Lockely has adapted to his life as a fox in this new universe full of science and magic. But he’d still like to learn more about the history of this place. Luckily, Zeelo has an idea and suggests that Calex might have a time machine.
Cat Appliance Reaching Down Beyond Other Ages and Relative Dimensions
“Wow…” Lockely was sitting at his computer desk, and was happy to see it was in fact his computer desk. After a lot of odd jobs, including moonlighting as a reindeer, being a scientific test subject, and things he’d rather not talk about, Lockely had finally landed a stable job that didn’t rely on people not asking questions. The former human, now orange fox with black speckles had run into the problem that upon moving to a new universe he didn’t have an actual identity. It made it difficult to pass a background check. Thanks to the help of a friend’s friend who had apparently experienced this situation and knew many others who had, Lockely now had a fabricated identity that as far as government databases were concerned said he had always existed here. It made it a lot easier to find a regular job. Which meant he was now able to afford his own apartment, his own computer and own furniture instead of couch surfing at a kitten’s home. It was a nice little improvement in his life, and made his new existence much more comfortable.
There were still a few problems though. Lockely might have had an identity and past officially now, but he hadn’t actually experienced any of it. He hadn’t grown up in this world, gone to school, learned the history and how civilization worked. For the most part, many things were similar to his own world, similar enough that he could easily function. But, considering this was a world where magic was real, technology far beyond his own universe existed and apparently elder gods made the morning news there were a few considerable differences. One of the kittens that had brought him to this world, Calex, had offered to make Lockely a kid so he could grow up properly and learn things in school like a normal person. Lockely declined. Growing up once was more than enough for him. Instead, he had chosen to simply research this universe’s history on his own spare time.
For the most part, many events mirrored that of Lockely’s own universe of origin. This world had the same countries, the same wars, and the same politics. But, there were just enough small differences to throw Lockely off from what knowledge he knew. Even if the same events occurred in both universes they often played out differently. The fact that magic existed and technology had advanced so quickly played a large part in that. The other part was that the population was not predominantly human. Humans made up a major chunk of the world, but there were also civilized animals called Aninum, which was what Lockely was now. Though you’d be heard pressed to find someone use the word Aninum in casual conversation. Mostly when they referred to a civilized animal’s species they referred to their animal species. So Lockely would just be referred to as a fox. Aninum for the most part seemed to be just about equal with humans in makeup of the population. They had once been a great minority and there were many theories as tp where they had come from. Some said they started as animals granted intelligence by magic, others say that were humans who copied the aspects of animals, most likely through magic to become stronger. Whatever the reason, they had been around since before written history so no one was certain. The only thing that was certain was that they used to be a minority and now rivaled humans in population size.
As a former human transformed into a fox, Lockely had a sneaking suspicion on how the Aninum population had caught up with human one over the years.
The existence of Aninum changed a few things throughout history. For starters, there weren’t really any decency laws when it came to nudity. Many Aninum being covered in fur, feathers or scales went without clothing finding it uncomfortable. And since you couldn’t have a law that applied to some species and not others this meant that pretty much anyone who wanted could run around naked in public and no one would bat an eye. Lockely, despite having fur had decided he would rather stay clothed when possible. He had always worn clothes as a human, and regardless of what society said was okay now, his brain was still programmed to prefer clothes.
In addition to societal rules, it changed how certain aspects in history played out. The fact Abraham Lincoln had been a dragon had significantly changed history. For starters, a single bullet had not been enough to kill him, and instead he merely resigned after his assassination attempt due to health reasons and lived out the rest of his natural life writing his memoirs and books on philosophy. Then there were things that got really messy. As a whole, this society seemed to be more accepting of the different than the one Lockely came from. But there had still been a civil war, and when multiple species got involved things got convoluted. There weren’t just humans and animal people and dragons. There were kobolds, faeries, gods, demons and who knew how many other races.
There was one other major problem Lockely ran into in his historic research. And that was the Wiki problem. Many of the sites he looked up information on were free to edit by any registered user. That meant he had no way to actually validate how much of the information was true or if he was getting the full story. He had bought a few used school texts books online to read through but much like his own universe those tended to leave out a lot of information and liked to paint things in a more positive like than they actually were.
Still, Lockely felt he at least had enough information now to come off as a native of this universe. Sure, he lacked a complete picture. But how many people knew their entire history anyway? Many people forgot most of it the second they were out of school. If anything, Lockely was likely more knowledgeable about this world now than most people in his age group.
