An Unpleasant Segue

Patches’ face was anything but resigned, but there was a certain stoic cast to the knitted brow, the irritated frown. “A change of plans? Quelle surprise.

‘You really mustn’t take that tone of voice with me, Twinkle-Mouth. I’m sure you’ll regret it.” The invisible collar tightened constricted until Patches’ eyes briefly bulged; her point made, Angeline let it relax. “Do we understand now, Cuddlekins? Good. Now, my … associate has given me some … unpleasant news. Well, perhaps interesting is a better term, dropsy: you’ve just been seen, very publicly, to have murdered Mr. J. Since you’ve no longer got an employer, there’s no need for you to complete your contract. Of course, this means that the law and the criminal underground will be out for you. Such a shame, isn’t it, poodle?”

This saccharine speech took a few minutes to recover from – but Patches’ new mistress didn’t have time for that. She bundled him into the cab and drove on. When he finally gathered his wits, he managed to string a few sentences together. “If you’re taking me to safety, why not just hide me in your own home? If you’re handing me over, why keep me bound to your service? Above all, how can I have been seen to commit murder when I’ve been here with you?”

“Excellent questions all, my pet, but I’m afraid that I can’t answer them for you. You know what they say about curiosity and cats, don’t you?” The syrupy façade that masked her sinister manner was getting a bit grating. They endured for a while in silence, and Patches resolved to keep all questions to himself – at least until he escaped from Miss Angeline’s shackles.

Therefore, when they arrived at the British Museum, he remained silent. When she unlocked the front door with her very own key, he kept his own counsel. When she led him to the wing devoted to Egyptology, he gave not a single murmur. Finally, Angeline pouted prettily. “This isn’t nearly as much fun without banter, now is it?”

“Answer my questions, and perhaps I’ll oblige you.”

“Ordinarily, I’d punish you for that, Poopsie, but you’re tiresome when you’re silent. How about answering a few questions of mine? Have you noticed, for example, that London seems to be in several distinct time periods at once, darling? And that it didn’t used to be? Doesn’t that seem a bit strange, unnatural?”

“When you’re a shape shifting cat, one gets used to a bit of peculiarity.”

“Well, liebling, I’ve been dabbling a bit in the occult, as you’ve plainly seen, and perhaps some of the experiments haven’t gone as planned, perhaps some of them have altered reality. You really mustn’t blame me, sweetheart.”

“And how does that explain our presence here?”

“You’re going to help me gather a few supplies, for my next and greatest spell.”

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