Hello, dear readers. Here’s the last chapter from the point of view of Mr. Kitty in the entire Infinite Limits saga. There are only three more chapters and a short epilogue after this one. Enjoy, and please do come back next week for the continuation of the story. We do nothing alone.
LXXXI. Mr. Kitty
“Leo, wait!” Tillie called from the front porch. “Don’t go. You don’t understand.”
But Leo didn’t even turn around to look at her, much less respond, instead running off toward the public elevator. Mr. Kitty felt a slight urge to follow Leo, he hadn’t been on campus in a long time and always enjoyed the sights when he did make it out there, but Tillie seemed genuinely upset about the situation, and Mr. Kitty wanted to do whatever he could to comfort her first.
“He’ll be fine,” Mr. Kitty meowed. “You did the same thing when you first found out the truth.”
“Right?” Tillie said, pacing back and forth, up and down the porch. “What a brat. He didn’t want to listen before when I had first told him about the robots, and he doesn’t want to listen now that he’s dead set on saving them.”
“Exactly like you were when you first found out,” Mr. Kitty meowed, trying to rub his face on Tillie’s ankles, but she was still pacing so she ended up tripping over him to fall with a crash on her face.
“Sorry,” Mr. Kitty meowed, but Tillie didn’t respond, just lying there, face down on the front porch, groaning. Mr. Kitty climbed up onto her butt and started kneading it until she finally rolled over, smiling and laughing, to scoop him up and kiss him all over—which he normally hated but would allow given the circumstances.
“You little monster,” she said, throwing him over her shoulder to carry him inside. “And you’ll get more kisses where that came from if you’re not careful.”
Tillie dropped Mr. Kitty off on the kitchen counter then ordered him up a turkey dinner that he wasn’t hungry for. He licked all the juices off of it, anyway, because he didn’t want to ruin Tillie’s training. She ordered herself a beer out of the printer, and by that time, Mr. Kitty had “eaten” enough, so he followed her into the living room where she stopped dead in her tracks and Mr. Kitty ran right into the back of her leg.
“I—uh…” Tillie stammered. “Curie. You—” He had come through the hole in the fireplace, Mr. Kitty assumed, but Tillie didn’t finish her sentence, instead embracing her husband to kiss him.
“I’m sorry,” he said, still holding her shoulders in both hands. “I didn’t mean to surprise you. I had to use the back door. It was urgent.”
“Is it Leo? Did he call you?” Tillie asked.
“What? Leo? No. What happened? Is he alright?”
“For now. But we have a lot to talk about. Do you want something to drink?”
“Tillie, it’s happening today,” Curie said. “I told you it was coming soon. Well, it’s now. And they need our help.”
“Our help?” Tillie scoffed. “This is exactly what I just argued with Leo about. I literally just told him it was too dangerous. We got in a big fight about it, and he ran away. You might have passed him on your way in if you had taken the elevator like a normal person.”
“You know what? Yeah,” Curie said, checking his watch. “Maybe we do have time for one drink. Beer, please.”
“Fine.” Tillie stormed into the kitchen to get the drinks while Curie scooped Mr. Kitty up and patted him on the back.
“Don’t think for one second that I forgot about you, Mr. Kitty,” Curie said. “Just how is my little gremlin doing? Huh?”
“Not bad,” Mr. Kitty meowed. “It’s shaping up to be a pretty exciting day.”
“Well, I hope you’ll come along with us if I can convince your Tillie,” he said just as Tillie came in carrying two pints of beer.
“Convince me of what?” she asked, holding Curie’s beer out to him.
Curie set Mr. Kitty back on the ground—where Mr. Kitty sat licking himself and eavesdropping—then took the glass from Tillie and drank it all in one long gulp, like he was trying to put off the inevitable for that little bit longer. “To help,” he finally said when he had downed the entire drink, wiping his mouth.
“Obviously.” Tillie sighed. “But how? Set some discs on a Walker-Haley field generator like back in college?”
“No,” Curie said. “No discs.”
“A rescue mission,” Curie said. “Evac. You’d be preserving, not destroying.”
“That’s a good start,” Tillie said, taking a seat on the couch. “I’m listening.”
Curie sat in the chair across from her and said, “There’ll be no discs at all this time. That’s small stuff. This is the real deal.”
Tillie scoffed. “As if what Emma and I did wasn’t,” she said, offended. “Need I remind you what happened to her because of how real it was? I know you don’t need reminding of what it did to your sister.”
“No. Of course not,” Curie said, trying to backtrack. “And I didn’t mean to imply that what y’all did wasn’t real or important. Of course it was. But even so, this here today is bigger.”
“How, honey?” Tillie laughed. “How could it be? How could anything be?”