But that didn’t stop him from wanting to know more. There was just so much information, so much history. And some parts of it were legitimately interesting. The fact that the Queen of England was the alpha of a pack of werewolves for example was something Lockely had not expected. Nor had he expected her to still look in her prime thanks to werewolves having a natural healing ability and thus aging slower.
“Whatcha doing?” A familiar voice rang out. In past instances, the sudden noise might have been enough to spook Lockely out of his concentration. By now, he was used to it.
“Just learning my history.” Lockely spun around in his chair to face the source of the voice. There was a small brown kitten standing on two legs, barely two feet in height staring up at Lockely from the floor. “How did you get in here Zeelo?”
“Window was open.” Zeelo replied. “Besides you said you’d watch me today.” The brown kitten was one of the first two people Lockely had met from this world. The other was an orange kitten. Neither one of them were Aninum. Much like the Queen of England, they were shapeshifters, in this case werekittens. But their bite didn’t just turn someone into a cat on the full moon, but made them younger as well. It also meant they could willingly change forms between a complete human and a completely normal kitten. And since they didn’t age it made it impossible to know how old they actually were. Lockely suspected Zeelo wasn’t much older than himself chronologically. Though it was hard to be sure. Zeelo had made vague comments about memories that were barely there implying he might have at one point like Lockely been a human. Regardless of if he had been or not, he clearly had no desire to stop being a werekitten. As for the orange one, Calex… As far as Lockely or Zeelo could tell he had always been a werekitten. Perhaps the first one in existence. It was hard to tell. Calex didn’t have the best memory for anything that had happened before he met his current partner in detective work, Odin.
“I guess I did huh.” Lockely thought for a moment. “But who am I watching you for? I’ve never actually seen your parents or any guardian figures.” It was something that bugged Lockely for a bit. Both werekittens regardless of their chronological ages were physically minors and needed looking after. Calex had a legal guardian. Or owner. It was complicated. Lockely wasn’t sure what Zeelo had.
“Obviously for me, imagine the trouble I’d get in on my own.” Zeelo replied before leaping up into Lockely’s lap and settling down like a normal house cat.
“I feel like I wind up babysitting you just as a pretense for you to hang out.” Lockely gave the kitten a pat on the head.
“Would that be such a terrible thing?” Zeelo asked. Then without waiting for an answer he turned to the computer screen that Lockely was studying. “What are you looking at?”
“Just, history articles.” Lockely explained. “I’m not exactly a local. I’ve been doing my best to understand how everything works here.”
“So, you’re reading about it online?” Zeelo tilted his head. “You know the internet isn’t always the most reliable source of information.”
“I’m aware, but it’s about the best I got.” Lockely shrugged.
“Well… You could just, you know, go experience history.” Zeelo suggested. “It’d be a lot more informative than just reading about it.”
“That might-“ Lockely froze. At first he had assumed Zeelo meant going to a museum. Which wasn’t a horrible idea. Then he remembered who he was talking too and that his words might be slightly more literal than Lockely interpreted. “Experience it how?”
“Well… Calex has a time machine.” Zeelo grinned. “And pretty sure he fixed the bug in it.”
“Of course, he does. Why wouldn’t he?” Lockely couldn’t even muster up an attempt to sound surprised at this point. “Alright I’m intrigued but… Wait, what glitch?”
“Well, it sort of makes people younger too…” Zeelo started.
“How much younger?” Locely demanded.
“About six months.” Zeelo explained.
“Uh huh.” Lockely was experienced enough by now to know the follow up question. “They get younger by six months, or they become six months old?”
“Become.” Zeelo rubbed the back of his head sheepishly. “I mean we were only stuck that way for a few years before we found a way to reverse.”
“As in you were an infant for multiple years.” Lockely swished his tail. “I think I’ll pass.”
“I’m sure it doesn’t do that anymore! Probably!” Zeelo insisted. “And it’s the best way for you to learn about things.”
“Ugggh.” Lockely groaned. “We can go check it out. But I’m not committing to using it or anything. Merely that I’ll allow you two to show me.”
“Great! You won’t regret it!” Zeelo beamed and for Lockely’s front door.
