oven?” said Edgar, his voice saturated with dejection.
“I told you I’d do it”, said Felix. “That’s why I needed to come here. There’s dangers lurking round everywhere, & I need to protect you guys from it”.
“¿Why?” asked Autumn.
“I can’t answer that right now”, said Felix, turning her eyes in the direction farthest from Autumn or Edgar.
“Huh…” said Autumn, unsure o’ how to take this screwjob — other than to take him as a screwjob. “Well, Edgar watch this… person closely while I’m dressing”.
But when Felix glanced @ Autumn & saw her heading for the bathroom, she rushed toward the bathroom screaming, “¡Noooooooo!” She stopped in front o’ the bathroom door with her arms stretched out like a double toll booth, blocking Auutmn from it.
“OK, ¿what’s your problem, now?” asked Autumn. “¿Are you ’fraid I’ll shower with a toaster oven or something?”
“Bathrooms are dangerous”, said Felix. “The floor’s probably slippery with your shower water. You might slip, fall, & shatter your head”.
“Funny how I’ve been able to avoid falling victim to that every other time that I’ve e’er used the bathroom”, said Autumn. “Now, out o’ the way”.
But Felix didn’t budge, stepping back so that she was right in front o’ the door, her hands grasped each edge o’ the door frame.
“Let me do what you’re going to do ’stead”.
“¿What? ¿Get dressed for me?” asked Autumn. “That’d be impressive”.
“Let me bring out your clothes”.
Autumn’s eyebrows somehow found a way to fall e’en lower than they were already. “¿What is this, now? ¿Some convoluted method to see me naked? ’cause there is this thing called the internet…”
“I can look ’way, cover my ears, & shut my mouth”, said Felix, waving her arms to signal danger. “You can cover yourself with a blanket. ¡Just don’t go in there!”
“¿Who are you & what is this all ’bout?” asked Autumn.
“I’m… I’m your guardian angel”.
Autumn paused ’nough for her brain to confirm what her ears thought they heard.
“Get the fuck out o’ here”, she said as she grabbed Felix’s arm to move her ’way.
But Felix grabbed her hand & stopped her.
“¡No! I mean… Obviously that ‘guardian angel’ thing was just, uh… metaphorical. What I mean is, I need to protect you from dangers. Your, uh… Your landlord demands it. He’s ’fraid o’ getting sued or something”.
“You’re full o’ shit”.
Felix shook her head. “Honest”.
Then Felix grabbed 1 o’ Autumn’s arms, led her o’er to her bed, & sat her down.
“There. Now, you just let me handle the dangerous clothes-gathering work, & you just sit here &, uh… sit”.
Autumn shook her head & muttered, “¿What is this nonsense?”
“¿Can I clean the toaster oven now?” Edgar called from the kitchen area.
Felix answered by waving her arms round o’er her head & shouting, “¡Noooo! ¿D’you not hear me? ¿Do you want to get electrocuted? Just stand there & wait till I’m done with the clothes gathering”.
“But… But I can’t bake strudel in a dirty toaster oven…” Edgar stared down @ the floor, dejected ’gain.
“You can cook as many strudels as you want after I’m done cleaning it. Now, I’ll be right back. This won’t take long”, Felix said as she walked back to the bathroom.
Then, suddenly Autumn bolted up out o’ the bed & strode o’er to Felix, which was encumbered by her having to hold her towel round herself.
“Hey, I know what act you’re playing”, she said. “You’re trying to sneak money out o’ my pants pockets while you’re getting them ‘for my safety,’ ¿aren’t you?”
Felix shook her head. “I told you, I don’t want your money”.
“Yeah, & I bet murderers rarely say they love killing people, too”, said Autumn. “¿What, d’you think I’m so dumb that I’ll just believe whatever you say?”
Felix held her hands out as if she were trying to calm a wild beast. “OK, OK… Let’s… Let’s not get crazy. How ’bout you watch me while I gather your clothes — from outside the bathroom, with the door open”.
“¿& why can’t I walk into my own bathroom ’gain?”
“I told you, it’s slippery”.
Autumn aimed an accusatory finger @ Felix. “& I’m telling you you’re slippery”.
