Mrs. Frisby scurried about her house frantically in search of her dear teapot. Where had she left it? The teapot was given to her by her late husband on their wedding day, therefore it was greatly treasured. She searched around, seeking it's short, white stout body, and the little nick along the bottom of it.
"Teresa, Martin! Cynthia, Timothy! Come here, please!" she shouted. Her small voice became much more at that moment, for it nearly made the water in all the glasses on the table vibrate. Without delay, the four children came running. They knew that their mom, Sara, meant business.
"Have any of you seen my teapot- the one your father gave to me?" she asked. "I have searched high and low for it, and I am beginning to get a little worried about it." All of the children shook their heads no, except for little Cynthia. "Okay," Sara Frisby said, unsure, "You may go, but you, Cynthia, shall stay behind."
The three children ran off, back to playing, while little Cynthia (who was the youngest) stayed behind. "Cynthia," Mrs. Frisby said, sternly, "I didn't see you shake your head. Do you know where I might find my teapot?"
Little Cynthia was slightly short and chubby, with light tan fur, just like her father. Her big blue eyes (which she had gotten from her mother) looked dreamily up at Sara, deep in thought. Mrs. Frisby knew this expression better than most. It usually meant two things: the child was trying to think of a way out or a lie, or it meant that something dreadful happened, and they didn't want to admit to it.
"Well," Sara continued, "Let's have it."
"I didn't mean to.. I needed something for my party, and.. well…" Her voice trailed off. "Come on, Cynthia, from the top." Mrs. Frisby said with an impatient sigh.
"I was playing with my dolly.." explained Cynthia, "and I didn't have anything but a few rocks and plates for my tea-party. I needed to have something to put my tea in, so I thought I'd borrow yours. I thought that I could have it back on the stove before you got home." (Cynthia fidgeted with her tail in nervousness) "You were at Mr. Ages’, and I needed it. Well, I sat it down on my little table, and I saw a butterfly. I chased it. I was having great fun, but I wasn't watching out for where I was going, and I tripped. I knocked the teapot over, onto the ground. When I picked it up, it wasn't badly broken, just a little nick on the handle, but it had a big crack down the side. I thought I could fix it myself, but I forgot about it."
"Where is it now?" asked Mrs. Frisby.
"Oh, it's under my bed. I thought it would be safe there.. and it was. No one found it there.
Mrs. Frisby looked down at Cynthia in disappointment. She got up, and looked under Cynthia's bed. The teapot was there. Cynthia was right, it was not badly broken, thank goodness, but still, Cynthia had not only taken something that did not belong to her, she lied, and that was bad enough.
"Cynthia," Mrs. Frisby said, "You know what you did was wrong, right? I am very disappointed in you. You should have asked me if you could borrow it, and even if you hadn't, you should not have lied to me. I dislike that greatly. Hmmmm…" (She thought) "What shall be your punishment? I do believe that a good long day in the house should do the trick. No playing outdoors, and you must come with me to Mr. Ages' house when I go to have it fixed. And as for now, you need to go and tell the others what you have done. I hope you will ask me from now on.."
Cynthia started to walk off, in acceptance to her punishment. Mrs. Frisby raised her voice. "And remember never to lie to someone.. ever…unless.."
But Cynthia was gone. Mrs. Frisby sighed, and leaned back into her chair beside the table. She drifted off into deep thought:
Teresa: She was the oldest, and very well the tallest. She too had light tan fur, soft to the very touch. In her hair she always wore a pastel pink bow, and she wore a light blue dress, and a thin, short-sleeved shirt beneath it. She was growing a lot, and was beginning to outgrow the dress, which reminded Mrs. Frisby to find some new material. Teresa had big brown eyes, just like her father, and her height from her father, as well.
Martin was the second eldest, and tall, too. He had brown eyes (with a slight hint of gold) and dark brown fur, like Sara. He was easily the strongest, with bulging muscles that have greatly grown over the years. He wore a blue T-shirt, and could get as mean as a wasp (when he was aggravated). His fur was rough with a few strands of white that blended in with the deep brown.
Cynthia, the youngest had light tan fur and blue eyes, and was a bit on the chubby side (She had grown chubbier over the past few months).Unlike her other siblings, she had no actual talents, whereas Teresa was quite a seamstress, and Martin a strong, brave mouse. Cynthia was often considered "slow" on account of her being so forgetful. Often she was clumsy (as you have seen) but she was always determined to do her best at her studies, and other such things. Her will was as strong as strength itself.
Timothy. He came after Martin in age, and was most definitely the scrawniest in the household. He had fur like Martin, except a little lighter. He was tall, and so thin you could see every one of his ribs (no matter how much he ate, he could never overcome his thinness). And most of all, he was the smartest. Though in his studies, he was a few "grades" behind Martin and Teresa, he could easily explain any of their problems of work to them. He was actually the only one in the house who could tolerate Cynthia, and her "scatter-brainness". He always helped her out of scrapes, and helped her find misplaced items. He always tutored her on her studies, and was always willing to do something for her. He was weak in physical strength, but not in mind strength.
"Mom…. Mom!" Mrs. Frisby's thoughts were interrupted by a sudden outburst from Timothy. When she came to, she cleared her throat and answered him.
"I want to ask you a few questions. I've been thinking, and I was wondering if you ever thought about Justin?"
This question surprised Mrs. Frisby not only by what it was, but from whom it came from. Again she cleared her throat and answered him. "Why yes dear, I do."
"Why?" Timothy asked.
"Because if it weren't for him, you would be dead, and maybe the rest of us. He was the one who said that it was alright to move our house. In fact, he didn't have to even speak to me if he did not want to be of some type of service. Our family, in my opinion, owes their life to Justin."
Timothy looked up at his mother as if she did have a very strong point, and she did. He stood there beside her for a moment thinking about this answer, and replied: "Teresa says that you and Justin were sweethearts. Is that true?"
Once again in shock, Mrs. Frisby blinked her eyes, thinking. "Why, no!" she said. "Sure Justin and I were very good friends, but that doesn't mean that we were ever sweethearts! I'm sure he feels the same way. And, to save you the trouble of asking, when I'm ready to have another relationship, I would like it to be with Justin, if anyone, but we'd have to come to know one another much better. No one could ever replace your father, ever."
Now this last remark was taken seriously; very serious, for it was a very serious thing. It was slightly tense after that, with a long drag of silence as well. It was a moment or two before anyone spoke again.
"Oh." Timothy said, with much relief. He walked off, in content, very much gladdened my his mother's answer. Mrs. Frisby still sat there, in shock of how the day was going so far. First, a missing teapot with a long story behind it, and then strange questions being asked by her children! What next?
CRASH! There was a loud crash that came from the living-room. Mrs. Frisby was afraid to even go in there, considering how the day has been. She walked in anyway, and to her surprise, she saw Martin lying on the floor with blood dripping down his arm.
"What happened in here?" asked Mrs. Frisby, not wanting to deal with it right now.
Martin looked up at her with tears streaming down his cheeks. Out of all the children, he was the unlikeliest to cry. Something had happened. Sara looked around, and saw Timothy in the corner with his fur puffed up, and his tail streaming behind him. His shirt was torn, and he was angry, real angry.
"He hurt me, momma, he hurt me!" cried Martin, in anguish.
"I didn't mean to!" Timothy shouted back at him. The two stared at each other with a lot of dangerous hostility.
"Okay guys," Sara gasped, "What happened?"
"Well," Martin began, "He was being stupid so I gave him what he deserved! Then he pushed me down onto the table, and I sliced my arm. It's all his fault!"
Timothy lunged forward, but Teresa held him back (thank goodness). Timothy began his side of the story.
"I was talking to Teresa about what you had said to me. Well, Martin heard it all and came over and picked on me. (it was here when he paused to stick out his tongue) He started talking about how I was being so stupid, and I was forgetting about dad, and stuff like that. He came toward me, and I pushed him down!"
Timothy lunged again, and Martin stood up. Sara examined Martin's cut, and it was deep. She thought about this for a moment. Timothy pushed Martin down? That was odd. Timothy never has that much guts, let alone the strength! "Well children, this is it." Mrs. Frisby concluded, "I can't take sides. Timothy, you shouldn't have pushed your brother; and Martin, you shouldn't pick fights. This is where picking fights gets you."
Right then Martin's nose began to bleed. Sara looked up at Timothy. "Maybe I got a few swings in there, too!?"
Sara was surprised. This was the strangest day she had had for quite a long time. Cynthia handed Martin a tissue, and Timothy looked down in shame. Mrs. Frisby gave each of them their own little lecture. She pointed out that Timothy was wrong for hitting and pushing his brother, but it was okay for him to talk to the others about what she had told him. It was everyone's business what her feelings were for Justin. She pointed out to Martin not to pick fights, and to mind his own business. It was okay for him to have his own opinion on such a matter, but not okay to handle it in such a fashion. After the long, one-hour lecture, they both came out of the living-room all cool and calm. It seemed as if there had never even been a fight that day, except for the long, red wound that reached from Martin's wrist to his elbow.
"Cynthia, I'm going to Mr. Ages' to get some more bandages for Martin, and I want you to come with me. I think I might as well take the teapot with me to have it fixed." Cynthia followed her mom out the door, but before Sara was fully out the door, she eyed back at Martin and Timothy. Teresa had promised to keep the peace. Mrs. Frisby hoped that that was true. She and Cynthia left.
"HEAVE!!! HEAVE!!!!" Justin shouted. He was at the head of a long line of straining rats, towing an enormous concrete block behind them. They tugged at it all at the same time, to increase the force, and to save their strength. "HEAVE!!!! HEAVE!!!" he continued. After a dozen "heaves" or so, Justin called it quits. "Okay, fellas, that's enough for now. Later we'll take it the rest of the way. Now, you guys can go to the cafeteria, or home for dinner."
The sky was a bright orange, scattered with clouds in the evening sunlight. The breeze blew slightly, and the silhouettes of birds flew in the air. It was so peaceful, it made Justin never want to go. He never knew that the outdoors could be that way- the only thing he knew was civilization. He never knew the world since he had moved to Thorn Valley.
After the group of rats had left, Justin lay down and thought about everything. It had been nearly six months since they had moved there, and boy, was it ever hard. Sure the place was very well off right now, but it was nowhere near what they had had before. The main hall was up, the schools were in operation, and everything they had built (which was a lot) was built to a tee. Everything they built, they didn't stop at it until it was perfect. Once that was done, they moved onto the next thing or project. They still needed more dorms, more bathrooms, electricity, just stuff that they could live without, but it would be better if they had them. When you walked through the hall, it looked as if it was completely done, nothing wrong with it, and that was true. The rats built at something until it was looking perfect, and then moved on. The only construction they needed was that of things other than the bare-necessities.
Justin picked up his things and walked inside. The guard at the door, Brutis, greeted Justin whole-heartily and grinned as he walked by. Brutis was quite intimidating, with his tallness and his bulging muscles and he could be very mean if he wanted to. You really had to get to know Brutis; then you would find that he was just a big baby at heart.
Anyway, Justin greeted his friend as well, and stepped inside. You had to walk down a short dark corridor before you reached the door to the main hall. Justin pushed a button beside the door which caused the door to open. The door was a real set-up. If you looked at it, there in the darkness, were hundreds of gears and pulleys rigged to open the door. Arthur, the chief engineer mastered it to perfection. Not yet had there been any flaw in his works.
Justin walked down the hallway, heading toward the cafeteria. You could consider the hall (and all the other Nimh constructions) as a maze. The main hall branched off into many corridors, which split into more corridors, which broke down into even more hallways and rooms. It took a long time to memorize the entire place. Justin took several lefts and rights, until he came upon the cafeteria.
The savory aroma of food filled the air. After such a hard day's work he was glad of that smell. He took a tray, and walked up to the bar. "Potatoes, bread, soup, and a small salad, please," Justin said to the lady behind the bar.
The lady plopped the potatoes in a large heap onto his plate, gave him two pieces of grain-bread and butter, poured the soup of the day (which was vegetable) into a cup, and placed some lettuce and cheese on a separate plate as his salad. The food there was always fresh and tasty, despite the condition the Thorn Valley inhabitants and constructions were in.
Everyone seemed to get along well there. The people of Nimh always talked about what type of poor condition their colony was in, yet they did have enough of everything (but not as much as they would like).
Justin found a table. He thought about what a boring day it had really been. Sure they had hauled three large blocks to the Main Hall for construction purposes, but that was it. Those blocks really help, but it isn't considered very much of an excitement. Often Justin wished he had some time off from being second in command (Nicodemus was still in control, but most of his duties were carried out through or by Justin). Justin continued to think. The cafeteria still needed more lighting and maybe some windows, the West Wing of the Main Hall still needed double-doors, and they were still in need of more custodians. When would it end?
Almost half an hour passed as Justin sat spooning himself his food, dreamily. He sat at that round, red and yellow table gazing off at all the busyness of the room when his silence was interrupted by a small, hyper rat named Lewis.
Lewis was one of the formal guards, and boy was he formal (especially to higher officials such as Justin)! "Sir, sir…" he said, anxious to get Justin's attention.
Justin jumped a bit. "Oh, sorry," Justin replied, "What is it, Lewis?"
"Well," Lewis continued, "I am here to report, sir, that there are several women waiting in your office for the position of janitors, sir. I wish to inform you that you gave them a specific time to meet you, and you are not there, sir."
"Thank-you, Lewis," Justin answered, "I'll be right there. And please- stop calling me sir!"
Lewis nodded loyally, turned sharply, and marched off. To him, every minute in public was a minute of duty. He was a good officer, though.
Justin shoved the rest of his now cold potatoes into his mouth, and hurried out of the room. How could he have forgotten? He had just been thinking about the problem for janitors, and he completely forgot his appointments! As he walked, he tried to sort out his thoughts: The women mostly tend to the dorms; make beds, clean the rooms, mop, and take care of the hallways and bathrooms… he soon came to his office.
His office was nicely furnished, which made it look a lot smaller than it really was. The sides of the room were lined with red velvet chairs, and his desk sat in the corner, by the window. There was a beautiful woven rug in the center of the room, between the two rows of chairs, and it consisted of dark blues and rusty reds. It went well with the appearance of the room.
"Sorry, ladies, I seemed to have lost my mind there, for a while!" Justin apologized. The ladies each slightly giggled, flattered that the handsome, second-in-command Justin spoke to them. There were about eight ladies in there, and after a while, Justin concluded that they all qualified for the job(s). Two were assigned to the bathrooms, two to dorms, two to the hallways, one to the cafeteria, and one to odd-jobs and errands. The number of new workers that were just employed would help immensely.
The eight left his office in a slight sweat, and they all would start tomorrow. Justin sighed as they were finally out of his way, and it meant that he had one less thing to worry about. Now, about those double-doors……
Cynthia clutched Mrs. Frisby's hand as she tried to keep up with the pace at which her mother was going. "Momma, when will we be there? Will Mr. Ages be angry at me for breaking your teapot? Will we get back by dark? How long does it usually take to get to his house?"
Cynthia hadn't stopped asking questions since the two of them had left the house. Sara soon regretted her taking the child along. But it was only natural for Cynthia to be curious, considering that she had only been to Ages' house once, a long time ago, and her feet were getting tired. "We'll be there soon, dear," Mrs. Frisby said for the fourth and hopefully the last time. After that, Cynthia kept her silence, for she had spotted a toad sitting under a bush. She tried to go toward it but Mrs. Frisby, knowing how Cynthia liked to wander, held onto her hand.
Dusk came shortly after the long line of questions. The sky was orange and pink, with a hint of purple. You could slightly see the moon, all white and pale. Sara enjoyed this time of the evening, and she soon was engulfed in her own thoughts.
Still keeping a sharp eye out for Dragon, and hiding behind logs and neglected grass, she continued to think. What type of question was that; if she ever thought about Justin? Of course she did! She was right at that moment! She took this into even deeper consideration. Sara never quite realized how much she did think about Justin. Often she would lie in bed, pondering about what he was doing, and how he was managing things. She did want to visit him, badly, but the thought would have to come after other things she wanted to do. Maybe she could start a life there, after all, the children were prospering education-wise, and they needed room to learn. She could not supply the right texts and books to satisfy their thirst for knowledge. Her children were growing rapidly, and she hoped that she could live long enough to see them grow up. Maybe there was some way she could become like them- longer life, and faster growth… no way! The rats didn't have the knowledge of the formula in which they had been injected with, or did they?
"Momma, momma, we're here! Hello??" Cynthia urged her mother through Mr. Ages' door. Still in a trance, Sara walked in. She didn't really know how long she had been standing there until Mr. Ages shook her back into consciousness.
"Sorry, I was in a daze.. I forgot where I was for a minute there, Mr. Ages, sorry!"
"Quite alright, girl, quite alright," Mr. Ages comforted. "Now, what have you come to me for? Is that Timothy doing okay? I have some more powder.."
"No, no, I'm Just here for some bandages, and some glue." Mrs. Frisby held up the teapot. Mr. Ages walked over to one of his many shelves and got a few bottles of this, a few packages of that.
"Sit down, child, sit down while I fix up some of my ol' reliable glue, eh?" Mrs. Frisby and Cynthia sat down as they were told. Cynthia looked about the room, wondering what all those bottles and bags and packages were.
Mr. Ages got out a mixing bowl and poured multiple powders and fluids into it. "Well, I see your teapot finally got broken. What happened, leave it on the fire too long? Or was it one of the K-I-D-S (Cynthia could not yet spell well)?
"I fear it was this one," Mrs. Frisby looked down at Cynthia.
Cynthia blushed. "I didn't mean to!" She griped. "It was on accident!"
Mr. Ages peered over his spectacles at her. "Oh, really? And did you ask before you used it?" He said it as if he knew the whole, long story, yet he did not. Cynthia looked down at the ground once more, embarrassed to the fullest extent. She then knew why her mother wanted her to come along.
The glue was finished in no time, and Mr. Ages put the wet substance on the cracked teapot (thank heavens the glue was white, to match the color of the pot). After he smoothed it down, he reached high on the top shelf for bandages. He handed a large box of them to Mrs. Frisby. Sara was shocked at how many he gave her, but she did not object, for she knew that she would probably need them in the future.
"There you go," Mr. Ages said as he handed her the teapot. "The glue is still wet, but it should dry within fifteen minutes or so, just be sure not to touch it until then"
Mrs. Frisby stood up, and thanked the old white mouse gratefully, and headed for the door. "If you ever need anything, Sara," Mr. Ages said as they walked away, "just let me know. I'm here for everybody!"
Mrs. Frisby looked back and nodded, and then went about her way. Cynthia was glad that it was all over, for she suffered a great amount of humiliation there, and she was getting sleepy.
By then, the beautiful dusk had turned into night. The sky was now a rich purple, dotted with a great many white stars. The only light the two had was by the moon, which hung beautifully in the sky, illuminating the wet grass, and sending dark shadows flying across the field. It was a peaceful night that night, no worries, just the last of the fireflies floating in the sweet air. It was almost fall, and Sara knew there would be few warm nights like this again.
A rustle. A rustle in the bushes. There- not more than a few yards away! Cynthia had been humming ever since she had left Mr. Ages', but was now quickly silenced by her mother.
"Hush, Cynthia," Mrs. Frisby whispered, "There is something in the bushes. Hold onto that box of bandages tightly, my dear, we may be in quite a hurry in a moment."