“I’m not sure I can hold you to that, but, sure let’s go.” Lockely grabbed his keys, grabbed Zeelo and lifted him up with one arm then set out the door to head to the other werekitten’s place.
Upon arriving Zeelo excitedly blabbered to Calex about something. They were speaking too fast for Lockely to make out much words. But Calex nodded and led the two back to his bedroom.
It was… A little off putting just how normal Calex’s bedroom was. There was a twin sized bed. A toy chest. A closet that seemed to be filled with mostly board games and nothing else since the orange werekitten did not seem to even own any form of clothing. Then were various toys scattered about, a small kid’s desk, and a cat bed in the corner. Lockely wondered for a moment which bed Calex actually slept in, then remembering how cats tended to act in his own world assumed it was whichever he felt like at the time.
“Alright, so you want to see a time machine?” Calex pulled a cardboard box out from under his bed. It had the words ‘Personal Time Machine’ written on it in crayon.
“Let me say it up front before you go any further” Lockely crossed his arms. “I do not have any interest in being reduced to a mere infant. Zeelo said that happened last time you used it, and I’m not up for that.”
“Really?” Calex gave Zeelo a confused look. “Then why ask about the personal time machine? We can just use the normal time machine instead.”
“Wait you have a second time machine?” Zeelo tilted his head. “Then why did we use this one that other time!”
“Because I thought you’d have fun.” Calex stuck his tongue out. “And you certainly looked like you did.” He pushed the cardboard box back under the bed and then pulled out a different cardboard box. This one simply had C.A.R.D.B.O.A.R.D printed in big letters on the side.
“It’s another box.” Lockely wasn’t even surprised. There was real science and there was kitten science. Kitten science defied all natural laws. It wasn’t real science. It was kids playing at science, but somehow it just worked. Considering magic was a thing in this universe Lockely had to assume for that kitten science was actually just some form of magic. The idea that the laws of physics would just operate differently based on your species was just too much for him. “So… Is this another crawl into the box in one place and come out on another side?” Lockely asked.
“Nah! This box moves on its own.” Calex explained. “Once we’re inside it travels through time and space to our destination and-“
“Wait, it’s a TARDIS.” Lockely interrupted. “First Santa Clause has one and now you.” Lockely found the idea of a TARDIS being real and camouflaging itself as a box a lot easier to understand than whatever explanation Calex was about to attempt.
“Nuh uh.” Calex shook his head. “This is a CARDBOARD.”
“I can see it’s made of cardboard yes, but what you’re describing is a TARDIS.” When logic failed him Lockely tended to fall back on what he knew. And it mostly meant trying to explain things by science fiction shows he had watched in his original universe. So many things from those shows were real in this one after all.
“I mean it’s like a TARDIS but it’s not quite the same. You might call it legally distinct.” Calex explained. “It’s the Cat Appliance Reaching Down Beyond Other Ages and Relative Dimensions.” He looked thoughtful and stood up on two legs as he placed a paw to his chin. “But I don’t really think it’s going to be very useful to you regardless of what era you want to visit.”
“Because?” Lockely wasn’t going to try to fathom what kitten logic placed some kind of restrictions on the cardboard disguised TARDIS.
“It’s in the name. Cat Appliance.” Calex shrugged. “It only works for cats. I mean I thought that would be obvious. That’s how Cardboard technology works in general. Why do you think we had to make you into a werekitten just to get you through the portal last time?”
“I suppose in the strange, twisted logic that defines your existence, that does make some sort of sense.” Lockely gave a small nod. Sometimes it was best just not to think too much on it.
“Then why don’t we just turn Lockely into a werekitten again?” Zeelo asked. “Then we could take him to anytime we want.”
“H-hey hang on! I didn’t agree to that!” Lockelly protested as he took a step back.
“But it would let you travel through time and see what things actually were like.” Zeelo pointed out.
“Yes that’s true but…” Lockely paused and considered. Actual real time travel. Regardless of how ridiculous the mechanics behind it were, it was one of those things he dreamed about as a kid. And a teenager. And most of his adult life. Sci-fi shows had placed certain fantasies in Lockely’s mind, fantasies that he was certain were impossible, and yet now here he was. He curled his tail around himself as he thought. “The werekitten curse, I can change back anytime I want, right?” Lockely asked. “Cause last time I had trouble.”