“¡Guys! ¡Guys!” They both turned to Edgar, surprised by the loud outburst. “¿Can’t you see this petty fight’s just tearing us all apart?”
They both stared down @ their feet in shame; Felix sad, Autumn grumpy.
“O, all right. Whatever”, said Autumn. Then she looked up & pointed @ Felix ’gain. “But I’m watching you, so don’t try anything kooky”. Then she pointed @ her eyes with 2 fingers & swung them round @ Felix to indicate said watching she’d be doing.
Felix nodded & put a hand on her heart. “Impale my heart & hope to die a slow, unbearable death”.
So, Autumn watched as Felix went inside, stepping o’er the bathroom floor as carefully as possible so as not to slip on the water puddles & ruin these nice peoples’ tiled floor with the blood from her cracked skull. She took a second to look round ’fore quickly locating the clothes hanging on a bar @ the back end. She picked them up, holding them by the end o’ her fingers so as to minimize the germs she would get on them, & then promptly returned & handed them to Autumn.
Autumn snatched them, the suspicion still in her eyes, though in her head she was surprised she didn’t see Felix try anything.
“Great, now stay in there while I get dressed”, she said as she moved to close the door on Felix.
“Uh, OK… Be careful”, Felix said just ’fore the door closed her off.
“You were right, Edgar: we should have pretended we weren’t here”, Autumn said as she walked back to the bed, checking all o’ the pockets in her apparel on the way.
But as she began changing, the door burst open.
“¡O, come on!” Autumn shouted as she grabbed for her towel.
@ the same time, Lance stepped in & announced, “I knew after 200 consecutive times trying to open your door, 1 day you would leave it unlocked & — ¡O, Mises!” He stepped back while covering his eyes with 1 hand. “¿Don’t you have any decency?”
“¡This is my home!” Autumn shouted as she covered herself ’gain.
Then the bathroom door burst open, with Felix rushing out from ’hind it.
“¡Don’t answer that! I can get i — ¡Oof!”
Felix slipped & fell on her chin, causing a fang to jab into her lower lip & release blood onto the carpet.
“¡O my god, I’m so sorry!” she said as she rubbed her arm on the li’l spot left on the carpet.
“Er, ¿you all right?” asked Autumn, half getting up.
Felix looked up @ Autumn with guilty eyes.
“See why ’twas a good thing you didn’t go in there”. She looked back down ’gain. “I only wished I hadn’t ruined your carpet with my dumb blood”.
“Er, that’s all right”, said Autumn.
“¿Is the looter decent now?” asked Lance.
Autumn turned to him, still covering his eyes with his palm.
“No. ¿What are you e’en doing here? Get lost”.
“I’m planning to take you to justice, if you’re done with your hippy sex ritual”, said Lance.
“Well, I won’t be for a few mo’ hours, so why don’t you come back later”.
“Pleasant attempt”, Lance said as he peeked through his hands &, upon seeing that she was decent ’nough, flung said hand forward in an imperious point. “Now, it’s finally time to take you to justice once & for all”.
Then he saw the anthropomorphic cat covered in newspaper with a hot pink marker mustache rush toward him.
“Ah, I see this must be your butler”, Lance sneered. “No accounting for taste”.
Felix stopped before him, frozen. ¿What should I do here?
“Uh… Hello, Sir… I, uh… Sorry if my English isn’t very good…”
“Hmmph”, Lance hmmphed. “Well, that’s what an influx o’ immigrants will get you. Let the brilliant marketers have 1 piece o’ land & the starving socialists will all rush in & break it down”.
Felix winced & squeezed her hands together, feeling herself shrink in nervousness.
“Gee, I’m sorry, Sir. I didn’t mean to be an immigrant or a starving socialist… whatever those things are”.
“Step out o’ the way, man. I have justice to carry out”, Lance said with a finger thrust into the air. “Perhaps you would find a better use o’ your time sleeping on a park bench or university campus. I see you already have the newspaper blanket”.
Felix looked to Autumn.
“Get lost, ya idiot”, said Autumn, holding her head as if she had a headache. “I’m not in the mood for political strawmen today”.
Felix turned back to Lance & took a deep breath.
