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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Morning came to Redwall in a dramatic manner, the light of dawn surmounting the walls and tingeing the sandstone a dusty rose hue. Some of the light found its way onto Andrew’s eyelids, causing him to sit up groggily. He hit his head on a low branch, and decided to lie down a bit longer until he could collect his thoughts.

Let’s see…last night… escaped from the kitchen and visited Aloysius with Tamarack and that mole. Bob, was it? Something like that. We went our separate ways and then… Urgh. Should have thought through the sleeping arrangements better. Which probably explains why I’m lying under a bush right now. I miss my kitchen.

Still, at least it had been a fairly uninterrupted sleep. Andrew felt ready to face the day, at least if it didn’t put up too much of a fight. He crawled out from under the bush and dusted himself off. As he did so, the mouse realized that there were several tears in his habit, as well as a couple of painful-looking scratches on his body. Must be from the glass in that window, he thought. Amazing, I never felt a thing. Should probably stop by the infirmary later to get that bandaged up, though.

Thankfully, the door to the main Abbey building was open. Andrew strolled through, and made it about ten yards before somebeast noticed him.

“Hey! Aren’t you that mouse who locked himself up?” called out a squirrel.

“Yes, that’s me.”

“What are you doing out here?”

“I came out.”

“Oh. Well…good job for that, then.”

“Thank you.” The mouse was already growing tired of this conversation when he remembered the job that the Abbot had entrusted to him. “Oh, and by the way, remember how I said that I was worried that monsters were going to kill us all?”

“Aye?” The squirrel cocked his head. “You finally admitting that you were wrong?”

Andrew laughed. “‘Gates, no! I’m telling you that the only thing keeping those Things from running rampant through the Abbey is the lockdown. So, I suppose it turns out that we’re in slightly less danger, but it’s not really too much comfort.”

“Ah.” The squirrel stood still for a moment, allowing the mouse to widen the distance between them. Then, he seemed to reach a conclusion and ran to catch up with Andrew.

“You sure about that?”

“Positive.” Andrew hesitated before playing his ace, but he suspected his warning would be better received if it had an authority figure attached to it. “The Abbot himself told me.”

The squirrel goggled. “Really?”

“Cross my heart.”

The squirrel was left in a thoughtful frame of mind while Andrew continued walking. His time locked in the kitchen had allowed him sufficient time to forget the layout of Redwall, though, because it took a full ten minutes to remember that the main kitchens were not, technically, in the main building of the Abbey. He hurriedly retraced his steps and made his way across the lawn to his destination.

Redwall’s kitchens! Not that small thing that he had been locked in for days, but the real kitchens that had stood since time immemorial. The atmosphere flowed through Andrew’s senses – the clamor of pots and pans, the smell of food cooking (and burning… beasts tended to become flustered this close to a feast), and the air so thick that if you stuck out your tongue you could almost taste it. He was back.

The mouse sidled through the crowd to his old spot on the counter. Luckily, nobeast had taken it in his absence. Andrew still had the cleaver, and while he wasn’t going to stab anybeast he certainly would have gestured in a very pointed manner. His return had gone unnoticed in the general chaos, although Reynold, the hedgehog next to him, gave a cheery wave. The mouse grinned and did likewise. The kitchen workers were obviously big believers in “forgive and forget,” particularly the latter part.

Andrew settled back into the familiar groove of chopping vegetables, seasoning fish, and kneading dough. While his memory of the Abbey geography had suffered somewhat during his self-inflicted imprisonment, his cooking skills had not. The mouse would never make head cook, but he worked quickly and efficiently, even if he did cause beasts around him to become slightly nervous when he held large knives.

Ah, the Nameday feast. Always Andrew’s favorite feast of the year. He had been quite looking forward to it, and it was a shame that he had missed a good deal of the preparation. Still, it was amazing how much food went uncooked until as late as possible. It was about eight hours before the feast, and there looked to be about seven hours worth of work. Putting off work until the last moment was a revered Abbey tradition, at least in the kitchen.

***

“Oy, Andrew!” barked the lanky otter outside the window.  “Come out for a minute. I’ve got something I want to show you.”

“I can’t,” Andrew replied. He had yet to acquire the haggard look of the constantly vigilant. “The Nameday feast is tomorrow, and Melina said that if we don’t finish this lot of pies before the day is over we have to work all night. And I’m not going to be tired during the feast; the last thing I want is to spend hours preparing this food and then fall asleep in the trifle before I get to eat any.”