“Right but that was because you didn’t want to be human.” Calex pulled a chalkboard out from under his bed. There were several drawings of it. He then grabbed a ruler and pointed to a very simplified drawing of a person with a circle drawn around it. “You see, this curse, honestly if it’s this benevolent do I even call it a curse? It doesn’t like to do people harm…. So… When someone becomes a werekitten one of two things happened.” He pointed with his ruler. From the first drawing there were two lines leading to two separate drawings. One showed a kitten with a happy face next to it. The other a kitten with a sad face. “So, it can tell when you’re happy or not. And thus.” He pointed further, showing each of these drawings had a line to a third drawing. The happy kitten face showed another kitten, playfully running around. The sad faced kitten showed a person again. “So, if the person is miserable in kitten form the curse breaks on its own accord.”
“You just had that prepared?” Lockely questioned.
“He has lots of boards, and slides.” Zeelo explained. “He likes to be prepared. Just please, for my sake, don’t ask him about the slides about how he knew to prepare all these things. It’s a ten-hour presentation.”
“So, last time what happened to you was we got a rather rare case.” Calex flipped the chalkboard upside down revealing the reverse side. It showed a person with a line showing them as turning into a kitten but with another frownie face. “You didn’t want to stay a kitten… But…” He pointed to a line that led to a person with a circle drawn which also had a frownie faced and was crossed out. “Going back to being a human was also unsatisfying to you. As a result, the curse didn’t know what to do. It sensed returning you to your normal form would make you unhappy, but also sensed you weren’t satisfied with how you were now. So… It just kind of locked up. Think of it like a programming error. A line of code is set to run one of two programs based on if condition A or B is met, but instead we have condition C and so the entire thing locks up.”
“Wait, you understand coding?” Lockely tilted his ears.
“He doesn’t, but just let him think he does and keep going or we’ll be here all day.” Zeelo hissed into Lockely’s ears.
“Basically, the magic didn’t know what to do with you so everything just kind of froze up.” Calex nodded and spun the blackboard again back to the other side. There were new pictures on it.
“Uh huh.” Lockely wanted to question why the other side had completely separate pictures now, but he felt like any explanation he received was bound to make his head hurt.
“So that was then, this is now. We found what you’re happy as.” Calex explained. “So…” He pointed at a picture of a person with fox ears and a tail drawn on. Once more it had a line going to showing a kitten after. “So now, if you were to become a werekitten the curse would last only as long as you wanted it to.” There were two lines from here. One with a happy face over it, the other with a sad face. The happy face led to another kitten picture and the sad face led to a drawing of the person with fox ears and a tail again. “So now that you have a ‘default’ form to be returned to that you like, the second the curse becomes undesirable to you you’ll pop back to being a fox just like that.”
“You’re absolutely certain?” Lockely had been given a similar explanation before. But considering he was considering letting them do this to him again he wanted to make sure he could become a fox again right away.”
“Without a doubt.” Calex nodded eagerly. “I’ve had years of experimentation and watching the process to understand it.”
“How many years?” Lockely asked.
“About-“ Calex paused. He squirmed a bit where he stood as if the question made him uncomfortable. “I’m… Not sure. But a long time. I think? It’s a bit hazy.”
“That’s not the most comforting of answers but okay…” Lockely tapped his paw against the ground impatiently as he considered. “Alright, fine, let’s get this over with.” At the very least, Lockely knew that neither kitten would ever willingly do anything to harm him, and that both of them had the best of intentions.
It was mostly what they might cause on accident that worried him.
“Right!” Calex shoved the blackboard beneath the bed before jumping onto Lockely, running up the larger fox’s chest and clambering onto his shoulders. The kitten walked in quick circle balancing himself atop Lockely’s shoulders then bit down on one of his ears. “Zeelo, we need a moon!”
“Right!” Zeelo ran to the far side of the room and jumped inside a toybox bigger than him. Various items were tossed aside including toy swords, little green army men, some kind of toy ray gun looking thing. Finally, he climbed out of the box carrying a book. It was one full of nursery rhymes. The book was almost as book as the brown werekitten when he stood on two legs and so he clumsily carried it over to Lockely before setting it at the fox’s feet. Then he opened up to a page about a cow jumping over the moon. Unlike many other versions of this rhyme, the moon was full instead of crescent shaped in the art.
