The shades of evening began to descend. Callie stopped near the window contemplating the city panorama, the briefcase in her hand. She exhaled:
- Ah, what a peaceful evening.
Having given a turn to a key in the lock, Callie went towards the elevator. The door to the mayor's office was opened and she saw its owner filling out some paperwork. That was a rare time he was working and not polishing up his golf technique.
- Have a nice evening, mister Manx!
- Uhm, yes, thank you, Callie, - he didn't look up from the document.
The deputy mayor almost entered the cabin when she heard her chief swearing furiously:
- This darned bunch of villains! They will pay out every penny of damage they brought to my city! I... I declare an open war to them!... Callie!
He didn't need to call her. She came back herself surprised by this fit of determination.
- Mister Manx, why are you...
- No time to chat, Callie! Call right now to MBC, I am going to address to the citizens. I don't want to hide disreputably behind others anymore.
Manx stood up and paced the floor. His face was very nervous and even scary to look at.
- Mister Manx! What happened to you? What do you want this demarche for? The city security is under control, there is no need to scary the population...
Manx didn't listen to her. Lightened by the sunset he was mumbling:
- Yes, impose a curfew... And place machine guns on roofs... And...
Callie stepped back with a mad dash to find what to do. Call a doctor? Or simply go for a watchman on the ground floor? The thoughts started flighting... What if Manx was right? What if now when the city finally recovered it was time to attack and not to defend? Surprisingly for herself, she rattled off:
- You are right, mister Manx! And... we have to impose the state of emergency - Callie continued switching face. - Since we dispose of the forces we have to act quickly and walk in the criminals!
- State of emergency? - Manx nodded in approval. - Such a good idea. I am calling the commander Feral.
- Hurry up, I have a feeling we are running out of time! - the deputy mayor was not talking, she was practically shouting.
Manx's hand was on the phone when he suddenly limped. His face went blank. He raised his frightened eyes to Callie.
- Why were you yelling about running out of time? Did something happen?
- I... I don't know. - Callie blushed. - And you were talking something about placing machine guns on roofs.
- Maybe I've overworked - Manx sighed and left hold of the paper still being in his hand. That was a crossword puzzle. - Better go home.
Both the mayor and his deputy went off the office without saying a word about the sudden psychosis.
- Not bad. But some adjust is required. Now try it over there...
Meanwhile, in Green Street, not far from the city hall, a mob of kats was filing out of the Multiplex discussing aloud the plot and sharing their opinions. Among them were the two with opposite facial expressions. It was expectable Jake would find this comedy too simple and dim while Chance still was chuckling.
- Man, what a day! - he said. - I'm so content we finally managed to get out for a walk. And that film was a cherry on the cake.
- Yeah, it was. - mumbled Jake tolerantly. After that comedy, he changed his opinion about the Scaredy-Kat for the better.
The friends were going slowly down the street. The lights lit, the wind died down. After numerous fights in recent times, this warm atmosphere of an unhurried promenade seemed to be the best recompense. It was not for long, however.
- We are doomed! - an old kat lady threw her handbag away and started squealing on the other side of the crossroad. - Oh, holy kats, why are we abandoned?
Was she mentally disordered?
- Forsaken! The city is forsaken! It's all over, Katrine! - a young couple near the lady cuddled up together and cried. And they were disordered too?
More and more kats walking on the other side of the road were losing countenance and starting crying as if having passed some invisible line. That was unnatural. Dozens of bystanders without any pretext fell into the worst despair.
- From now on life is meaningless. - some clerk was repeating the same phrase again and again with a thousand-yard stare.
Jake and Chance stopped looking at the mass rampage. Their path was in another direction, but still, they thought about giving some aid. No idea. They were fighters and not psychs. Finally Jake decided to approach someone and solace. Chance insisted it was not their affair but Jake refused.
- It won't take much, will it? And we will earn one more point to the karma. - he tried to joke with a concerned look.
- Go if you want and I will wait for ya here.
Jake decisively entered the pedestrian crossing, but as far as he was approaching the other side of the street he found his mood fading away. For a moment Jake turned head backward. Chance leaned against the wall, hands in pockets, and was gazing phlegmatically after him.
Fear, Jake felt fear. For no reason, he nervously gulped. He didn't reach the crowd as that old lady ran towards him.
- Oh, young man! I'm so sorry for you! - she seized Jake by the collar. Chance frowned though his companion didn't perceive it. - The world is coming to its end and you are... you were so young! - she cried with renewed energy.
- The fate is very unjust, - answered disheartened Jake. Looking around he shared the common ambiance and realized how pathetic, how dull the things he did were. Sorrow whelmed his soul.
- That's enough, mister counselor. - annoyed Chance ripped his friend from the mad woman's hands and grabbed him quickly back on their side of the road. - Jake, what's wrong with you? Are you so sensible that a bunch of weepers thrown you out of your stride?
Jake didn't answer. He was still astounded and only heaved a groan.
- Jake, are you hearing me? Jake! - Chance shook him a bit trying to bring him back to senses. The interesting detail was that the old lady went back to the main crowd of desperate kats without following Jake. They clustered together on a small parcel of the pavement.
- You're overloading the system.
- I hired you not to lecture me.
Beep-beep-beep. Sound of the shutdown.
- You croaked it!
The panic abrupted in no time. The bystanders were drying tears and getting cleaned up with unintelligent expression. Nobody was able to say how this emotional scene started. The old lady lifted her bag and crossed the road towards our two.
- I don't know exactly what happened - she said - but my behavior was such a shame from my part. I apologize, young men. - Having finished she went quickly away.
- I give you time to repair it until the morning. Don't worry about the recompensation.
- What to calibrate next?
- Wrath once again. It seemed the girl in the city hall had panic instead of it.
Sometime later at the salvage yard, Jake was sitting on the sofa alone and revolving something in his mind. His face was serious but not saddened as during the panic attack. He had a sneaking feeling the situation had some external cause. But which one?
Chance entered the room yawning. He smiled a bit to the kat copying the Thinker by Rodin.
- Time to sleep, buddy. We have a lot of work tomorrow.
- Chance, why all the worriers were gathered only on the corner of Green and Bridge streets? - Jake raised eyes. - I mean, bystanders on our side were calm and didn't show any anxiety.
- Ah, who knows. - he shrugged. - Perhaps, there was a charismatic scaremonger. Forget it.
Jake stood up and directed out of the room. Putting out the light, he observed:
- When I was near you I was calm. But approaching the crowd I sank in fear for no reason...
- Relax and keep in mind how cool this holiday was...