Cynthia gripped Sara's hand in fright, terrified of what was there. She, as well as her mother knew well what could be hiding no more than a few feet from them…Dragon! Cynthia choked down a knot in her throat, as she and Sara walked slowly but silently past the bushes.
"RUN!!!" Mrs. Frisby shouted, louder than she thought she could. The two moved immediately to this notion, to find that Dragon had pounced right behind them! They scurried under whatever they could, trees, logs, bushes, even little holes in the ground, whatever could stall Dragon from seeking them out. They huffed as they ran, exhausted. Sara yanked Cynthia forward, causing Dragon to miss them once again. They ran and ran, dodging and weaving, until Sara finally saw what she had longed for- home. But they were not out of the blue yet…
Dragon let out a horrific yowl, as the door of the Frisby home opened. "Hurry, momma!!" Teresa urged, pushing them in when they reached her. The door was then shut, and locked.
"Cover, children!" Sara shouted, as she headed for a window. She saw nothing. There was no way Dragon had left that soon, was there? Mrs. Frisby continued to peer out when she was greatly frightened by a big, yellow eye that popped up outside the window. Dragon was still there. But they were safe for now, right?
The four children peeped out from the blankets in which they had been hiding, and looked around. "Is it safe, mom?" Martin asked.
Sara signaled him to come to her, so she could put some bandages on him (it was amazing that Cynthia hadn’t lost them). Sara placed two bandages on Martin's large cut, and sent him off. Sometimes, they could feel the small Frisby home shake, because of Dragon's either rubbing, or pouncing. For the rest of that night, no one was at ease.
Mrs. Frisby could not get to sleep that night. It wasn't because of the day she had had, but she had a lot of things on her mind. She knew that from now on (since Dragon knew what dwelled in that little home of theirs) she and her family were in danger. That thought horrified her. She could no longer allow the children to play outside without having fear that they'll be eaten. Maybe it would be better if they moved to Thorn Valley. Thorn Valley was a long way away, though. It took at least three days to walk there, up a mountain! There were so many down sides about going to Thorn Valley, but there were so many good sides about going there, too. Decisions, decisions…
Mrs. Frisby had just dozed off when the sun was nearly blinding her (the light was coming in from the window). She had stayed up all night, worrying about what to do! Sara got up from the bed, with large circles under her eyes. She slowly walked into the living-room, wanting something to put her to sleep.
"Momma? Is that you under there?" Timothy joked. He was referring to her moppy hair and baggy eyes.
Mrs. Frisby looked around. "Where's Martin?" she asked the remaining three children.
"He's outside," Teresa answered, "He wanted to pick some flowers for you."
Sara's eyes got large and nearly bugged out of her head. She jumped up and rushed to the door. The kids looked at each other.
The front door swung open, and Mrs. Frisby frantically looked around. Oh, where was he? There was no sign of Dragon, thank goodness. "MARTIN!" Mrs. Frisby yelled, "MARTIN!"
Justin walked coolly down the hallway, nodding at the ladies, turning around to walk backwards, and then frontward again. He walked as if he heard music in his ears, and his feet were walking to the beat. For some odd reason, he snapped into a good mood all of the sudden. He had been having a very stressful day, but you could never tell it, now.
In his hand he held the blueprints for those double-doors he needed. It was already night time (about the time when Mrs. Frisby and Cynthia were leaving Mr. Ages' house), and he wanted to tell Arthur what he wanted before he forgot. He wanted them arch-shaped, to fit the curved ceiling of the hall, and white. They were going to lead to the West Wing, which meant that they needed to look good.
The West Wing was where a lot of Thorn Valley's special features were, such as the Council Meeting Room (that was still being built). The Council was strictly for higher officials like Justin, Nicodemus, Lewis, Brutis, and people who played important roles in Nimh. Also in the West Wing there was the Meeting Room, which was for every public problem, and all persons, as well. There was the courtroom (it speaks for itself), and Nicodemus' office, too. The West Wing was still under construction, but when it was done, it was going to be the most attractive part of the Thorn Valley's constructions.
Soon Justin got to the latest construction site, where he would find Arthur. Sure enough, Arthur was there, working on the Council Meeting room.
"Arthur," Justin called out, "do ya have a minute?"
Arthur looked behind him, smiled, and stepped down the ladder on which he had been standing. "Of course!" he answered.
Arthur was a very tall rat, but he wasn’t built like Timothy, no way. He was muscular and stubby, but quite intelligent. He had to be smart to plan everything like he did. His fur was a deep chestnut brown, and it was ruffled up, at that moment. He was sweaty; you could tell that he had been working hard. That pleased Justin.
Justin handed Arthur the blueprints. "Do you think you can make the doors like this?" he asked, "There might be some problems, and if there are, you decide what to do- changes, that is."
Arthur took the paper from Justin and looked over it. He looked at it for a minute, nodding, squinting, and nodding some more. "I see no problem, boss," Arthur insured, "If there comes a problem, I’ll send someone down to get you, though I doubt I’ll even have to bother."
Justin looked up at the building site. It was coming along well, and it was quite impressive. "How’s it coming along?" Justin asked.
"Well," Arthur replied, "I think everything we build from now on will be built one-hundred times faster. We’ve found a rapid stream running not too far away from here. I think we could create hydroelectric power from it, hopefully."
These words thrilled Justin. He couldn’t wait ‘till they got power. It would definitely make things easier. "What is the estimated time that we’ll get power?" he asked.
"Not too long, but not too soon, either," Arthur said with a little dread, "Don’t tell anyone, though. I thought that we’ll surprise the people, hook up all the wires and things, and just turn them on one day. You know, put lamps up in the ceilings, and then have them come on all of the sudden. I thought the people would like to have such a surprise."
Justin smiled, and nodded. He was happy to see someone so concerned with the community. There was a short amount of silence afterward, until Justin spoke up: "Well, I’ll let you get back to work. Keep it up, it all looks good." He walked away, happy.
Once again, Justin walked down the hallway happy, like he was earlier. He was amazed at himself- he was in a good mood! After a day like the one he had had, he was in a good mood. What had come over him?
The hallway was nearly empty. The candles on the walls had almost been burnt out, from being lit for so long. Though it was so eerie, there were still many rats out. Justin noticed a party of girls laughing and giggling outside the door of a dorm. Justin tipped his hat at them as he passed (of course they all blushed). Justin had no clue to how much he was admired by all the Thorn Valley peoples (especially the girls).
Justin reached his office within a few minutes, hoping nobody was in it unexpectedly. He opened the door. Good, no one was there! He sat down in his chair, put his hands behind his head and leaned back. It felt good to relax. Just as soon as he was finally at ease, there was a knock at the door. "Come in." Justin said, no longer in a good mood. Nicodemus walked in. "Sir?" Justin said, as he stood up.
Nicodemus looked at him. "There will be a Council meeting in a half-hour. It’s about Jenner."
"What about Jenner?" Justin asked, seriously
"Well," Nicodemus answered, "We think he might still be alive. I know that he was supposed to be dead, along with the rest of the seven rats, but we think he’s still alive. Janet has been checking up on our history, and it appears that Jenner took a few more than seven rats (Janet was the librarian) with him. We heard on the radio that there had been a pack of rats traveling north, toward the Fitzgibbons’ farm. We think it’s him and what’s left of his crew."
"How come it was on the radio?" Justin asked, with a worried face.
"Obviously that Dr. Shultz has been looking for us. Ever since he caught Roy in the rosebush, he’s been keeping an eye open. He knows that we were there, but he doesn’t know where we are, now. I hope Jenner doesn’t lead him to us."
"What about.." Justin started another question, but he was interrupted by Nicodemus.
"Enough, Justin," he said, "We’ll discuss this later. If you have any questions, write them down." Nicodemus left the room in a hurry.
Justin looked at the clock. It was five ‘till nine. He would head up there by nine twenty, and get there by nine thirty. Until then, he would stop by the school and check up on the night classes.
The school was in the North Wing of Thorn Valley, and was very nice. It was all shaped like a humungus glass doughnut. There were eight classes in all, and they all revolved around the hollow middle of the school. You could walk around it and see everything going on in all the rooms. It was nicely laid out and it looked like something from the future.
Justin was there in no time. He walked slowly around that big, glass doughnut, checking on how well everyone was doing. There were a lot of adults in the night classes, but still there were some children who worked during the day, and went to school at night, instead. Most of them were scribbling notes down from the blackboard but one class, the music class, where everyone was singing. Justin was proud at how seriously the Thorn Valley community took school.
He looked at his watch. It was almost nine twenty. Justin took one last glimpse of the school, smiled, and jogged down the hallway. He hoped he would not be late. Before he could get too far, he ran into a young rat carrying a huge stack of papers.
"Oh, oh, oh!" she said, as she abruptly picked up the papers in panic.
"Hey," Justin started, "what’s your name? Why are you in such a hurry?"
The young lady looked at him, stunned. She held her breath for a moment until Justin patted her on the back. She dropped her papers once again. As she picked up the papers, she started talking. "Alice. My name is Alice," she said, "I work for the Council. I copy, uh, I mean, I type everything that is said, for records."
Justin shook his head. "The Council is the other way," Justin said, "I’m going there, myself." He beckoned her to follow him, and she readily agreed.
They walked down the hallway, silent. Justin looked over at Alice. She was putting her papers in order, and reading over them. Justin found it odd- he had never seen her before. He looked her over. She was wearing a light brown vest, with a long, pastel yellow skirt that fell just below her ankles. In fact, he never even knew the Council had a typist. Well, this was a serious subject, and maybe Nicodemus hired her because of that reason. All Justin knew was that he knew nothing about her.
Still they walked, silenced. She seemed to be very shy, and constantly out of breath. Justin thought about her for a moment. After the Council, he would tell Nicodemus to get her to a doctor. She needed something…
They were there. The two of them walked through the high-rising arch doors, onto the freezing marble floors. The marble was shaped in triangles, and laid in complicated patterns. There were seats lining the walls. The seats were laid out like the way the seats are in a football stadium. There was a small, half-circle balcony sticking out from the wall. That is where Nicodemus, the "judge" and a guard sat (the judge was there to help keep some order). The room consisted of mainly of deep oranges, yellows, reds, browns, blues and greens. You could say that it was a colorful room, it was.
After Alice and Justin walked in, Alice departed in a hurry. She turned a sharp left, and disappeared into the shadows. Maybe she had to get a few things. Justin looked up. He was late, but not much.
"Nicodemus," Justin looked up to the balcony, "I’m here, sorry." Justin took his seat among the rest of the crowd. The seats had amazingly filled up quick. He braced himself for a very long speech.
"Fellows!" Nicodemus shouted, as he stood up, "You all should know why we are here. If not, here’s the problem: we think Jenner is coming!"
There was a great amount of whispering and talking amongst the people. The judge pounded a large hammer on the railing. "Order! Order!" he shouted.
Nicodemus spoke up again. "Don’t ask questions now, see me after the meeting. We fear that Jenner took more than seven rats with him when he left. We heard on the radio that they have been spotted! They have been seen traveling toward the Fitzgibbons’ farm, supposedly looking for us!"
"Why was it on the radio?" a voice shouted from the crowd.
"Well," Nicodemus continued, "obviously Dr. Shultz has been looking for us. As you all can recall, Roy died the day we left the farm. I guess Dr. Shultz discovered who he was. Who we are. What we are. Anyway, Jenner can lead them to us! We have to get to him, before he gets to us!"
"Jenner is a traitor! Let him perish!" Brutis shouted out.
Nicodemus continued his speech with the answer to Brutis’ question: "No! If he gets to us, he’ll lead Dr. Shultz to us, and then we’ll perish! We have to get him here as quickly as we can, so we’ll be hidden from publicity. Right now, Jenner is being stupid. He hasn’t thought things out. He didn’t consider the thought that he could be followed! If we can get to him, we can hide him, and smuggle him here, so we are not to be found out. From then, we’ll figure out something to do with him."
Voices rang out, yelling and cursing, some in fear, some in disagreement.
"What I want you to do," Nicodemus said, "I want all guards to go camp about a mile from the Fitzgibbons’ farm, to meet Jenner. From there, smuggle him here. Take the longest way possible, as long as you’re hidden. You all are to head out tomorrow morning. Pack well. The storage rooms will give you all the food you want, and all you can carry. Pack blankets, weapons, and any other useful items. This should be an honor, you are saving over two-hundred lives! The only guard I want to stay is Justin. He shall stay here to help keep people calm."
Justin blushed as everyone turned their heads to look at him. He privately wished he could go; anything to get him out and away from the pressures of being second-in-command.
Nicodemus spoke up again, "I guarantee this is not a hard nor dangerous task! All you have to do is stay under cover. You should be back within a week! Council adjourned!"
A huge wave of rats flooded out the doors, as Nicodemus headed out.
"Nicodemus!!!" Justin shouted, before they both left.
Nicodemus looked off the balcony at Justin. "Why?" Justin asked, "Why must I stay? It will make me a threatened envy by all other guards! It makes me look weak!"
"It doesn’t make you look anything," called Nicodemus, "it makes you lucky!" Nicodemus walked away, in a hurry once again.
"What did that mean?" Justin said to himself. "I thought that it wasn’t a dangerous mission!" Justin shook it off. Hey, Nicodemus wouldn’t lie to his people, and he knows better than most. His plan would work. It had to.
Mrs. Frisby strained her lungs as she called for her son. "MARTIN!" She wandered off the doorstep without her old red cape. This would have been quite embarrassing for the rest of the children, but considering the situation, they didn’t care.
Sara wandered, tears swelling up in her eyes. She blinked them out. As she wiped the tears from her eyes with her thumb, she heard a rustle in the bushes. "Martin? Is that you?" she asked the dark figure behind the bush.
"Yeah, mom," it answered, and out from the shadows appeared Martin.
"Don’t you ever go outside again, Martin," Mrs. Frisby scolded, "Dragon can get you, now. He knows where we live!"
Martin apologized, and hugged his mom. They both walked inside.
"Kids," Mrs. Frisby said as they walked through the door, "I have come to a decision." The children perked up. "I have thought this through, and, it is dangerous to live here any longer. You all need an education, and a livable life, around others like you, and you need a place to grow up. I have thought about it, and, we’re moving to Thorn Valley."
The kids looked at Sara, shocked. "But that’s so far away!" cried Teresa. Timothy chimed in:
"Why? See what you did, Martin?" Timothy eyed Martin, and Martin braced himself as he looked at his mom. Sara answered:
"Now, Timothy, this isn’t because of Martin, I’ve thought about it long before this. I think it would be better. We can start today, if you like, it’s still early. Just think- Justin will be there, the people who saved your lives, a big place to wander around in, everything you’ve ever dreamed of.. it’s there!"
Unsure, the children looked about, waiting for someone to speak up. "The trip is three days away, momma!" said Cynthia, anxiously.
"We can fly there! By Jeremy!" Timothy burst out, wanting to go.
"Yeah!" Martin and Teresa added. It pleased Sara to see her children so happy at the idea.
"Is it a go?" Sara questioned. The children agreed.
The family spent the rest of the day packing the few things they had, and closing up the house. That afternoon, when they were all done, Mrs. Frisby carefully headed outside to call Jeremy.
She walked quite a way out into the field (always keeping an eye out for you know who) to where there was a large group of crows picking at the grass. Mrs. Frisby walked up to them.
"Excuse me, folks," she said. They all turned their heads to listen. "I was wondering if any of you have seen Jeremy. You know, he’s slightly scatter-brained, clumsy, and terribly obsessed with lustrous objects?"
All the birds looked around, and out of the crowd came a tall robust crow with a red string tied around it’s neck.
"So I’m clumsy now, am I?" he said.
Sara and Jeremy laughed at this for a moment, until Mrs. Frisby cut to what she wanted.
"Jeremy," she said, "can you fly my family to Thorn Valley?"
The crow thought as hard as he could (which wasn’t too long), turning it’s head from one side to the other. "Certainly, Mizz Frizz (he emphasized on the z’s), anything! But if we are to leave today, we should leave soon, it’s a long way away." Mrs. Frisby signaled Jeremy to follow her, and he did.
By the time they both had walked to the Frisby home, the children were already waiting by the door with their bags in their hands. All of the kids were exited to see Jeremy, for he was quite their favorite playmate. Without delay, the whole family was loaded onto the crow. Teresa, Cynthia, and Sara rode on Jeremy’s back, and the two boys gripped tightly to Jeremy’s legs. They would have to hold themselves up, heightened onto his legs as he took off and landed, but while they were in the air, they sat in the clutches of his feet.
The take-off was a little bumpy, and it seemed even worse to Mrs. Frisby, who hated flying all together. She closed her eyes as they took off, the wind gusting suddenly into her lungs, like a burst dam. Soon, they smoothed out.
Sara thought for a short time. She was actually doing it. They were actually moving to Thorn Valley. There was no hassle out of the kids, and no delays. They just packed their bags and left. This was certainly a first!
She looked down to take one last look at her beloved house, and looked away with butterflies in her stomach.
"You okay, guys?" Sara called down to the boys on Jeremy’s feet.
"Yeah, mom," they called back, "we’re just fine- this is great!!"
Gratified with their comfort, Sara leaned back, forgetting about the other two children behind her.
"Ow!" voiced Cynthia.
Mrs. Frisby looked back and apologized. She could tell by the look on the two children’s faces that they were enjoying themselves. This was the first time they were up in the air, and it surprised Mrs. Frisby that they were so calm.
"So, Mizz Frizz," Jeremy struck up suddenly, "why Thorn Valley? Vacation? If so, I know of a much better place down there by the river…" he nodded toward the long, green snake far below them.
"No, Jeremy," Mrs. Frisby corrected, "We’re moving. We all decided to move there for better lives. The children need a good education, and it would be much safer."
Jeremy was surprised at this answer. His expression dropped, and a frown came upon his face. "Miz Friz.. why? I mean… You were just going to leave, and not tell anyone goodbye? Not even me?"
Jeremy’s voice choked softly. In sympathy and guilt, Mrs. Frisby patted the crow’s back daintily and said: "Oh, Jeremy, I was going to tell you goodbye. After all, without you, I would not be here, either, and I would have never met the rats."
"Correction," Jeremy interrupted, "you saved my life, and now you’re leaving to live with the rats."
Sara looked away. Bad example. "Well," she continued, "you can always come and see me whenever you want, I’m sure they won’t mind. You’re a good guy, too, you know."
After a long drag of silence, Jeremy spoke up. "I guess you’re right. I’ll come and see you every other week. I’ll bring you food, and presents, and I’ll tell you about everything that is going on on the farm. I’ll even bring you medicine from Mr. Ages’."
Now Mrs. Frisby felt really bad. Sara looked down again, to see nothing but a long field of dark pine trees, and scattered wildflowers. She supposed that they were now over the wilderness reserve. That meant they only had a few more minutes left in the air. Mrs. Frisby took a deep breath, trying to figure out whether or not she was crazy.
"Hike up, kids," Jeremy called, "We’re coming in for a landing!!" With a screech and a caw, the crow landed in a large circular field, surrounded with one, annular gray cave. The field was a complete circle atop of a tall mountain. A big, towering cave outlined the field. There was not a rat to be seen.
Once the crew came to a halt, they all got off of the crow. With their bags in their hands, the children waited behind their mother, while she said her good-byes, and thanks. "Jeremy, thank you very much for all you have done for this family. Not only have you saved our lives, you have brought our family and other species together. I shall never be able to repay you, ever."