And Lockely felt the very familiar sensation of shrinking down into his clothing. His ears became shorter, more pyramid shaped, and his tail thinner. His scarf and glasses were the first things to fall to the floor as he shrunk in both age and size. Then the rest of his clothing soon piled on top of him. Lockely vanished beneath his clothes. A few seconds later, an orange kitten with black speckles crawled out from beneath the clothing. The only item he still had on was his tail band which had managed to cling to his thinner tail.
“Alright… This again…” Lockely stood up on two legs and steadied himself. He took a moment to study the world around him. Everything was much bigger now. The thing about the werekittens is they weren’t the size of human kids like Lockely had been the sized of a human adult as a fox. They were the size of actual kittens. It took a moment to adjust to the much more daunting world. He shook his head to clear his thoughts, reminded himself this was temporary and then began to gather up his now giant clothes in a ball in his arms and walked towards the cardboard box.
“What are you doing?” Calex asked.
“Packing my clothes.” Lockely explained. “After I change back to a fox I’d like to get dressed again. I know you two run around naked, but I’m used to wearing clothes.”
“Um… You sure that’s a good idea?” Calex asked with concern in his voice.
“And why wouldn’t it be?” Lockely swished his kitten tail.
“Well you know… Your clothes aren’t exactly period appropriate.” Calex waved a paw. “You’re kind of going to stand out like a sore thumb in them.”
“That was never a problem for the Doctor!” Lockely’s tail bristled as he objected.
“That’s a TV show. This is reality.” Calex stated bluntly.
“So, you tell me.” Lockely didn’t sound completely sure.
“Look, I’m just saying that wherever we go you’re going to draw a lot of attention to yourself if you’re wearing twenty-first century clothing. This is why it’s easier for cats. No one notices an extra stray cat wondering around.” Calex paused. “Though I suppose, you could get away as a fox if you didn’t wear anything. Plenty of other foxes who don’t wear clothes.”
“Yeah… Maybe no.” Lockely muttered. His fox form, it felt more human shape and civilized than the form of a werekitten. Running around naked like that, it just really wasn’t what he wanted to do. At the same time, he had not planned to spend the entire trip as a kitten. But… He recognized the logic behind Calex’s argument. Whatever point they went in history, rather it the Victorian, medieval or pre-history, he was pretty sure that designer scarves and business casualwear weren’t really around yet. It was a shame. If this had been brought up earlier he could have gone and maybe bought a costume to fit in wherever they went. Lockely would like to think he would pull the Victorian look off quite well. But, he was already a kitten and everyone was already assembled.
He would have to make a note to look into acquiring different period clothes for the next time they did this. Which meant he accepted this was really happening and likely to occur more than once.
“Fine, I’ll stay a kitten until we get back.” Lockely dropped the pile of clothing though his fur bristled slightly. “The curse thing, it’s going to like, detect I made that choice and I’m not randomly going to change back to normal in the middle of public, am I?”
“If the idea of changing back in the middle of public bothers you like that, I’d say there’s a zero percent change of it happening.” Calex grinned. “Remember it’s a very understanding curse.”
“Alright! We’ve wasted enough time!” Zeelo interrupted. “I promised Lockely we’d take him time traveling so he could learn the history of the world in a more practical way than internet articles.”
“Got it.” Calex looked to the other orange kitten. “Any requests? Any specific era you want to know more about?”
“I hadn’t given it much thought.” Lockely had let himself got wrapped up in the idea of time travel to think much about it. “I mean the entire point of this was to be a learning experience… So, I guess some point important where I can learn a lot?”
“Got it!” Calex leaped into the box in one fluid motion. “Everyone pile in!”
“Let’s go!” Zeelo jumped into the box next.
“Uh right…” Lockely was the last one in. He less leaped, and more climbed somewhat awkwardly over the edge of the box before falling inside. The box was big enough to fit all three of them. After all, they were just kittens. But Lockely couldn’t help but notice the inside seemed no bigger than an average moving box. “I thought it’d be bigger on the inside?”
“Nah.” Calex shook his head as he began to paw at one of the cardboard walls. “Do you have any idea how much extradimensional space cost to install? I don’t make that kind of money.”
“You’re a child, you don’t make any money.” Lockely retorted.
“Do too!” Calex whined. “I’m a junior detective, and I get paid an allowance!” He continued to paw at the wall as if he was pressing a bunch of buttons despite there being nothing there. “But it’s not enough for stuff like that. It’s much more cost and energy efficient to have people smaller on the inside.”