“I’m sorry, Sir, but Madame… uh…” She turned back to Autumn & asked, “¿What’s your name ’gain, Madame?”
“O, ¿who cares?” asked Autumn, rubbing her eye petulantly.
Felix turned back to Lance. “I’m sorry, Sir, but Madame Cares doesn’t want you here right now”.
“O, I’m sorry. ¿Am I disturbing poor ‘Madame Cares’? I don’t recall her e’er asking if I wanted her round to loot my rightful property”.
“I’ve ne’er e’en robbed you o’ anything yet”, said Autumn, rubbing her head ’gain, for she felt ’nother migraine coming. “You’re probably the 1 person I haven’t robbed yet”.
Lance pointed @ her. “¿See? ¿See? She admits to her looting”.
Felix nodded. “That’s all very good. But we really need to save this discussion for ’nother time, please”.
Lance puffed his chest up & aimed an indignant stare @ Felix.
“¿& how are you going to force me to leave, hobo? ¿Huh? ¿Bore me to sleep with the stories in those newspapers you’re wearing? ¿Stab me in the eye with the marker you drew that mustache with?”
While Lance laughed @ his hilarious joke, Felix stared down @ her feet in shame.
O, ¿who am I kidding? ¿How am I s’posed to protect anyone when I’m such a failure? I… I just can’t do it. No matter how much I try, my stupidity will always get in the way.
While she was distracted by these thoughts, Lance pushed Felix out o’ the way so his henchmen could step in ’hind him. This caused Autumn to curse; though she knew Lance couldn’t capture a turtle, the superior numbers o’ his guards certainly could.
Autumn leapt up from the bed & backed ’way as the guards trudged toward her & Edgar on either side. Glancing to her side, she could see Edgar doing the same as she, but with a much mo’ worried expression.
She aimed toward the bathroom, hoping Edgar had the same idea, for she didn’t want to tell him to do so out loud & alert the henchmen so soon. She looked to the strange cat “man” as she did so, expecting “him” to get in the way, but saw that “he” was still staring down @ the ground in a depressed paralysis.
Poor guy. If we e’er get out o’ this ’live, — & if he’s still round — we need to get him psychological help.
When she turned to her left, she saw, to her gratitude, that Edgar did have the same idea, & they both reached the bathroom door @ the same time. Then they quickly went inside, shutting & locking it ’hind them.
“OK, that should hold them back for now”, Autumn said as she looked round the bathroom. “Though who knows what depths they’ll sink to get us”.
Her eyes stopped on the tiny window @ the other end. Hmm, I thought I remembered it being much larger…
She stepped o’er to it, only to slip on the water covering the floor, causing her to fall on her face & smack her chin.
“¿Are you OK?” asked Edgar.
“Yeah, yeah. I think my head’s avoided being shattered open”, Autumn grumbled as she crawled back up to her feet.
OK, this time she actually made it to the window, only to see that ’twas too small for either to fit through.
“Well, we’re fucked”, she said optimistically.
She turned back to the door & asked, “¿See any bumping or other signs o’ trying to get in yet?”
Edgar shook his head. “No”.
Autumn rubbed her chin. “Huh, that’s odd”.
She stepped right up to the door & held her ear up to it. From the other side she heard the whir o’ some technology. Examining the door, she soon found the source in the form o’ some sticky substance growing downward in the edges o’ the door frame.
“It seems they want to lock us in themselves”, she said.
She unlocked the door & pushed on it to confirm: it wouldn’t budge.
“I s’pose the idea is to slowly starve us, since there’s plenty o’ water in here”. Then Autumn immediately shut up & wished she hadn’t said that out loud, knowing they could easily break the water pipes so that they no longer ran.
“¿What are we going to do?” said Edgar, panic noticeable in his voice.
Then they heard a heavy thunk on the other end o’ the bathroom & saw a guard’s face outside the window, standing on a ladder. Using an unidentifiable mechanism, — what Autumn s’posed was the same used to clog the door — he began sealing the window.
She rushed toward it, thinking it probably best to stop him, only to find that the window was already sealed so much that it wouldn’t budge; nor would pounding on the window do anything to e’en inconvenience him.
“Damn. ¿Isn’t glass s’posed to be easy to break? I’m quite certain I’ve broken glass in some story before”, grumbled Autumn.
