Enjoy. Cuddles had never been so hungry in her entire life. The Cogs had invaded the town, bringing terrible destruction to buildings and many deaths. Cuddles had barely survived by hiding inside a model race car in Goofy’s Speedway. When the assault finally stopped, Cuddles stumbled into the scorched grass of Toontown Central, passing out from heat exhaustion. A dozen fires roared away in the heart of the city as her vision became spotty and she finally blacked out. “Ms. Crinklemuffin, wake up! Wake up!” Cuddles slowly blinked her eyes open, hazy and hypnopompic. She groaned, feeling as if she had just run a marathon, soaked with sweat. She lazily lifted her head off the ground, seeing a ragged but ebullient pink cat. It took her a minute to realize that this was her friend Isia’s daughter. “Mirasol? Why aren’t you with your parents? Where are they?” She slurred her words together drowsily, trying to come to. “I don’t know… They told me to run, so I ran into the dry cleaner. And then I saw you on the ground so I came to wake you up.” Cuddles was beginning to adjust. “We need to find them. Let’s go.” She haggardly heaved herself off the ground, and forcing an optimistic grin, gestured for Mirasol. “Come on.” They arrived at the house. Well, what was a house. “Oh, no… oh no, no, no, no…” Cuddles blinked back tears, staying strong for Mirasol. A pile of smoldering wood and ashes lay in what used to be a cozy villa. Small fires flickered through the debris. “Mirasol… You… you’re going to need to stay with me.” Mirasol nodded somberly, plastering a smile onto her face. “I guess it won’t be so bad.” Cuddles smiled back at her, but she could tell from her eyes that deep inside she wanted to cry. *** Cuddles shook herself back into reality. It was all a blur. One day, she was relaxing, fishing at the ponds and golfing on the endless greens with her friends, sun shining down on the gently rolling hills. The next, broke, fostering a child, and desperately trying to find work. Joy was ephemeral. “I’m sorry, ma’am. You need more jellybeans.” The clerk waited for her response. “Um… fine, lose the bamboo cane. And I won’t be needing those extra aoogahs either.” She minced her money, working small daily jobs just to afford food, water, and gags. She tried to protect Mirasol from the horror of the wreckage, but it seemed the harder she tried, the worse it got. Mirasol understood everything. “Ms. Crinklemuffin, can we ride the Trolley?” Mirasol smiled sweetly up at her. “Of course,” Cuddles grinned back, lightening just a bit. “Oh, and you can just call me Cuds.” The trolley games allowed them to escape the terror of the real world for a while and enjoy themselves. Cuddles and Mirasol laughed through the games, counting up jellybeans. For a moment, it was almost like before, in simpler times. Cuddles bought a pie slice for each of them, and put the rest of the money towards necessities. “That was so fun!” Mirasol threw her hands in the air, giggling. “Yeah, it was a blast. Let’s go home and fix some lunch,” replied Cuddles casually. The trolley ride had certainly lifted her spirits. She looked around. The buildings were still damaged, but progress was being made in repairs. Slow and steady wins the race, after all. As she opened the door to her house, she felt like she was opening the door to a new life. *** The effects of the trolley had worn off by the next day. Each day, Cuddles had to get up very early before Mirasol was awake and go out to town. She’d enter various buildings then rummage through the wastebaskets, digging out old newspapers and circling numbers. She’d always found work up until recently, when all the buildings were hired out. She was despairing, living off trolley money, which wasn’t enough. Fishing was out of the question, too, since no shops would accept catches, fearing poisoning from the smoke, oil, and rubble that polluted the ponds after the incidents had contaminated the fish. Cuddles knew she had to do something besides trolley rides and odd jobs, as that day at checkout even basic necessities were far too expensive. She rubbed her forehead, pacing back and forth. She had no choice anymore. Wracked with despair, the only other option was to work as a financial advisor at Cashbot Headquarters. She knew fully well she’d be incriminating herself as soon as she called that number, but it wasn’t her decision to make. It was work or die. But she’d never forgive herself if Mirasol was snatched from her, sent off to another untrustworthy family, or worse, ending up on the streets. She held the phone in front of her, exhaling deeply. “Hello? This is Cuddles Crinklemuffin. I’d like to apply for a job at Cashbot Headquarters.” *** And that's all I have so far!