A salty azure tear fell from Jeremy’s eye, as he looked down sadly at his friends. Mrs. Frisby stood on her tip-toes, and kissed the bird gently on the beak. Reddened, Jeremy looked at Sara’s kids. "You all behave yourselves, you hear?" he questioned.
No longer able to speak, Jeremy took flight again. The Frisby family only looked up and waved, deeply touched by the parting.
Sara cleared her throat. "Well, children," she patted them on the backs, "let’s go." The small group slowly headed toward the cave entrance, lugging their bags behind them.
After Nicodemus’ meeting, Justin went to bed. He arose the next morning to heavy grieving coming from the hallways. He had forgotten, the guards were to leave today. He walked out into the hall, and it was a pitiful sight. There were children and wives crying, hugging, and even the silent cries of the soldiers.
Across the hall from Justin’s room, there was a large group of ladies, patting their eyes with handkerchiefs, and bidding farewell to their loved ones. There was one male rat in the center of the group, kissing his family, with tears streaming down his cheeks. It was Brutis. At this sight, Justin walked over to him. "Brutis," he said.
Brutis looked up, quite abashed by his appearance.
"I only have one thing to tell you, and that is to be careful. Without you, Nimh would never be safe. You have saved our lives many times, and I know you can do it again. Good luck."
"Oh yeah?" Brutis asked, as Justin turned away, "what do you know? You don’t have to leave your family, you do not have to risk your life or be seen by humans. Why are you sounding so concerned? It is not your neck about to be hung, it is ours. All you have to do is sit back and hope it isn’t too uncomfortable in the noose."
Justin was stunned at the tone of harshness that came from his friend. Brutis was right, though; and Justin knew it. Justin knew from the beginning that there would be jealousy. "I’m sorry, Brutis," he said, "I should have to walk a mile in your shoes before I speak about this to you again, I’m sure. I’m sorry." Holding no grudge as he walked away, Justin decided that he would step outside to get some fresh air.
Slowly, looking around at the sight of the surrounding grief, he walked down the hallway. Justin was afraid to show his face until the soldiers left. If kind-hearted Brutis thought that of him, what else did the others think? Did they despise him? Did they forgive him? Did they understand that Justin was given orders not to go?
He walked out the automatic front door, not used to Brutis not being there. Justin looked up, and there, right in front of him stood a small family of five with bags in their hands. It took Justin a moment to realize who it was.
"SARA!!!" he yelled, overwhelmed with excitement.
"JUSTIN!!!" Mrs. Frisby yelled in return. There were immediate hugs and tears, followed by shivers caused by the commotion.
"How are you? What are you doing here?" Justin asked, patting Timothy on the head.
"Oh, we decided to move here, for safety reasons."
Mrs. Frisby explained as briefly as she could why she was there, and what had happened between her and Dragon. Justin did the same thing. He quickly talked about how well things were going, and how he was.
"Listen," he said, "about this safety thing, now isn’t really the best time…."
He was interrupted by a trembling from the ground. He pushed the Frisby family away from the door as quickly as he could, before a mob of rats jogged out the door with heavy bags on their backs.
They were dressed in green vests, and round, hard hats. On their backs were bulging packs filled with blankets and food. On each side of the packs there were vicious black spears. Sara gasped as they ran past her. After a minute or two, the group was gone, and all was safe.
"What was that?!" Sara squeaked out. The crowd stood up, puffing for air.
"That was what I was trying to tell you," Justin answered, "we are suffering from a small crisis. We think that Jenner is coming back. We, as you have just seen, have sent our troops out to bring him back. I was the only guard that did not have to go, therefore everyone now hates me."
"But.." Mrs. Frisby started to say something but, looking back at the children, she could tell that their feet were probably tired. "Let’s step inside, shall we? Then we can talk."
In agreement, Justin gestured them in.
The only way into the cave was a small door entrance. This entrance was not very big, it was a rat-sized door, in fact, so it would be impossible for humans or any large animal to get in.
Justin and Sara walked down the echoing hallway, talking, and totally forgetting the kids. He explained everything about what was going on about Jenner. He told why they wanted to bring him back, and what he wanted done to Jenner afterwards. He then described the room that he would place Sara in, and it’s features.
Mrs. Frisby was fascinated with the circumstances with Jenner, but once Justin began describing her room, she forgot all about the previous matter.
"The room is going to be a bit dark, come night," Justin told, "for we haven’t any electricity, yet. We expect power by the end of the week, maybe later, according to Arthur. The beds should be fresh, and the whole room should be cleaned, especially since I just hired eight new janitors last night. We only have a little water from the small pond behind the cave, so avoid baths. Once we get power, you can use as much of it and water as you like."
Mrs. Frisby nodded, understanding.
They were in front of the room by the time they had finished their conversation. "Here you go, madam."
Justin opened the door and spread out his hand. You could tell this was not an ordinary room, no, it could be considered a sweet! The walls were finely finished and carved. There were two big fluffy beds in the two front corners of the room, with dark blue sheets and comforters. On the walls there were oil lamps. There was a large vanity/dresser pushed up against the left wall, also a deep chestnut brown. There was a small bathroom with a toilet, bathtub and sink in the back. There was a high ceiling (maybe because everything was made for rat size, not mouse. That could explain the large beds).
"Oh, Justin!!! It’s beautiful!!"
The children hurried into the room and dropped their luggage down upon the carpeted floor. Tired of standing and walking, they all plopped on the big fluffy beds.
"We like this room, mother." Remarked Timothy.
"Yeah, mom," Cynthia chimed in, "it’s much better than sleeping on cotton balls!"
"The cafeteria is just down the hall. If you get lost, all you have to do is ask for directions, or on some corners, there are signs posted giving directions." Justin added, "I should be in my office for a while, and if you need me, ask anyone; they’ll know where you can find me. Now, I suggest if you are to be living here, that you explore a little bit. You know, become familiar with your new home. Sorry for my being so rude, but I’ve a ton of work to finish, and later we can talk all you want, Sara. Good day."
Justin left, and Mrs. Frisby was shocked at how he just brought her to her room and left. She thought about this, and decided that with Jenner’s problem, no one was at ease.
"Come with me, children," Sara called back to her children, "let’s look around. When we find the cafeteria we’ll eat."
With the sound of "eat," all the kids jumped to their feet, forgetting how tired they actually were.
For the rest of the day, they explored. The family got lost a few times, but Justin was right, there were some signs on the corners giving directions. They all marveled at the sights; the school, the meeting rooms, the farm, everything! Mrs. Frisby couldn’t tell whether she was going or coming in that big maze of caves. Timothy had to serve as the navigator, for he was real good at giving directions.
About an hour after they had left their room (this was well before they were even half way done exploring), they stumbled across the cafeteria. The warm scent of food floated about the air, causing five mouths to salivate, and five little stomachs to growl.
Shyly Mrs. Frisby walked up to the bar. "Um, may we please have some salad, please," she asked the lady serving, "and potatoes, too? And if it isn’t too much bother, some corn and peas, also?"
Mrs. Frisby blinked her eyes waiting for a response, but all the lady did was stare. "Excuse me?" Sara said.
"You! You’re.. you’re.." the lady behind the bar stuttered, "you’re Mrs. Jonathan!!! You’re her! Aren’t you? Frisby, that is!?"
By then a small crowd had gathered around them, to see what the commotion was about.
"That’s Mrs. Jonathan Frisby!!!" the lady pointed as she shouted. In an instant, everybody was wanting to gab her hand. Some were backing away, afraid of meeting such an important person.
"Now, now, hold on a minute," Sara said, but no one heard her tiny voice.
Then, from the back of the mob came an extremely tumultuous voice. "QUIET!!" it screamed.
All the heads in the room turned to see who had made such a yell. Even Mrs. Frisby turned instantly to the notion. She looked back to see one of her sons looking bashfully up at all the towering rats. It happened to be Martin. He pushed his way through the crowd of rats, and gripped Sara’s arm.
"This is my mother," said he, "and I do believe we came here hoping to have a decent meal. Unfortunately we failed. Please, if you don’t mind, leave us at peace so we can eat."
With that, the rats quickly cleared away. Some realized what they had been doing to the poor victim, and left Sara’s sight all together. Others slowly walked away, unsure about the small mouse’s claim, and also embarrassed that they were obeying such an order from him.
Out of the whole crowd (after they were all gone) there only stood a child rat, slightly older than Martin himself. He stood, laughing, and mocking the family of five, and especially Martin.
"Ha! What a joke," he declared, "Afraid of this little mouse! Why, his tail is no larger than my foot!"
And this was quite true. The tall robust rat stood well over Martin’s head. He was dark, and had teeth that looked razor-sharp! Martin had better watch himself!
The rat tapped his foot upon the ground for a moment and stood, thinking. "Hmmm," he continued, "How do I know this is true? How do we know that this is the real Mrs. Frisby? Her son looks kinda wimpy to me!"
By now, all the other rats just looked, in awe of what was being said. Martin could take it no longer. They had been having such a lovely time in Thorn Valley so far, and it was not about to be spoiled by one loud mouth, who took Martin’s size for granted.
In a flash, before anyone could actually realize what had happened, the smart-aleck rat was limping down the hall as fast as he possibly could.
Martin had gotten the better of him! He had bitten the rat’s ankle! He did not bite it hard, nor was there any blood drawn; he just nipped it a bit. The only mark that would be left would be a mere bruise.
"He thought he was tough. I showed him!" Martin said, very proud of himself. "And," Martin held up his hands, "if anyone wants to pester us again, they’ll have to deal with me first!"
Eyes wide, the people began once again to eat their temporarily forgotten food.
Mrs. Frisby turned back towards the bar. "Now," she said, clearing her throat, "how about that food?"
Meanwhile, while all this argumentation was going on, the soldiers were almost at the site where they had been ordered to camp. All thirty of the rats walked, single-file hiding behind bushes, tall grass, and at some points, deep in the woods.
Simon was a tall rat. Like Brutis, he was extremely muscular, dark, and adored by ladies. Simon always had a joke about everything. He took nothing serious, and sometimes that got him in trouble.
Quaker was a very skinny rat, but he was strong, too. They called him Quaker because he had a powerful tail. His tail was his weapon in almost every situation of combat, and he controlled it well, too! Quaker’s real name was Larry, but in time, he found everyone calling him by his nickname.
Leanne was the only female guard, as well as a soldier. Though she was a girl, she had a reputation meaner than Brutis’! She was light-furred, with coal black eyes. She was also muscular, and, unlike Quaker, she was terrible at looking at reality. By that I mean that she is poor at math, and she is quick with her actions. She doesn’t really think things through before she does something. In a way that can be good, and it could be bad, too.
Anyway, all the rats were hiking through the woods beside a busy highway when the captain, Alexander, ordered them to a halt. He held up his lanky hands (He was weak, but his planning was safe, accurate, and well thought out).
"Here we shall camp! This is far enough. Tomorrow we will continue to travel the rest of the way, but for now, we rest here. Unload your packs, gentlemen," He looked down at Leanne and smiled, "And ladies, too, and get some sleep. We will rise at dawn in the morning to continue." He turned sharply, and headed toward his bag. He was going to set up his tent.
"Well Quaker," Simon said, looking over at him, "I guess this means that it’s time to go to bed."
Quaker nodded, for neither of them had brought a tent, only sleeping bags and blankets. Besides, Leanne had invited them into her tent, should it happen to rain.
The two of them plopped down on the ground. Backs rested against a fallen log, they all were silent. The only one of them that was up and about was Leanne, who was vigorously setting up her tent. Simon and Quaker looked up at the sky. It was well past seven, they’d been walking all day. The sky was just turning purple, and the last of the crickets began to chirp.
Quaker looked down at his swollen feet. "You know, Simon," he said, "How dangerous do you think this mission is going to be? I mean, what if something happens? What if we’re caught? What if we are killed?"
There was a moment of silence until Simon answered. "I think we’ll live," he replied, "because there’s thirty of us, and no more than ten of them." He was referring to Jenner’s crew.
Quaker sighed. "That’s not what I meant," he continued, "I’m not afraid of Jenner, or his bunch. I’m afraid of other things, you know, being seen, hit by a car, hunted, or being chased by some… wild animal. It’s dangerous out there." He nodded out toward nothing.
Both of them, all of them for that matter, knew what he meant. Their families were back at home, wondering, crying. Each soldier knew that no matter what Nicodemus said, they could be killed. Somehow or another.
The whole camp was then illuminated by moonlight. They could not have set up a fire, for fear of the light or smoke attracting unwanted guests. By nine that night, each and every rat was fast asleep. The night and the past few nights had been warm, and that was a relief. They just hoped that it would stay that way.
All but Alexander had a peaceful sleep. Alexander was teased of being a geek, but he didn’t mind, he knew it himself. He was very smart, he could plan well, and he was quick to do a job right. He was admired though, because of this mind strength. He usually spoke out about whatever was on his mind, but not that night.
That night’s dreams were filled with horrific battles, bloodshed, and death. The thought of the danger of this mission lingered in the back of everyone’s head, but it was a frightening thought for poor Alex. Alex dreamed that Jenner’s band had mutated, and that Jenner had now over fifty people, and each four times bigger than normal. He dreamed that he killed every soldier, and, as Jenner had planned to begin with, he took over Thorn Valley. He was very mean, and his motto was: Kill, Kill, Kill!
Alexander awoke when Jenner started to hang people. Out of breath, Alex sat up in his tan-colored tent which was drowned in moonlight. He was panting and sweaty, and was scared out of his wits.
You could see the moon through the thin material of the tent, and you could see the dark shadows of the outside world surrounding the sides of the caliginous tent. Alex looked up toward the moon, trying to calm himself down. He began to breathe slower once again until he was startled by a screech owl’s call, and it’s shadow flying across the moon. Alexander could now feel his heartbeat grow stronger inside of him. It pounded at the walls of his chest like a bass drum out of control.
"Only a dream," he reminded himself aloud, "It was only a dream."
After that, Alexander could not sleep. The dream had been too real. It seemed as if it had really happened; as if he himself had really been there. But, as he continuously reminded himself, it was all a harmless little dream. Right?
The next day came suddenly, bringing even more worries and thoughts for those at camp. Thoughts about what would or could happen, thoughts about families, and especially thoughts about whether or not they could live through a battle.
With sore backs and droopy eyes, all rose to Alex’s command to awake. He was right; they did get up at dawn. Quaker and Simon had slept in separate sleeping-bags side by side. Leanne had had a peaceful slumber, unlike her poor captain. She heightened her pack and folded tent onto her back. You could tell she was ready for an adventure. When Leanne spotted her grumbling friends still asleep on the ground, she lightly kicked them to alertness. The two sat up, rubbing the spots where she had kicked them.
"Ow!" they griped. "What did ya do that for?" Simon said. Quaker stood in agreement, and then looked around, searching for his shirt.
"You lazy bones," Leanne teased, "You’d sleep through a clash if you could!"
A clash is what Leanne called a battle. Simon looked up at Leanne, trying to think of a remark. He failed.
After a while, all of them had packed up, and were ready to go. All of the camp was off by eight that morning. The three friends hiked side-by-side most of the day. Simon had come up with a song to cheer up his companions.
"Alexander is our boss, He needs to use some dental floss! We’re supposed to walk single file, But we only listen once a while! We are rats with aching feet, And they don’t smell so very sweet!"
The whole line laughed as Simon went on, mocking his friends and leader, and others as well. Everyone included in the song took no offense, for they knew how Simon liked to kid around. The only person who disliked this fun was, of course, Alexander.
Simon sang yet another verse. Alexander’s eyes turned stone cold with anger. He swung around, steadied himself, and inhaled deeply. Alex looked deep into Simon’s eyes. As the line began to back away, Alexander said:
"You think you’re so funny, let’s see you laugh now!" Alexander quickly tied his pack onto Simon’s, which added a lot of sudden weight to Simon’s back. "And if you keep it up," Alex added, "for each verse, you’ll get another pack. Am I clear?"
Simon nodded his head hastily. After Alexander turned and stormed off, Simon made faces at the leader. "Ha," Simon remarked to Leanne, "He just wanted me to carry his pack so he could have an extra hand to pick his nose!!!"
Simon raised his voice when he said the "Pick his nose" part, so that Alexander could hear. Giggles surrounded the crew, but Alex did nothing. He just marched on even faster.
The day was slightly cool, and as they all looked around, they all noticed that the leaves on the trees were already turning brown. Flocks of birds flew high overhead, flying south for the winter. The only moving things in those woods besides the party of rats were a few chipmunks and squirrels. Other than that, nothing else was there.
After the incident with Alex and Simon, no one even said a word. For two straight hours of hiking, all was silent. Simon’s back began to ache faster than the others’, and he was getting tired. He was grateful when Alexander finally called it quits.
"All right everyone," he shouted, "We’re here. We’ve walked almost over our ordered place to stop, so you can unload and relax until we see some sign of Jenner. When we see him, everyone get your weapons ready!" Alexander eyed Simon for a moment, and walked away, to relieve himself of the load on his back, and to relax.
The three friends stopped beside each other.
"Boy, Simon," Leanne commented, "I thought ol’ Alex was gonna bite your head off for a moment there! What’s wrong with ‘em?"
Simon shook his head. "I don’t know," he said, "But it isn’t like him to not tell us what’s up. I’m gonna find out."
But before Simon could take off after Alex, his attention was attracted by a long moan coming from behind him. He turned around to find Quaker gripping his foot in pain. Simon rushed to Quaker. "What’s wrong?" he asked his friend.
Quaker removed his hands to reveal a giant thorn stuck in his foot. It had been pushed in quite far, and if it was left in, it would surely get infected.
By then, Leanne had gotten there, and was already picking at the wound. "Hold still!" she shouted as Quaker pulled his foot away from her grasp. Leanne was trying to pull the thorn out with her long nails, and was succeeding.
With a slight rip, out came the thorn. The trio sighed a sigh of relief. Leanne then wrapped the injured foot in her red and white bandanna and tied it tight.
"Thank you, Leanne." Quaker said with a smile. Leanne smiled back, and left to go set up her tent.
After a moment, Simon left as well, but not without guaranteeing Quaker that he would help him unload. "I’ll be right back." Simon assured, and stepped a few feet away from Quaker.
He unloaded his things, laid out his sleeping bag, unloaded Quaker’s things, and spread out his sleeping bag. Simon looked over his shoulder at his friend. Quaker was rapidly motioning Simon to come to him.
Once again, Simon rushed to the aid of his companion. "What is it, buddy?" he asked.
Quaker raised his hand, pointed, and whispered: "There.. in the bushes, something is there!"
Mrs. Frisby had had a stressful day. After they ate, the whole family split up to explore. Timothy and Cynthia went off to see the school, library, and the play room (which was actually a day care). Teresa and Martin had gone off to just look around, and to report the daily gossip back to Sara, so she could be better in tone with her surroundings.
Unlike her children, Sara did not explore after lunch. Sure she looked around, but she was mostly in search for Justin’s office. When she found it, she reported the scene that went on in the cafeteria. Justin gave desperate apologies, and gave orders (Sara never knew this) to all the peoples in Thorn Valley to treat Mrs. Frisby and her family as if they had lived there in Thorn Valley all their lives. The orders were taken by all, and from then on, there were no more incidents where the Frisby family was placed under such a situation.