“She drives you fellows like slaves. You’ve already got plenty of pies finished. Nobeast’s going to miss you if you duck out for a couple of minutes.”

“Well…” The mouse shrugged. What harm could it be? “All right. I’ll meet you outside the door.”

“Excellent!” The otter beamed, as he took the opportunity to swipe one of the smaller pies before bounding away.

Andrew sighed as he exited the kitchen, but there was no real frustration behind it. Casual food theft was one of the things that you had to put up with if you were friends with Bayard, but for the most part he was an honest soul, if a little over-exuberant.

“Ah, good that you showed up. Come on to the bell tower, I’ll explain as we go along.” With that, the otter bounded off with the mouse trailing behind.

Whatever he’s come up with this time he’s pretty excited about it, thought Andrew, though he had to concede that Bayard never stood still at the best of times.

Andrew mounted the spiral staircase behind Bayard as the otter started to babble.

“I was sorting books for Batty earlier today, and I came across an old recording by Abbot Saxtus about all the things he and his friend Dandin got up to when they were young. Great reading, got a lot of good material from it. Anyway, one thing that I saw in there really caught my interest, and I just had to try it out. So…here we are.”

He handed one of the vine ropes that were slung over his back to Andrew and tied the other to a crenellation. The mouse figured out what was going on after Bayard fastened the other end of the rope around his paw.

“You can’t be serious. You’re not really going to jump out of the bell tower!”

The otter winked. “Why not? Dandin did it, and he came out fine.”

Andrew pushed his headfur back and gazed out across the lawn. The view was amazing, but he was more concentrating on the distance between himself and the ground. He tried to reason with his friend. “That’s the same thing that Nick said when he tried to make the legendary Colossal Flan. He missed one step, and we were cleaning vegetables and dough off the ceiling for weeks. And poor Nick still screams a bit when he sees celery- Hey, what are you doing?”

Bayard had finished securing Andrew’s rope while the mouse was talking. The otter gave him a friendly shove before he had a chance to protest, and then followed the screaming mouse over the edge.

Andrew had to admit that the journey down was exhilarating, though the fact that he was screaming the whole time somewhat detracted from the experience. The whistling of air in his ears and the currents that threatened to steal his hat were not pleasant either. Then an unusually strong gust of wind pushed the mouse over the Abbey pond, and he felt his panic beginning to subside. This was wonderful, just like flying. Why had nobeast tried this-

Suddenly, the rope snapped and Andrew landed in the pond with a loud splash. He surfaced, sputtering, and began to yell at the otter hanging upside down a few yards away.

“You’re crazy! I could have been killed! What in all of Mossflower were you thinking?”

“It was fun, wasn’t it?” Bayard chuckled, paws akimbo.

“Well, yes, but…”

“Then what’s the harm? You survived, just like I said you would.”

The mouse swam ashore and flopped onto land. He lay on his back watching his chest rise and fall as he tried to compose a reply, but he could not come up with one that didn’t feel like lying.

“Is it wrong that I want to do that again?” he asked finally.

“No,” said the otter. “That’s called the spirit of adventure! Great, isn’t it? But before you go jumping off any more bell towers I think you should get back to the kitchen. You do have a feast tomorrow, remember?”

“I completely forgot! See you later, Bayard.”

The mouse fished his hat out of the pond and ran back to the kitchen, leaving his friend still hanging upside down. It would be tomorrow before the otter was discovered, which resulted in a very interesting and entertaining explanation on Bayard’s part.

***

Andrew smiled as he remembered that day all those seasons ago. It remained one of his favorite memories, even after he went back later and realized that one of the Things must have cut his rope and it was only a fortunate wind that saved him from an early death at the paws of his unseen enemies.

The mouse looked around him sometime later when he noticed the background noise of the kitchen had changed. A few apprentices were stacking dirty pots and pans for washing. The food had disappeared with most of his companions. The light had changed, too. Afternoon had wandered toward evening, and outside, the mouse could see beasts gathered and dancing. How the time flew when one was not barricading oneself in a small kitchen and standing a constant vigil for the Things.

