There was a endless nasty sound ringing in her ears, a sound like the scratching of...


at a...

and only gradually did it go skittering away into silence. Finally, although it was a struggle, she scraped together the strength to uncurl her body and pull herself upright.

Mostly upright. She couldn't seem to rise higher than a certain point, no matter how hard she pushed her knuckles against the slick coolness of the floor. All of her muscles buzzed and strained without effect. Things seemed to shifting down there, in her back, in her spine...

She gave up trying, and everything went really quiet and still, except for somewhere, there was the drip drip drip of water. The thing wrapped tight around her neck... it was something new, something unfamiliar, and its tendrils pulsed at the very bottom edge of feeling, sending out soothing rhythmic waves that lapped at her mind, eroding the edges of her thoughts a careful mill... mill... a bit at a time.

She crouched quietly then, blinking once in a while, feeling the oddness of the other new things she was wearing, just a a couple of pieces really, feeling the coolness in unexpected places against her skin. Finally, there was a sound, new sounds. The lights came on. She hadn't really noticed until then that it had been dark. The shapes that she saw made no sense.

The sounds. Footsteps coming towards her across a stone floor. Slow but steady.

They arrived next to her, and there was another really long moment of silence and stillness.

Drip drip drip.

She couldn't turn her head to see who was there, but somehow she didn't need to; she knew already, knew it with perfect clarity. His presence echoed sweetly in the hollow places of her mind, the places that had been washed away.

She waited, and finally he touched her, resting his hand lightly on the top of her head, among the spikes that made up her hair. The waves expanded, as a lake does when a...


When something really heavy is dropped in it, ripple ripple ripple, and she trembled a little.

“Hello, my pet.”

His voice...

“Are you feeling better now?”

Better? She blinked again. Had she been sick?

At this, there were a few flashes of memory coming out of some dark hole, brief but shockingly vivid, and she twitched at the deep stab of pain that accompanied them.

Yes. Oh yes. She had been sick, monsterously sick and and and diseased. The things inside her head, the rats, they had been oozing with vile...pus and...

Icky things.

But then he had come, Mr... Mr...

Mr. Man. The Man. He had come and he had cured her. Wrapped up his pet in the medicine she so desperately needed. Wrapped her up in it, stuck it right in the center of her head, a candy-red pill so bright and shiny and covered with so many pretty words...

She tried to talk, to tell the Man all of these things, tell him again and again and again, but no words would come when she opened her mouth, just a small blurred sound. Her tongue was changing shape, along with the rest of her. In the end, she just nodded, his hand rising and falling with the motion.

“Good. Very good.” He stroked her hair some more and the ripples spread even wider. “Now then, now that you are cured, you must take up your duties. Are you prepared?”

Another nod.

“And do you know what those duties are? Do you know what you need to do...



On that last word, all of the stuff around


Inside Tabby

snapped in sharp focus. Sharp pretty focus, even as the Man pushed the medicine deeper pushed the button deeper and

her eyes cracked and

the cracks went deep so very very deep and

all of the other names went away and

the words on the button at the center of it all glowed really really bright, bright as gold

She knew her duties, every last one of them, and she sorta laughed and wept and

she hissed and purred and

What's a button?

She nodded her head, and she went out to explore her new home..

To be continued?

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