After this report, Sara went back to her room and took a nap. In fact, you shouldn’t call it a nap, she actually slept. She slept deep and calm. She guessed, when she awoke at night, that she had just been worn out emotionally.
By the time she woke up that night (the night that Alexander had his nightmare), the children were not in the room yet. Where could they have been?
Sara sat up instantly, expecting to see her children slumbering in the bed next to her, but they were not.
"Martin?" she called, but there was no answer.
She could tell that she had done more than overslept, she had practically passed out! According by the lighting in the room, it was late. The room was nearly pitch black, except for the last burning embers of a candle on the wall.
Mrs. Frisby stood up and looked around. It took a slight moment for her to realize that her children may be in trouble, or that they could be hurt- or even lost! She took hold of her worn out red cape in which she had used as a blanket with both hands, and bolted out the door. Her first thought was to go to Justin. Yes, Justin. If anyone knew where her children were, he’d know.
It took at least five minutes for the small wandering mouse to remember where she had found Justin’s office in the first place. She walked down a long, empty hallway, filled with dark shadows. There, at the end, was a familiar door. It was a deep chestnut brown, carved nicely, and was arched, just like the door that she had walked through a few hours earlier to find Justin.
Sara knocked softly on the door. "Come in." a voice behind the door said gruffly. Mrs. Frisby slowly turned the brass door knob. The door opened with a creak.
Sara looked up hoping to see the face that she was looking for, but instead, she found an even smaller rat, with a small black patch over his eye.
The rat had a large scar across his left eye, and a black eye patch that covered it. He was much shorter than Justin, and even darker furred. His figure was slim, and he wore a gray vest that was oversized for him.
"Why, hello, Mrs. Frisby," he said. "Won’t you please sit down?"
It was all coming back to her now. The rat that it took her so long to recognize was the head leader himself; Nicodemus!
"Hello, sir," Sara said, rather flabbergasted, "I’m sorry, I’ve the wrong room… I was looking for Justin.." Mrs. Frisby tried to back out the door, but her movement was interrupted by Nicodemus’ speaking:
"Well now," he said, "There is nothing Justin can do that I can’t. Please- sit down." Mrs. Frisby sat as she was told to. "Well, Mrs. Frisby," Nicodemus said as he cleared his throat, "Why do you wish to find Justin? There is an expression of worry on your face."
Sara nodded. "Yes, you see," she said, "Earlier today my children split apart from me to go look around. Well, I went back to my room and accidentally fell asleep. When I awoke, which was only about eight minutes ago, they had not come home yet. I’m worried that something has happened to them. "
"Well now, I see. Come, Mrs. Frisby, let’s go look for them." Nicodemus said as he stood up from his chair. The two of them left.
They walked down the halls in conversation about many things. They spoke together about her children, why they moved, what they would want in the future, and how Mrs. Frisby would eventually like to get a job. Of course, they would wander apart, searching in little spaces, and their talking would always be interrupted by the calling of the children’s names.
They had wandered far away from where they had first started. Sara looked behind her, and she could no longer see the hallway on which Nicodemus’ office was on. They were most likely on a totally different hallway now, anyway.
"Where are we now, Nicodemus?" Mrs. Frisby asked.
"We’re on the West Wing, well, almost. You see the archway up ahead?" Nicodemus pointed, "That is where the West Wing begins. I haven’t even heard a breath of life in these halls yet. I wonder where those kids of yours are?"
They went through the West Wing archway. Sara looked around now, breath taken. The sight that she saw! All these high-rise buildings! There was the Meeting room, which was made to hold all the rats in Thorn Valley and more, the Council Meeting Room which was made to hold at least one hundred rats, and the court, it was made to hold a little more than fifty. They were all carved from stone, and were quite a work.
Nicodemus pointed out to her what all the buildings were, and noted that his office was soon to be part of all of it, whenever Arthur completed it. After he got done talking, they both heard a bit of laughing coming from the end of the hall.
Sara rushed forward. "Teresa? Martin?" she cried, as she looked around.
Nicodemus followed her, them both hoping the laughter was coming from those they were looking for. Nicodemus caught up with Mrs. Frisby, but by then her face had fallen, and she had stopped running. Her eyes were fixed on a small group of rats standing in the shadows of the hall.
The group consisted of only three rats. Two rats were males; each wearing vests of different colors. The other was a girl. She was young and bright and wore pretty clothes. She had a light brown vest, and a pastel yellow skirt that fell just below her ankles. Sara had never seen her before.
With a slight sigh, they both turned around, and headed in the other direction. "I don’t know where they could be," Nicodemus said, rather exhausted, "but I promise you, we’ll find them."
"I hope so," Mrs. Frisby said back, on the verge of tears, "It’s been almost and hour since we’ve started looking, and we’ve not found them yet!"
Nicodemus and Sara turned around, not wanting to have a busy conversation like they had before. "The only place we haven’t checked is outside. Let’s go there. If they aren’t to be found, I’ll call a search party." Nicodemus assured.
The two of them quickly headed outside. It took a while to get all the way back to the main entrance, for they were quite a distance away from their destination. They finally made their way outside.
Sara was right, it was late. The white moon was high in the air, and dew had already settled on the grass. A few stars could be spotted here and there, and the only sound that could be heard was the wind rustling in the treetops.
"They’re not here.." Sara said, very discouraged, "If they were, we’d hear them!"
"Now, now, Mrs. Frisby," Nicodemus replied, "We do not know that for sure. For all we know, they could be fast asleep somewhere."
They split up. Sara took the south side, back closer toward the cave, and Nicodemus took north, in the opposite direction.
In the shadows, it was hard to see anything. Sara hunted around, frantically searching in every nook and cranny. She found not a breathing thing. All she turned up with were a few bird feathers and a piece of a torn vest; neither of which belonged to anyone she knew.
Nicodemus, however, did see something. He saw in the dark a small lump smuggled up against a fallen tree stump. It was slightly moving up and down, as if it were breathing. He could not make out very well what it was, but he reached out and touched it. The object was furry, and could be the size of four mice squished together. Nicodemus shook it softly, for it was obviously asleep. Of what he could make out, two small eye balls opened, there was a bit of movement, and then-
Simon looked around. "What?" he whispered.
"Over there.. behind that gathering of shrubs." Quaker nodded toward a large circle made by overgrown bushes and small trees. He was right, there was something moving.
Simon immediately signaled Leanne to come. Silently and swiftly, she came. The only thing Simon did was whisper in Leanne’s ear that there was something in the bushes. With that, Leanne perked up, and her eyes got huge. They could not run for Alexander, because if the thing behind the bushes found something suspicious going on, it might take action.
They also noticed something else- more movement in other hedges. There were more than one of them. The friends slowly picked up their weapons.
"On the count of three, we take charge and yell," Quaker ordered, "When the others hear the shouts, they’ll come, too." It was a good plan. Quaker did the counting. "One.. two.. three!"
The three rats yelled and screamed as they took charge, ready to stab anything or anyone who stood in their way. They broke through the dry leaves with a great crackling only to find a group of their fellow rats.
The rats that were behind the bushes were wide-eyed and still, not even daring to say a single word. They had no clue to what a fright they had caused, and they did not know why they were being attacked.
"What in the name of Saint Paul are you doing back here?!!?" Simon ordered the rats.
"We were just talking," one of the rats replied, his voice slightly shaking, "Nothing for everyone to get all uppity about."
Leanne, Simon, and Quaker all looked at each other in disbelief. How could they have been so stupid? They were really too tense about this whole "Jenner" deal. They apologized to the innocent victims, and walked away.
"Jeez," Leanne sighed, disappointedly.
"I know it." Simon commented. Quaker looked up at the two.
"Come on, guys," he said, "You should all be glad that it wasn’t him, I mean, we went at that all alone, no one to back us up; we could have been killed if it had been Jenner."
Now, Quaker’s last sentence made Leanne and Simon a bit angry.
"It was your idea to go after them in the first place, Quaker!" Leanne snapped. Leanne and Simon left Quaker alone with his sore foot to think about what he said.
"I’m gonna go and see if I can get anything out of Alexander, Leanne. I’ll be back in a while."
Leanne nodded back at Simon, and then turned her head to eye Quaker. Quaker was then thinking about how he had made it out to look like the mistake was all their fault, instead of his. The mistake could be blamed on all of them, really.
Simon spotted Alexander in his tent a short distance away. He jogged up to Alex’s tent. "May I come in?" he asked.
Alexander motioned him to enter. "Why did you snap at me this morning?" Simon demanded (At times like these, Simon could be a bit straight-forward).
Surprised, Alexander looked at Simon. "I’m sorry," he said, "I didn’t sleep very well last night. I knew you were joking, but I was a bit cranky."
In silent agreement, Simon sat down. "Why couldn’t you sleep?" he asked, calmer.
"Jenner," Alex answered, "I dreamed that he came back, and took over Thorn Valley. He was killing a whole lot of our people, it was so real…." After that, Simon looked away, and there was a long drag of silence. Simon knew why.
Because of this uncomfortable situation, Simon left. If the dream had been so bad, he did not was to bring Alexander back into it. He found out what he wanted, and that was all. He did not want to interfere with anything else.
Simon left the tent slightly abashed that he left his friend in such a state. Shaking it off, he walked over to Leanne. "He’s messed up big time," he whispered, "He had a nightmare, and it kept him awake all night."
"Fill me in on this one, pal!" Leanne whispered back, anxiously.
"Well," Simon continued, "He dreamed that Jenner came back and took over Thorn Valley."
"You mean like an empire?" Leanne asked, interrupting.
"Yes," Simon went on, "Exactly! He woke up, and the dream scared poor Alex so badly, he couldn’t sleep the rest of the night! He said it was terribly real."
The two looked up. Quaker was standing over them. "I’m sorry, guys, I meant nothing by what I said."
"That’s okay," Leanne and Simon said, "Did you hear what we were talking about?"
Quaker nodded, smiling. "I once heard that dreams have meanings. I wonder if that one meant anything?" he said.
It was just a thought, but it did send all three of them off thinking deeply about it.
The rest of the day was pretty normal, the whole camp just sat and waited for Jenner to show up. While they waited, many played cards, talked, and other things that you do when you’re bored. After a while, everyone began to get comfortable with the coming of Jenner. Whether it was because they were all bored, or whether they were just becoming less fearful, it was anyone’s guess. All the camp knew, was that they were ready for some action.
Morning passed into afternoon, and afternoon sank into evening. The east sun slowly became the west sun, and the blue sky turned into yellow sky. All the birds were gone that time of season, and, as Mrs. Frisby had predicted, the night was going to be chilly. It was not night yet, it was still about five, but the air was cooling slowly.
The three friends sat around a small flashlight in Leanne’s tent. To keep their minds busy, they were carrying on a conversation, and somehow, it got onto the subject of Alexander’s dream.
"That would be impossible," Leanne argued, "When we get Jenner and his band back to Thorn Valley, he’s sure to be killed- he’s a traitor, remember?"
Leanne and Quaker had gotten themselves into an argument about whether or not it was possible for Jenner to take over. "But remember, Leanne," Quaker said in return, "Jenner is and can be very manipulative…."
Then Simon broke in: "I’m going to step outside for a breath of fresh air. I’ll be back."
The two other rats nodded, and continued arguing. Simon opened the tent door, flooding those behind him with chilly air.
As Simon stood with his arms folded across his chest, he thought about the dream. It was so pointless! Alexander’s dream was only a dream. It was not real, it will never be real, and everyone was getting too serious over it. Simon now regretted mentioning it.
"Jenner may never even get here." Simon said to himself. Then, he felt a cold hand on his shoulder.
"Oh really?" Jenner asked.
"Hush, hush, hush, Teresa!! It’s only me!" Nicodemus said.
By then, the rest of the children had woken up, and Teresa had stopped screaming. The four sleepy mice sat up, wondering what was going on. They all had fallen asleep together, and completely forgot about going back to their room.
Teresa had never seen Nicodemus before, and waking up to his frightful appearance resulted in her screaming.
"I’m glad I found you," Nicodemus said, relieved, "You’ve worried us sick!"
"Where’s mommy?" Cynthia asked, rubbing her eyes.
Nicodemus stood up and held out his hand. The four youngsters grabbed his hand, and followed him to their mother.
Mrs. Frisby came running to them when she saw them, with her arms wide open. "Where have you guys been?" she cried.
"We were looking around," Martin explained, "and it got late. We all thought that we should lie down, and we did. We fell asleep soon afterward, and where Mr. Nicodemus found us was where we had been ever since."
"Don’t you ever do that again.. do you understand?" Mrs. Frisby shook her finger at her children for a minute, and then brought them together for a close hug.
After that, all six of them stood up and went inside. Holding one of Sara’s hands, there was Timothy, and holding the other was Cynthia. They walked down the deserted hallway quietly. The only people that they saw while they were walking were the people that were in the group earlier. The two men, and one lady still stood together, talking seriously.
Mrs. Frisby and her crew walked by, trying not to disturb the gang, but she failed. All three of the rats looked up, as if there was something wrong. They all peered over at Sara, and then at Nicodemus. At the sight of Nicodemus, their eyes sunk and got wide, and they each slowly stepped back into the shadows.
After Sara, Nicodemus, and the children walked out of view of the group, Nicodemus spoke up. "I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen them before," he said, "But they looked at us funny. I need to check up on our member records."
Sara said nothing, but she silently agreed. Though she did not really know anyone personally, she had seen quite a many faces, but never them. That was odd, too, but no one really cared. Everyone was exhausted.
No one spoke as they all walked down the lonely halls. The only one who was aware of where they were going was Nicodemus; the rest of them were half asleep. Most of the children thought about what life would be in their new home. Frankly, all the kids thought that except for Timothy. Timothy had something on his mind that was very important.
Nicodemus dropped the five tired mice off at the door of their room. Mrs. Frisby thanked him for helping find her children, and then he was off, back to his office (or more likely to bed).
"Get into bed, children," Sara told her family, "Hurry up."
But before she could finish what she was saying, she saw four little lumps under the blankets. Mrs. Frisby sighed and climbed into her bed. The room was completely dark; it was amazing that no one tripped over anything.
Slowly, after Sara had removed her cape, and after she was settled into bed, she relaxed. She folded her arms behind her head, rolled over on her side, and closed her eyes. It felt soooo good to relax. She had had a very busy day, and a very busy night.
Mrs. Frisby rested peacefully in the bed and thought about all the soldiers out there maybe fighting for Thorn Valley. They could all be dead for all anyone knew, or they could be waiting patiently for Jenner’s arrival. Who knew? She just prayed that everything was going alright.
Sara jumped at the sound of her son’s sudden voice. "Yes, Timothy?"
"I need to tell you something. I think that it’s important."
Mrs. Frisby opened her eyes and saw a little frail mouse sitting up in his bed. "Go ahead, I’m listening, dear." She answered.
"You know that group of rats standing in the hallway earlier, right?" Timothy went on, his voice haggard, "When we were all walking around, I heard them talking. They said something that was really frightening."
"They were talking about someone. I don’t know who, but it was a ‘him’. They were talking about taking over. I didn’t think they were playing, they were quite serious. They mentioned a new ‘Plan’. They said that he should be coming soon, and hoped that he was not delayed. I do not know who he was, but I thought that the conversation was strange." Timothy flopped back down on the bed.
"Oh, honey," Sara whispered back, "I wouldn’t worry about it. I know you think that they were talking about Jenner, but they couldn’t be. Jenner left with all his men, and no one that wanted to go with him stayed back here. Besides, Jenner is far away. No one could have come back without getting through the guards. Now don’t worry about it. It’s just a little something that doesn’t mean a thing. Go to sleep."
Timothy sighed, and made one last note. "The guards haven’t been here the whole time we’ve been here. They may have been gone even before that."
Sara said nothing, for they both knew how true this was. They both knew that they all had come at a bad time, and they both knew that Thorn Valley was unprotected.
The two of them soon were asleep.
Simon turned around. "Well, well, well! It’s ol’ Jenner here to terrorize us again, eh? You’d think a rat like you would call it quits after ‘The Engine in the Hardware Store’ thing, or did you want another seven of your people killed?"
"That’s enough from you, Simon," Jenner snapped, "and it wasn’t exactly an engine, either, it was a motor. Ha!"
Simon thought for no more than a second, and then he came back with a comment: "Same thing, pal. What are you guys… stupid? The Public Health Service came after you! Nimh came after you!"
Jenner then spat on the ground, barely missing Simon’s toe. "That one’s for Nimh!" he shouted.
And with this shout, the tent door opened, and Quaker and Leanne stepped out. Not realizing who was in their presence, they walked up to Simon. You could barely make out any face- features anyway because of the darkness of the outside world.
Leanne placed her hand on Simon’s shoulder. "Tell Quaker here that Jenner could very well come ba-" She stopped.
She and Quaker were now staring at the rat standing next to Simon. No one said a word. They only looked. Leanne’s eyes were bulging out of her head. Out of nowhere, she took off on all fours toward Alexander’s tent. Quaker still stood motionless.
"Listen shrimp," Jenner growled at Simon, "I’m not looking for trouble. If I bleed one drop tonight, you’re dead."
Jenner stepped away from the spot in which he had been standing. Behind him were about twenty rats, all muscular to the extreme. A few women stood in the band, and they looked tougher than Leanne! Jenner wasn’t kidding- the rats could easily handle Thorn Valley’s recruits.
Although these rats were large, there was one that stood out from the rest of them. He was much shorter than the rest, but was still unusually muscular for his size. This rat’s face even seemed familiar. He had light fur, and big brown eyes- eyes that were bright, unlike the cold eyes that belonged to the others, and unlike the harsh expression he held on his face. There was just something about him that was haunting.
Simon shook it off. "If you bleed one drop tonight, Jenner," he said, "it would be because they make a move. If they pull anything, you will be killed first. That’s a promise." Simon looked back at the rats, trying not to look scared. "You hear that, guys," he said shouted at them, "You move, you’ll only be killing your leader!"
Simon went down. Before he could finish getting the words out of his mouth, Jenner was on top of him. The two rats battled it out right there. Simon bit and clawed, Jenner pulled and sliced. He got Simon on the ground. Lying on his back, Simon tried to yell, but he was then choked off.
"You think you’re bad, don’t you?" Jenner said out of breath, "Well your mouth needs a little work!" He held a dagger up to Simon’s throat. "I ought to kill you right now….. But I’m not. I’m just going to leave you with a little something to remember me by." He then took the dagger and sliced the tip of Simon’s ear off.
Simon cursed in pain, blood dripping down his forehead. "You’ll pay, Jenner! I swear! If it is the last thing I do, I’ll kill you! I’ll kill you if you do anything else!" He screamed out.
Simon jerked his head around when he heard the others coming. Alexander and the others would soon be there in a minute.
"Band ‘em, boys." Jenner said, quietly.
With a single motion of his hand, four of the biggest rats stepped out of the shadows and tied Simon with rope. The force at which they pulled was so great, Simon could hardly breathe; the cord did not allow him enough room for his lungs to fill. Simon reached out in vain, but his arms were tied as well. He just stood back and watched Jenner work his magic.
Jenner took his dagger and sliced himself down the leg, and he stabbed his upper arm once. Cringing from the agony, Jenner looked up at Simon. "That’ll do ya!" he said. At that point, no one knew what Jenner was doing.
