Nov 16, 2018 5:03 PM
A Cat in a box after the end of the world
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What. 

"...what." 

Did this guy just appear out of nowhere, when he hasn't seen another living person since he arrived yesterday? Has he been here invisible this whole time?

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"Where am I?" he asks, in an accent Cato has never heard before.

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"Honestly? I only got here myself a day or two ago, so I don't really know," he admits.

"I woke up in my stasis pod and it wasn't where it was before, so it must have been moved here for some reason; I think it was part of a museum display? But everyone here is dead so I've just been exploring this creepy abandoned house with bits of dead monster everywhere. I mean, it's more of a mansion, really, I have no idea who lived here but they must have been reasonably rich by this culture's standards. Oh, and I was asleep for thousands of years, I forgot to mention that. I don't actually know how long, but it's long enough that I don't recognise anything in the history books and I don't know what happened to any of the people I know—" 

He pauses for breath, gasping slightly.

"...you probably didn't need to know all that, did you. Sorry, I haven't had anyone to talk to in a few days, I've been getting lonely." 

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"It's alright," Will says, looking around.

"I don't understand most of what you said, but how did everyone die? Can you tell if we're in immediate danger?"

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"No, it's okay," Cato reassures him. "I'm pretty sure the monster is dead. Did I mention the bits of dead monster? It's some kind of weird thing made of threads that eats—ate—pretty much everything, and the threads ate about half of this house before it died, plus most of what you can see from the windows. It's safe to touch, it just crumbles. I can show you some of it if you like." He gets out of bed—this is definitely more interesting than the book—and starts moving towards the door. 

"Where have you been, anyway, not knowing about the monster? I mean, I didn't know about the monster, but I was in stasis. I've got a few thousand years of history to catch up on." 

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"A moment ago I was in London, investigating a crime scene. I have no idea how I got here."

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Cato pauses.

"...London?" The city in the story he was just reading? It could be a coincidence, the London in the book could be based on a real place...but he was investigating a crime scene, too, and at that point it's not just one coincidence. 

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"It's just—" he moves back over to the bed, picks up the book. "I was reading from this right before you appeared. It's set in London, and the scene I was reading was about a detective at a crime scene." 

He flips back to the right page and shows it to Will. 

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Will scans the page.

"That's me. That's where I was a moment ago."

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"So, not a coincidence," Cato deadpans. "Or the universe is just playing one hell of a practical joke." 

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"You said you woke up here?"

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"Yeah, in a room over that way." He gestures down the hallway in the rough direction of his pod. "It's happened before—waking up somewhere different to where I went under—but not often, and never like this. Why?"  

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"I'm trying to figure out if you could've gotten here in the same way I did. But you said you woke up inside something?"

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"Yeah, my stasis pod. It's a sort of capsule I can go in and it puts me in suspended animation—it's like time isn't passing for me while I'm inside," Cato explains. "You think I could have come here from a book like you did, and it hasn't been thousands of years after all? But I haven't found one with my story, and there was no-one here to read it..."

Hope is clenched tightly in his chest, and he has to force himself to point out the evidence against Will's theory even though it hurts. 

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"I could have come from the book or the book could've drawn me here. You were reading out loud?"

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"Yeah, I read out the description of you...maybe we should see if we can read anything else out of a book? There are more stories in this one, and other books in the study." 

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"It's worth trying."

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"Alright, well. This way." He leads Will in the direction of the study and its books. "I guess we should probably introduce ourselves at some point? Uh, I'm Cato. Cato Valerius, not that that'll mean anything to you. And the book didn't mention your name..." 

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"Pleasure to meet you, Will Graham. Uh, if your names work like ours it wouldn't be rude or unusual to call you Will now we've been introduced, but I don't know if that's the same between...books." 

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"Great. And you can call me Cato."

Aha, here they are. Cato picks a couple of books at random from the fiction shelf and passes one to Will. He starts flicking through the other one for a good passage to read aloud. 

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"...wait, maybe this isn't such a good idea." He stops turning pages and scowls down at the book like it holds all the mysteries of life and is refusing to give them up. "What if we get another person and I can't figure out how to put them back? I don't even know if I can put you back yet," he adds.

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"Start with something that's not alive."

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