I was glad I wasn't in our owner's position of trying
to placate Kallisari as she demanded that Heilley "fess up" to keeping her Cheat!
winnings. He promised to talk with Heilley about it the next morning, and managed
to get the subject dropped. I seriously considered warning him about Heilley's
lack of trust in how owners treated their pets, but I didn't. I wasn't sure
if it was my position to say anything, and besides, I didn't know how to say
Heilley left the next morning to go win her
gold Cheat! trophy, and after she did I asked our owner if he'd talked to her
"Huh? Oh that. Yeah, got that taken care of
first thing this morning."
"Did you make her give you all her winnings?"
Like Kallisari wanted you to, I didn't add.
"No, of course not. She won those fair and square.
I told her I wanted my original fifty points back."
"Oh. What did she say to that?"
Our owner gave that casual shrug that I'd learned
to associate with Heilley. "OK, sounds fair to me," he replied.
I grinned at his Heilley imitation and felt
a bit relieved that we'd dodged one problem. Heilley came back later that day
with her gold trophy, as predicted, and a bad case of the Cheat! bug. We actually
settled into something of a routine over the next two or three days. Heilley
would go with our owner on the "freebie rounds" in the morning, then she'd spend
most of the rest of the day playing Cheat!. It kept her out of any big trouble,
and I actually began to hope that the initial awkwardness would wear off. Then
the omelette incident happened.
It all started on Heilley's second day of getting
omelette. She came back with a piece that looked strange, but I didn't think
much about it. I'd seen just about every meat and vegetable combination there
was on omelettes. After seeing bacon and broccoli, or carrot and peas, an omelette
with nothing but some garlic butter (or whatever that was) on it seemed downright
Afterwards I wondered if there was something
we sensed about that piece of omelette that caused us to instinctively avoid
it. It sat in the fridge for a couple of days until the day when Kallisari decided
to have a midmorning snack. I was busy mixing up some lemonade as she helped
herself. Our casual conversation was interrupted by her gagging and coughing.
I turned around to find Kallisari with nothing
but some omelette crumbs in one hoof while the other was clenched to her throat
as she coughed. "Hey, are you OK? That didn't go down the wrong way did it?"
"Ick! Tastes awful," Kallie said hoarsely. "Where
did this come from?"
I looked at the few pieces that were left. "I
think that's the one that Heilley brought home a couple of days ago."
"Augh, she's got lousy taste..." Kallisari broke
off into more coughing.
"Are you sure you're going to be all right?"
She shook her head. "My throat's sore," she
"How about some lemonade?"
She nodded and I poured her some. She drank
part of it, but was coughing too badly to enjoy it. It didn't seem to help much,
"Here, maybe you better go lay down in the recliner,"
I told her. She acquiesced, and I called MonoKeras at his office while she coughed
in the background. It was when he asked to talk with her that we began to realise
the full extent of the problem.
"Here, Kallie, MonoKeras wants to talk to you..."
I held the phone out to her.
She tried to talk, but her breath scraped through
her throat and all she could do was make an "ugga-ugga" sound. MonoKeras told
me to call our owner and have him get home ASAP, and that he was coming too.
Now thoroughly alarmed, I did as I was told,
and within minutes everyone got home. MonoKeras and our owner helped support
Kallie and between them took her to go see the doctor. I was told to stay home
and wait for Heilley.
I waited, but not happily. I kept worrying about
Kallisari... and Heilley. I'd told MonoKeras and our owner what had happened,
and needless to say the reaction was less than pleasant. MonoKeras in particular
was very cutting in his remarks about Heilley, although our owner seemed to
take it more in stride. He actually blamed himself as much or more than he did
Heilley, since he'd been there too when she grabbed the omelette piece.
Heilley got home several hours later. She carried
three more Cheat! trophies under her arms, and had that usual look of triumphant
satiation that she got whenever she'd just finished playing a successful tournament.
"Hey there." She headed past me for her room.
I followed her upstairs, trying to find some
way to tell her what had been happening... and to warn her, too. I caught up
with her in her room, only to see her shifting her growing collection of trophies
"I dunno, this flat pyramid thing just isn't
gonna work. Maybe I should do a four sided one, that way I could get a lot more
She looked over her shoulder. "Hey. What do
you think? Four sided pyramid, or do I just start melting the bronze and silver
"Uhh, whatever you want. Say, Heilley...."
"Yeah, I guess you're right. I think I'll see
about melting some of them down..."
"Uh huh, OK. Um, Heilley..."
"Yeah, that's my name, don't wear it out."
"I won't, but I...." I heard the front door
open and cursed under my breath. So much for telling her myself.
"Uh oh, sounds like we're being summoned."
"Yeah." I stepped aside to let Heilley past
me and followed her slowly down the stairs.
"Oh, there you are," our owner was saying as
I walked into the living room.
Heilley stared at Kallisari, who was a sorry
sight indeed. "Whoa, man, what happened to you?"
She got glares from MonoKeras and Kallisari
both, but our owner managed to get the first word in. "MonoKeras, get Kallie
to bed while I tell these two what's been happening." MonoKeras nodded curtly
and helped Kallisari up the stairs.
I gulped as I stared after them. Kallie's witch
hat drooped over to one side. When you see that happen, you know she's sick.
A sigh came from behind me, and I turned back to see our owner settling in his
chair. "Have a seat, you two."
Heilley immediately perched on the sofa. "OK,
out with it, what's happened to her?"
Our owner grimaced. "You remember that piece
of omelette you found a couple of days ago?" Heilley looked blank. "The one
that looked odd?" "Oh, yeah, that one. I said it oughtta be valuable because
it was different."
"Right. Well I don't know about valuable, but
it was nasty enough. Kallisari ate it earlier while you were gone."