“¿How bad is this?” Edgar asked, panic still present in tone.
“Not too bad. It’ll take days ’fore hunger becomes a problem, & as long as they don’t break the pipes, we’ll still have water inside”.
Autumn turned on a faucet & saw that it still worked. Wary o’ the possibility o’ it later not working, she rummaged through the pockets o’ the pants still in her hand for an empty water bottle & began to fill it.
When the bottle was only halfway full, however, she saw the deluge thin into tiny drops, & then stop completely.
“Well, that’ll give me something for a while”, Autumn said as she set the bottle down.
While Edgar squeezed his hands together, trying to still his rattling as much as possible, Autumn used their free time to finally get dressed.
“You’re taking this a mo’ seriously than you should…” said Autumn. “You’re hyperventilating”.
“I can’t help it. I keep feeling as if I’m out o’ breath”.
Autumn said nothing as she moved o’er to the tub to hang the towel up. She had to admit that, though they still had plenty o’ time to think o’ a way out, she felt her nerves bunch up from the stress o’ the momen—
“O, poker”, said Autumn, dropping the towel on the floor, & rudely interrupting my narration.
“¿What?” asked Edgar, his voice rising with urgency.
“I think I know why you keep feeling short o’ breath…”
Edgar could see by the haggard look on Autumn’s face that the answer wasn’t positive.
By this time, Felix had finally ceased standing in 1 place, staring down @ her feet with stormy thoughts. Now she was sitting on the ground with her head held in her hands with stormy thoughts — thoughts so stormy that she couldn’t e’en muster the energy to stand anymo’.
She looked up & kept seeing the mean man in the black top hat rub his white-gloved hands together & sneer.
“In mere moments they will waste the rest o’ their air supply making energy for their frivolous cells & choke on their own toxicity that they release perpetually, ¡& then the world will be rid o’ its greatest looter once & for all! Ha, ha, ha!” He didn’t laugh; he just shouted “ha” 3 times.
Agent Mellow Yellow, who was lifting a mug o’ coffee to his mouth, asked, “Sir, ¿isn’t this whole ‘breaking into someone else’s home & suffocating them to death in their own bathroom’ a li’l… crazy?”
“¿Did you say ‘crazy’?” Lance turned with a large smile, teeth poking out from his bottom lip, & his eyes twisted into incongruent shapes, the left much wider & the right much smaller.
“Hmm…” Mellow Yellow paused before taking a calm sip o’ his coffee.
Come on, you worthless waste o’ oxygen, Worthless Waste o’ Oxygen, this is your chance. Do something useful for once.
But I can’t do anything. ¿What am I s’posed to do? The mean top-hatted guy can just push me out o’ the way if I try anything. ¿What am I s’posed to do ’bout that? Face it, sitting far ’way from everyone is the best I’ll e’er accomplish. That’s the 1 thing I’m good @: staying out o’ people’s way so they can ignore my existence complete… ly…
& for the 2nd time in a long while, Felix felt her mouth curl into a smile as her mind dawned on what she could, in fact, do.
She stood up & inched her way o’er to the front door, only for the kitchen to catch her eyes.
I may not have time to get help… & ’sides, it’d get in the way o’ me sacrificing myself.
She kept the top-hatted man & his golden-tuxedoed henchmen in the corner o’ her eyes as she crept o’er to the kitchen. None seemed to notice her @ all.
“¿You dead yet in there?” Lance asked with his ear held up to the door.
He heard no response.
He began knocking on the door. “Hey, don’t be rude. Answer my question”.
Felix’s eyes darted round the kitchen as her mind puzzled o’er what could be used to break the door down.
That was when her eyes stopped on the toaster oven with the spoon in front o’ it.
Looking o’er her shoulder to make sure she still hadn’t been spotted, Felix grabbed the toaster oven & spoon & backed ’way toward the door, only to feel it snag when she reached the threshold ’tween the kitchen & the living room. She turned back to it & saw that it had reached the end o’ its power cord.
Dogs. I can’t use it if it’s not plugged-in. ¿How will I stretch it farther?