Andrew stepped out onto the lawn, and wondered idly which table or activity he should pursue first. He’d picked up in the general kitchen chatter that Saskia was visiting the Abbey, perhaps he could see if she had any new pamphlets on guns. On the other paw, the small library on the subject that he had in his room was not approved of by the older Brothers and Sisters, and he was getting tired of the constant, “What’s that you’re reading? Guns? Don’t you know those things are horrible, not becoming of an Abbeybeast, etc, etc,” lecture. He didn’t expect them to understand that these weapons offered him the hope that he could combat the Things, but the mouse did not understand why they were so suspicious of new technology. With any luck, the Abbey would accept guns around the time somebeast invented a way to shoot lightning from their claws.

He glanced over at the haremaid’s cart, but through the carousing revelers, he could see that Saskia had taken her business elsewhere for the moment. He failed to sight the elusive printmaker on a scan of the Abbey lawns, but there were many tall ears to sort out.

The main building would be quiet. He could carefully plot out his next movements from there. The Abbot’s lockdown would protect them, but Andrew knew the Things could be crafty. He would have to remain on guard. Opening the door, the mouse noticed that Tamarack and the Abbot were talking just down the corridor. Perhaps she was telling him about the pin. The Abbot would certainly be a useful ally in their investigation.

“Tamarack?” he called. This precipitated an odd series of events in which an envelope dropped to the floor between the two beasts, Tamarack dove for it, and the otter stomped on her paw. There was some discussion between Abbot and gravedigger, which ended with the vixen picking up the envelope and massaging her paw.

“Brother Andrew, young Tamarack was just speaking of you,” said Carter.

Ah, well that just about confirmed it. Tamarack had told him about the pin and their research into its origins. Andrew mentally congratulated the fox for her display of initiative.

“Have you found out more since last night?” he asked her as he strolled over.

The Abbot proceeded to puzzle Andrew by saying, “What were you and young Tamarack up to last night, Brother Andrew?”

That was strange. If not about the pin, what could they be talking about that involved him? Maybe they were in league with- no, that was a stupid idea. Tamarack had a somewhat suspicious look about her, but the Abbot would never betray Redwall like that. Whatever the reason for this confusion, he decided to clear things up.

“We-”

“Brother Andrew! I just found something out. Come on, we need to ask Brother Raimun about it.” The fox grabbed the mouse’s paw and pulled him back toward the entrance of the building.

What on earth is going on? “Eh? But…”

“Run along, Brother Andrew,” said Carter. “I’ll find out soon enough. Don’t you reckon, Tamarack?”

Tamarack seemed to react badly to that enigmatic statement, practically dragging Andrew down the hall.

“Just what is going on here?” he asked after they had rounded a corner.

“Mr. Merrit asked me to deliver this here package to Brother Raimun,” explained the vixen. “Told me to be discreet about it, too, but the Abbot was getting nosey. Acted downright strange when he saw what was inside.”

“Oh? What is inside, then?” said Andrew, his curiosity piqued.

“I… I just told you, Mr. Merritt told <i>me</i> not to tell nobeast except Brother Raimun.” Tamarack frowned and hugged the envelope tighter to her chest.

“I’m sure he only meant beasts who might take it,” Andrew reasoned. “I’ll give it right back, I promise.”

The vixen balked. “I can’t, Mr. Andrew. But… Well, the Abbot saw it, so… It’s about some fellow named Julian Case. I don’t think it were nothing too flattering, neither. Something what happened to him here at Redwall.”

Not this nonsense again. Would the speculation over the Julian Case incident never cease? Raimun was purchasing some trash demonizing the Abbey? Just ridiculous. If the recorder wanted a factual account of what was secretly going on at the Abbey, all he had to do was ask Andrew. The mouse was always ready to enlighten others about the threat of the Things.

“Listen,” Andrew said, eyeing Tamarack and her envelope, “you go and deliver that rubbish. I’m going to go and talk with the Abbot, who obviously needs to speak with me about something very important.”

With that, he spun around and stalked back down the hall. The nerve of that vixen, trying to keep Father Abbot in the dark about their investigation. He was a very important beast, and deserved to be informed about anything that went on in his Abbey. Besides, Andrew had a feeling that this pin was related to the murders and the Things, and Carter was one of the few beasts who believed him about that.

“Sorry about that, Father,” said the mouse as he drew within hailing distance of the Abbot. “I don’t know what got into Tamarack there.”

“Think nothing of it, Brother. Now, what was it that you and Tamarack did last night? I heard about your flight from the kitchens, and took the liberty of telling the Abbey Council not to apprehend you when you appeared again.”