"Aww, poo. That's what happened?"
He nodded grimly. "Exactly. She's got a very
sore throat. All she can say is 'ugga ugga'. MonoKeras and I took her to the
doctor, and we found out the cure for it is sporkle syrup."
"Sounds nasty. Didn't you get some?"
"No. I looked in the shops, but it's basically
unbuyable. If you can get it at all, it's about ninety nine thousand points."
Heilley whistled. "So what do we do?"
"Well, we took her to the water faerie. Sometimes
she can heal pets, but she tried and failed. She suggested we come back tomorrow."
"Aw, man, that rots. So she just has to lay
there and suffer?"
"Pretty much. I've got some magic mushrooms
that would cure her, but she's too bloated from the omelette to eat them. I'm
afraid she's in for a bad night."
"Crumbs," was Heilley's succinct summation.
We sat there, staring into space, each wrapped in our own version of gloomy
A faint "ugga-ugga" came from upstairs, and
I heard a door shut. I looked up to see MonoKeras coming back down the stairs
and I nodded to him.
He met my gaze briefly before turning to Heilley
and our owner. "Well? Does she know yet?"
"Yeah I told her."
"Lousy break, MonoKeras."
MonoKeras glared at Heilley. "What, I suppose
next you're going to sit there and say you didn't have anything to do with it?
You're just an innocent bystander in all this?"
"Huh? Well yeah...."
"Hah! Quit kidding yourself. You were the one
that got that rotten piece of omelette and brought it home. You put it in the
fridge and you are the one that started all this! If it wasn't for you, Kallisari
would be fine instead of laying up in bed groaning with every breath."
Heilley shifted uncomfortably and refused to
meet MonoKeras' eyes. "Yeah, well, she should be better soon."
"Think so? Maybe. But if so, it'll be no thanks
to you! So just do everyone a favour and quit playing dumb. And while you're
at it, stay away from the omelette. You obviously don't know a thing about what
you're doing there."
Heilley had begun to curl into a ball as MonoKeras'
stinging rebuke hit her. "Yeah, OK," she mumbled, but he wasn't paying attention
to her anymore. He'd turned to look at our owner.
"I'm not coming down for supper tonight. Kallie
can't eat, and I'm going to be with her. I'll go grab something to snack on
and see you in the morning."
"OK, we'll let everyone fend for themselves
MonoKeras left and I decided I might as well
leave too now that the fireworks were over. I got up but as I began to leave,
Heilley spoke up.
I looked over at her. She'd stretched back out
again and was playing absently with a lock of her hair. "Yeah?"
"What do you think? Is this all my fault, too?"
I restrained my snort of exasperation. "Well
you did pick out that bad piece of omelette," I retorted coolly. Heilley didn't
say anything, just looked blank as I left the room.
I regretted my burst of temper within seconds,
but it was too late. I finally decided that Heilley needed to suffer a bit anyway.
She didn't seem to care for anyone but herself, so maybe this is what it would
take to show her that others had feelings too. The problem with losing your
temper like that, though, is that no matter how justified it is it still leaves
you feeling upset afterwards. Coming on top of Kallisari being sick and my worrying
about her, it was no surprise that I didn't finish the tchea fruit that I filched
from the fridge.
I don't think anyone slept well that night.
I know that I didn't. I just lay there staring into space and listening to the
faint coughing coming from MonoKeras and Kallisari's room. I think it was about
two o'clock when I drifted up from an uneasy sleep and decided to use the bathroom.
As I walked by their room, I saw the bedside light on. I looked in to see Kallisari,
her head propped up on pillows as she tried to fight back another coughing spell.
MonoKeras was sitting beside the bed, leaning over her. His head and wings drooped
with weariness, and the glazed look in his eyes suggested that he'd not slept
at all that night. I saw him swallow hard as Kallisari finally had to let go
with another series of coughs before subsiding with that cursed "ugga ugga"
whistle. MonoKeras groped blindly towards the head of the bed, and came up with
a bottle of syrup. As he did his best to get Kallie to take it, I looked at
where he'd reached and saw most of our motley collection of partially used medicines
strung out there on the bedstead. I turned away as a coughing choke came from
the room. It obviously hadn't been the right medicine, and I was sure MonoKeras
knew that, but... It was a long, long night.
Physical exhaustion finally had its way with
me and I didn't wake up until about eight the next morning to hear low voices
downstairs. Blearily crawling out from under the covers, I headed downstairs
myself just in time to say goodbye to MonoKeras and Kallisari as they went to
see the water faerie again. I was still half asleep as I fumbled in the refrigerator
for a breakfast omelette.
"Was that the deadly duo I heard leaving just
I jumped as Heilley spoke behind me. "Yeah,
they're going to see if the water faerie can cure her today."
"Huh." Heilley quickly helped herself to her
own breakfast. "Sure hope they do. That really stinks."
"Yes, it does. But they should be back before
too long, one way or the other, so we shouldn't have long to wait to find out
"Yeah, guess so." Heilley wandered into the
living room and we both wound up sitting there while eating our breakfast.
Heilley was licking crumbs off her paws before
I finally spoke again. "Uh, say Heilley?"
She looked up at me and I swallowed the rest
of what I had to say. I felt bad about the night before, but I wasn't even sure
where to start on an apology. "Oh... nothing."
"Ah." She fidgeted in her seat. "Wonder when
they'll be back."
"I don't know."
She grunted After another five or ten minutes
of staring into space while she nervously twiddled her thumbs, she jumped to
her feet. "Oh well. I can't wait any longer, got things to do."
She flashed me a grin. "What else?"
I sighed and sat back in my chair. What else
indeed. I could make some pretty good guesses as to what else might happen,
and none of them were good.
To be continued...