Bing and Bert had partied non-stop for what seemed like weeks now. Oh wait. It HAD been weeks!
The two were drunk and exhausted. They'd been trying to find their rooms for well over an hour now, but the hallways all looked the same inside the palace.
"Wasn't there striped wall paper on that LAST floor?" Bert moaned as he trudged along beside his brother.
"No dummy," said Bing, "flowered wall paper was on the last floor. Striped was on the floor before that."
"WhatEVER!" Bert grumped loudly. His feet were throbbing inside his tiny leather shoes.
"Actually..." Bing had paused and was rubbing his chin thoughtfully. "Do you think we could have been on this same floor two floors ago? Or is this a different one?"
"ARGH!" Bert harrumphed. "You told me you knew how to get to our rooms!"
"I DO know how to get to them," Bing insisted. "They're right down this way," he pointed ahead of them, where the hallway seemed to extend onward almost indefinitely.
"But we already CHECKED this floor!" Bert griped. "Just admit it. You have no idea where we are or where we're going." He threw his hands up in disgust and sighed loudly.
"That is not true! We're going to our rooms! How could I not know that?"
"I MEAN," Bert had lost his patience, "that you don't know how to GET to our rooms!"
"Oh move out of my way!" Bert shoved his brother aside, planning to return to the stairwell to ask one of the servants for directions.
As Bert turned to go back the way they'd come, he froze, his breath caught in his throat and he coughed and gasped for breath. "C.. C... Ca..."
"Go on with ya then!" Bing was furious and refused to look at Bert. He stood staring at the door behind his brother, arms crossed, and toe tapping.
"C... Ca.." Bert lifted his arm and pointed weakly toward the stretch of hallway behind Bing.
"What's the MATTER with you brother? Cat got your tongue?" Bing hayucked at his own silly joke, bending to slap one knee in merriment, but his hand froze in mid-air just before it connected. In slow motion, he turned to look the direction his brother was facing and saw a white cat poised only steps away from them, ready to pounce on them at any second.
"CAT!!!!" Bing shouted, grabbing his brother's arm and making a leap for the crack beneath the door behind Bert. He rolled beneath the door and into the room beyond, his hand still gripping his brother's, but Bert was still on the other side of the door in the hallway, now lying on his back but crammed up against the door and
not quite fitting beneath it in this position.
"GET IN HERE!" Bing shouted at Bert, tugging at his hand. "Squeeze under the door Bert! NOW!"
The muscles of the white cat's leg twitched three times, then pounce! He landed just as he'd aimed, a fraction of an inch short of touching the remaining tiny fae.
Bert let forth a series of terrified screams and lay there bunched up at the crack of the door with one arm stretched beneath and gripping at his brother's hand in the interior of the room. The other arm had been thrown across his eyes in a feeble attempt to block the hideously ferocious feline image from his view. Bert wasn't even yet aware that he had wet himself and a dark stain now bloomed across the front of his red party pants.
Lorimar let himself grin at the apparently terrified Bert, then dart his tongue out to lick at his whiskers.
Then he spoke. "Don't worry, I'm not going to eat you." He put one paw out toward Bert.
Bert, who'd been watching the cat through a crack between his fingers, screamed again and thrashed against the foot of the door trying to wrest his hand back from his brother so that he could attempt to make a getaway.
"Listen to me Bert," Bing tried to coach him from within the safe interior of the guest room in which he'd found haven. "Don't panic, brother. Flatten yourself against the floor and slide beneath the door. Bert LISTEN TO ME!" he jerked on his brother's hand.
"Let-go-of-my-hand BING! LET GOOOOO! Let..." Bert ceased to struggle and slumped into a limp pile upon the floor. He'd thrashed so violently against the door in his attempt to get away that he'd clocked his head against the heavy oak and knocked himself clean out.
"BERT?!" Bing shouted as his brother's hand went limp in his own. The increasing panic was apparent in his voice. "BERT! You answer me right this second, brother!" A pitiful sob escaped Bing's lips as tears coursed freely down his cheeks. "Bert?" this last was barely a whisper.
Lorimar felt a twinge of guilt over the exact timing of his chase. He had not meant to disturb Kalista's rest. He had not thought the critters could fit under the door -- well, only one could, but still. He tried to peer under the door while still watching Bert, but he couldn't see much of anything of what was happening inside.
Bing's sobs caught in his throat as he saw one huge golden eye peeking through the crack beneath the doorway. Peeking at HIM!
"Get away from me you.. you... YOU MURDERER!" Bing scrambled to his feet, wiping at the snot hanging from his nose with the sleeve of his shirt. "You killed... my... br.. br...BROTHERRRRR! My... " he collapsed upon the floor in uncontrollable sobs punctuated by several pitiful "Berts".