“I need to get back to work.” It was the only excuse Sophie could think of. It was really creepy to have someone materialize before her. And when that someone looked like her, well to say it was creepy was definitely an understatement.
“Oh, don’t worry about it. We don’t have much time. It’ll be light soon, and you’ll have to leave. Come on. I want to show you my collection.” Sophie’s twin pulled her back into the hall and to a door halfway down.
“It’ll be alright. After all, didn’t you say you didn’t want to end up like Jim?”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah.” There was no getting out of this. “But only if you tell me your name.”
“My name?” Eyes twinkled first blue then brown. “My name huh?”
“Eihpos.” The door squeaked open. She stepped inside, then stuck her head back out. “Come on.”
It was too far to the elevator. Sophie knew Eihpos would catch up with her long before she could even push the button to call for her escape, so she followed inside. Total amazement threatened to overwhelm her. Lining the walls were shelves. Sophie didn’t think she could exaggerate to think that there must be at least three hundred. More than the shelves startled her. On each one, a cat sat motionless. At least at first it seemed that they sat motionless. But when she stopped and looked around, each feline blinked at her one after another, as if following some feline choreographed wave. She’d seen it done on TV when she watched football with her family. This was different. These weren’t people who had planned ahead of time to work together.
“I… I thought it would be dolls or something.” Sophie tried to swallow, but saliva built too rapidly. Finally she wiped the back of her hand across her mouth. It helped a little, but she finally had to take a big gulp.
“These are better. Come on. I want to introduce you.” Eihpos grabbed Sophie’s hand. “Leave the cart. This will be a lot more fun. No one will know.” The words came out with a gush of excitement.
Sophie couldn’t get rid of her reluctance, but neither could she resist Eihpos’ pull into the midst of all the staring cats.
Don’t be afraid. A dignified dog with a pointy snout materialized to trail beside the two girls. He looked and acted as if he wore a tuxedo. They won’t follow you home. The dog opened his mouth as if to bark, but the only thing that came out was a soft yodel.
”They guard the others,” Eihpos said with a nervous laugh. It was a soft tinkling sound, just the opposite of Sophie’s usual harsh chortle.
“O…others?” Again Sophie looked at the wall.
She doesn’t know. The dog nudged Eihpos with his muzzle.
Before Sophie could ask another question forms started to appear. Soon there was a crowd surrounding her. One, slender with shiny black hair looked so familiar. A band like crown with a snake sat majestically on her head. Another stood against the wall staring at her. His eyes burned through her. A little stub of a mustache twitched. When he licked his lips the urge to turn and run grew stronger than when she’d first stepped from the elevator.
It couldn’t be. These and all the others had stepped out of the pictures of the history books she’d paid so little attention to in school.