“Oh, my God,” you whisper, mostly to yourself as your body tries to catch up with your brain and your new-found realization. Slowly, your eyes finally travel up to meet Kitty-Cat’s now puzzled ones.
“W-What’s wrong?” she asks, her voice still dripping with desire but marred with hints of apprehension as well.
“It’s…It’s you, isn’t it?” you say, blinking slowly as your high suddenly comes crashing down.
You’re not sure whether the look on your face says you’re confused or spooked—though you feel a whole lot of both right now—but either way, she obviously doesn’t find it comforting.
She tries to withdraw her hand and sit up simultaneously, but you hold it firm in yours, still observing all the lines; vertical, horizontal, and diagonal, paralleling and intersecting with each other. Contours merging and curving like elevation points on a geographical map. Micro ridges and furrows etched into her soft skin. More prominent lines across the bends of her knuckles and the center of her palms. You recognize all of them. You remember all of them.
Oh, fuck me.
“W-what…what are you talking about?” she says, clearly confused and embarrassed now that the heat of the moment is quickly slipping away.
“Fuck, I don’t believe this…” You let go of her face but still hold on to her hand firmly, running your own palm over your face before pinching the bridge of your nose as you struggle to get some clarity.
She frowns, obviously concerned. “What? Is there something on my hand?” She tries pulling it away again with the same outcome as her first attempt.
You look her square in the eyes, feeling certain she’ll laugh her pretty head off at what you’re about to tell her.
“Look, this is going to sound kind of nuts…” you begin, unsure of how exactly to phrase this without sounding like a complete lunatic and potentially creeping her out. “Okay, it’s going to sound really nuts, but…I think…actually, I’m pretty certain that your hand prints are on the ocean floor of the Atlantic.”
And then more silence.
You’re not exactly sure what reaction you expected from her, but you know it’s not this.
Most of the lust-filled haziness is quickly dissipating, leaving you both far more sober than you think either of you care to feel at the moment.
Several seconds go by, and the unmistakable smell of fear begins to creep into the atmosphere, replacing her previously intoxicating scent.
It’s different from the fear she felt earlier. Now it’s more concentrated, less filtered, and it shows through in her eyes.
“You know?” you spit out. Your tone is accusing and you know it, but you’re unable to veil your shock.
She doesn’t say anything. She just keeps looking at you, but you can tell her mind is somewhere else.
“How did your prints get there?” you demand, pushing her for an answer.
You breathe out a sigh, realizing you’re not going to get anywhere by scolding or intimidating her. You try to be more encouraging as you ask again, “Do you know something about the Atlantic’s disappearance?”
Her eyes widen at the question, like she’s surprised you know about what happened to the ocean. And her expression instantly confirms that she knows about it, too.
That much, you’re sure of.
She’s obviously still convinced that this is just a dream, so you guess it’s expected that a question pertaining to her reality—however crazy it is—would throw her off.
Your voice grows a tad bit panicked despite your attempts to conceal your worry and keep calm, but given the circumstances, you suppose you freaking out ever so slightly is to be expected as well.
Still, you try your best to remain composed for fear of getting her worked up and even more scared, gently returning your other hand to her face again to cup her cheek in a show of good faith and an attempt to calm her down.
To calm you both down.
“Look, Kitty-cat, you need to tell me if you know anything about what happened with the Atlantic,” you say, looking her square in the eyes. “If you know anything about any of it, please. I promise you, I can help if you just tell me whatever you know—”
A loud, thunderous sound rolls out of absolutely nowhere and startles you both, making her jolt and forcing you up in a leap as your eyes dart around for its source.
It comes again, louder this time, and in rapid, almost continuous successions.
BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG.
“Oh God, this again?” you mutter under your breath, remembering her loud alarm clock interruption from last time. But what you’re not prepared for is an even louder, angry voice of what you can only presume to be a human man cracking through the air in a series of barks.
“Tilton! Tilton open this door! It’s time to pay up,” he shouts, continuing his relentless banging on the door.
Fuck, he’s annoying.
You turn back to Kitty-Cat, your brows furrowed, eyes narrowed, and mouth in an unapologetic frown.
“Who the fuck is that?”
She looks even more exasperated than you. “My fucking landlord,” she says with hints of bitterness, her voice strained and raspier than usual.
You quickly remember that she disappeared as soon as the alarm had gone off before. A disruption. Like this one.
Another bloom of panic set into your chest as you reach for her hand, tripping over your words.
“W-wait, wait, what’s your name?”
“Tilton!” the other man’s voice storms again.
She looks at you, eyes wide and slightly frantic, laced with a sense of desperation, as if she knows she’s about to vanish again.
“M-my…my name is—”
But before she can get it out, she’s gone.
Fuck me to the goddamn moon and back.
How the fuck could you let this happen again without getting her name?
“Shit!” you curse loudly, running a hand through your hair as you feel utter frustration creeping its way back into you.
The banging and the yelling of the man who’s apparently her landlord ceases as well.
You continue to kneel on your bed as deafening silence surrounds you, staring into the sheets beneath you where she was just a second ago, now bare and empty. However, the memory of the male voice that came through unexpectedly resurges in your mind, and what he said resounds in your head again and again as you remember.
That’s what he called her.
That must be her last name.
You finally have a lead.
Maybe your luck isn’t so bleak after all.