Cement feels colder in the dark. And rougher, more uneven. This, of course, is a fantasy brought about by anxiety and the strangeness of a new place. There must have been mildew, though Phillip couldn’t see it. Basements are such unpleasant places.
But unpleasant places are good for hiding vital things. Somewhere amongst the shelves, tucked away in a plain-labeled bin, was his target. It was just a matter of locating it.
There was a thud.
It was a low, quiet sound, but it was enough. He wasn’t alone. Frozen in place, he scanned the room, listening for his counterpart’s location. There was nothing. Phillip could just make out an alcove a few feet in front of him – the perfect place to hide. Still, the room was silent. He made a run for it.
The blow to his head was swift and precise. And there was nothing – just a darker darkness. When he opened his eyes, cheek to the cold cement, he found himself a prisoner.
“Do you know who I am?” The shadow stared directly at him. Even in the dark, Phillip knew the answer. The round and whiskered face stepped into the pale light of a window well.
“I am the one they call…Mittens.”
Phillip squeaked in terror, wrapping his naked tail around his body and preparing for the worst. Mittens had a reputation – a reputation for dismemberment. It was said he kept the heads somewhere, like tiny macabre trophies. Meanwhile, the bodies were left upon stoop or stair to be disposed of by his middle aged manservant – a sleepy, balding man who was clearly unaware of the sort of psychopath he served. Phillip cowered, desperate for a plan of escape as Mittens towered over him.
“P-P-Please, I was only just -”
“Silence!” Mittens commanded. He pawed at Phillip, playing with him. Smug, and yet, disinterested.
“Well now, what do we have here? A little field mouse is it? Always little field mice thinking they can just scurry into my domain and take whatever they like. How cute. You thought you could evade Mittens the great and terrible. Well, little mouse, you’re about to find out how powerful I really am.”
Philip cringed. He did not want to be dismembered. But just then, he had an idea.
“Are you monologue-ing?”
“What?” Mittens knit his brow.
“Ooo, very poor choice, monologues…gives your captive time to get away,” Philip scrambled, hoping to buy some time, “But I’ll give you points for the introduction, very well played indeed. Theatrical. Have you considered a career in film? I think you’d be perfect for–”
“Enough!” Mittens roared, “Do you think this is a game?!” Philip trembled, cursing his own sense of humor. Surely, this was the end.
The lights flipped on.
“Here kitty kitty,” the manservant sang from the highest stair. Mittens winced with bitter embarrassment. The distraction lasted only a moment, but it was enough. Phillip launched into a sprint.
Mittens dove after him in a wild-eyed, spring-legged pounce. Phillip could feel him flying just above his head. A crack in the wall, the gateway to freedom, was just a few inches further. He pushed his tiny legs as fast as they would go. And then faster.
Mittens landed, but caught nothing more than a patch of cold cement. Philip breathed a sigh of relief when he realized he’d escaped.
That had been a close one.