The next thing Fluey knew, he was laying on the ground, which was damp and muddy, and he was soaking wet, and freezing, and his powers had somehow been deactivated. There was a little mud on his face, and in his hair, which was disheveled, and mud stains on his clothes. Fluey just lay there for awhile, feeling completely drained. Suddenly, he heard the sound of a yipping puppy in the distance, and he sat up. He recognized that yip.
"Skittles?" he asked, wondering if he was hearing things. The yipping grew louder, and Fluey knew for sure it was the little super puppy.
"Skittles!" he called out at the top of his voice. "Come here, girl! Come on, Skittles! Over here!"
All of a sudden, Fluey saw a flash of lighting coming at him, and something slammed into him, knocking him backwards into the mud, and he was barraged with puppy kisses.
"Okay, okay, easy girl!" he shouted, trying to pull Skittles off of him.
"Over here, Coiley!" he heard Multi shout. "I think I heard Fluey call Skittles!"
"There they are!" Coiley shouted, as he and Multi ran into view. "Fluey, are you all right?"
"Yeah, I think so," Fluey said, though he was a little disoriented.
"Over here, chief!" Multi called. "Skittles found him!"
Moments later, Big D came running to the scene, looking a little disheveled himself, like he was ready to have a heart attack. He immediately raced over to his grandson, grabbed him, and held him close.
"Thank goodness you're all right," he said. "I was about to give up all hope."
Fluey was a little reluctant for a moment, thinking back to the Nome King, then Big D began stroking the back of his hair. Fluey heaved a sigh of relief, and wrapped his arms around his grandfather's chest. Moments later, Phyllis came running in, carrying a blanket with her.
"Fluey!" she shouted. "Thank heavens, I was worried sick about you!"
Big D let go of Fluey, for the moment, and the minute he did, Phyllis grabbed him, and hugged him tightly. Fluey almost mistook her for Pawsma at first, but he knew it was Phyllis the minute she hugged him. Once she let go, she wrapped the blanket around Fluey, and Big D lifted him into his arms.
"Come on," he said. "Let's get you home."
"Sounds good to me," Fluey said, a little tiredly.
"I could just kick myself for this," Big D said. "I never should have taken you to that clinic in the first place. Your sister was right. Lack of sleep had impaired my judgement. I'm just glad we weren't too late. Thank goodness that lightning storm knocked out the power, or else you would have wound up like all the others. Or worse!"
"Others?" Fluey asked.
"That screaming you heard," Big D said. "They were patients that had been damaged by Dr. Lorry's so called therapy."
"Yeah, we found out their brains were practically burnt to a crisp," Coiley said.
"While she got me out of the room, she turned up the power on the machine," Big D said, slightly increasing his hold on his grandson. "When I think of how close I came to killing my own grandson . . . . . I just can't believe I had fallen for such a trick!"
"What do you mean, chief?" Fluey asked.
"Dr. Lorry's father was a former agent," Big D continued. "I had to fire him because his experiments on electroshock therapy were getting out of hand. This was Dr. Lorry's way of getting back at me. She knew exactly who I was the minute I made the appointment over the phone with her. She put her machine on full power, and she knew such a large dose would electrocute you. That's why she wanted me to pull the switch on her machine. One of her orderlies was standing by with a camera, ready to snap a photograph of me flipping the switch. Then she would take the photograph to the authorities, and I would have wound up being sent to jail. After the power went out, both you and I heard that screaming, and as you know, I went to investigate it. That's when I discovered her damaged patients. And Dr. Lorry discovered me. She hit me over the head and knocked me unconscious. I came to my senses shortly after the storm subsided, and Dr. Lorry returned to the clinic. I found out you had escaped, Fluid, and Dr. Lorry wound up confessing her plot."
"Then the chief called me, Coiley, and Phyllis," Multi said. "He told us you escaped from the clinic, and were swept up into the flood waters without your transformer. We called the police and Dr. Lorry arrested her and her orderlies on the spot after they found her patients."
"We spent nearly all night looking for you," Coiley said. "We're glad we found you in one piece, Fluey."
"Yeah, me too," Fluey said, thinking about Mombi's hall of heads. "I'm really glad to be in one piece."
Fluey ended up falling asleep on the ride back home. Big D and Phyllis immediately took him upstairs, and put him to bed. He woke up a few moments afterward.
"Home already?" he asked, stifling a yawn.
"Yes," Big D replied. "Looks like you're cured of that insomnia of yours."
"Yeah . . . ." Fluey said. "Maybe when Pawsma sent me back, she magically cured my insomnia and . . . . ."
"Who?" Big D asked, giving Fluey a weird look.
"Oh . . . . uhhh . . . ." Fluey said, thinking about this. He knew Big D wouldn't believe it. "Nothing, chief. I just . . . . had another dream. I went back to Paws in this one."
Fluey then told the chief the details about his return trip. Big D merely shook his head when he was through.
"You certainly have a vivid imagination, Fluid," he said. "In any case, I think you should go back to sleep for awhile. You need to catch up on some much needed rest."
"Okay, chief," Fluey said.
And with that, Big D left the room, just as Phyllis walked in, carrying a laundry basket.
"Hi," she said. "How are you feeling?"
"Sleepy," Fluey said, yawning. "You don't have to do my laundry, sis, I'll do it myself later."
"I know, but I want to get these mud stains out," Phyllis said. "Otherwise, they'll set, and we'll never be able to get them out, even with triple strength detergent. I have to tell you, that Dr. Lorry must have been some kind of a nut. It makes me wonder how long she managed to stay in business what with all those patients she had locked in the basement . . . . . ."
Phyllis continued on about Dr. Lorry, but Fluey wasn't paying any attention to her. He was staring at his sister's reflection in his mirror. Only it wasn't Phyllis's reflection he was seeing. It was Pawsma's. Pawsma smiled, waved at Fluey, and put her finger to her lips, signaling Fluey not to say anything about this. Fluey waved back, and nodded.
"But at least she's in jail and you're all right," Phyllis said, standing up. The minute she did, Pawsma vanished.
"Yeah, all's well that ends well," Fluey said, even though he didn't hear much of what Phyllis had said. "Night, sis."
"Good night," Phyllis said. She bent down, kissed her brother on the forehead, and left the room, closing the door behind him.
Phyllis went down to the laundry room, and started up the washing machine. She was sorting through Fluey's clothes (she figured she'd do the whole thing, anyway) when Big D came by.
"I hope you're checking to make sure he didn't accidentally leave anything in his pockets again," he said.
"I am," Phyllis said. "After he nearly destroyed his transformer by sending it through the spin cycle once because he forgot to take it out . . . . . and wouldn't you know it, he did it again. But it's not his transformer this time."
"Let me see."
Phyllis handed Big D the object, and he looked at it intently. It was a red key. Big D remembered Fluey mentioned something about a ruby key in the dream he told him about.
"Strange," he said. "Fluid mentioned a key like this in the dream he had . . . . . you don't suppose . . . . ."
"What, chief?" Phyllis asked.
Without answering, Big D left the laundry room, went upstairs, and opened the door to Fluey's bedroom. He was about to ask about the key, but decided not to, since Fluey was sound asleep. Instead, Big D put the key on Fluey's night table, and left the room.
"Maybe there is something about this land of Paws after all," he said.