“Thank you for that, sir,” said the mouse. See? There was proof that the Abbot was on his side. Tamarack was just being paranoid. “Well, I ran into Tamarack and some mole named…Cobb, that was it, on their way to see Brother Aloysius. Apparently she found an interesting cloakpin lying ab-”

“This cloakpin, what did it look like?” asked Carter. Andrew had the dignity to be somewhat annoyed. What was this, Interrupt Andrew Day?

“Well,” he continued, “it was silver, and shaped like the Abbey, except there was a red jewel in place of the gates.”

The Abbot’s face moved, just a fraction, but enough for Andrew to register the fact and catalogue it in his memory as ‘Important.’ Perhaps Carter knew something after all.

“Anyway, we brought it to Aloysius, and he said that he thought he remembered seeing it in some old book, but he couldn’t find it. Then we all went home, except I couldn’t really go back to the kitchen, so I slept under a bush.”

“Thank you, Brother Andrew. This information is very useful to me,” said the Abbot, who turned and slowly walked out the door.

The mouse felt the sweet nectar of pride intoxicate his brain. He had made a useful contribution! He was sure that this was an omen of things to come, of a day when he would be respected by all of Redwall and finally be proven right about the monsters.

Then he heard a loathsome skittering in a darkened corner of the hall, and beat a hasty exit.

“…they first make mad.”

 

Andrew sat in the chair, his eyes heavy. Lack of sleep had worn away at his desire to stay ever vigilant, and his head was beginning to droop. He felt himself being drawn into the abyss of sleep, sucked into the peaceful blackness…

He had barely closed his eyes when a sound on the edge of his awareness caused him to start. The mouse rose, sighing. It looked like he wasn’t going to get any sleep tonight. It happened every time. He would be just about to get some rest, and then his ears would pick up the unnatural scrabbling of those Things and that would be the end of that. Andrew would freely admit that he lived in terror of whatever it was that he heard at night; usually the problem was that beasts wanted him to stop talking about it. Well, it would serve them right once they were all killed like poor Bayard.

Over the week and a half that he had spent locked up in the kitchen Andrew had conjured up with a mental picture of what the monsters looked like, and if the image were ever put to paper he would probably have been censured by some of the more conservative Abbeybeasts. The Things of his nightmares had the slinky, sinuous bodies of a weasel, and the heads of wolverines. Their great slavering mouths were full of knife-like teeth, curved to deadly points, and they had sickly yellow eyes. Their tails resembled those of rats, all fleshy and constantly twitching. The beasts walked on four paws, which looked somewhat like a marten’s, and had giant sickle-shaped claws.

Andrew lived in both constant terror and hope that he would encounter one of these abominations. Hope because he would finally be proven right, and fear because he had seen what they did to their victims.

The mouse looked out over the darkened Abbey lawns for the umpteenth time and still did not see anything. This did not discourage him. The creatures were stealthy, but he could hear them crawling around and one day he would catch them in the act. Besides, the Abbot was on his side. Surely everybeast would believe him now?

***

“I would like to speak with Andrew,” said Carter from the other side of the door. The mouse in question, who was listening through the keyhole, could not suppress a brief shudder of apprehension. The Abbot, coming to speak with him? It must be something seriously important. Perhaps there were finally going to force him out of the kitchen.

“Alone, if you please,” said the otter. There was the sound of retreating pawsteps as the guards that stood by the kitchen door were dismissed, and then silence. It was eventually broken by Andrew.

“Well? What is it you want to say to me? Still trying to coerce me out of here, I suppose.”

“No, Andrew,” said Carter in a soft voice. “I’m here to tell you that you’re right.”

“Well, your cajoling isn’t going to work on me. I know that those things are out there, and…” There was a pause while Andrew’s brain backtracked to make sure it had heard the otter’s statement correctly. “Wait, did you say that I’m right?”

“Yes. Listen, I don’t have much time. Those beasts you hear are real. I was trying to protect the Abbeybeasts from it because I knew they’d panic, but you were too clever and you found out. You have to realize that these things are the reason for the lockdown, and the only way I can keep everybeast safe is if they all listen to me. I understand now that it would be best to inform everyone about the monsters, but I cannot do it myself for fear of being called crazy.

“But you, Andrew, know more about these things than I do. You have to get the word out and inform everybeast about the danger they’re in. Tell them why the lockdown is needed. I’m relying on you.”

“Yes…sir,” said the awestruck mouse. Never in his wildest dreams had he imagined that he would ever be taken seriously by anybeast, let alone by the Abbot himself. And he was entrusting Andrew with such an important job!

