Chapter 3: The MouseKnight
After discovering that he could jump higher than he ever thought possible, the little mouse realized he had to do more than that. He wanted to get over to the cage with his family - set them free - then find his way back to the pet store, and set them free too! His family meant everything to him. He wanted to find his dad and mom. But he was all alone, and stuck on this stupid table.
He was, as you must have guessed by now, an exceptionally smart mouse. His aspirations, as lofty as they were, were not out of his reach. But one thing at a time. He knew there was nothing for it but to fall off the table!
Any other mouse would have spent the precious minutes until the human came back (and found his dead Dragon) dreading the fall, and would have failed. The Mouse Knight simply aimed in the direction of the other cage, got a running start, and jumped without hesitation. Not that he wasn't scared. The thought did pass through his quick mind several times that it was the most foolish thing he'd ever done, and possibly the last thing as well. But he flew anyway, daring and brave... and afraid.
He didn't make the table with his family on it, but he saw them up close as he missed it - they were all staring at him like he was some kind of loon. A ghost loon. Every mouse in the cage was stock-still, watching him fly through the air and flail his paws all about. Then he hit the carpet. Besides a minor shock and some aching discomfort, he was okay. That wasn't so bad!
Scurrying up the table leg was easy - mice had that down. Then he was through the junk that littered the table and to the edge of the cage. And there they were, his family and friends - staring at him wide-eyed.
They could barely hear him through the glass, but he chirped loudly in the secret mouse-language that no human could hear.
"You have to get out - they're going to kill us all once they find out I slew the dragon!" he squeaked.
They all looked at each other. What was a dragon? After a moment, though, the words 'kill us all' sunk in and they began to panic. They rushed about; some ran into corners to hide. The little mouse put his head in his paws and washed up. No good. He had to go in there.
So he performed another leap to the lip of the cage. The few mice that weren't freaking out gazed with their mouths open at something they had never seen before. Of course they were all quite young. At the top, he waited a moment and then plopped down amongst them. There was no roof at all. The human must think we are really stupid, thought the mouse, but then... his companions hadn't figured it out yet. Only they weren't stupid. They just didn't know it was possible. They stared a moment at his bloodstained paws.
"Did you die!?" they asked. "Were you eaten?" "How did you do that!"
He calmed them down and once they were still, he said, "Any of you can do it. You've never tried. And you have to try now, or we will all be killed when the human returns and finds his pet slain."
Silence. Then, "You killed the monster!?" "There was a monster!?" "That's where all the others went!? Oh no!"
Mouseknight calmed them down again. "Yes, there was a monster. Yes, I killed it. But now we are in terrible danger, and I cannot beat a human. We must run for it."
He showed them how to jump, and soon every one of them was out of the cage. (I bet that's happened to more than one mouse owner.) Getting off the table was more difficult, but they managed it too. And just in time. As the last of the group was landing on the carpet, they heard the door and smelled the human. He was coming into the room!
The mice huddled at the base of the table in terror around their little hero. The human put some things down, listened to a strange, disembodied voice of another human, and the door was left ajar. The Knight knew it was now or never.
"Run - run for the door - all of you!"
Some started right off - others were too afraid. "You're crazy!" "That's right past the human - he'll squash us!" "Eeek!" The little mouse gave them incentive by dashing out into the open himself. Heart racing, he wasn't sure he knew what he was doing, but it was the only thing to do, so he went as fast as his little legs carried him. When he looked back, the others were following.
As soon as the human noticed small furry things dashing all around him, he let out a shriek that would have made any girl proud. The mice commented as they fled. "Why do they always do that!" "I don't know - but it's funny!"
Then his attention went to the two cages. One empty, the other... sort of.
The Mouse Knight turned to watch as the others passed him up making for the open door. The first of them were already squeezing through, or under, and flying off the stairs to freedom.
The human's face twisted and he yelled - a horribly loud, ugly noise to such sensitive ears - and then turned his face right to our hero, who was the only mouse sitting still in the middle of the room while the others blurred by.
"Oops," said the Mouse Knight, and turned tail for the door.
He would have been the last out the door, but a giant foot crashed down before him, blocking his way. He tried to go over it, and he was pinned down by two big, clumsy hands. They knocked the wind from him and bent him all around in unnatural positions (good thing young mice are flexible, he thought). Finally, the human had him by the tail.
"Hey, what's up with the tail all the time!" he shrieked, but the human heard nothing. He tried biting the hand. The human yelped, and cursed.
"Damn rodent!" he boomed. "Kill my snake will you??!"
Gripping the little mouse too tightly, the human rushed down the hall. The last the mouse saw of the others, they were all clear of the door except one. A very small mouse, much younger than he, was yelling that he was their hero. That they loved him.
Hero? He had seen only the first part of his goal done, he thought. There was so much more to do. He had to -
SPLASH! He was in water! He scrambled for the shore, but it was made of slick white hard stuff, slanting upward all around. And it smelled bad. He began to panic, but didn't have time. The water was sucked down, down, into a tunnel below him - and he went with it. The human laughed as he flushed the mouse down the toilet.
At least the others made it, he thought. Then it was very dark and cold as the current took him.