Simon and Quaker’s breath were now only fog puffs in the air. As the night grew on, it also got colder. You could tell that fall was on it’s way. Quaker had seen the whole thing. He moved not a muscle during the struggle, for fear of Jenner’s people. One tear of fright slid down his cheek as he watched his friend be bound. He knew that they all were in danger.
"What in the world is going on here, Jenner?" demanded Alexander when he arrived.
Jenner limped over to Alex. "I showed up," he said, "and Simon here went wild. See what he did?" Jenner pointed to his arm and leg. "I didn’t want to," he continued, "but I had to - he was about to kill me! He took my dagger and sliced me. I tried to-" Jenner fell to the ground (supposedly in pain).
"Get the doctor over here," Alex screamed at the top of his lungs, "NOW!!"
The doctor came immediately to Jenner and carried him off. Jenner’s party followed with the best fake sorrow faces they could come up with. On their way after Jenner, they each stared at Simon.
"What do you think you were doing, Simon?" Alexander asked.
"Jenner is lying, Alex," Leanne interrupted, "I saw most of it."
"Y..Yeah, yeah, A..Alex," Quaker stuttered, "I s-saw the whole th.. thing. Jenner jumped Simon. See? He even cut his ear!" Quaker pointed to Simon’s wound which had not stopped bleeding yet.
Alexander stroked his chin. "Well Simon? What do you have to say? I know Jenner would not do that to himself. What did you do?"
Simon tried to speak, but he could not catch enough breath to speak. He was cut loose by Alex and tumbled to the ground, gasping for air.
"I did nothing! You could expel me if you want, you can do whatever you want to me," he declared back at Alex, "But I did nothing to him! I only told Jenner’s party not to try anything stupid. That’s all."
The seriousness in his voice was just barely enough to convince Alex. "Alright Simon," Alex concluded, "I believe you. I saw nothing therefore I cannot punish you. If what your friends say is the truth, the truth shall come out in time. Go. Out of here. But I’ll keep my eye on you."
Alexander walked away toward the "Injured Tent." Quaker and Leanne helped Simon up gently, and wrapped his ear in a cold water-soaked towel. Simon fell asleep shortly afterward, wearied from all the action that had taken place that night.
No one knew that from then on, Simon’s life would be in danger. No one ever knew that Simon and Jenner had been archenemies all their lives. Not long before Jenner left the Plan, he killed Simon’s mother for not going along with his own plan.
You see, Simon’s mom didn’t like Nicodemus’ plan, so she joined Jenner’s side. But once she heard that Jenner wanted to leave and start a colony on his own, she refused. All the people in Thorn Valley thought that she had left with Jenner. No one ever found out the sad fate of Amber (Simon’s mother).
Simon’s father was not one of the original twenty-two, therefore he passed away a few years after Simon’s birth. Being an only child, the death of Simon’s mother left him alone. Sure this all sounds terrible, but it’s true. Ever since, Simon vowed to rid the world of Jenner. All he needed now was a good reason to….
Mrs. Frisby awoke that morning all cheerful and pleasant. She looked over at her children, still asleep in their beds. Sara wondered what this day would bring, new sights, more scares, what? The answer to that question is as good as anyone’s guess.
Mrs. Frisby reached over and grabbed her cape which was hanging on the doorknob. She tied it around her neck and stood up. What would she do? The children wouldn’t wake up for another few hours, and she didn’t want to just wait around. She decided that she would go and see Justin.
She wandered the halls trying to remember where Justin’s office was. Was it the third door on the right, or was it the fourth door on the left? Was Nicodemus’ office north, or was Justin’s office south? Sara strained her brain trying to think. If she ever found Justin, she’d ask him for a good set of directions.
She walked east at her own pace (she wasn’t in a hurry today). As she walked further down the hall, she could faintly hear the sound of music drifting beautifully in the air. Curious, she followed the sweet sound up the "Up Ramp" (which lead to the second floor of caves).
The noise gradually grew louder as she continued to walk down the deserted hallway. She saw no offices, only the hospital and one large door that lead into some bigger room. Trying not to be noticed, Mrs. Frisby stuck her head through the door of the unknown room. Oh what she saw!
The room was dimmed, and full of couches and chairs all facing a stage. There were a few tables randomly set about the room, each with a vase of flowers sitting in the center. All the seats were filled at the moment by rats both young and old. They all stared up at a group of rats sitting up on the stage.
The rats on stage sat in nice chairs, and they were all playing a different instrument. One lady played the violin, a young man played the flute, and others were playing different instruments as well.
Mrs. Frisby stood, leaning against the doorframe for a moment in awe. She had never seen musical instruments in her whole life, she had only heard about them. It amazed her and left her in a trance.
Sara turned around sharply, for fear of being in trouble, but it was only Justin. "Oh," she said, "Justin! I was just looking for you."
Justin knew better. "It’s beautiful, isn’t it? The music, I mean."
"Why yes, lovely."
There was a stretch of time where no one said a word, they just listened. The silence was disturbed by Justin. "What did you need me for?" he asked, dreamily. By now he too was leaning up against the doorframe.
"I wanted to know if there was anything around here for me to do, and for my children as well. I know there is probably plenty, but I’d like to plan my day." Sara answered with a smile.
Justin thought for a moment. "Hmmm…" Justin thought, "If you want a job to do, you and your family could go to the jail and fix up Jenner’s cell. I do believe he’ll have quite a group with him. Or, you could listen to this concert, take the kids to school, you could see if they needed help at the day care…" Justin spoke of this whole long list of things to do.
Surprised, Mrs. Frisby tried to remember all the things he said, but that was nearly impossible. "Oh goodness! Thank you," Sara went on, "I’ll see if there is anything I can convince my kids into doing. If you are to need me, I’ll be around. Supposedly at the school or the sewing room."
The two parted once again. "Uh, Justin," Sara called back from down the ramp, "Can you do me a favor?"
Justin turned. "What?" he shouted.
"Can you draw me up a map if you get time?!"
Justin smiled big, and nodded vigorously. "Sure!!"
They both continued about their way.
The night had been a long one, but everyone eventually managed to get to sleep. Leanne and Quaker decided to go to bed shortly after the incident with Jenner. The three all amazingly slept sound; the only noise that was to be heard that night were Jenner’s evil whispers.
"Listen," Jenner said to one of his men after the camp had fallen asleep, "We’ll all head back to Thorn Valley tomorrow. Remember, keep on your charm until I succeed. Understand?"
The rat that he was talking to nodded his head, and left Jenner alone in the doctor’s tent. After that, the whole camp was silent.
With the next day came a heavy rain. To make matters worse, they all had to travel to Thorn Valley that day.
The camp awoke at dawn, as usual. Each rat put on his or her own gear, and marched off. Jenner followed in the rear of the line, not saying a word. Quaker and Leanne tried their hardest to keep the two separated (for safety reasons).
The sky was a dark gray as the bullet-sized raindrops fell to earth. All fifty rats trudged along in knee-high mud, cold as ice. Their goal was to reach Thorn Valley that day, whether it took them all two straight days of hiking or not.
The rats were allowed one ten minute break every two hours, but no one owned a watch. On their first break, the whole line flopped down on the ground, burying their rears in the mud.
Quaker sat down beside of Simon. "I’m sorry." he said at him softly.
"For what?" Simon asked.
"For not helping you last night. All I did was stand there and stare. I feel really bad about that."
"That’s alright," Simon answered patting Quaker on the back. "You couldn’t have done anything anyway. They would have gotten you, too if you interfered. Believe me, I know how mean Jenner can get. I’m just glad that they didn’t hurt anyone besides me."
The three friends knew that it was going to be a long haul to Thorn Valley. They each knew that Simon was forever on in danger; Quaker and Leanne would do everything in their power to help protect him.
"How’s the ear?" Leanne asked, out of nowhere.
"Good.. But it’s been better." Simon assured.
The rain pelted down even harder and the wind picked up. It was probably cold enough to make ice-cream out there! All the rats had huddled together by then, to keep warm. Some had untied blankets from their packs, and others just kept their heads low. Although their efforts were in hope, they did not help bring up the temperature.
The silence was broken by Alexander. "Alright guys," he said, "Time to go!"
With moans and groans, the troop gathered their things and headed out. The mud squished between their toes with a "SLOP," but they still continued on their journey. Simon did not notice who was following behind him in line.
"Gee Simon," Jenner said (he was walking behind Simon), "I’m sorry."
Simon turned around and looked behind him. Jenner sounded sincere! What was he up to? "Yeah, sure ya are!"
"No, really," Jenner insisted, "I’m truly sorry. What I did last night was immature, and I now regret it. I know you will never forgive me, but please- give me another chance?" Jenner then wrapped several blankets around Simon, in effort to be kind.
"What’s up?" Simon asked, a little suspicious.
"Nothing. I just want to be your friend again. Please?"
Simon turned back around. "I’ll consider it." he said under his breath.
Jenner left Simon alone for the rest of the day, hoping to have made an impact on the one he attacked last night.
"Why won’t you forgive him?" Leanne asked later, when the rain had cleared away.
Simon grasped his ear. "You wouldn’t understand."
Leanne was confused now. "Why?" she said.
"He hurt me. That is all I am going to say." Simon replied.
Even more confused, Leanne still asked questions. "I know he hurt you- your ear!"
"I told you you wouldn’t understand!" With that, Simon ran off to get away from Leanne. He couldn’t tell anyone about his past with Jenner. Then everyone would treat him as if he had a problem. Everyone would have sympathy on him. Everyone would act different. He did not want that.
After her family had awoken, Mrs. Frisby took each of them somewhere to be active. She took Timothy to the school and the library, she took Cynthia to the day care, Martin to the jail (by request), and she took Teresa with her to the sewing room. Teresa was a good seamstress.
After Sara had dropped the rest of her children off, she and Teresa walked slowly down the hall. "Is Jenner coming back?" Teresa asked.
"Yes." Mrs. Frisby answered.
"I don’t know."
"Why does everyone hate him?"
Mrs. Frisby looked at Teresa, still walking. "He is a bad person. And a very dumb person. When he comes back, stay away from him."
"Why? What did he do?"
Sara sighed, and began to explain. "You see, Teresa," she said, "When Nicocdemus came up with the Plan- you do know what the Plan is, right?- he Plan was to move here to be safer. Well, Jenner didn’t like the Plan, so he tried to convince other rats to disagree with the Plan, too. He got several followers, took them, and left. He and his followers almost got themselves caught and killed a few months back, and now they’re being dumb and are accidentally leading Dr. Shultz to Thorn Valley."
Teresa nodded, and her gaze switched from Sara to the hallway.
The hallway was now quite busy. It was dim with the rainy day outside, and slightly chilly. They were heading toward the North Wing, to the Sewing room. There were rats standing and talking, going and coming. There were a few janitors sweeping the floors, and a small child sitting in the corner playing with a blue marble. It was peaceful.
A few minutes passed, and Sara and Teresa were standing in front of the door of the Sewing Room. The door was knicked and chipped from constant use, and the edge of the door was worn from where people had pushed it so many times to enter.
In the room, there were about seventy female rats sitting at tables sewing. They were not sewing with the machines that were in front of them, they were all sewing by hand. It took a moment for Mrs. Frisby to remember that Thorn Valley hadn’t gotten electricity yet.
No one looked up as she and Teresa walked in. There was an empty table in the back right hand of the room, so Teresa and her mother sat down at it.
Already, there was a pile of material sitting on the edge of the table. A packet of needles lay beside of it, as well as other sewing tools. Teresa and Sara took their seats, and picked out the material in which they wanted to make their first clothes.
Teresa wanted to make a blue dress with a white vest to go along with it. It was easy to make those, and she could already sew well. Sara wanted to make a green shirt for Timothy, a yellow jumper for Cynthia, and a blue shirt to replace the one Martin was wearing.
Without a word, the two got to work. Mrs. Frisby picked out a rich green for Timothy, cut it out, and got down to work. She was sewing a sleeve when the lady next to her spoke to her. "Hello." She said.
Mrs. Frisby looked up, afraid to say anything. "Hi." She replied with a slight smile.
"Sewing for children? I am."
Sara nodded. "Yes, I do believe so."
The lady held out her hand. "My name is Judy. You’re Mrs. Jonathan, right?"
Sara shook Judy’s hand. "Please- call me Sara. How do you do?"
"Oh, exhausted! I’ve to make a few clothes for my family and husband. How many kids do you have?"
"I have four.. a load!" Sara answered.
"I have eight," Judy continued, "fun fun!"
Sara was now ashamed of her added comment. She just smiled, flustered.
The two chatted for a while, and soon became good friends. Judy and Sara talked for a long time while Teresa just sat back and admired her mother. She wished she had a new friend.
The two new friends got into the conversation deeply. They talked about children and their husbands, what they were sewing, and things like that. None of them noticed the slight humming noise that began to fill the room.
All the women in the room continued sewing and talking with each other, just as content as could be. But then, all of the sudden, Mrs. Frisby looked up.
Still the group trudged along in the mud. Though it had stopped raining, the ground was still very wet. Gray skies hung over them like a thick blanket. Frosty fog came out of breathing nostrils because of the coldness outside. Mrs. Frisby was right- fall and winter were on the way.
No one spoke, they all just walked. The troop had been walking for five hours now, with only two ten minute breaks so far. Feet ached, and backs began to gain immense pains. Alexander was a tough leader, but maybe, when they all returned to Thorn Valley, they all would know why Alex pushed them so hard.
Simon just thought. Why had Jenner started to be nice all of the sudden? Why had he offered those blankets, and what was he up to now? Could Jenner actually be nice? No. Not from the way he had been in the past, not after last night. No way.
Simon felt a hand on his shoulder. He turned around, ready to fight. "What do you want, Jen-" Simon then realized that it was not Jenner this time, it was Brutis. "Sorry," Simon apologized, "who are you?"
"I’m Brutis," he answered, "you may have seen me at Thorn Valley guarding the entrance?"
"Oh, oh, yes, now I remember. I’m Simon.
The two of them shook hands.
"I’ll cut straight to the chase," Brutis said suddenly, "Your friends- Quaker and Leanne I believe- have been talking to me. I never knew about last night. I’m sorry to hear that." He motioned towards Simon’s ear.
Simon looked at the ground and sighed. If he was getting all this attention for missing a piece of his ear, how would people react to him and his lost family? Goodness.
Brutis continued. "They told me that you and Jenner don’t get along. That’s not surprising, no one gets along well with Jenner. They told me that you might need some help?"
"What kind of help?"
"Protection, I mean, so he doesn’t get on you again. Alex thinks that you were partly the cause of last night because of that mouth of yours, but I believe you. You don’t want Jenner to get you again, do you? I wouldn’t. Some people just don’t know. I learned that the day I left Thorn Valley."
Simon nodded. Some people just don’t know. Especially about him. And Jenner.
"I am willing to stay with you, to make sure that Jenner doesn’t start anything," Brutis went on, "Is that okay? I know that may seem offensive, but I thought that it might be helpful. I can’t fight his men, but I can help you get out of situations. What do ya say?"
Simon did take this offensively, but he knew that he shouldn’t. Here was a complete stranger willing to risk his life for him. He had seen Brutis guarding the Thorn Valley entrance, but they never spoke to each other. "I don’t really care," Simon said, "Do as you wish. It could help, so go ahead."
Brutis smiled, happy to be of some kind of service. He walked a short distance behind Simon from then on.
Then, there was a big commotion coming from the back of the line. All the heads in line turned to see what was going on.
Simon stood on his tip-toes as he peered over the heads of many rats. All he could see was Jenner struggling in the back of the line. His teeth were bared, and he was quite angry. What had happened?
Simon walked back toward Jenner. He found Alexander shouting back at some of his men.
"Get him!" he shouted, "Tie him up, quick! Tony, get over here! Michael!"
Several rats came to Alex’s aid, and tied Jenner’s hands behind him. The rope was thick and rough, almost like what Simon had been tied up with.
Simon walked closer to see what was going on. Jenner was being tied up without question. Jenner did not struggle or say a word. He must have done something to take that type of treatment.
Obviously, Tony was the rat that had come to Alex first. He had black hair and wore thin black wire-framed glasses. He was slightly thin, but not skinny. He looked as though he could fight well; he was handling Jenner easily enough.
Michael had dark fur, but not as dark as Tony’s. He was tall and stalwart, much taller than Tony. He had a spear in his hands, and was forcing it up and down Jenner’s back- threatening him. Jenner squirmed; he got the point.
"What happened?" Simon asked as he rushed to Alex. Brutis was running after him.
Alex didn’t seem to be hurt, but he was out of breath. "Nothing big," he answered, "Jenner just made a swift move at one of his men. I decided that it would be wise to tie them both up for a while, just to be safe. You know how hostility can run away with you."
Simon nodded. "What did he do?"
"He and one of his men started to quarrel. For the others’ sake, I want to make sure their safety. Jenner is going to be tied up for a while, until he can prove that he can control his temper."
Simon nodded again, and walked back up to the front of the line. Brutis was still following him.
Jenner and the rat he had quarreled with were tied up. Their hands were bound behind their backs, and the ropes that they were tied with were being held by a guard. (One guard held a rope trailing from their hands, so to be sure of them not getting away, or doing something they were not supposed to do.)
The two then walked side by side. Jenner winked at the rat that was tied beside of him. It was the same rat that was in the doctor’s tent with Jenner last night.
ZZZZZZTTTTTTTT! Ladies squealed in fright as the sewing machines automatically turned on. Some how, they had not been turned off when they had been installed, leaving them ready to come on at the slightest input of electricity.
"Oh, momma!" Teresa cried in excitement, "We have power!"
It took a moment for this fact to hit Sara. When it finally had, she was happy, too.
Then, people heard shouts coming from the hallway. It sounded like a group of male rats. Yes- Sara could see them through the windows on the doors! There were a bunch of them. They were all dirty and sweaty. It was amazing that anyone could sweat for it was so cold outside.
One of the rats boomed through the door. It was Arthur. "Power!" he shouted, "We have power! We did it!" He took off down the hall, slamming the door behind him.
Cheers rang out and echoed in the room. All the women stood up and started to clap. Hugs were sent throughout the room, and smiles were everywhere. They had power.
After a while, things calmed down, and sewing machines were started up. Teresa had her dress done in no time. It turned out ravishing!
Sara, on the other hand, did not know how to work such a machine. Teresa gave her a quick lesson, and ran off to put her dress back in her room. Mrs. Frisby sat, trying to hurry up with her clothes. She wanted to go out and see what Thorn Valley looked like with power. But before she could even begin to stitch an inch, someone was calling her name.
"Sara!!" it called.
Mrs. Frisby turned around to see Justin standing in the door way. He held a piece of paper up in his hand. She motioned for him to come to her.
Justin ran up to her, all aflame. "We’ve power!!!!" he shouted.
Rats looked up at him from their work.
"I brought you the map you asked for." He handed the piece of paper to her.
It was a very adroit map, too. It had first been sketched in pencil, and then redone in blue ink. It was detailed. It showed each room and it’s number, and a small description of the rooms (Except for dorms, bathrooms, and places like that).
"Thank you, Justin. I needed that." She said, in awe.
"I made it myself. Does it look okay?"
"Why yes, silly- it does. Now I can find my way around much easier."
Justin smiled brightly. "You know," he said, "Jenner should be back any day now. What do you think about that?"
"What do you mean?"
"I mean, do, or have you ever regretted coming here?"