She set it back down, careful to do so as quietly as possible. She then rummaged round the many drawers under the counter. She looked o’er her shoulder once mo’ & saw, to her surprise, that the others still didn’t pay her any mind.
Lance stood with his arms crossed & a sour expression.
“It’s just not right”, he said. “I mean, yeah, I know I’m trying to kill them & all; but they don’t have to be uncivil ’bout it. It’s nothing personal, truly”.
“I know, Sir”, said Agent Burnt Siena, trying not to stare @ Agent Mellow Yellow’s coffee.
“I would ne’er act uncivil if you tried to have me killed, Sir”, said Agent Screamin’ Green.
Agent Burnt Siena rolled his eyes & muttered, “Suck up”.
Felix had to stifle a gasp when she found an extension cord in the tall drawer @ the left end o’ the counters. She pulled it out, cringing when it caused some plastic object to fall o’er with a loud clack, but not slowing down, being so close to victory now. She readjusted the plugs so that the toaster oven was on 1 end & the other was in the outlet.
¡Perfect! She thought.
Now, with toaster oven & spoon in hand once mo’, she rushed o’er to the door.
“¡Out o’ the way if you don’t want to get hurt!” she exclaimed.
“¿Who said that?” Lance asked as he turned his head round.
Agent Mellow Yellow pointed @ Felix & said, “I think it’s that hobo we forgot ’bout. & he’s got a — ¡O my god! Sir, ¡we must get out o’ the way, quick! ¡He’s got a toaster oven & a spoon!”
“Well, I don’t see what that has to do with—”
Agent Burnt Siena wasted no time hoisting Lance up & carrying him outside, the rest o’ Lance’s henchmen following after them.
Felix paid them no brain. ’Stead, she stopped in front o’ the door, staring @ it with a determination she’d ne’er had in her life. With 1 hand, she opened the toaster oven door, & with the other, she poked the spoon inside.
“Treasure hunters, ¿can you hear me?” asked Felix, feeling her chest tighten @ the realization that they might already be dead.
But from the other side she heard the ponytailed woman answer, “¿Is that the crazy cat man?”
“Yes. Listen, you have to stand as far ’way from the door as possible, ’¿K? & hold your ears tightly closed, too”.
After a few seconds, Autumn called out, “’K, we’re ready for whatever you’re doing”.
“Excellent”. Felix’s face twisted into a wry smile as she slowly jabbed the spoon into the toaster oven.
& then she erupted into a fireball, blasting the door into li’l, crispy black shards o’ wood, leaving the bathroom with a wide opening bordered by blackened drywall. Tiny pieces o’ wood & plaster rained down from the ceiling just ’bove the threshold, & both rooms filled with light dust. A li’l flame flickered on a part o’ the carpet near the bathroom.
Autumn & Edgar, who had both crouched ’hind the toilet with their hands clamped onto their ears & their eyes closed, stood back up after the noise had dissipated & blinked in surprise @ the remodeling that had been done on their apartment room. Their eyes took in all o’ the damage ’fore they stopped on the cat “man”, who was standing just before the threshold with her own eyes wide, & her whole body covered in black dust.
“Uh, gee… Thank you, Sir, for saving our lives”, Autumn said as she walked toward him, scratching the back o’ her head in embarrassment. “I s’pose you weren’t kidding ’bout that ‘guardian angel’ tripe”.
Felix didn’t reply. She merely stood there for a whole 10 seconds ’fore finally shaking the dust off her & looking round herself sadly.
“But… but… but that was s’posed to kill me”, she said. “The whole point was that I was s’posed to sacrifice myself to save someone else”.
Autumn stepped forward, staring @ the “hobo” mo’ closely, only to raise her brows as she noticed something. The blast had shredded the newspapers so much that there were only mere remnants left, blasted the red cap to the far end o’ the living room, & caused most o’ Felix’s marker mustache to wear off.
“Hey, I recognize you. You’re that crazy cat from the mansion who hates herself so much. ¿What are you doing here?”
Autumn was still watching Felix closely, her own stance tightened. She didn’t like the hollow look in Felix’s eyes as she looked down @ the floor.
Felix shook her head. “¡No, no, no!” Then she stopped & held her hands o’er her head. “¡I don’t have time! ¡I have to get rid o’ myself ’fore I tarnish my good work with mo’ sins!”
