Fredrick’s heart jumped as he turned into the corridor for his unit and saw his front door open. He tried not to break into a run, but his eyes swept the hall, and he peaked into each other open doorway he passed on the way to his own. Why were they all open?
No sign of Tiger. Maybe he was hiding in the unit somewhere. Please let him still be in there. Cats were not permitted on the space station. What would they do to Tiger if they found him?
Once inside, he saw two workers doing something to the single window. Outside, he could see another in a space suit working from the outside.
“What’s happening?” Fredrick demanded.
The workmen turned toward him.
“Ah, hello sir,” one said, while the other turned back to her work. “There was a minor leak in section H this morning. All windows are now being inspected and resealed.”
“Why didn’t I get a work notice?”
“This is an emergency safety order. No time to issue notices.”
“I see.” Fredrick was scanning the room as the man spoke. “Well, let me not get in your way then.” He fled to the bedroom. If Tiger was still here, hopefully this is where he would hide.
Fredrick looked under the bed. No Tiger. Not in the bathroom either. Or the hamper.
A yell came from out in the hall. Fredrick was out there in a blink.
It was Mrs. Rimoti from two doors down. Fredrick came to stand beside her, looking with her into her unit.
“Do you see this mess those maintenance people left behind!” Mrs. Rimoti pointed at a small pile of what Fredrick assumed was packaging from the new window seals.
“So, careless,” Fredrick agreed, stepping into the room and scooping up the debris while frantically looking around for Tiger. His hands full, her bent to look under the sofa, then behind the end table. “Let me help you.” He took the trash into the kitchen and tossed it into the garbage chute, and then opened the cupboard under the sink for a quick peak.
Fredrick walked in a large circle so he could stick his head into the bedroom as he left the kitchen before joining Mrs. Rimoti again by the door.
“Are you drunk?” she asked.
“No, no, just concerned.” Fredrick looked up and down the hall. “This fuss over a leak, work crews not cleaning up after themselves. What is this place coming to?”
“Yes, exactly.” Mrs. Rimoti nodded with a frown. “I think I shall call the Supervisor to complain.”
“Good idea. So will I.” Fredrick didn’t offer a farewell because Mrs. Rimoti had already disappeared into her unit and the door slid shut with a snap.
Fredrick stuck his head into each open door way in the hall. Offering a smile and a casual ‘hello’ to any workmen or neighbors who looked up startled at his intrusion, but was gone before they could interact further.
His unit was empty now, a shiny new seal on his window, and the crew for his unit had thoughtfully taken away their garbage. He shut his door as fast as he could.
“Tiger! Here buddy, come’ere boy!”
Was that a meow? Where did it come from? Sounded like the shelves. Fredrick saw a small pink nose peeking out from the small gap at the side of the bottom shelf and the sofa, which had been shoved out of its usual place.
“Did they trap you on your napping shelf?” Fredrick’s sudden relief caused him to continue to babble to the cat as he pulled the sofa back into position. Tiger was meowing with complaint and twining himself through Fredrick’s legs as soon as there was space enough to escape the shelf. Fredrick scooped him up, snuggling him to his chest as he sat.
“You’re okay.” He rubbed the cat’s ears. “We’re okay.”