Mrs. Frisby thought. That was quite a question. She did, sometimes, regret coming here. Her children could be in danger, she could be in danger. There were a lot of things going on. Sometimes, a little voice in the back of her head told her she needed to leave- for the children. Then sometimes she would remind herself of the new opportunities that came with moving here. "Not really," she lied, "I just want to know what is going on. I want to know what Thorn Valley is going to do once Jenner gets here. I think we all need to know."
Justin thought for a minute. "You’re right," he said thoughtfully "You’re absolutely right. I’m second in command, and I don’t even know the answer to that."
Justin then raised his hands high in the air. They looked strong. "Listen up!" he exclaimed.
Everyone looked up.
"There will be a public meeting in one hour! Drop what you are doing, and get all your family together! This is urgent. I don’t care if you’re sick or what, be there!" He winked at Sara, and left the room in a hurry. Maybe he went to announce this whole deal to the rest of Thorn Valley. What was he going to do?
"You heard ‘em, Sara," Judy said, "Let’s go!" She joined the big flood of women by the door.
Mrs. Frisby stood there for a short time, waiting for the crowd to die down. She had to pick Timothy up at school, Teresa back up at the room, Cynthia at day-care, and Martin up at the jail. It was a good thing she had a map.
The crowd finally cleared away. Mrs. Frisby took up her fabrics. She would come back after the meeting and finish them. She walked once again through the double doors, her eyes not ready to meet such light.
There were hanging lamps on the ceiling, and a few small lamps attached to the walls. They all gave off a white glow- long missed by all of those in Thorn Valley. The hall shone as if it were glowing itself. A light humming noise was coming from each light.
The ashen walls gleamed even though they must have been dirty, and the ivory floors seemed as if they were white diamonds. The light reflected off of the old brass door knobs, making them look as though they were brand-new. It was a grand sight.
Sara continued to walk down the hall. She would pick Teresa up first. She looked at her map. She was on the East Wing, and her room was on the South Wing. She should keep walking until she got to the hub of the Thorn Valley Caves, and then turn right. Her room was number 452, so it was near the middle of the South annex. It was such a forlorn day outside, it was a good thing there were lights overhead; otherwise, she couldn’t have read the map as well.
Her feet made a slight padded noise as she walked down the silent hall. All the other rats must have already started to head for the Meeting room, or were inside wondering what was going on.
Mrs. Frisby looked up at the ceiling. She never noticed how smooth it was. It must have taken a lot of work to put it up. She would never know how hard it had been to build it.
It was now the second day of hiking (Straight to Thorn Valley). Three men were having to be carried because of them fainting. Simon and the rest of his friends felt like fainting, too.
Jenner had been tied on the first day, and was still bound. Tony and Michael fed them both on their breaks, but they still were not released.
Since that incident, nothing had really happened. No one spoke. They all were too tired to even concentrate on a sentence. It was the second day. Alex kept to his word- only ten minute breaks, no matter how tired they all were.
Alex had just called another break, in fact. He held his hands up high, as always, and announced it was time to break.
Simon felt like breaking. He didn’t want to be funny. He didn’t want to smile. He just wanted to sleep. To keep him awake, he reached into his back-pack and pulled out one of the sunflower seeds Nicodemus had given him.
He cracked the shell open and shoved the seed into his mouth. It tasted good. He reached for another, and another, and ate until he was full. He was careful not to get too over stuffed, so he could walk better.
Simon looked down at his feet. They were swollen, and achy. They were tough now, not the soft pink they had once been. He wondered if everyone else’s feet were like that now. Probably.
Before he knew it, there was a hot tear running down the tip of his nose. He held his head down, hoping no one would see. Why was he crying? He didn’t even know. Maybe it was because he had no one to go home to at Thorn Valley. Maybe it was because this whole time they were out there to rescue Jenner- the person who had destroyed his family. It could have been lack of hope, or exhaustion. Whatever it was, it made him cry.
No one saw him cry. He just sat alone behind a tall pine tree and wept. Brutis wasn’t even near him. Maybe everyone was sad on the inside. Maybe they all knew that they were actually rescuing their enemy.
Simon realized what he was doing. He then sucked in his gut, and took a deep breath. He felt like a wimp. He had to keep tough, and stick with his friends. It had been a long time since he had spoken to them.
Simon stood up, and looked for Leanne and Quaker. He spotted them over by a stump, leaning back. "Hi guys." Simon said, hoping his eyes weren’t red.
Leanne and Quaker both answered with a weak "Hi" and were quiet.
Simon sat down beside of them and leaned up against the stump. "Sorry." He said, gazing off into the distance.
"No problem," Leanne voiced as she nodded slightly.
"Sky’s lovely, isn’t it?" Leanne noted.
Quaker and Simon looked up. The sky was gray and dark, but cloudless. The rain had stopped yesterday, but it was still grim. "Yep." They both said together.
Quaker stood up. His butt was wet from the moss they had been sitting on. He held his hand out low, reaching out for the others’ hands. The others stood up, too, and grabbed it. They all were friends again.
"Let’s go pick on Jenner," Simon suggested, "That could cheer us up."
The three walked over to a gaunt tree, where Jenner and his man were tied up. Tony and Michael weren’t anywhere to be seen.
"Hey, Jenner," Leanne called, "’Ya busy?"
Jenner looked up and eyed her. He did not stand.
"I think he is, Leanne," Simon said sarcastically, "He looks all tied up!"
"The ear feels great," Simon added, "But the circulation just feels a bit cut off!"
They all laughed, but Jenner stayed silent. He just stared meanly.
Quaker pounded his tail on the ground. The earth boomed beneath their feet. "Hey, Jenner!" he said, "I know I’m good-looking, but you don’t have to stare!"
With that, Jenner turned his head away. Was he really going to take that?
"Aw, c’mon Jenner," Leanne insisted, "Can you not take your own medicine? Oh, yeah, that’s right- it doesn’t taste too good!"
"Break it up, guys." A voice said behind them.
The three friends turned to face Tony.
"Jenner is going to- hey.. aren’t you the guy Jenner got the other night?" Tony was referring to Simon and his ear.
Simon nodded. Here we go again.
Tony looked at him for a moment, and then at his ear. "Do what ya like," he said thoughtfully, "Whatever you like!" He sat down on the ground with a grain of oatmeal in his hand. He began to nibble at it.
Quaker turned his head and stuck out his tongue at Jenner, but Jenner didn’t see him. That could have been a good thing.
"My name is Tony," he said after a while, "At your service. Y’tu?"
"Pardon?" Leanne asked.
"And you? What are y’all’s names?"
They all told their names to Tony, and Tony nodded.
"You probably don’t know me, but you probably know my mom," Tony continued, "Her name is Judy. She’s the Chief of Fabrics?"
Quaker, Leanne, and Simon all looked at each other. They’d never heard of her.
"She makes sure that Thorn Valley has all the fabric that they need. She helps make it all, and helps give sewing lessons in her spare time."
Leanne nodded, trying not to be rude.
Tony looked up at her. "My, my, my!" he exclaimed, "I didn’t know we had a girl on the force!"
Leanne’s ears turned red.
"No one told me she was pretty, either!"
Leanne turned and walked off, giggling. No one had ever commented on her looks before. She was too flattered to stay around Tony and longer- she couldn’t stand the embarrassment!
"What did I say?" Tony asked himself as he shrugged his shoulders. He continued to nibble at the oatmeal grain once again.
In a matter if seconds, Alex’s voice rang out. "Time to go, fellas!" He shouted.
Everyone grabbed their packs, and began to walk. They didn’t have too much longer to go.
The Frisby family walked towards the West wing, in vibrant chatter.
"Are we in trouble?" Cynthia asked.
"I don’t know," Sara said, "I just don’t know."
The rest of the children asked questions left and right, but Sara answered them all the same way.
By then, the halls were so packed full of rats, it was amazing you could breathe. Mrs. Frisby had never seen so many rats in all her life! She hadn’t even seen that many rats when she went to the rosebush on the Fitzgibbon’s farm! There were rats carrying children, and running. There were rats running and standing, talking and laughing. Most of them had stern faces, though.
She had never been in a meeting room, except for that time in the rosebush when Nicodemus had called her to tell everyone what she had overheard at the Fitzgibbon’s dinner table. Even then she was in a small room which could only be considered a court room. She was anxious to see what one looked like.
Through the heavy mass of rats they walked. They got closer and closer to the Meeting Room doors. Tall rats towered over Mrs. Frisby’s head; she hoped they wouldn’t get stepped on. Being a mouse could have it’s disadvantages- being smaller than rats.
It looked as though the doors of the Meeting Room haven’t been opened yet because the huge puddle of rats stood still in front of them. From what Sara and her children could tell, no one was going into the building at all. In fact, she was so far away from the Meeting Room building that she could hardly tell that it was there!
Slowly, the crowd began to move. One by one, rats walked into the meeting room. They were quite orderly. After another long wait, Mrs. Frisby and her children walked through the wide double-doors into a colossal room.
The Meeting Room was amazing! It was much bigger than the Council Meeting Room. The floors were rose and gray marble; smooth and cold. Seats lined the room, each elevating a step as they got closer to the walls. Each of the seats were a soft blue and gold.
There was one small balcony coming out from the wall facing the chairs. It looked like it had more than three seats. Actually, it had about eight. The balcony was painted gold, to match the chairs, and was very luxurious.
In the walls, there were lights. Yes, lights. There were tiny holes carved into the walls, with tiny lights in each hole. The lights were like those you would put on your Christmas tree. They were multi-colored.
A few hanging lights hung on the ceiling, giving off a dim yellow light. The ceiling and the walls were brown. They both were smoothed down, just like the ceiling and walls in the hallways.
"Sara!!" Justin called, from the balcony.
Mrs. Frisby looked up to see Justin waving his hands in the air and smiling. She and her children headed toward the balcony.
Once they had gotten to the top of the stairs, Justin greeted them all politely. "I took your advice, Mrs. Frisby," Justin said, "We’re going to do something about Jenner. We’re going to decide a punishment for when he comes back!" he turned and faced the incoming people.
Mrs. Frisby placed her hand on her forehead. "Good grief," she said to herself, ‘What have I done now?"
Then, Nicodemus came walking up the stairs. He had an acrimonious face on, and looked like he could blow smoke from his ears. "Justin!!!!" he demanded, "What is all this mess about?"
"Well, sir," Justin said as he turned to face Nicodemus, "I was thinking, and I don’t think we have a plan for Jenner. We need one. He is a very dangerous person, we cannot take the risk of endangering our colony."
Nicodemus eyed him for a moment. "I thought that we should just wait until Jenner got here, and then decide what to do."
"That would not be safe, sir. When he gets here, it could take days to figure out a plan. In the meantime, while we are planning, he could easily pull a stunt, and put us all in danger."
Nicodemus nodded his head as he stroked his chin. Maybe Justin was right. The least he could do was hear him out. "Alright." He said.
The seven of them sat down.
Still they all walked. They all laughed at Simon as they walked. It was nice to have some laughter around.
None of them had a clue to how close they were to the Fitzgibbon’s farm now. Not even Alexander knew. All they did was walk, and that was it.
The wind chilled a little more, and the sky seemed as if it were getting darker as they continued to get closer to Thorn Valley. Maybe it was because of Jenner. The gray sky above was still a thick blanket. Fog continued to form as they breathed, and it was still cold. Oh, how they could not wait to get to Thorn Valley!
Day turned into dusk and dusk stretched out to night. The sky then turned purple, and it began to clear up. If you looked upward, you could see stars hanging immobile in the air. It felt as if it were a fearless night that night; as if there was nothing between you and what you wanted to do. Simon noticed that. Quaker noticed that, and so did Leanne. It was the type of night where you never got tired.
The dim olive-green hills approached them slowly. Faintly, you could spot a few wilted flowers on them. The hills looked as though they were kept up nicely.
The troop of rats continued to hike, hoping for some sign of where they were. Tony was up in the front now because Jenner had been released. Yes, it was true. Jenner pulled a pretty good stunt, too. He pretended to cry, forcing tears out of his eyes as hard as he could. He then cried out in pain about how he hurt his ankle. It was quite a show.
Right now, Jenner’s leg was in a splint, and he was walking with a stick he found in the woods. If you watched him carefully, you would notice that the limp would come and go, and so you were capable of telling that he was all a fake. Though this was true, no one really cared at that moment. They all had been walking for two days straight, and no one was aware of anything besides the fact that they were heading home.
"Holy Saint Stevens!" The voice said. It was coming from the front of the line.
Simon and Leanne rushed to the front (Quaker stayed behind because his foot was still in pain).
Tony was at the front of the line standing perfectly still. His gaze was fixed on a large white house down below the hills. It was a very old house indeed, with gardens and pastures just behind it. Also, there was a large spot where instead of a rosebush, a lilac bush grew. (Ol’ Mr. Fitzgibbon kept his promises)
They all were there. They all had made it back to the farm. Crowds had gathered by then around the sight. It felt like heaven then. Even Alexander had taken his hat off, and watched the house. Looking around, he saw no rosebush. He had forgotten- the bulldozer must have destroyed it to where it could never be replanted.
"Whoo Hoo!" Leanne jumped up into the air as high as she could. She then took off toward the house without permission.
"Leanne!" Alex called, "Come back!" he rushed back after her. The rest of the rats followed their leader. Jenner followed the shadows.
Dew had settled on the grass, and pale moonlight was pouring down upon small figures running through the field. An owl screeched above, and took to flight.
Michael looked up. "Take cover!" he screamed as the owl swooped down, barely missing hid head.
The troop ducked, trying to keep the animal in their vision. They all were in danger.
"Get out your spears, everyone." Quaker whispered. "If he comes to close range, we’ve to kill him. If we don’t, he won’t leave us alone for the rest of the night; that could be ten hours or more."
Alex looked over at Quaker. "We can’t kill that thing, it’s too big. I say run for it."
Quaker reached behind him and pulled out his weapon. He held the spear roughly against Alex’s side. "I say we kill it. Kill it or die."
Alex nodded, and pulled his weapon. Others did the same.
"Michael!!" A voice screamed from the back of the line. "Michael!!"
Michael was still out in the field, uncovered by fellow rats. He must have tripped and fallen behind!
No one moved, afraid for their own lives. The owl’s screech got closer and closer. It was coming in for the kill.
Michael reached out in vain as he ran. "Help!" he gasped.
How could anyone just sit around? There was a man in need, and Quaker knew it. He jumped up with his spear in his hand, and took charge. He ran as fast as he could to the rat, ready to kill.
Quaker got to Michael and pushed him down. The owl swooped, his talons barely missing Quaker’s back. Quaker looked up. He had to kill this thing. Lying on top of Michael, Quaker spotted the owl. It was coming back. He was going to kill it. He had to.
The owl swooped down, and Quaker lunged his spear outward. In a flash, the bird screamed, and fell to the ground. It’s yellow eyes blinked once, but never would never blink again.
The rest of the troop rushed to Quaker’s side. He lay on the ground panting and bleeding extensively. Michael crawled out from underneath his friend, and looked at Quaker’s chest.
Quaker’s chest had been ripped by the owl’s talons. The wounds had ripped through his shirt, and went from his collar bone to his hip. It was amazing he was still alive.
Michael looked over at the owl- after he had seen Quaker- and ran over to the bird. "Curse you!" he shouted. Michael kicked the bird, whose leg was slightly twitching.
Michael looked at the owl and took the spear out of it’s chest. It looked so sad and peaceful lying there, but that made no difference to Michael. Quaker was dying, therefore the bird shall, too. Quaker had saved Michael.
"Someone get the doctor!!" Leanne shrieked. A man from the back of the group stepped forward.
The doctor knelt down to Quaker and examined his chest. The cut is very deep," he noted, "But if we hurry, and get him back to Thorn Valley, he might just live." The doctor took out some towels and blankets and wrapped Quaker up tightly. Quaker gasped.
The troop searched for sticks to make a bed for Quaker, so they could carry him up to the mountain.
Many felt the same way. Leanne felt that it was her fault; for running away as she did. Michael thought it was his fault; that he tripped. The troop felt as if it were their fault; for not helping protect Quaker and Michael. Whatever anyone felt, they all felt this: They all wished that they were as brave as Quaker.
Brutis, Simon, Tony, Michael, and a few others picked Quaker up and lifted him onto the stretcher. They each started to carry him off- back towards home.
And, in the darkness of the evening, a group of soldiers walked off, each in deep despair. No one had really realized- up until that moment- how Quaker was a part of everyone. They all hoped he would last.
Finally, after a great amount of "Order" from the judge, the voices of the crowd died down. Justin stood up and faced the community.
"Jenner," Justin shouted, "Is becoming a problem! We have not yet decided what to do with this obstacle. And, thanks to Mrs. Jonathan Frisby, we are going to solve it."
Justin motioned for Sara to come to the front of the balcony. She stood, blushing, and slowly walked to the front. Sara blinked once, and waited for Justin to continue.
"That is why," Justin started again, "I am leaving this meeting up to her!"
Sara looked up at him, quite angrily, and then looked down at the crowd of people below her. Clasping her hands together, Sara gathered up her courage. After all, she was the one who had come up with the idea of having a meeting in the first place.
She cleared her throat and began talking. First, her voice was weak and demure, but it got louder and stronger with the procession of the meeting. "I suggested to Justin" she said, "that it was all of our business what is to be planned for Jenner’s future. Justin had a strong point just a moment ago- Nicodemus suggested waiting until Jenner got here to decide his punishment. Justin said that if we did that, Jenner, as manipulative as he is, could easily pull something. I told him that we should decide something sooner, to ensure everyone’s safety."
Here she paused and waited for voices from the audience. Sure enough, talking started- and most of them were in agreement and admiration. Mrs. Frisby peered out toward the crowd, and noticed that there, in the front row, were the rats that she had seen in the hallway the night she was looking for her children. The fellows were still wearing vests (Of different colors), and the lady had changed into a light brown sweater, and a pastel orange skirt that fell just below her ankles, just as her previous one had.
The voices quieted, as so Sara began again. "So, we want any suggestions you may have. Since Jenner will be in your community, in your jail, and affecting all our lives, we want any suggestions possible. We- Nicodemus, Justin and I- don’t want anyone to be shy. If you have and idea, let us know!"
Mrs. Frisby turned behind her, and whispered something to the judge. The judge got up, walked down the stairs, and whispered something into another rat’s ear. That rat stepped directly under the balcony, and retrieved about three hundred papers and pencils. Sara guessed that there was a table underneath them.
The rat walked up to the rows of rats sitting in the audience, and handed each of them a piece of paper and a pencil. Even children got one. Once finished, the rat resumed his original position by the door.
"Write your thoughts and ideas down on the pieces of paper, and leave them by the door on your way out." Sara explained, "And we will call you all in here tomorrow at the same time to announce the final decision. Something must be done about Jenner!" Mrs. Frisby took her seat once again.
Applauds rang out as Sara finished her speech. People stood up and smiled, and then headed out the door.
Wide eyed in his seat, Justin was grinning wildly. "Well done!" he exclaimed, "You’d never guess that was your first speech in front of a crowd of that size! Simply amazing!"
Reddened, Sara stood up. "Thank you," she said in return, "I didn’t know I had it in me, either." Mrs. Frisby looked down toward her knees. Cynthia was looking up at her in total admiration.
"Momma," Cynthia said, "I have an idea."
"Well what is it?" Mrs. Frisby asked.
"The rats moved here to become more civilized, right?"
Mrs. Frisby nodded.