“Wait, are you implying we shrank when we climbed in here?” Lockely asked slightly concerned.
“Not this time.” Calex shook his head. “With just three werekittens we can all fit easily. But if we tried to cram more in here we’d basically just all get smaller until everyone fit.” Calex thought for a moment. “There was a time where we crammed like all the kids in the neighborhood in to win a prize off a radio show. We were like ant sized to make everyone fit. Made climbing out hard.”
“I guess that works…” Lockely would have personally preferred the inside be bigger. But you couldn’t get everything you want in life. “Guess everyone was relieved to go back to normal size when leaving.”
“Why would leaving change your size?” Calex gave Lockely a quizzical look. “I said the box can make people smaller to fit more. It doesn’t do anything to people who leave.”
“I’m just going to be glad that there’s only three of us then.” Lockely sat down in a corner and waited for the box.
“Alright, I’ve set coordinates. I think.” Calex looked sheepish. “Truth be told, it’s not really meant for just one person to pilot it.”
“Because it’s actually a TARDIS disguised as a box?” Lockely asked.
“No! It’s a CARDBOARD and they’re just hard to operate.” Calex replied dryly. “But I’ve set up your requests, all we have to do now is pull the lever and we’re off. Since this is your first time, want to do the honors?”
“Um sure…” Lockely looked around not seeing a lever in the box. As far as he could tell they were just in a normal box. “Um where is?
“You’re standing right next to it.” Calex replied as if it was obvious.
“I see?” Lockely did in fact not see. There was nothing around him. Not sure what else to do he reached out a paw and pretended to grab a lever.
“Not that one it’s the parking break!” Calex protested.
“How was I supposed to know that?” Lockely hissed and moved his paw a few inches to the right and once more pretended to grab a pretend lever. He waited to see if there were any more objections. After hearing none he pretended to pull down. Then the box began to make noise.
From inside the box, nothing appeared to change. But from the outside anyone watching would have seen the box slowly start to blink in and out of reality as it slowly faded disappearing into the time stream.
In a large building, full of marble columns and gothic imagery the box slowly appeared on its own. As soon as the box was finished becoming completely physical it suddenly tilted over onto its side spilling out all three kittens onto the stone floor.
“Gah sorry…” Calex picked himself up first. “I’m not great at landings. Technically I haven’t actually gotten my license for that thing yet.”
“I’m going to not worry about that.” Lockely said out loud. “Because as worrying as that statement is thinking on it won’t do me any good.” He climbed up onto all four paws and looked around. The place certainly had a classic look to its architecture. But he didn’t know what time era they were in just looking at it. However, he was pretty easily able to identify the type of place they were in. The entire area was broken up of rows of floor to ceiling shelves, with number labeling on the shelves and what were clearly books on them. They were in a library.
“So… Where are we?” Zeelo asked.
“No idea.” Calex grinned. “Time travel is more of an art than a science. You less wind up where you want and more where you’re meant. But it’s someplace important, and someplace that Lockely can learn a lot about history.”
“Time travel is absolutely a science.” Lockely objected. Then he added under his breath. “You just have no idea how anything works.” He looked around at the different books. “A library is definitely a place to learn things… But the odds of these books being in any language I can read is pretty low.” He pulled a book off the lowest shelf and opened it.
There weren’t any pages within the book. Instead it simply unfolded showing what looked like the lens of a camera inside the tome. Suddenly, it lit up and an image made of blue light appeared floating over the book. It showed a city with massive towers spanning to the sky and one tower that seemed to stretch far past the clouds and past where the hologram could show. The book began to make gibberish noises.
“What the heck?” Lockely asked. “Why are there holograms?”
“English language detected.” A feminine robotic voice spoke from the book. “The first Lunar Elevator was completed 5030 A.D. Despite its name it did not actually connect directly to the moon, but instead to a station that orbited the Earth to maintain its location in relation to the elevator. However, from here it was possible for the first time for middle and lower class families to take a shuttle to the moon and visit it as tourists.”
“Um… Guys…” Zeelo sounded concerned about something.
“5030 A.D.?” Lockely turned to look at Calex. “We’re in the future! Not the past!”
“Sorry.” The orange werekitten shrugged. “As I mentioned this thing isn’t very exact. It just got important and knowledge… But this place looks pretty big and expansive. I bet you could find out just about anything here.”
