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Tuesday, November 20

Awfully Familiar Update

"This is all your fault!" shouted Switch. "We could have had the cheese!"

I sighed. We'd been over this. "There's no way a big slob like Heave could have found the cheese so quickly. So there's a pattern to when it appears."

"A...pattern?"

"Yes. I thought all along it was Hack writing on the walls. But it was Heave. Hack's too stupid to find the cheese, that's why he keeps hunting us."

For once, Hack was quiet. Heave's presence must have cowed him.

"Things always change," said Switch. "We have to focus on getting more cheese."

"That kind of thinking is what's keeping you here," I said. "It's not about the cheese. It's about Black's game. And right now he's trying to teach us a lesson. So we have to figure out what it is. It's the only way to get out of here."

Switch sniffed the air. "We can smell out the next cheese." He began climbing up one side of the corridor and then another, sniffing as he went.

"We have to stop thinking with our stomachs!" Switch was really getting on my nerves. "Heave's better at the cheese game and he's eating it all. Do you want to end up like Hack?"

Switch looked at me questioningly. "But if we move now, we can find the cheese before it moves again."

I decided then and there that there was something different about me. This rat was a complete moron. But then, I was beginning to suspect that most rats were.

"Yeah, sure. Let's keep moving."

But I couldn't stop thinking about what Black's game was. What was he trying to teach us?

Jacko had said something about breaking into houses. The cheeses were in the shape of keys. That he wanted us to find keys was obvious. I didn't imagine a genius like Switch would distinguish between the shape of the key and the fact that it wasn't cheese.

It was about that time, with a suspiciously silent Hack and an increasingly frantic Switch, that I stumbled across the skull.

It was a rat's skull.

I froze. Switch walked right past it.

"Doesn't that bother you?"

Switch looked at me questioningly. "What?'

"The skull you just walked over."

"Oh that's been there," he said, as if it weren't a rat's skull.

I looked closer. The skull had gnaw marks on it. Gnaw marks that looked like sharp goblin teeth.

"So this is commonplace?"

"Yes," said Switch. "The skulls are everywhere."

"You're awfully calm about this." We had both stopped in the corridor. Switch managed to face me, but I could tell from the twitching whiskers that he wanted to keep sniffing for cheese. "You do realize these are RAT skulls, right?

"So?"

"So? That means Hack or Heave have been eating rats just like us!"

Switch resumed searching for the cheese, the rat equivalent of a shrug. "We won't get eaten if we keep moving."

"If we keep moving we'll starve to death. We're going to need to find a place to sleep soon, anyway."

"I know a place. Follow me." Switch took off down the corridor, oblivious to the bleach-white symbol of imminent death that was tucked into edge of one of the corridors.

I looked more closely at the wood. There were rat claw marks all over. The poor bugger had put up a fight. And then lost his head in the end.

Spooked, I ran after Switch.

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posted by Michael Tresca at 8:06 PM


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