“This time we’re not just destroying the walls between two worlds,” Curie sad. “No more half measures. All the walls are coming down at once.”
“No.” Tillie shook her head. “Impossible. You said it was a rescue mission.”
“It is,” Curie explained. “For us. That’s our role. Rosalind and the Scientist are tearing the walls down, but they need our help for the evac.”
“But they’re the ones who’ve been keeping the walls up this entire time. Why now?”
“I don’t know,” Curie said, shaking his head. “They don’t tell us much. Barely keep in touch. But Rosalind called me up, and I thought it could be the opening we’ve been waiting for. The revolution might finally be here, Tillie. If we react properly.”
“But this is all gonna happen whether we get involved or not. Right?”
“The walls’ll come down either way, yes,” Curie said. “The Scientist has already programmed them for that. Whether it results in our revolution or not is still to be determined, though. It won’t unless we do the work to make it so.”
“But that doesn’t mean we have to get involved right now,” Tillie said, still looking for a way out. “Does it? We can wait until the danger’s over and then help pick up the pieces afterword. It might be a better idea to stay out of this until we can be certain that we’ll survive long enough to help put the pieces back together the right way after everything’s said and done.”
“And let innocent people die because we were too afraid to act?” Curie scoffed. “How could you say that? I know losing your friend, and my sister, took a toll on you—trust me, not a day goes by when I don’t imagine what life would be like if Nikola were still alive—but I thought you’d get over that one day. The Tillie I knew when we first met would have jumped at this opportunity to help liberate the oppressed masses.”
“Well that Tillie was young, naive, and idealistic. She grew up to have a kid of her own, and now she knows there are more important things than her saviour complex.”
“Like people’s lives,” Curie complained. “Can’t you see that? If we don’t do our part, more people are going to die. That’s a fact. You know I can’t just stand by and let that happen, right? I still have to do what I can. With or without you.”
“All the more reason for me to stay out of it,” Tillie said. “No need to put both of our son’s parents in harm’s way. We do still have Leo to think about.”
“Of course. I am thinking about him. About his future. I— I…” Curie looked at his feet like a child who was afraid to admit his latest wrongdoing to stern parents. “I was going to ask him if he wanted to help.”
“Curie, our son? You were going to put our son in harm’s way without consulting me first? How could you?”
“I’m here consulting you now,” Curie complained. “Besides, it’s not your place to stop him anymore. He’s an adult. Remember what happened when your dad tried to stop you?”
Tillie crossed her arms. “Of course I do. I was there, wasn’t I? I…”
“You dug your heels in, ran away, and went to do what you were going to do anyway.”
“And you said that you and Leo had been fighting before I arrived. What about?”
“He did call you. Didn’t he?”
“He didn’t have to,” Curie said. “I know him—and you—well enough to know that he knows the truth now. He wants to do something to change it, too. Doesn’t he? Well, we need his help, Tillie. He can do something. We all finally can.”
“But Curie, Nikola.” Tillie started to cry now. Not so much so that she couldn’t speak, but the tears were obvious enough for Mr. Kitty to see them and jump on her lap to purr in an attempt to console her. “Emma,” Tillie went on through her tears. “All the countless others who’ve died. I won’t let Leo become another name on that list.”
“Then come with us,” Curie said, crossing to sit next to Tillie and rub her back, doing all he could to comfort her the same as Mr. Kitty was. “Protect him and prevent even more innocent people from joining that list just the same. Fly again with me like the majestic eagle you once were, the eagle I know you still are. Please, Tillie. We need you.”
Tillie was kind of blushing and smirking now, but still crying. “Y’all don’t need a scared old crone like me,” she said, sniffling and wiping her nose on her sleeve. “I’ve been hiding behind my desk for too long. I’m just a useless harpy now.”
“Not in the slightest,” Curie said, standing and pulling Tillie to stand up with him—which forced Mr. Kitty to jump off of her lap, but he didn’t mind because he was getting as pumped by Curie’s speech as he hoped Tillie was. “You have invaluable knowledge of revolutionary situations,” Curie went on. “You said so yourself. You and Emma were single-handedly responsible for tearing down the walls between Five and Six. That’s experience we could use to help save lives on this mission.”
“Well, not single-handedly,” Tillie said, not crying anymore if still a little hesitant. “We do nothing alone. But that was a long time ago. All we did was put some stickers on some machinery and run away. It really wasn’t that big of a deal.”
“That’s not true,” Curie said. “And it’s not what you were just arguing, either. And we’ll just be helping people evacuate their buildings, today. You’re great at that. Leo was never late to school on your mornings to get him ready.” He winked and grinned.
