A horrid shriek ripped me from sleep. Grabbing the palsifying aether disruptor snugged under my mattress, I burst into the sitting room. Between first sight and second thought, the disruptor discharged with a sizzling snap and Annealicia flopped to the floor. I stepped closer, curious how repeated disruption would affect a body. It’s quite possible her twitching was more intense this instance. “Oh feathers. Now I’ll owe you another week’s tobacco.”
“What the devil have you been about in my flat at this Godforsaken hour?” I queried the insensate Annealicia. Reproachfully the clock wheezed a sullen quarter-hour past ten.“Perhaps not so forsaken after all. I’ll own the fourth cocktail last evening might have been a questionable decision.”
A wet sucking sound followed by a distinct splat drew my attention back to the floor. Sigh. “Wallis, what are you doing out of the tank? If I find you’ve rummaged the coldbox for the clotted cream again, I shall padlock you in your proper home.”
The seven-legged cephalopod rolled two more tentacles over and splatted a few additional inches my way. Then clanked. “What…?”
Wallis had gained an eighth leg — a segmented mechanical device attached to his poor stump. How, I couldn’t tell, but he seemed able to control it as if it were natural. Except for the clanking.
“Well look what a superb new appendage you have!”
Wallis glared at me and slapped a crimson tentacle against the floorboards in my direction. Then he clicked his beak rapidly at Annealicia in a chittering fashion.
“Oh. She mended you did she? And you didn’t much like it. I was sleeping quite soundly, you know. Perhaps it’s you I should have stunned for waking me so unpleasantly.”
I stepped forward to scoop him up, and the little gobshite flipped his new leg over and grabbed my bare toe with the clawed end of it. “Oh sweet son of a…! Why the devil did she give you a three-pronged pincher? I should definitely have stunned you.” I hopped backward on my good foot before he could nab me once more.
Facedown on the floor, Annealicia groaned. “Blimey, M. Did you stun me again?”
“If you knocked like a normal person instead of lock-picking your way in, you’d never have to worry about it. I’m dressing and heading down to the corner bakery for a bite and a cuppa. You are capturing my freshly armed octopus and shoving his ungrateful arse back in the tank. Make a padlock while you’re at it. He’s transcended uppity.”
Annealicia lifted her head with a wicked chuckle, a muscle in her cheek still twitching. “Just wait until he figures out how to use the grappling hook attachment.”