"I don’t think we should kill Jenner. I think we need to transform him."
Mrs. Frisby and Justin looked at each other in confusion until Justin finally got down on his knees and looked at Cynthia in the face. "What do you mean- transform him?" he asked.
"We can use him." Cynthia answered. "We can put him in jail, or put him to good use. He could make a lovely janitor, or a workman. Not killing him would be civilized. He didn’t want to work- that’s why he left- so we can punish him by making him work overtime." Cynthia looked up at her mother waiting for some sign of agreement.
Obviously, Cynthia didn’t really understand the situation clearly. She had a point- killing Jenner would not be civilized, and being civilized is what the rats were trying to be.
Instead of letting Cynthia down, Mrs. Frisby gave the child the satisfaction of the thought. "It’s nice to know you thinking about all of this, honey." She said. "We will take your suggestion into consideration."
With that, Justin stood up, and smiled brightly at Sara. Mrs. Frisby smiled back. With a slight sigh, Mrs. Frisby patted the children along. "Let’s go." She said.
The group of six made their way down the stairs. When they got to the bottom, Nicodemus met them all with a handshake. Though he said nothing, everyone could tell he was pleased with the speech, the way it was preformed, and the idea. Silently, he was admitting that he had been wrong.
After that, Justin, Mrs. Frisby and her children walked back to the room. The children lead the way as Justin and Sara stayed in the back, talking.
"You don’t have to come all the way down here," Mrs. Frisby was saying, "We will be fine."
"Never mind that," said Justin. "I want to, uh, make sure your room has power. Everything in order, I always say!"
"Since when do you say that?"
Mrs. Frisby looked at him for a moment. She could see through that lame excuse. She smiled dreamily. "Oh really?"
The two of them stopped outside the door of the room. The children went on inside and shut the door behind them.
"Really!" Justin said. "I want to thank you for giving the speech today."
Sara blushed, and smiled greater. "No problem. I’ll do it anytime. Just let me know."
Both of them looked down and realized that they were holding hands.
Without saying a word, Sara slowly looked up at Justin. Her eyes sparkled with merriment and looked him in the eyes. Justin looked back.
Their heads got closer, and closer, until their lips met. Sara placed her hands on Justin’s shoulders. They kissed. It wasn’t a very passionate kiss, but it lasted long enough. Before either of them knew it, Justin’s arms wrapped around Sara’s waist, and embraced her tenderly. They both had their eyes closed.
The door swung open. "Mom?"
Jenner was silent. He walked along with the rest of them, also taken with grief. Even he could feel envy. He looked up at the stars. All of them were getting closer to home which meant that soon, he could carry out his plan.
"Hike up on the sides!" Simon called from the back of the stretcher. "We gotta get him home- then to the hospital!"
Leanne looked behind her. Who had said that?
"Leanne." Quaker whispered.
Leanne got someone to carry her corner of the stretcher and then walked up to her friend. "What is it?"
"Take care of my family for me, will ya?"
"Shhh. Don’t talk like that… you are going to live."
"I want to tell you something, incase I die." He was hushed for a minute, and then spoke up. "I want to tell you, you’ve been like a sister to me, and you are welcome in my house anytime. Take care of the kids for me. Karen died, you know. She wasn’t one of the twenty two. I love, and I know this sounds crazy but, I.. I love-" His eyes closed, and his breathing calmed down.
Leanne sighed, shed a tear, and resumed her place at the corner of the stretcher.
"You." Quaker whispered. Leanne took no notice.
The sky brightened, and it was completely light within a few hours. The troop was no longer taking breaks- they had to hurry home- they had to save a life.
The air around them was steadily growing warmer, yet it was still cool. The nights would be brutal. The sky was a pale blue with puffy cottony clouds in the air. Flocks of birds could still be spotted flying south, and the wind smelled slightly of smoke.
Slowly, as all of them hiked past the farmhouse and through the woods, the mountains came into view. It was a pleasant sight, because before they went on, the whole troop stopped at where the rosebush had once been. Everyone had instant flashbacks: The finding of the cave, and the making of their home. The arrival of Mrs. Frisby, and her capture. Then came the memories of moving- of destroying the inside of the bush. Roy and Tracee dying in the line of duty. No one would ever forget the easy life they had there. No one would forget the life they once had before they left for their own. No one would ever forget. Ever.
Though no one spoke, everyone could read each other’s mind. It wasn’t hard- everyone’s eyes were fixed on the mountains ahead of them, their minds were fixed on home. Their stomachs were longing for food, and their hearts longing for family. The only noise anyone made came from either Quaker’s groans, or Leanne’s coos of comfort.
That was another thing- Leanne. Although she said nothing, her mind, along with the thought of home, was racing about Quaker. She had always known that she and him were good friends- much better than she and Simon (No offence to Simon) would ever be. Leanne was unmarried, and had no children. She was one of the twenty two, so she also could expect another fifteen years of life until it was time to write out a will. She had always wanted to have a family besides her mother, father and brother. She did want to make her parents grandparents, but Quaker? Somehow, deep in her heart, she knew what Quaker was going to say even though she did not hear the last word. A family? Quaker? If he lived?
Leanne shook it off. Right now, she had to focus on getting her friend home. She looked back at Simon. "Hold on back there!" she said.
Simon looked at her and nodded. He tightened his grip on the stretcher. The ground was now beginning to incline quite a bit.
On they walked. Tony eyed the back of Leanne’s head in like, and Michael continued at a strong pace, anxious to get his rescuer home.
The soft mossy ground beneath them turned into light tan rock which made it painful to climb. It was especially hard getting the stretcher up the mountain. The rats had to hoist the front up and hand it to another pair of rats as Leanne and her partner climbed higher. As they did so, the front was passed up to them, and the back of the stretcher was handed over to the rats that held for Leanne. It continued like this for the rest of the way up the mountain.
After an hour of climbing and praying, eyes got wide and land flattened out. The troop was now looking at a large circular field, surrounded with one, annular gray cave. The field was a complete circle atop of the tall mountain. A big, towering cave outlined the field. There was not a rat to be seen.
A sigh of relief passed through them all. Eyes cried. They were home.
"Oh, Timothy!" Sara cried. Her lips removed with a smack. Sara gasped. She had been caught red-handed.
Timothy’s eyes swelled with tears, and he ran back into the room and crashed on the bed. Sara and Justin chased after him.
"Timothy-"Sara tried to explain.
"Go away! I don’t want to hear it!" By now the other three children had gathered around the bed.
"Honey- I need to explain."
Timothy sat up and wiped his nose with his shirt sleeve. "Go on. I’m listening."
"Remember what I told you the day before we left for here?" Mrs. Frisby looked up and saw him nod. "Well, I told you that if I were to have another relationship, I would want it to be with Justin?"
Justin blushed. He never knew that he had been included in a conversation in the Frisby home before. Timothy glanced down at the ground.
"Well," Sara continued, "Here is your proof. Justin will never replace your father. Ever. But I would like to be in love again. You see, when a couple have feelings for each other, they kiss. Remember you and that girl you were friends with by the brook in the summer house? Well…"
"I don’t want to hear it!" Timothy yelled. He grabbed a pillow from under the blankets, and covered his ears.
Sara tore the pillow away. "Now you listen here young man!" Her ears were red, and she was shaking her finger. "I’m not going to be here forever. I’m not from Nimh- I’m not like your father was, or even like Justin! I have only a little while left on this earth, while you will live for years reaching thirty. When I’m gone, you need someone to watch over you."
It had never hit Timothy- or any of the children for that matter- that their mother was not going to live for very much longer. Mice only lived for a couple years or so. That was it. Mrs. Frisby, because she had had Jonathan’s children, her life may be extended by a year, if she was lucky. Timothy looked up at her with curious eyes. He knew she was right.
Timothy wiped his eyes on his sleeve, and then wrapped his arms around his mother tightly. "I love you, Momma." He whispered.
"I love you too, sweetheart." Mrs. Frisby whispered back. She slowly stroked his hair.
After a minute or so, Timothy straightened up, and went to the bathroom. Mrs. Frisby walked over to Justin as the rest of the children went into the bathroom with Timothy.
"I never knew you felt that way." Justin said. "Maybe we shouldn’t-"
"No," Sara replied, "We should. I’m not going to use you- I’ve only a few years left to live. And if you don’t want to have a relationship that will certainly only last a few years, then I understand. I just want to love again. I want to be loved again, and, well.."
Justin drew her closer. "It’s fine with me. I don’t care. It is and honor and a privilege to be so close to you. And, maybe, because you did have his children, you may live a good five or six years more. But, that I cannot be sure of. All I know is that, since the day I saw you, I loved you." he kissed her forehead.
Shouting. There were yells and screams and cries coming from the hallway. What was going on? The children burst out of the doorway and stood listening. Justin and Sara rushed out to the hallway. You could not move because it was so crowded. Justin spotted a familiar face over some heads, and took off after him.
"Tony!!" Justin shouted. Tony looked up.
Tony walked over to Justin and took a deep breath. "We’re back!" He glanced behind Justin. "Uh," he said, "Can I come in? My room’s on the other hall so it will take forever to get to it. May I come in and inform you about our previous mission?"
Justin nodded, and hurried Tony in the door. As they walked in, the Frisby family greeted them. Tony was puzzled.
"Oh, I’m sorry Justin," he said, "I didn’t know you were in the middle of- well, had company!"
"Think nothing of it." Justin replied. "Have a seat."
Tony took a seat on the edge of the bed. Trying not to stare at Sara, he started his conversation. "The hospital is on an overload! Simon lost a piece of his ear, and Quaker is about dying. Quaker saved another trooper, Michael, and got his stomach ripped open by an owl’s talons. Jenner is actually behaving himself! He is being escorted to the jail as we speak, well, right after he goes to have a check-up at the hospital."
Justin and the Frisby family were all now filling the chairs and the corners of the beds. "Oh, sorry to interrupt Tony," Justin commented, "But as you know, this is the Frisby family. This is Sara, Martin, Teresa, Cynthia, and Timothy… the one who was sick last year."
Tony shook hands with them all, and continued: "Well, Quaker I fear is not going to live long. It would take a miracle for him to live for another week. We need Mr. Ages up here quick. We might need more medicine. Simon lost his ear the night Jenner returned. They got into a fight, but no one really knows who started it. Alexander believes Simon started it because of that mouth of his. I don’t know why Alexander didn’t leave with Jenner in the first place. He favors him an awful lot."
The noises from outside the hall had finally cleared away, which meant that it was time for Tony to head home. Tony stood. "Thank you for letting me come in." he said. He smiled and shut the door behind him with a squeak.
"Well, Sara," Justin said looking down at her, "I think it’s about time you look at all those suggestions you got at the meeting today. We need them. P.D.Q!"
Jenner was wheeled down the crowded hallway. As he looked around, he noticed a few familiar faces. He was being wheeled in on account of his presumably battered feet. Supposedly, he could not walk, and he needed medical treatment. He lay on the wheeling bed thinking to himself.
He thought of where he was. He had not planned on coming so soon. He had not intended for anyone to come and get him, nor had he planned to carry out his scheme so early. Now, he was just playing by instinct. He was playing not by rules, but, since it was instinct, he was playing by the rule of death: An eye for an eye. His partner Sullivan had been killed in the hardware store. Sullivan would be alive had it not been for Nicodemus and his Plan in which no one liked. Simon died, therefore, well, an eye for an eye…
Mrs. Frisby sat around the table with her children. Justin had left a while ago, to check on Jenner. Sara and her family sat at the big round table beside the bed. All of them shuffled through great mounds of papers, all of which had to be read, grouped and singled down within an hour.
Sara had read the whole pile and picked out all the considerable ones and handed them to Teresa. Teresa did the same process; read them and picked out all the good ones in her pile. Then, she handed them to Martin, and so on. By the time the pile got to Timothy (who was the last one to handle the papers before they made a decision), there were only about five papers he would choose between.
"Hmmm…" Timothy said, "This one suggests that we keep Jenner in a cell, but keep him alive.. let him grow fat and clumsy, and since the jail cells are so confined, he will become extremely weak. They say that once he is basically wasted, let him out." Timothy thought about it for a while. It was a very thought out plan, but kind of a sick thing to do, too.
Timothy thought for a while longer, and handed his mother three from the pile of five he had. She looked them over as well, but could not decide. "Come, children," she said grabbing her cape, "We need to see Nicodemus."
The family walked down the hallway in deep thought. Though none of them really knew Jenner and what he was hated for, they all saw what an impact he has in Thorn Valley. So many disliked him, and that was enough. Out of all Thorn Valley, no one liked him at all. (Or so they thought)
By now, as they neared Nicodemus’ office, a few rats walked the hallway. Some of them had been soldiers and were going to the cafeteria for some food. Some were guards, re-reporting for duty. Many of them were men; big and so robust were they, they intimidated even Sara, who knew that they were no harm to her.
They came to Nicodemus’ door and knocked on it. He answered with the same gruff voice. "Come in." he said.
Cynthia burst into the room all in excitement. "Mr. Nicodemus! Mr.!" She exclaimed, "We have some papers for you!" She ran a lap around him before she took her seat. Cynthia liked Nicodemus.
Nicodemus bent down in front of her so that they were both face to face. "Oh really?" he said with a childish grin. He then raised his hand, and did a trick that even amazed Mrs. Frisby. He showed Cynthia his hand, and then placed it beside her ear. In an instant, he pulled out a toy doll for her. Cynthia scooped it up, and, with a giggle, thanked him.
The doll was only made of yarn; it didn’t even have a face. It was strands of purple yarn grouped into five groups so it formed legs, arms, and a head.
"I hope you don’t mind," he said to Sara, "The girl in the cafeteria made it for her. She told me that she saw you every day, and she thought that Cynthia was as cute as a button."
Timothy and the others looked down at the ground in very slight envy.
Nicodemus looked at them. "She didn’t leave you guys out, either." He said. With that, he reached behind him and pulled out two boats made of wood, and another doll like Cynthia’s. He handed the Yellow string doll to Teresa (The doll was bigger than Cynthia’s) and Teresa was greatly pleased. Martin and Timothy both liked their boats, too. They all thanked him.
Nicodemus looked at Sara. "Okay. What do you need here, Mrs. Frisby?"
"Well, sir, I was wondering if you could choose a suggestion. We find them all equal, and the meeting will be here soon." She handed the bent papers to Nicodemus.
Nicodemus stood behind his deck for a second and then answered. "I choose the one where we keep him at work," he said, "It isn’t a horrible punishment, yet for him it will be agonizing. The castigation won’t make us look mean, either."
Sara thanked him very much. "I think I’m going to put the children to bed now, and then go give these to Justin. It is already dark, so I need something for tomorrow’s speech." She shook Nicodemus’ hand, and directed the children out the door.
Mrs. Frisby turned back around.
"This is for you as well. Judy sent it for you." He held out a beautiful dark blue cape for her. "Go one. Take it."
Mrs. Frisby reached out for it, held it, and then looked down at the old red one she was wearing. The cape that had once been vivid red was now a dull and dingy red. The edges of it were torn and tattered. There were holes lining the sides of it, and she had never really noticed it before, but now she was ashamed of her appearance.
The cape that was being handed to her was a dark blue, and soft to the touch. The inside of it was lined with a deep, deep purple velvet. There was also a golden clasp at the top corners of it, so she could fasten it around her neck.
Sara removed her red cape, and put the new one on. It draped all the way to the floor, and then fanned out slightly at the bottom, like a wedding dress should. It didn’t drag the floor much, but it did a little. She spread out her arms and twirled in a circle. The inside velvet captured the light of the room so that it looked as though it were glowing. The cape caught the air as it rushed by her so it fanned out around her. She looked like royalty.
Mrs. Frisby’s children stood behind her in reverence, without moving a muscle. They could not believe how much a difference the cape made on their mother. Not only did it make her look younger, it made her look smarter, too.
"Has Justin seen it?" She asked Nicodemus.
"No, he hasn’t. But I do think you need to wait until the meeting tomorrow to show him."
Mrs. Frisby thought about it for a while. He was right- if she was to take over the meeting again tomorrow, she needed to look like she knew what she was doing. She thanked him once again, and guided her children out the door. It was getting late, and the children needed to go to bed. She thought that she needed to get some sleep, too.
Justin stood over Jenner’s bed in disbelief. Jenner was here. After all the trouble he had caused, he was finally back. Justin thought as he stared at Jenner’s closed eyes. They weren’t done yet; they still had Dr. Shultz to worry about. Since Jenner was heading for the Fitzgibbon’s farm, that could send the Dr. considering the previous visit on the farm. If he had found anything from Roy and the other rat, he should know for sure that the group of rats he was following were from Nimh. He didn’t know about Thorn Valley, and he wasn’t allowed to drive or fly over it, so he might not even think about it. They could only hope….
Justin woke up from his thinking and looked down. "Hello." Justin said back at Jenner.
"I know what you are thinking, Justin," Jenner said. "You already have a punishment for me. You think I’m so bad for wanting to be successful. You think that because I spoke out about what I believed in is horrendous. You are probably going to lock me up and let me whither away to my death, right?" He didn’t give Justin enough time to answer. "Well I have to tell you something… I’m a new person. I learned that you can’t do anything without help, and help is what I had the least of. I know I did wrong in the past, and with Simon, but I’m different. I am ready and willing to prove it, too."
Justin didn’t move. "Well…"
"Well what?" Jenner said gently, "You don’t need to say anything. I know I was very bad in the past, and I regret it now. But, I know as a fact, and it’s okay- I am going to be punished because of the past, and not because of who I am now."
Justin was still quiet, but his temper began to wear down. He was about to tell Jenner about how careless he had been, so selfish, and so imbecilic, but Jenner’s eyes closed, and he rolled over.
Wind chattered against the outside walls of the cave. It bellowed through the holes of the entrances, and squeaked through the cracks in the windows. Tornadoes of dead leaves moved through the field and whipped up cattails as if they were strands of hair. The sky grew darker and darker, and clouds spread out like sheets of heavy gray metal. The sun was taken out by those clouds, leaving the world outside the caves of Thorn Valley nothing but the dingy shadows of the earth itself.
The marble floor was cold, and the walls of the room seemed as though they may blow in. Mrs. Frisby waited in the balcony for Justin to arrive. She could not think of starting without him. Her children sat in their chairs patiently.
Timothy sat staring up at the ceiling, trying to estimate how high up it was. Teresa had her nose in a thick book that one of her new friends had introduced her to. Cynthia cuddled her doll in her arms, and Martin kept jerking his head up trying not to fall asleep.
Nicodemus sat behind Sara as well, trying to reassure her. "He’ll be here soon enough," he would say, "and if not, I’m sure you can manage without."
"I don’t think so!" Mrs. Frisby refused. "He got me into this mess therefore he will help me get out of it."
"Maybe he is late on purpose, momma." Timothy suggested. Maybe he was right; Justin could have something up his sleeve.
Still, Nicodemus pushed her forward. Mrs. Frisby could not postpone the meeting any longer, the decision had to be final.
Sara straightened her new cape out. She picked up the end of it and dropped it, making the train of it flutter to the floor beneath her and fan out. She looked down at the gold chain that held it around her neck. She made sure of its security, and cleared her throat. "People!!" she exclaimed confidently, "The decision is final!!"
Applause echoed off the walls as well as cheers.
