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Saturday, November 17

Awfully Familiar Update

I bumped into Switch entirely by accident.

I was following his scent trail, when I started to notice that Switch's trail was looping back and around again. He had gotten very good at avoiding dead-ends. When I followed my own inquisitive nature, I ended up at a dead end.

"Rat scurries, but what a waste
He gets so lean and loses fat
Hack can't wait until he taste
Rat in forty seconds flat."

Fortunately, Hack didn't seem to understand the notion of sneaking up on anyone. He wasn't in a hurry.

"Shut up!" I mentally shouted.

I quickly learned that my ability to project my thoughts extended only as far as my line of sight. If I couldn't see it, I couldn't speak to it and vice versa.

It was just as well. Whatever thoughts Hack had in his mind he immediately shouted at the top of his lungs.

I was at another dead end. Switch's scent had gotten so strong that I had lost track of everything else. What I didn't realize was that it was a trap.

A pair of beady eyes glittered back at me from the opposite end of the corridor.

"Cheese?" came the whispered voice in my mind.

"You must be Switch," I thought back.

Switch took a slow, painful step out of the shadows. I was sorry I could see all of him.

Switch was a skeletal husk of his former self. His black form looked like a shrunken piece of wood, his hair coming out in patches.

"Cheese?" he asked again.

I shook my head. "I was hoping you'd know where it was."

Switch froze and suddenly turned around. "Cheese!" he mentally shouted with joy. The starving rat took off at high speed.

I followed him. "Where are we going?"

"Cheese!" he shouted back at me. "Can't you smell it?"

I sniffed the air. The scent was so strong that it couldn't have been there before.

"Now I can...but why is it here?"

"What?" Switch kept running. "Who cares why? It's cheese!"

We skidded into the room. The room looked just like the other slab I saw before, with a key-shaped indentation in the center.

Switch dove through the air and landed on the cheese key, tearing through it with a ferocity that belied his skeletal form.

I tripped over a slight gap in the ground. There was an indentation in the floor.

"Cheese, cheese, cheese, cheese!
Rats may find it, but not for long!
Hack will eat some, feed me please!
So Hack will sing more pretty songs!"

"Black," I said. "He must be adding and removing the cheese." It looked like the room was a removable chamber, made for easy insertion into the Maze.

"Hmm?" said Switch. But he was too busy eating to say much more.

"Hack's coming," I said. "We can't stay long."

"I'm not leaving," said Switch. "There's cheese here!"

"Didn't it ever occur to you that this cheese comes from somewhere? Black is toying with us!"

"Black?" Switch had eaten half the key. "Who cares? It's cheese!"

"No you idiot!" I was struggling to not go after the cheese myself. I was getting hungry. "We're being manipulated. Don't you want to figure out why?"

I caught sight of something on the wall. It read: FEAR IZ FOOD.

"I think we better go, Switch."

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posted by Michael Tresca at 10:03 PM


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