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Thursday, November 22

Awfully Familiar Update

"How long have you been in here?" I asked Switch.

"Many cheese shifts," he said.

"You define your whole universe by cheese, huh?"

"Is there anything else?"

I tried not to laugh. "I suppose not."

Switch's attitude had improved since he ate. Though he wasn't much a conversationalist, he was clearly a survivor. A few times he smelled something I didn't and took a detour.

"Why aren't we going that way?"

"Traps," said Switch.

"Traps?" As if this place wasn't bad enough. "What kind of traps?"

"It depends. Blades, mostly."

I squinted. Rat vision was blurry. But there was something metallic and oiled on one side of the wall, in the wood. I slowly moved my whiskers up to it to get a sense of what exactly it was...

A vertical blade sprung out of the wall, slashing downwards with a SHING! Just as quickly as it had come, it retracted into the wall.

One of my whiskers floated slowly to the ground. I hopped backwards.

"Told you," said Switch without rancor.

"Wow, you weren't kidding." I vowed to follow in Switch's footsteps from now on. "Where are we going?"

"To Heave's lair."

I stopped short. "What?"

"Heave's lair," Switch said, twitching his nose. "He moves slow. We can sleep there during a cheese shift."

"By cheese shift, you mean when the cheese gets inserted into the maze?"

"Yes," said Switch. He resumed his sniffing and walking.

"How much time does that buy us?"

"Enough time to rest," he said.

"Why don't we rest in shifts?" I offered. "That way, if one of us smells Heave coming, we can wake the other."

"Fine," said Switch as he turned the corner to the lair. "I will sleep first."

Before I could protest Switch's sudden choice to sleep first, I realized that it didn't matter. I'd be lucky if I would ever sleep again.

There, piled high in Heave's lair, was an enormous hill of rat skulls.

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posted by Michael Tresca at 1:30 PM


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