Felix raced for the utensils drawer. Anticipating such swift movement, Autumn rushed right ’hind her.
Felix had just pulled out a hefty cutlery knife just as Autumn reached her, only for Felix to jump out o’ the way & push her with surprising force, causing Autumn to shove into the counter & almost fall o’er.
Autumn turned, only to jerk back & shout, “¡Jesus, fuck!” @ the sight o’ Felix cringing as she jabbed a knife right into her throat, causing blood to leak all o’er her hand & onto the floor.
Holding her mouth closed, Autumn shook herself out o’ her paralysis & rushed forward & grasped Felix’s hand as sharply as she could with her nails, causing Felix to release it immediately. Then Autumn slid the knife ’way in 1 swift motion as if ’twere a regular diamond — a gesture that was, thankfully, automatic by this point, since Autumn’s mind was too fogged by adreneline to think much.
“¿What are you doing?” shouted Felix. Autumn stepped back with the knife held back with both hands, twisted eyes aimed @ Felix with mixed fear & shock. Felix continued, “¡No, stop! ¡You don’t understand! ¡I have to do this!” Autumn could hear Felix’s voice quiver into pleas. Felix stepped forward with arms held out to her sides. “Please, don’t ruin this for me. I’ve finally made up for all my… my terribleness. Please let me end it that way ’fore it’s ruined yet ’gain”. Autumn looked in alarm as she saw a tear dribble down 1 o’ Felix’s eyes.
Autumn stilled her eyes on Felix, wiping ’way all fear & surprise she could. Felix was staring back @ her straight, sadness melting into mild anger — both o’ which Autumn had ne’er seen in those eyes. Both were still, but Autumn could tell that both were packed ready for sudden movement ’gain.
Breathing heavily, Autumn said, “All right. I’ll let you do it. I’ll give you back this knife. But 1st you need to calm yourself, “OK?” ¿Will you be good ’nough to do that?
Felix sniffed. “Yes. I’m sorry. I’m not bad already, ¿am I?” Felix’s thin pupils thinned deeper.
Autumn replied slowly, “No. Keeping calm & still, you’re just right. I just need you to lie down on that bed o’er there”. Autumn pointed @ her & Edgar’s bed on the other side o’ the apartment.
Felix nodded & slowly paced o’er to the bed @ a crouched gait.
“Wait, I need to check you for anything else”, said Autumn.
Felix dutifully turned round, only for Autumn to go ’hind her & pat her round her jeans.
Just have to hope she can’t feel that, thought Autumn.
“All right. You’re good”, said Autumn.
So Felix continued her walk to the bed, Autumn & Edgar following close ’hind. Autumn pulled Edgar o’er to her & whispered with the sternest look she could give, “Be ready. Other side o’ the bed”.
“¿Are you going to operate on me?” asked Felix. “¿Can you — could you make me better?” Felix’s eyes lit up. Autumn could see Felix’s chest heave up & down mo’ rapidly.
Autumn stopped @ a top corner o’ the bed. “Yes. I just need to see your hand”.
Felix stretched a hand out & Autumn, in 1 moment, snatched it, latched a handcuff on it, & latched the other cuff to the end o’ the bed. Edgar immediately after grabbed Felix’s wildly-struggling other arm. Autumn ran round to the other side to cuff it, too.
“¡No! ¿Why?” Felix put all o’ her strength into pulling gainst the cuffs, to no good.
All Autumn could say was, “Just sit here calmly, please, ’¿K?” with a few awkward pats on Felix’s shoulder.
Then she turned to Edgar & said, “¿Could you accompany me outside true quick, Edgar?”
Edgar nodded silently & followed her outside, where the pattering rain continued.
A waft o’ chilly air slipped in, causing Felix to shiver. The rest o’ her senses, however, paid li’l mind to this. Her eyes continued to stare vacantly @ the void before her & her mind focused on the puzzle that lay before her.
Such nice people. They understand nothing, & will destroy what is just with their niceness, but they’re nice people. & it is ’cause o’ this I cannot let them continue this.
I’m awfully sorry, nice treasure hunters, but my mission will be carried out, & nobody will stop me.
To be continued…