Author's Note: For more context, go here first
It was weird that the door to Bespredel was open for once. I thought for a moment that I shouldn't be doing this. Maybe I was going to be experimented on, or murdered... Nah. Cate Tesla seemed pretty trustworthy from what I dug up on her. Either way, people at school would be hounding me about the inside of the house, and whether Miss Tesla was the spawn of Satan or a lonely, gorgeous misunderstood genius that needed young company (Pluto's words, not mine. I swear, the kid's obsessed with older women, I should probably probe his computer later...) Still, I made an obligation, and I have to fulfill it, or I'd never hear the end of it from Dad about responsibility.
"Come in, come in!" I heard her chirp, "In the office on the right."
Great. Now I couldn't turn back. Even if she couldn't see me, she could hear me. I had no choice but to follow her orders and wander into the "office" that seemed to have been converted into a workshop. And there she was. Much to my surprise, she looked relatively normal, aside from the aviators on her head and goggles around her neck. She was a redhead like me, although her hair was unstyled and slightly disheveled. I honestly expected her to have messed up peepers like most blind people I knew of, but her big green doe eyes looked fine, even if they didn't work. Yet... Her smile seemed weird to me. It wasn't creepy or anything, but it looked... real, like that of a child. With the late war, most people her age never smiled like that. Everything was always slight or fake. I can't even remember my own father smiling as she did.
"A waltz," she muttered.
"You walk in a waltz," she said, "That's how most people with canes walk. Not me. I only tap mine for sonar when I'm not sure. My own invention."
"Yeah... I know," I said uneasily.
"Why do you have yours, if you don't mind?" she asked.
"Spine problems. I used to not be able to walk at all, but I had surgery about a month ago."
She shifted a bit in her stance.
"Why? What do people think?"
This lady was as nosy as me. That could be both a blessing and a curse.
"I don't really care what people think, and with the war over, it's not like I'm going to get killed if I didn't have it," I replied, "But it's convenient to walk. I guess some people are mad at me for not being "proud", but really I don't care. They're mostly idiots anyway."
"Aren't they? I hate those damned elitists." Her tone darkened slightly, but wasn't all that intimidating. "Perhaps I want to invent something to fix my eyes... I used to see, you know. All I want is to see my home, my family, my loved ones again. I don't give a hoot about being normal either, I mean, I'm already a kook, I'm an inventor, after all. But since I'm sentimental, all I hear is 'Cate, you don't need to hide yourself, we fought this war for the right to be alive, be ourselves, why can't you embrace your blindess?!' You're right, Katerina, idiots."
I knew she wasn't right in the head, but I expected her to get my name right. Maybe she has a faulty computer. I could probably fix it if she asked.
"My name's Katrina, Miss Tesla."
She simply shook her head and laughed, as if I were the crazy one.
"Katrina, yes. Means 'pure.' How ironic, since some people come to know it as 'destruction.' At least it's better than Katherine... Which Fievel seems to think your name is."
Fievel von Petrov knows my name. He's just a wad. Dad says he's just displacing, but I say he's a wad. He doesn't have any good reasons to be angry with me after all, it's all supposedly on Dad.
"Anyway," she continued, "Katerina sounds prettier if you'd allow it. And none of this 'Miss Tesla' business. It makes me sound old, come on, I'm not 40 yet."
"If it makes you feel better, you can call me whatever you like except for 'hey, you' and 'cripple'," I sighed, "And sorry, that's just how I was raised. My father always taught me that manners always paid."
"Oh, you city dwellers, always having to be so formal," she said, letting out another laugh, "But then again, I used to be one of you. I guess I've been gone for way too long. If you absolutely must stick with all that, call me Miss Cate."
I shrugged. "Fine." At least she's lively, and for the most part honest. Maybe this wouldn't be so bad. Surely my classmates would be disappointed there's no crazy old witch, and while she's a mad scientist, she's not THAT mad. However, now that I've got a clear picture of the woman, who was fairly pleasant-looking, I doubt Pluto was going to shut up anytime soon about someday tagging along and "comforting" Miss Te- Cate. Gross. She should be around the same age as Dad. Speaking of which, I should make a mental note to keep one of his business cards on me, just in case. She's an utter and complete lunatic, but at least she knows it, and may want help.