“That’s… True…” Lockely looked back to the ‘book’ he had pulled out. The voice was still going on about the history of the first Lunar Elevator. Lockely had tuned most of it out when he realized they had gone the wrong way through time. But… They were in the future! That wasn’t worth dismissing outright. And there was the simple fact that if this was a library he could probably find much of the information he was looking for, and likely more accurate than it would be on a website. Also! He was in the future! He knew that since he had literally moved to an alternate universe that probably shouldn’t wow him so much. But it was hard not to feel excited by that idea. “But you still messed up the coordinates… I think.” Lockely attempted to play it cool. The problem was that physically he was a kitten. And while he tried not to react too strongly, his eyes were fully dilated as he stared all around him and the tip of his tail wouldn’t stop twitching.
“We can always get in the box and try again if you don’t want to explore here.” Calex suggested.
“We’re already here, there’s no need for that.” Lockely looked over the shelves and the numbers. Was this the Dewey Decimal system? Or some other organizational method. If this was the future there was no telling what species had built this place. But, apparently it was at least meant to be accessible by people from Earth. After all, it had recognized the English language and switched to speaking in that for him. Lockely sincerely doubted that English somehow became the universal standard once space travel got involved.
“Seriously guys… You should come look at this.” Zeelo had moved to the edge of the library and had found a window. He had his forepaws pressed against the window looking out.
“Alright I’m coming!” Calex quickly scattered over to where Zeelo was. “What’s so important that-“ Calex’s voice immediately broke off. Oh. Ohhhhhhhh. Now that is interesting.”
“What’s interesting?” Lockely tilted his head to look at the two. It had to be something really weird if it had gotten even Calex to quiet down. He walked over to the window to see what the other two were looking at.
And on the other side of the window was a sea of fire. No, that wasn’t quite right. It wasn’t fire, it was almost more like a liquid. Except that wasn’t the best term for it either. It was certainly glowing hot and the surface moved around strangely, giving the impression of the entire thing burning.
“We’re on the sun.” Calex was the first to say it. “A library on the sun.” He grinned. “Which means we should be blind for looking straight into the sun but… Obviously these windows aren’t actually clear they’ve gotta have some kind of tint to them to block most of the sunlight. I mean why have windows if looking out them would just blind people. This was designed to give people a view… Of the actual sun.”
“Okay, but why is there a library on the sun?” Lockely asked.
“I don’t know. But I bet there’s a book or hologram in here that can tell us more.” Calex grinned. “I’ve never heard of this place before. A library on the sun? Really novel. Wonder why they’d do it?”
“I’m wondering how we’re not all burning up…” Lockely took a few steps back from the window. But he knew Calex was right. That would explain the strange look of the surface. It was plasma. He was looking at the surface of the sun. The library itself was just designed to have a classic aesthetic. For it to be possible to construct something that would survive on the surface of the sun… That was some major technology, even for this universe. They had to have gone really far into the future.
“I’m sure there’s books on that too.” Zeelo grinned.
“Oh we should definitely check this out… A library on the sun.” Calex grinned. “I wonder how many book hologram thingies you’re allowed to check out.”
Next time on CARDBOARD
“Hey… Anyone else bothered by the fact we seem to be alone?” Lockely asked as they went through a corridor. “You would think a library like this would attract a lot of people.”
“Warning.” A robotic voice rang out throughout the entire library. “Stellar Failsafe Safeguards have been activated. Please evacuate at your earlier convenience.”
“I don’t get it! Why does it feel like the library is suddenly trying to kill us?” Lockely demanded.
“I don’t think it’s a library after all. I think… It’s some kind of vault. Filled with the most precious thing of all. Knowledge. “Calex looked grim. “At least that’s what they’d say… But I got a bad feeling there’s something else here. We’re not alone.”
“Okay, so I got good news and bad news.” Calex started.
“Um the box went missing.” Zeelo interrupted.
“Okay so I have bad news and worse news.” Calex corrected himself. “The bad news is that if we don’t figure out how to stop Stellar Safeguards the entire sun is going to go supernova.”
“That’s the bad news?” Lockely demanded. “What’s the worse news?”
“Without a box we don’t have a way to actually escape it.” Calex responded. “So… Um… Who wants to stop the sun from exploding?”
The Stellar Failsafe