"Well, Lawrence, is there anything I can do to help you?" Lulu asked. "I can't imagine why a polite young gentleman, such as yourself, would be kicked out of his house."
"Lulu, may I tell you something?" Snickles felt that Lulu could be trusted. He hoped she would believe him.
"Of course," answered Lulu with a benign smile. Snickles looked at her uncertainly.
"I'm a cat named Snickles. I ate glowing garbage and got turned into a human. That's why I can't go back home." Snickles paused. "Then I met Audrey, and she told me to stay with you until they could find a cure. I know it sounds ridiculous, but it's true."
"This better not be some joke." A sudden coldness passed over Lulu's usually sweet features.
"It's not. I ate glowing garbage as a cat. We figured I would die, but I transformed into a human instead!"
"The garbage from the Science Department was what I ate. I think I ate something…scientific." Snickles shrugged awkwardly. "If you think I'm insane, that's okay, because I know I'm not."
"So my Audrey's finding a remedy? Do cats speak their own language?" Lulu asked suddenly.
Snickles nodded and said in Cat, "Cats do have a language of their own. In fact, I'm speaking it right now." He smiled to see Lulu gaping.
"Goodness." The woman stared at Snickles for the longest time until Audrey, who had come through her cat flap, meowed loudly.
"Audrey!" Lulu and Snickles cried simultaneously.
"We found the cure. I'll tell Tom and Amori to bring it in." Audrey grinned up at Snickles and her owner. "If Tom can get his fat head and the container through my cat flap!"
"Audrey, I told Lulu I was cat," called Snickles to the Audrey.
"I told Lulu I was a cat," repeated Snickles. "She knows everything."
Lulu listened to their conversation confusedly. "What's happening?"
"I'm going to be a cat again," said Snickles happily as soon as Audrey darted outside to fetch the other two.
"Then you can soon go home, wherever that is."
"Here come Tom and Amori. They're cats," clarified Snickles as Tom, carrying a corked container, and Amori, bounding behind him merrily, came through the cat flap. Audrey slipped through the cat flap and pattered over to sit by Snickles' feet.
"Isn't he a darling?" Lulu said of Tom, who was looking warily at her. "I've always had a soft spot for black and white cats. He's a big guy too." Tom frowned as Audrey sniggered. Her owner immediately picked up Audrey to ease an overwhelming feeling of confusion.
Placing the gold solution on the coffee table in the living room, Tom faced Snickles. "Pour it on your head, and let's get out of here." Tom grimaced to see Audrey purr in Lulu's arms. "Absolutely disgusting."
Snickles took the bottle, uncorked it and dribbled it over his head. "It's sticky," complained Snickles.
The others watched him anxiously.
"Nada." Amori shook her head. "Nothing has happened."
"Give it time," advised Tom.
"You know I am starting to feel itchy. Perhaps I'm starting to change."
"Maybe it'll work overnight like last time." Tom felt a prickle of uneasiness in his fur. What if it wouldn't work at all?
"Maybe. Or maybe I'm just poisoned," Snickles said apprehensively.
"It worked for the rat," pointed out Audrey, leaping down to the floor from Lulu's arms.
"He's human remember? Maybe it doesn't work for humans," added Amori.
"It has to work!" Tom said furiously. "We didn't snatch it from that wretched building for nothing!"
"Uh, guys, I think I'm a cat again," commented Snickles, who had edged away from the heated discussion. Lulu had fainted after seeing Snickles the human pop back into cat form. He was as furry and brown as he was before. Snickles had rediscovered his tail too. Unfortunately, he had lost his ability to see vivid color.
"He transformed while we were arguing," Audrey purred with amusement.
"Snickles," Tom exclaimed. "You're normal again!"
"Do you like being a cat or a human better?" Amori inquired excitedly.
"I don't know. I liked the human food; the house was better than any alleyway, but I'd miss being a cat."
"Sagira, I kept my promise; now stop haunting me!" yowled Tom to no one in particular. They all stared at him. "Er, I had nightmares you know," he explained sheepishly. They all laughed.
"Poor Lulu," said Snickles. "I think I scared her with the whole transforming bit."
"It's nothing to worry about. Nothing keeps Lulu down for long." Audrey smiled at Snickles. A strange feeling tickled her heart as he returned the smile boldly.
"Let's go home," Tom said. "Snickles?"
"It's all right." It didn't matter what had happened in the past; he was a cat again. He had never thought that would happen so quickly.
"Thank you, Amori, and especially you, Audrey." Snickles met the eyes of both cats gratefully. Audrey blinked in embarrassment.
"What are friends for?"
"Now we have been through this silly mess, what have you learned, Snickles?"
"Whatever do you mean, Tom?" Snickles grinned.
"Rule 384: Never Eat Glowing Objects," the young tabby recited.
"Good. Now let's go home and never speak of this again." Amori, Tom and Snickles exited through the cat flap, with genial (in Tom's case half-genial) farewells to Audrey, and proceeded to the dark alleys they knew so well.
"Audrey? Snickles?" Lulu groaned and sat up with Audrey curled in her lap. "Audrey, I think I just had the weirdest dream. It didn't seem like one, but…" Lulu shook her head. "No sign of a Snickles here. Oh, and I'm on the floor! What happened?"
Lulu blinked at her perfectly unruffled kitty. "I haven't had a wacky dream like that for awhile, and I've certainly never sleepwalked before either. Well, anyway, in my dream, there was a man named Lawrence or was it Snickles? In any case…" Audrey listened patiently to her owner's description of the "dream" and smiled, knowing that Snickles was out in the alleyways eating garbage and stealing fish and doing all the other things that alley cats do.