It was with good grace that I wandered downstairs to find out what was up. The rat that had fetched me was puttering around nervously, the rest of the animals were calmly waiting.
I wondered who had really called this meeting.
“Come in, Michel, make yourself comfortable.” I startled, then realized that George was seated in a shadow. “Tina really wants us to put our cards on the table and work together. I’ve come around to agree with her. When you moved in, I admit I paid little enough attention. Since then, I should have noticed you and at least dropped some overt hints about my crew.”
“I wasn’t paying attention to you and your crew either,” I allowed. “Perhaps it is past time for that to change. How should we proceed? Hi. I’m Michel, and I’m not what I seem.”
“Hi Michel!” they all chorused.
“I’ve been many things, but I seem to gravitate to this persona. I’m probably best known for writing under the name Nostradamus, I’ve never really lived that down and the fact that those works have never been out of print has rubbed my nose in that particular indiscretion even since. Ever since then, the presence of an impending doom leaves me reacting more like deer in the headlights, nearly paralyzed with fear of taking the wrong action, and recognition that inaction is also often the wrong action as well.”
They all sat there, attentive.
“So I am here, now, hat in hand as a gentleman, asking what we need to be doing.”
The animals all turned to George. I was coming to recognize that they all deferred to him. “Welcome aboard, Michel,” he began. “I’m currently known as George, and as a small-time stage magician. As you see, the animals and I work well together. We’ve learned over the years that this is a good cover, and allows me to be a little eccentric and keep a wide range of animals without drawing too much suspicion.”
“I’m always suspicious of coincidence. I’m guessing that my moving in to this building was actually a result of someone’s manipulation.”
“You probably aren’t wrong there. I’m sure we are imagining the same party. I don’t actually know.”
“Yes, Tina as she’s calling herself now.”
“She clearly has some explaining to do.”