cheesy artwork by Sascha Darlington aka “ain’t no artist” 😉
The first Mouse installment is here.
Mouse on the Run!
On tv everyone shoots guns. So simple. Right? Pick up a gun and shoot. Bang bang. I pick up a gun and shoot and end up on my blue jeaned derriere. Bang bang is officially bum bum. Even after Tom showed me how to hold the gun, I anticipated the recoil, closed my eyes, which is evidently not advised when you’re aiming at a target. No one laughed at least not in front of me; they know that I have access to the payroll computer. Tom suggested a heavier gun, but I was done for the day.
This Mouse is happier in front of the computer, most of the time. Part of me still wants to be with them on a mission to save someone or make a difference. Sometimes I feel useless sitting behind a monitor, clicking away on the keyboard while they’re risking their lives.
Right now I can hear a group of them in the gym trash-talking. Everything’s a competition. Maybe that’s how they blow off steam before a mission.
Meanwhile I’m testing the surveillance cameras I installed last month to keep an eye on the compound. With all of the creatures roaming the woods, it’s nice to run diagnostics just to make sure everything is running smoothly and that some raccoon or bear hasn’t disabled anything.
It’s by chance I see them. At first I think my eyes are playing tricks on me.
“Holy crap,” I say before punching speed dial for Nick Ryder.
This has to be a test.
“Ryder. What’s up, Mouse?”
“Sir, are you performing some kind of drill? I am seeing about twenty or so men in camouflage coming at us from all angles,” I say, nerves biting into my voice.
“Is this a joke?”
“No, sir. I’m serious. They are armed. Faces are painted. We have five minutes.”
The alert goes up. The red lights blaze above the doors. There’s a whisper of a signal. Everyone goes into action. I remove the thumb drive from the computer and power down, grabbing my messenger bag with my laptop and my knapsack, I head to the main room and the tunnel.
Everyone moves with precision. This is a drill we’ve practiced often enough so that even I follow until a “boom” shudders the building. Someone grabs my arm and jerks me into the tunnel. I’m trying to keep up, although I’m almost dragged and lifted off of my feet by someone much taller and stronger than me. Tom. The tunnel diverges into four separate tunnels about a hundred yards from the main entrance and he directs us into the far left one, which I know leads into the densest part of the forest. This is obviously not the one I would have chosen if given a choice.
We’re only about thirty yards into the tunnel when I hear yells and sounds I can’t identify, they’re muffled by the earthen walls around us. Part of me fears that the tunnel collapsed behind us and could collapse around us.
“Come on, Mouse.”
“You’d be faster without me.”
“True, but I’m not leaving you.”
I press harder. Running is something I can do.
We come to the end of the tunnel. Tom gestures for me to wait and be quiet. He pushes at the canopy of vines that hides the entrance of the tunnel from the outside. He steps outside and I wait, listening hard for any sound that means we’ve been captured or that something’s wrong. I hear nothing. Finally he motions for me to follow him. This path is one created by deer traversing the mountain. It’s knotted with roots and vines and fallen limbs. I concentrate on each step while Tom acts like he’s been hiking on trails like this his whole life. He probably has.
Thinking that we’ve gone far enough, I stop and listen to the sounds of the night around us.
“Come on, Mouse. No stopping.” He is still whispering, which unnerves me, but not as much as the sound of a gunshot on the ridge north of us.
I hurry to follow Tom into the denseness of the hardwood forest, hoping my footsteps make as little sound as my namesake.