“I won’t let you down, Father Abbot!”

“Good. Good. I have to go now, but Andrew…remember what I told you. You are very important to my plan.”

“Yessir!” said the mouse, who, getting rather carried away in the moment, saluted even though he and Carter were separated by a solid wood door.

***

Andrew mulled over this conversation again and again in his mind. It was thrilling to have his fears vindicated by authority, but the part of his brain that saw the little inconsistencies in the world* was giving him trouble. What exactly was the advantage in having Andrew spread the word instead of the Abbot himself doing it? Beasts were more likely to believe Carter than him, as Andrew already had quite a reputation as a crazy beast. And why had the Abbot stressed the importance of the lockdown so much? Everything didn’t quite add up…

The mouse shook his head to banish such thoughts from his mind. Beasts would take him seriously if he was on a mission from the Abbot, and he wasn’t going to ruin that. He just had to figure the best way of getting the word out.

Well, I’m certainly not going to be able to do it from this kitchen, he thought glumly as he surveyed the room. Beasts tended to be skeptical of someone who locked themselves in a small room for days, and though he was taking a big risk in going outside, he would have to do it for the sake of the Abbey. That just left the problem of how to escape. Not through the door, certainly. There were always guards posted, and they would drag him off to the Council if he put one paw out the door. Andrew did not want to have to explain what was obviously a secret mission to a large group of beasts who had never been very accepting of his knowledge.

That left the window. The mouse examined it. It had a somewhat low frame, but he would be able to squeeze through with little difficulty. Plus, it had the advantage that even though the noise of him shattering the pane would summon the guards, he would be out before they could break down the door.

Andrew decided to seize the moment before he had a chance to talk himself out of it. He swung the heavy cleaver in both paws and was rewarded with many glass shards and a loud noise, which as predicted caused a hubbub of voices on the other side of the door. The mouse quickly cleared out the worst of the broken glass from the window and jumped through. It turned out to be a tighter fit than he anticipated, and Andrew found himself stuck midway through the window.

Then he heard the loathsome skittering of one of those Things behind him. They had gotten into the room! They were going to kill him for knowing too much!

The mouse mustered all his strength and popped out of the window like a cork from a bottle of champagne. He tumbled onto the Abbey lawn, rolled, and took off running as fast as he could. Andrew’s heart was pounding in his ears as he ran, and he imagined he could almost hear the Things pursuing him. He decided to make for the shadow of the west wall, where he could conceal himself and assess the situation, but as he rounded a corner he crashed into a group of shadowy figures. He grabbed the nearest one, intending to get it with the cleaver and at least take one of the things with him.

“You!-” Andrew’s heroic last words didn’t make it past the first pronoun as he realized that this was a female fox, not the monstrosity of his imagination.

“Let go! Let go!”

“Oi didn’t do it!” A heavy bass voice cut through the young vixen’s screeching, followed by the sight of a large dark shape looming over the pair. This did nothing to calm Andrew’s nerves.

“Help me, please! They know! They know I know!”

The fox’s leg lashed out, kicking Andrew in the stomach. He doubled over, releasing her.

“What are you doing- Hey, I remember you.”

“Really?” The mouse recovered his cleaver from where he had dropped it, and held the weapon up triumphantly.

“Aye. You’re Mr. Andrew, the one that showed up for that otter’s funeral and talked about those things that ripped out his throat. Didn’t half scare me, I can tell you that. I had nightmares for-”

“That really isn’t important right now. There’s something after me-” Andrew took a quick glimpse across the lawn back the direction he had came. All he saw was a quiet, moonlit panorama of grass completely devoid of slavering monsters. “…and now there’s not. Figures that they never show up when other beasts are around.”

“What never shows up?” asked the dark figure, who in Andrew’s rapidly adjusting vision was revealed to be a mole.

“…Never mind. I’ll tell you later. Anyway, what are you two doing wandering around at this hour?”

“What are you doing attacking me at this hour?” shot back the vixen.

“Escaping. I thought you were one of the monsters. Now answer my question. I’ve had a very trying night.”

“Found this pin on a body what was dumped in my graveyard. We’re taking it to Brother Aloysius to see if he has anything in his records about it.”

“Can I see that, Miss…”

“Tamarack, not miss. And this is Cobb.”

“Hello. Noice to meet ee,” said Cobb.

“I’m Andrew. Now can I please see that pin? It may be something important.”