“Because you were always too much his friend and not enough his parent,” Tillie said, shaking her head. “How can I be sure you’re not doing the same thing right now?”
“Because I’m not, Tillie,” Curie said, getting serious again. “We honestly need him. And we need you. And if you’d just agree to come along, we can both be there to keep our son safe. You know we can’t stop him from doing something stupid any more than your dad could have stopped you, so let’s be there for him when he does it. What do you say?”
“Do it!” Mr. Kitty meowed. “I’m coming, too.”
And Curie and Tillie both laughed at that.
“Well… You make a lot of sense,” Tillie said. “Both of you. But I’m not sure how I would have reacted if my dad had asked to come along with us back then.”
“You’re not your dad,” Curie reminded her. “And Leo’s not you. You both want to make the world a better place, and you both have the opportunity to.”
“Do you really think I’d be useful?” Tillie asked, stepping closer to Curie to put her hand on his chest, flirting and fishing for compliments.
Mr. Kitty licked his paws in preparation for the running he knew he’d be doing so he didn’t have to watch them be lovey with each other.
“I’m not too old for something like this?”
Curie embraced Tillie and kissed her long and hard. “Of course you’d be useful,” he said in a breathy voice when they had parted lips. “You’re still young, my eagle. But we’re both old enough to pass our knowledge and experience on to Leo. And he’s old enough to receive it. So let’s do it the right way. Together.”
“And don’t forget me,” Mr. Kitty added.
Tillie laughed again. “I guess Mr. Kitty supports the idea,” she said.
“And what about you?” Curie asked, kissing her one more time on the forehead. “What do you think?”
“I think…. you’re right. If Leo’s going, I want to be there, too. And he deserves the opportunity. He already showed me he wanted it. So let’s go get him.”
“Alright,” Curie said, pulling Tillie by the hand toward the fireplace instead of toward the front door where she was going. “C’mon, Mr. Kitty,” he said. “You’re coming, right?”
And of course, Mr. Kitty was. He stretched his legs and back then ran up on the heel of Tillie to follow them through the hole in the fireplace and straight into Leo’s dorm room where he and his roommate were sitting close on the couch, having a serious conversation in whispered tones while the TV, stereo, and even blender in the kitchen were all running on their loudest settings. Curie went to turn the blender off, and Tillie told the TV and stereo to quiet down, while Leo and his roommate jumped up off the couch, surprised.
“Mom. Dad. What are y’all doing here?” Leo went to hug Curie, but he still must have been mad at his mom, because Tillie didn’t get one.
Mr. Kitty didn’t get a greeting, either, until Leo’s roommate said, “And a cat.” then went to pet him while Mr. Kitty purred.
“It’s about our argument,” Tillie said, and before she could go on, Leo scoffed.
“Ugh. Come to make sure I don’t do anything dangerous?” he said. “Well, don’t worry. I’m never going down in those stupid tunnels again, and we haven’t been able to figure out anything else we could do. Nothing dangerous, at least. Just handing out flyers, spreading the word, and starting clubs. Bullshit.”
“We?” Curie asked.
“That’s not bullshit,” Tillie said. “That’s a really great start, actually. It’s exactly what Emma and I did when we first got started.”
“Yes, we,” Leo said. “This is my roommate, Kim.” The roommate waved and said Hi then went back to petting Mr. Kitty. “His parents are lobbyists. Those were his ideas. And of course I told him about it. Mom was trying to forbid me from doing anything, I hadn’t talked to you in months, and well… Kim’s kind of my…”
“Boyfriend,” Kim said, stopping his petting of Mr. Kitty to stand up and wrap one arm around Leo’s waist. “Sorry you had to find out like this. We wanted to do it over dinner or something, but once Leo learned the truth about the assembly lines and y’all had your argument, he couldn’t really think about anything else.”
“Fine. Whatever,” Curie said, getting a little anxious as time went on. “None of that matters right now. What matters is that we have a way for you to actually help.”
Leo—and to a lesser extent Kim—looked offended by Curie’s response, but Tillie tried to smooth it over. “What I think your father’s trying to say,” she said, “is that it’s very nice to meet you, Kim. You seem like a nice boy who makes our son happy, and when we have more time, we’d love to sit down and get to know you. But currently, we have some urgent business that we need Leo’s assistance with.”
“And yours,” Curie said to Kim. “If you’re willing. The more hands the better, in this instance.”
“Yeah, right.” Leo rolled his eyes. “Like we could really do anything to help. You’re just patronizing me like you used to do when I was kid. Here’s an empty bowl to play with, go and pretend like you’re helping make cookies while I actually do all the work. Is that about right?”
“What do you need?” Kim asked.
