Just to show how much of a passing blur last year was I thought I had done an installment of Mouse last summer only to realize, as I went through posts, that it had been the previous summer. Okay, everybody, hold on tight because I am pressing my heels to the ground to slow down time…let’s see if it works. In the meantime, the next installment of a new Mouse adventure.
If you’re new to the Mouse world, you can read previous installments here.
Mouse Is Trapped!
The instant the black SUV stopped, I was jolted awake and then immediately scowling at the landscape around me that made me want to jump out of the vehicle and run all the way back to the sunny North Carolina coast. Don’t get me wrong. I like West Virginia. Most of it. This little encampment high in the mountains where the average January temperature is below freezing? Not so much. Not to mention that I don’t have a lot of fond memories surrounding the time when they thought I might be a traitor.
I sat there for a few minutes, wavering. I’d had a very nice five-month vacation from them. And most of the time I hadn’t missed Tom…as much as I thought I would. They’d been nice about not bringing me back into the fold considering. I knew that although I’d try to fall from the radar, any radar, that they would soon know where I was probably using satellite and fancy facial recognition software and a computer named Bertha.
Tom’s knuckles rapped on the window. “You coming?”
I shook my head and then stared straight forward, summoning something from within. I don’t think it was courage. I think it was a poker face. I didn’t used to have one. I have one now.
Tom grabbed my suitcase from the trunk which left me to carry my knapsack which I slung over one shoulder and then followed him into the building that had been my home for the past two years. Despite myself, I felt a little relief, a little of something like I was really coming home and wasn’t that nice? Stupid me.
Joe was the first person to greet me. He swept me up into a bear-hug that lifted my feet from the ground and then proceeded to swing me around as if I weighed nothing. I knew that wasn’t true because for the past five months I’d eaten donuts, gorged on pizza, and tried to get a daily fill of everything fried and fattening. While I wasn’t fat, I wasn’t a skinny mouse anymore either.
“You’re a sight for sore eyes,” Joe said.
“Sorry to hear about your eyes,” I said.
“You weren’t talking about yourself having sore eyes?”
His grin widened. “I forgot you were a smart ass.”
“How? How is that even possible?” I asked, my grin suddenly mirroring his own as he picked me up again.
I batted his shoulder. “This isn’t very professional.”
“You’re not professional.”
A few of the others greeted me. Immediately I noticed new faces. One especially, a girl with nondescript hair, wary expression on her face, who hovered in the door to my office, the computer room. They had tried to replace me with a girl who looked like me two years ago when I first arrived. She was even tiny and shy.
Suddenly I knew they hadn’t brought me back for a computer emergency because I was pretty sure I recognized this woman. Nine months ago, her face had showed up on a cyber security alert. Annaliese Mortimer. Freaking. She might even have been a better hacker than me.
My eyes narrowed at Tom and the Captain. Neither flinched. Why would they? This mouse was, once again, in a trap.