Tamarack handed over the cloakpin with bad grace. It was made of silver, or at least a silver-colored material, and it was fashioned in the shape of the Abbey. There was a bright red gem where the gates were supposed to be. As he examined it, Andrew’s paranoia-honed instincts told him that this was important. This pin was obviously part of something big, possibly even bigger than the murders. Or they could be related, since the previous owner of the pin had been killed, maybe by the Things. Either way, there was no way he could let something like this walk away from him.

“This is quite interesting,” said the mouse at length. “May I join you? I would like to know where this pin comes from myself.”

“…Aye. But you keep your paws to yourself.”

“It won’t happen again,” promised Andrew.

The odd trio made their way across the lawn to the gatehouse, arriving at the door without incident. Tamarack knocked loudly.

Bam! Bam! Bam!

After waiting about half a minute and receiving no response, Cobb broke the silence.

“Per’ap’s ee’s asleep.”

“Don’t be silly. He’s a bat. They sleep during the day,” said Tamarack.

“Isn’t it lizards that don’t sleep at night?” asked Andrew.

“Oi thought it was cats.”

“You two are as dense as Colm. Everybeast knows-”

The creak of the gatehouse door opening interrupted the rest of the vixen’s statement. The three looked up and saw a figure silhouetted in the doorway.

***

*Which were shortly afterward corrupted by the rest of his mind into illogical paranoia. The brain works a lot like a corporate office, with the added difficulty that the ratio of employees to managers is reversed.

 

Andrew

April 21, 2011

Male Mouse

Tom knocked on the kitchen door, but received no response. The hedgehog knocked again, and this time the portal opened quickly and a paw grabbed him by the front of his shirt and pulled him inside. The door was then slammed behind him.

As Tom’s vision cleared he saw that his assailant was a small, plump mouse dressed in the usual green Redwaller’s habit and holding a rather large meat cleaver.

The hedgehog waved his paws in a conciliatory manner, “Andrew, it’s me. Your friend. I’m not going to attack you…”

“I know that. I’m not a bloody idiot, you know,” replied the mouse. His eyes darted back and forth and he took a tighter grip on the cleaver.

“The head cook sent me down to talk with you. He says that it’s time to end this, er, ‘silliness,’ as he put it.”

Andrew scurried over to the boarded-up window and looked outside. Apparently satisfied with the result, he moved to the other side of the room and pressed his ear against the wall, listening as he talked, “Silliness, eh? And I suppose he’ll think it’s ‘silly’ when we’re all murdered in our beds by the same things that killed all those beasts.”

Tom shook his head, “No-o-o, I think the silly part he was referring to was you locking yourself in this kitchen and refusing to come out.”

“Heh. Doesn’t he know that if I come out they could get me? It’s much safer in here,” the mouse removed his ear from the wall for a moment and tapped one of the stones with the handle of his cleaver. After this failed to produce a result, he relaxed for a moment. Tom took this opportunity to try to win one for reason.

“Listen, they’re talking about not letting me bring you food anymore. They figure that you’ll have to either give up or starve.”

“I’m a cook, and I’m locked in a kitchen. They’re going to have to be better than-” Andrew stopped and cocked his head toward the ceiling, and stifled a yawn before he continued in a much lower voice, “I can hear them, you know. At night. They come in through the windows and the attic. The lockdown won’t stop them.  You have to tell the elders that we’re all in terrible danger.”

The hedgehog tried to back as far away from the mouse as possible. “I don’t really think they’d believe me, given that nothing has actually happened yet. Maybe if you came up with some proof they’d be more inclined to listen.”

“Proof? What about those corpses that they gave back?”

“Yeah, the thing is, that doesn’t exactly mean that whatever killed them is in the Abbey right now. The bodies were just outside of the gate.”

“It was obviously some kind of warning, and the message was: ‘You’re next.’”

Tom shrugged, “Well, I obviously can’t convince you to come out, and I’ll tell them as much. But Andrew, you have to remember that you’re just unnecessarily scaring beasts with all these dramatics, and we have enough problems right now without adding pointless fear to the mix.”

The hedgehog showed himself out of the kitchen, and Andrew closed and locked the door behind him. The mouse’s mind was already mulling over the preceding conversation.

So they wouldn’t believe him? Well, he would get proof. Eventually the things would slip up, and he would be there to take advantage of it.

Who needed sleep, anyways? Not that he could sleep. The sounds of those things moving around kept him awake…