“The walls are coming down in…” Curie checked his watch. “A little more than an hour now—whether we do anything about it or not—and it’s up to us to help evacuate some of the more dangerous buildings.”
“I’m not sure how much y’all have learned in your classes yet,” Tillie explained. “But a lot of the taller skyscrapers—and especially in the lower worlds—are really multiple buildings or sections of buildings stacked on top of one another. So when all the Walker-Haley fields disappear at the same time, those buildings are likely to come tumbling down with them.”
“How do y’all know all this?” Kim asked.
While Leo said, “You sure it’s not too dangerous?” giving his mom a look, apparently still upset about their fight.
“How we know doesn’t matter right now,” Curie said. “We know. And we can help those in danger. We’re going to help them. The question is, will you two join us?”
“And yes, it is still dangerous,” Tillie said. “But Curie helped me realize that life’s dangerous anyway. Besides, my own dad, your grandpa, made the mistake of trying to convince me not to participate in politics, and that only drove me further and deeper into more dangerous situations. But I’m not about to make the same mistake with you. I want to be here to guide you along in this. And hopefully together we can affect more than we ever could have hoped to otherwise. We do nothing alone.”
“You really think there’s something we can do?” Leo asked. “It’s not right,” he added before anyone could answer. “How those workers are treated. It’s not right.”
“I’ll do whatever I can to help,” Kim said, nodding confidently.
“Good,” Curie said. “We’ll all go together. You have no idea how many lives you could help save. You’ll see. This is just the beginning.”
“Fantastic,” Tillie said, not sounding as excited as her husband about the prospect. “Just the beginning.”
“I can’t wait,” Mr. Kitty meowed, and everyone laughed, breaking the tension.
All of a sudden Curie was flipping his phone out and projecting a blueprint onto the TV. “Alright, then,” he said. “This is the floor we’ll be handling. It’s actually a rather large midwife hospital in Five. This section, here.” The blueprint on the TV zoomed in on a particular area of the map. “Is filled with newborn children. Okay. Do you see where this is going?”
Tillie slapped him on the arm. “You should have led with that,” she said. “Of course we see. Go on.”
“You want us to help clear them out before it blows,” Leo said. “I think I can handle that.”
“I know you can,” Kim said, kissing Leo on the cheek. “I know we can.”
“I know we can, too,” Curie said. “For sure now that we’re all doing it together.”
He explained the finer details to them. How they’d have two elevators to work with but only fifteen minutes in which to clear the entire floor, so they had to be smart about it. How many babies, nurses, and midwives to expect—though no one could know for sure because the hospital hadn’t been forewarned. And that they’d have to take the public elevator because travel was being highly regulated to ensure everyone’s safety when the Walker-Haley field generators finally imploded in on themselves. Soon, it was time to take their elevator to destiny.
Mr. Kitty was happy to hear that they were taking the public elevator because that meant that he got to see campus again—a major reason he had come along in the first place. None of the humans talked while they walked, though, Leo and Kim first, hand in hand, leading the way toward their future, and Tillie and Curie next, hand in hand as well, simultaneously and silently reveling in their son’s current joy and fearing for the future they were walking right behind him into. At least that’s what Mr. Kitty thought he saw in his brief glimpse before he bound away to chase a squirrel up a tree, smell some flowers, and eat some grass on his way to the elevator with everyone else.
“Are y’all ready?” Curie asked when the elevator doors had closed, blocking the view of the Parade Grounds outside.
“Leo? Kim?” Tillie asked, as if she wouldn’t know if she was ready until she knew if they were first.
“I think so, ma’am,” Kim said, nodding, unsure of himself. “Sir.”
“We’re ready,” Leo assured Kim—and everyone else in the room—then to Mr. Kitty’s surprise, he added, “What about you, Mr. Kitty?”
“🐱ＥＸＣＩＴＥＤ🐱!” Mr. Kitty screeched, too excited about being remembered by Leo to control his volume. “I mean, ready.”
“Sounds like he’s ready, too,” Tillie said. “Sounds like we’re all ready. So what next?”
“We say the password and wait for the countdown,” Curie said. “Just a few minutes now.”
“What’s the password?” Leo asked.
“The philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways,” Curie said. “The point is to change it.” A voice over the elevator’s speaker system started softly counting down the last half a minute before the start of their mission.
And while the elevator fell into motion, Tillie added one more thing. “Not just to change it,” she said. “But for the better.”
The doors opened, and everyone ran to their assigned tasks while Mr. Kitty rolled on his back in excitement, kicked his legs in the air, jumped up, then dashed out to follow them for the fun.
# # #
That’s it, another chapter in the Infinite Limits saga. Join us again next week for the continuation of the story, or pick up a full copy of the novel through this link. We do nothing alone.