After Mastermind left, I took Alice’s hand, and we walked the streets of old Phoenix. The cats watched us for a time. Then, one stopped in front of me, “Please follow.” We did. The cat led us out of old Phoenix, down a quiet path to a small, old house next to the lake.
“I’ve never seen this,” Alice stepped closer to me, looking at the cat, “What is this place?”
The cat walked to the door of the house, and mewed. A few moments later, the door opened, revealing an old man. His face etched with his age. “Welcome, children.” He motioned us to come into his home.
“Who are you?”
The cat answered, “The ancient one. He was here at the beginning.”
Alice stared at the cat. “The beginning?”
The old man smiled. “Many centuries ago.” He walked back inside, and Alice and I followed.
The images on the wall came to an end. Alice smiled. “You really think I’m pretty?”
“Prettier than any woman I’ve ever seen.”
She hugged me. I didn’t mind at all. “Tomorrow, I’ll take you to Old Phoenix.”
I slept on the sofa in her home that night, and dreamed of her.
After breakfast, Alice and I walked over the hills behind her home, into the ruins of an ancient city. “This was Phoenix, Arizona.” We walked down streets lined with buildings. “This is where we met the animals.”
I noticed cats, dozens of them, along the streets as we walked. I heard dozens of different voices in my head, “Alice is visiting! Who’s that with her? Is he safe?”
Alice watched me looking at cats. “You can hear them, can’t you?”
I nodded yes.
“And yet, you came from one of the caves. That’s never happened before.”