Don't Let Them See You

June 19, 2011

“Brother Andrew?”

“Yes, Father Abbot?”

“What are you doing in my house?”

The otter’s tone was almost emotionless, but his narrowed eyes and clenched paws were enough of a warning to set Andrew’s hackles rising. The mouse scratched his head with the flintlock pistol as he thought of a reply.

“Well, sir… that otter, Foweller, said that you had confiscated his pistol, and I find guns to be very interesting, so I thought that I might come in and take a look. But you weren’t around, so…I let myself in.”

The Abbot crossed his arms, but still said nothing.

“Then I had a look around your study for Foweller’s pistol, but instead I found this gun here and one of those pins like Tamarack found. Very odd that you would have the pin, because-”

“You did come here alone?” interrupted Carter.

Andrew was careful not to steal a glance back at the dining room table as he nodded.  The Abbot was obviously not very happy with him at all, and he wouldn’t want the kits to have to face the otter’s displeasure as well. Something about the way Carter was looking at him was reminiscent of how Friar Melina looked at a burned pie.

“Oh, and s-sir,” said the mouse, striving to fill the ominous silence, “If I may be so bold as to ask, is this your pistol?” When the Abbot did not reply, Andrew persisted, “Because it’s a very nice gun, sir. A Heckler and Cough Model 13. One of the most powerful pistols on the market.”

The mouse visibly started as Carter began to move, but he only walked over to the window. Then the otter said, “Andrew, you know that I think of nothing but the well-being of Redwall Abbey, don’t you?”

“Oh, yes sir.”

“Brother Andrew, you have to realize that things now are not as they were in the times of Martin the Warrior. The world is changing, and the Abbey can no longer afford to simply be a static observer. We must adapt, or fade into obsolescence.” The Abbot took a pipe from his pocket, lit it, and put it in his mouth. After a pause, he went on, “So yes, Brother Andrew, that is my pistol. I have been working with the Council to get these new weapons issued to the guards of Redwall, but they refuse to comply. They seem to think that if they bury their heads in the old lore and rules, they can ignore centuries of progress. You and I both know that the world cannot be changed simply by wishing it so.”

“Me, Father?” asked the mouse, furrowing his brow. All this about the world changing… why had the Abbot not mentioned it in public before? Also, why had he not reprimanded Andrew for breaking into his house?

“Yes, Andrew,” said Carter. “You decided to do something about these monsters of yours, instead of just staying in the kitchen and shouting at beasts. It’s really quite inspiring, in a way.”

“Thank you…” said Andrew. He wasn’t sure where this conversation was going, but instincts buried deep in his brain were kicking at his urge to flee. He began to edge towards the door. However, his natural curiosity drove him to ask:

“And what about that pin, sir?”

“Ah, yes. The pin. Do not trouble yourself about the pin, Brother. It is nothing of significance.”

Well. Andrew wasn’t so stupid that he couldn’t notice a blatant lie when he heard one. Carter was chewing on his pipe and wringing his paws as he spoke- he had to be nervous about the pin.

“Father, I- I don’t believe you. I think that you know something about the pin that you’re not telling me. If you are trying to stop beasts panicking, remember that a hidden lie is worse than a naked truth, sir. No matter how horrible it is.”

The Abbot turned around and stared at Andrew. His stare was extremely unnerving. The mouse was debating whether it would be best to wait for Carter’s response or just make a break for the door. Then, he heard a terrible sound, the sound that had tormented him throughout the lonely nights in the kitchen.

One of the Things was in the house.

Andrew drew his knife and spun on his heel, searching for a sign of the monsters amidst the opulence of the Abbot’s mansion. Was that movement in the curtains? He moved in for a closer look.

“Father, please stay back. The Abbey can’t risk losing you, and I know how to deal with these things.”

Which was not entirely true, but it was what a competent, selfless warrior would say to his leader. After a few second of poking through the folds of cloth, he realized that the Abbot had yet to respond.

“Father?”

Wait, what was that sound? Andrew jerked around, slashing wildly with his knife. There was a grunt of pain from and unseen beast, and the mouse saw the light gleam off something sharp to his left. A sharp pain blossomed in his neck, and he felt blood dripping onto his habit. It was one of the Things- its sickle-shaped claws rending his flesh and fur. What was going on? Where was Carter?

Andrew summoned all his strength and shook his attacker off. He gave the unknown beast a sharp whack with the butt of the pistol that sent it sprawling and then stumbled for the door. It was unlocked but heavy, and he resorted to his shoulder in order to open it.

The mouse’s mind was growing hazy, his vision blurred to streaks of color. The bright light- he was on the Abbey lawns. Where was everybeast? Teatime. It was still afternoon tea. Andrew’s legs surrendered the battle to keep him upright, and he fell down the mansion’s front steps. The mouse tried to get back up, and found he couldn’t move. Well, at least he could finally see the one of the Things that had tormented him for so long. He could hear its footsteps now.

They must have got Carter while his back was turned, the mouse thought with remorse. Strange that they could have taken the otter down so quickly; Andrew had heard that he had been a Skipper in his youth. Andrew knew that he had failed in his duty to protect the Abbot, and it was just as well that he was dying. He wouldn’t have been able to live with the shame of it all.

The mouse managed to point the pistol at the figure walking toward him. If he was going down, he was going to take one of Them with him. He squinted, trying to get a look at one of the Things that had tormented him for so long.

Andrew’s claw tightened on the trigger at the same moment as the beast drew into view. The pistol was unfortunately unloaded, and the flint hitting the pan only produced a brief shower of sparks that stung Andrew’s face. The mouse didn’t notice.
Through his fading vision, he had seen the face of his killer.

Andrew died with an expression of bewildered horror on his face.

***

Carter realized that the mouse was dead, and put away his knife. He took the pistol from Andrew’s limp paws and stowed it in his pocket. The otter then searched the body, but was unable to find the pin. He eventually gave up. Perhaps that mouse had not taken it after all, but had only seen it. He would have to carefully search his study later on.

“You know, it’s a shame,” said the Abbot, addressing the corpse. “You had so much potential, Andrew. But you wasted it all, going on your blasted pin-hunt. Why couldn’t you and that vixen have just minded your own business?”

He made his way up the steps, nursing the cut on his arm, but before he went back inside he turned to the recumbent Andrew.

“You know, it’s rather ironic, in a way. Everybeast will think that those things you thought up in your head finally got you in the end. They’ll finally believe they were real to you, just like you always wanted.”

Chuckling to himself, Carter closed the door.

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