"We have decided to make Jenner work! Jenner will spend three weeks in jail, and then go to court. He will be fined and told what his punishment will be. He will be on call twenty-four hours a day to clean. He will sleep when he can, and will work permanent hours. That means that he will not be allowed to sleep between the hours eight and five. On other hours, he will go back to his cell and sleep. If he is called, a guard will be watching him to do his job. A guard will be with him every minute of the day, anyway! We are one voice! We are one community! We will know more! We will do more! We will be more! And that is a promise!!!"
Commendation was all that could be heard from the people of Thorn Valley. They clapped and stood. They whistled, and they cheered. People jumped up and down, and swung their arms high in the air.
Mrs. Frisby took her seat once again, waiting for people to clear the room. Slowly, the audience stepped down from their seats, and began to crowd the door.
The two on the balcony looked down to see Justin struggling towards them.
"I saw Jenner." Justin, out of breath, made his way up the curving winding stairs onto the balcony.
"Well?" Nicodemus asked.
Justin started to speak, but his breath was taken by the sight of Mrs. Frisby. He had never seen her in that cape before, and because of this, he did not recognize her at first glance. "Sara," he said, "you’re lovely. Where did you-?"
"Judy gave it to me. Isn’t it nice?"
"Yes, it is." He was quiet for a moment, and then started back on what he was saying. "Jenner is in the hospital. He seems to have changed, though. I haven’t seen any of his men yet. I hope they are all in a jail cell. I wanted to know if you guys wanted to come along with me and look. What do ya say?"
"I suppose so," Nicodemus concluded, "I would like to know where they are."
In agreement, Mrs. Frisby held out her hand. Justin took it, and off they went. "Children," Mrs. Frisby said, "Go back to your room. I don’t want you to be around the people we are about to meet."
Obediently, the four youngsters separated from their elders.
The group of three trotted down the bustling hallway towards the jail. The wind still blew dynamically outside, and leaves and twigs flew so fast, they cracked a few windows. It had started to rain by then, turning the soil outside into a big mud puddle.
They said nothing as they walked. The first time someone spoke was when they arrived at the jail.
The jail was always kept dim, which made it seem more unpleasant than it really was. Circular cells made of thick wire lined the long halls behind the front desk. Unlike the rest of the rooms in Thorn Valley, the jail was a hall all itself.
Justin approached the guard sitting at the front desk. Because Nicodemus was with him, the guard allowed them all to pass without saying a word.
Mrs. Frisby tightened her grip on Justin’s hand as they walked by the cells, intimidated. Sara had never seen anything like it; there were rats in almost every cell! There were male rats and female rats, some were so big they looked like they could just pick up the cell they were in and throw it up against the wall. Others were so skinny and bony they could hardly stand up. Some rats sat in the shadows and looked up at them with big weak eyes, eyes weakened from years in the dim light. That made Mrs. Frisby feel sorry for them.
At the end of the hall, there stood a tall, black door, made of heavy metal and bolts. Nicodemus pulled out a key and slid it into the keyhole. The door opened with a scrape of metal and a click.
Beyond the door was a large cage made of bars about three inches thick each. Mrs. Frisby could barley see the black figures moving around in the cell because of the light; the room was only being lit by a single candle, which stood in the farthest corner of the room.
"Hello?" a harsh voice said.
"It’s us," Nicodemus said, "Nicodemus, Justin and Mrs. Jonathan Frisby. We are not here to harm you."
The three of them stepped closer toward the cage, so to see the prisoners better. There was quite a lot of them- all as muscular as they could get. Mrs. Frisby looked some of them over.
One of the rats was taller than Justin, and the muscles he had seemed as though they could pop out of his skin. Veins bulged out of his arms and wrists and made him look almost like Frankenstein.
Another rat was a girl, and she wasn’t as tall as some of the others. Although she was not the tallest, she could very well have been the most vicious. She was suited in a tight black leather vest and glove. Her teeth were yellow and curved almost two inches over her bottom lip. Her nails were just as long, but they were kind of orange looking. Like the others, she had muscles that bulged and quivered with each slight movement.
Mrs. Frisby turned to yet another rat, but he stood out from the rest of them. He was much shorter than the rest, but was still unusually muscular for his size. This rat’s face even seemed familiar. He had light fur, and big brown eyes- eyes that were bright, unlike the cold eyes that belonged to the others, and unlike the harsh expression he held on his face. He looked at Sara with grievous eyes, and captured her breath. Sara stood still for quite a while and stared at him. He stared back. Did she know him? No. She couldn’t. Although, there was something very haunting about him.
"Sara?" Nicodemus asked.
Sara snapped out of her gaze. "Oh, I’m sorry, sir," she said, "I was just thinking something."
"Well what was it?" Justin inquired.
"I," Sara began, "I was thinking that I knew one of them, but I don’t think I do. At least, I couldn’t."
"You could know one of them, it is possible, but unlikely." Nicodemus said. He stepped forward to examine the one that Mrs. Frisby had been looking at. He looked over the rat, and something sparked his mind as well. Neither he nor Mrs. Frisby could put their finger on it, but there was something about him.
"What were you crying about, Timmy?" Asked Cynthia.
"Nothing that you could understand right now, Cinnie." He answered.
All of them were lying on their backs staring up at the ceiling. Timothy had his arms folded behind his head. The lights were dimmed, and all of the children were deeply involved in a conversation.
"I’m still worried about what is going on with Jenner." Martin said.
Timothy agreed. He hadn’t told them all about the people he had heard talking in the hallway the other night. He knew that it was important to have people know, but he wasn’t sure about whether or not what he thought was true. He sat up. "Come on!"
"Where to?" Teresa asked.
"I’m going to the hospital. I want to find out a few things, and I don’t want to go alone." Timothy opened the door and walked off.
For a moment, the others just sat and wondered if they should go or not. Cynthia was the first one to follow, and with her first movement, the others followed her as well. Soon, a band of four children were walking down the hallway.
The group walked like they all were on a mission. They all walked as though they were some bunch of kids with attitudes. Only Teresa had a slight expression of worry on her face. Other than that, they all were confident.
After they had walked down many hallways and ramps, they reached the hospital. It smelled like Band-Aids and flowers. No one really liked the smell, but what did one expect?
The children slowly walked up to the front desk. It was white and cold, and a fat lady sat at it with a smirk on her face. She stood up and looked down at them with a mean expression. The only one willing to speak to her was Timothy. Whatever it was that he was up to, he wasn’t going to quit.
"What room is Jenner in?" He asked. His voice did not even quiver.
"Why do you want to know?" The lady snapped.
Martin straightened himself out. He cleared his throat, and spoke up. "We need to see him and tell him to get well."
The lady looked them all over. She especially looked at Martin. She could tell he was lying. "I don’t think that’s a good idea for you kids to go in there with Jenner."
"Please?" Timothy was almost begging. "We absolutely must see him. I need to tell him a few things. I promise I will not arouse his anger in the least. I just want to look at the person that everyone hates. I want to know why everyone dislikes him, so I can see for myself. I am not the kind of person who goes off disliking someone I have never met." Timothy let out a sigh.
Once again, the lady looked him over. He sounded sincere, which sent her the notion to let them all pass. "Go on," she said, "It’s room 197 at the end of the third corridor."
The children all felt a wave of relief sweep over them. They all walked silently to the room. Once they all got there, they stopped and looked at each other. Timothy did the honors of opening the door. The four walked in and shut the door quietly behind them.
Jenner’s bed was the one on the far end of the room, by the window. He was still rolled over into a lump on his side. He appeared to be sleeping. The children approached him with caution. Cynthia stayed behind the curtain that separated Jenner’s side of the room from the other rat’s side.
"Sshhh" Teresa held her finger up to her lip.
Jenner suddenly rolled over, frightening them all. "I’m up! I’m up!" he shouted. Then he realized who was really there. "Oh. Who are you?"
"I.. I’m Timothy, and this is Teresa, and Martin." Timothy stepped back to show his brother and sister to Jenner.
Jenner looked at them all as if he were in deep thought. "Oh, yeah," he said slowly, "You’re the Frisby kids, right? Yeah, I know who you all are."
"How do you know?" Cynthia asked from behind the curtain. She stepped out to show herself.
"Oh, it’s, uh, Cynthia, right?" Jenner guessed. "Your father spoke often of you. Why are you all here?"
Timothy told him that he just wanted to look at the person who everyone hated. "I never knew you, nor have I ever met you," Timothy went on, "so I found no point in disliking anyone I have never even met."
"Well, Timothy," Jenner told him, "That is very good. I hope I can show you what kind of person I am, so you can see the real me. You see, everyone hates me for something I did in the past. No one will take the fact that I may have changed into consideration. I hope you will. No one likes me because I left a while ago. Please keep this in mind when your people start to punish me soon. Please note that people can change, can’t they?"
The children nodded.
"There now, you see? I have changed, but I only need a chance to prove that I have. No one will give me that chance. Isn’t that a little unfair?"
The children shook their heads without saying a word.
"Well now, I think it would be best if you kids left now. I need to get some sleep. But, you can come back and speak to me whenever you like. I don’t get too many visitors anymore." Jenner rolled back over onto his side again. "Thank you for coming, bye bye."
Teresa, Martin, Timothy and Cynthia all walked out of the room. "I don’t know why everyone hates him," Timothy noted as he closed the door, "He seems really nice."
Jenner smiled a big mischievous smile.
The children walked out of the hospital in confusion. They couldn’t understand why no one liked Jenner. He seemed nice, and he acted nice, therefore the children took him as being nice. Heck, maybe he had changed.
"Teresa!!" The calls echoed throughout the hallways. Once again, Sara was looking for her children.
"Don’t worry, Sara," Justin said softly, "We’ll find them. They can’t be too far- at least, not outside- it’s raining."
"Everyone always tells me that it’s going to be okay!" Mrs. Frisby stopped and pounded her foot on the hard marble floor. "I’m just scared that once I listen to them, my babies will be found dead all because I thought it was going to be okay."
Justin sighed. He knew he had no right to tell her that everything would be alright, when he didn’t have children of his own. Nevertheless, he kept trying to reassure her.
"Cynthia! Martin, Timothy!" Mrs. Frisby glanced down a hallway to find nothing. She picked up her pace. She jogged up an up ramp to collide face first into Martin.
"Mom!" Teresa exclaimed. "Why such a hurry?"
"Don’t anyone give me that!" Sara scolded, "We have been looking high and low for you again. That was the last straw! You never tell me where you are going, and when you do go, you go off somewhere you shouldn’t! Come on, let’s have it- where were you and why? It had better be someplace special for this one, guys!"
The three of the children pushed Timothy forward. Since he was the one who dragged them all to the hospital, he should be the one to tell them. "We went to the," Timothy paused. He knew already that his mom wasn’t going to take any excuses, and this one was a bad one in the first place. "We went to the hospital."
Sara gasped. "Why? None of you were hurt, were you? Are all of you okay?"
"Yeah, yeah." Timothy went on, "But we went for a reason."
Sara looked at them coldly.
"We went to see Jenner." Timothy swallowed hard.
Sara did not want to hear anymore. "I have told you never to go near Jenner!" She screamed. People were now coming out of their rooms to see what was going on.
"No you didn’t, mommy." Cynthia said.
That just got Mrs. Frisby’s anger going even more. She blew up. "Never, ever, go to see Jenner! He is a dangerous man! He will kill us all if he had the chance! That’s it! From now on, you all will be stuck in daycare whenever I have to go off by myself. You have proven twice that you all are incapable of being responsible!" Sara grabbed each of their ears- two in each hand- and dragged them all off to their room.
Justin just followed behind silently, reminding himself to remember never to make Mrs. Frisby angry. Ever.
Mrs. Frisby grumbled to herself as they all walked down the hallway. When they had gotten to the room, Sara forced all of the children into the bed. "Go to sleep!" she said harshly. "Go to sleep, and don’t you dare get out of bed until I tell you it’s okay. I have to keep tabs on wherever you are from now on." She covered her face in her hands and walked outside and sat down beside the door.
Justin walked up to her. "What is it? What is wrong, Sara?" He asked.
"I think it would be best if you leave now, Justin," Mrs. Frisby said with a big sob in her voice. "I’ll tell you in the morning after I drop the kids off at daycare."
Justin got the point. He then bent down and kissed her gently on the head and walked off. They all had had a stressful night.
Sara sat outside the door thinking for almost an hour. It was a lot to take on so quickly. She was worried about Jenner, and the danger he can cause the community and to her children. She was worried about what was going to happen to her. Right now, it seemed like she and Justin had a lot of power, but they did not.
Sara had noticed that Nicodemus had not been using his best judgement, and that troubled her even more. He was getting to be as old as Mr. Ages, but that was no excuse. What if Jenner was not sentenced to the punishment the whole colony had decided on?
She had lost her husband, and now she had to worry about her children. They were all growing up now, getting up to their teens, and the hard part was letting go of the fact that that they need to start taking responsibility for their lives. Mrs. Frisby had to let them make their own decisions, and watch out for them all at the same time! Stress, stress, stress.
As she sat there on the cold floor thinking, she watched the lights in the hallway dim for the coming of night. It had been a long day. She had done a meeting, had to search for the kids, and go to the jail and encounter a strange feeling that she could by no means define.
She began to wonder if moving to Thorn Valley was a good idea. She had sent all the kids to school, yet they had not made any friends to her knowledge. That was it! Instead of sending them all to daycare, she should force them to go to school! They had had time to adapt to the people, so they should be ready to be around lots of them at one time. That is what she would do. Instead of letting them sleep in, she would get them up early and send them off to school. That would not only keep them out of trouble, it would allow her seven hours to herself without worry!
Mrs. Frisby returned to her room in great relief. She took her cape off and laid it down upon the bedside table. She looked over at her children, who were already asleep, and closed her eyes. "Sleep well, children," she whispered, "Tomorrow you all will be busy."
She had no clue to how true this statement would be.
Justin walked back to his office to do some paperwork. Sure it was late, but he didn’t care. He had to get some work done. Besides, he wasn’t tired; actually he was hungry.
His office door opened with a soft squeak, and he shut it behind him. He walked to his desk and sat down. His desk was flooded with papers of all sizes. Stacks sat there and stared at him. This was going to be great.
The first paper he picked up was one that someone had delivered to his room while he was gone. It read:
Thorn Valley Hospital/Medical Records
Jenner : Registered- September 4, 2:21 P.M.
Signed Out : September 5, 9:48 P.M.
Jenner was signed out of Thorn Valley Hospital at nine forty eight on September fifth. He will from there be transported to the Thorn Valley Community Center for counseling. All permission granted by officials and superior voices.
Signed By: Nicodemus~
"What??!" Justin jumped up from his desk. The clock on the wall read ten fifteen. If what the paper said was true, they all had just missed Jenner. Justin couldn’t believe it. He took off running as fast as he could to the Community Center.
How could this be? Nicodemus would not let Jenner out of jail without letting Justin know; and even if he did, he would have sent him directly to jail. This was outrageous! Justin could not wait to get there.
As he ran, he bumped into a number of people on the way. He didn’t care. He had to get there. He had to get Jenner out of the Center before he went wild. Jenner- anyone with common sense knew this- was a very hostile yet manipulative person. He could get his way however it took, and then stab a friend in the back. That was the way Jenner was, and that was the way all Jenner’s friends worked. It has always been that way, and that is the way it has always been accepted.
The Community Center was a place for community meetings, counseling, planning, and things like that. It could be found on the West Wing, and was a beautiful building. It had been carved from an enormous stalactite hanging from the ceiling of the cave. The only way you could get into it was by a small elevator made from a motor, a pulley, a porch light and a big weight. Yellowish lights could be seen from the outside, so the light sent shadows haunting that entire area of hallway.
Justin did not hesitate as he stepped into the elevator. He tugged at a rope hanging on the inside of the elevator, and up he went. The ride has always been a bit jerky, but that did not matter to Justin. All he was worried about was getting to Jenner.
The main room of the Community Center was a spacious room with a circular desk in the middle of it. Justin approached the desk in a hurry.
"Where is Jenner?" he gasped at the woman behind the desk.
She hesitated before answering, because the sudden outburst from Justin startled her. "Uh, he’s up Stairway twelve, sir."
The room was outlined with doors, and each door had a stairwell that led up to another room. Justin took the door that had the number twelve labeled on the front.
He raced up the stairs, and burst into the room at the top. There were a few people sitting in the chairs that lined the walls. Justin noticed one of them right away. It was a young girl, wearing a white vest, straw hat with a bow around it and a navy blue skirt that fell just below her ankles- it was Alice. With her were two gentlemen about her age. Both of them were wearing overalls covered in dirt. You could tell that they had been working in the garden.
Justin didn’t bother to say hello. He looked around, and there was a desk in the room that was not being occupied. He didn’t care. He burst through the next door to see, sitting in a chair, Jenner.
Jenner was talking to a man in a suit. The man had a pen and notepad in his hand, and was writing down everything Jenner said to him. Justin shot the man a bad look, therefore the man excused himself from the conversation. Jenner turned around and smiled at Justin. Justin and the man left the room.
"My name is John Lafferty." The man said. He held out his hand to Justin and they both shook hands.
With that, Alice and the man next to her looked up and started to listen.
"Why are you talking to Jenner?" Justin demanded.
"Nicodemus sent him to me to talk to. Why?"
"Well," Justin began, "I was never notified of this and I wanted to look into it. Why is he here, and how long will he be here?"
"I have been told to talk to him, and then make notes of any changes that may have taken place in him. Do you want to hear my notes?"
"I have observed," John continued, "That he has a whole new outlook on life. Did you know that Jenner was suffering of depression when he left? Now he swears that he is a changed man. He states that he is totally capable of starting a whole new life in Thorn Valley. He tells me that he was neglected as a member of this colony, and that is why he left. He tells me that he had some ideas that he wanted to share, and no one would provide him with the freedom of speech!"
Justin laughed hard. "You believe him?!" He roared. "What, did you miss the whole thing we went through in the rosebush? We had to restrain Jenner from holding meetings! He left because he wanted everyone to stay in the bush and be killed! He was crazy and you know it! I can’t believe this!" Justin stepped back and laughed some more. This guy was nuts!
John looked at him in anger. Justin was actually mocking him and making fun of what he was trying to do. "I am only doing my job here. If a client tells me something, I must believe him. I’m not only a counselor, I’m kind of like a lawyer."
"I’m sorry," Justin apologized, "I only found it funny that you are taking him so seriously while you yourself know how he likes to play with people’s minds. I did not mean to offend you."
Justin paused. He looked out of the corner of his eye to catch the three people listening. Nonchalantly, he began to talk to John again. "I’ll tell you what," he said, "I’m going to get Nicodemus up here and see what he says. Don’t let anyone in this room leave, including Jenner. I’ll be back."
Justin rushed out of the room, leaving John behind to take care of the others. He had a plan. He had to find out why this was the way it was.
He passed the front desk lady, and then went down with the elevator.
The hallway was now empty. It was well past eleven and everyone was in bed. The dim lights that lined the halls made everything have a slight yellow tint to it. His footsteps made a slight noise as he walked, but other than that, it was totally silent. It was a deadly silent.
Nicodemus was sleeping when Justin began pounding on his door. Nicodemus awoke with a grumble and staggered to the door. "What do you want?"
"Nicodemus!" Justin pleaded. "I need your help!"
Nicodemus opened the door.
"Why did you send Jenner to the Community Center for counseling?"
Nicodemus looked puzzled. "I didn’t." He said.
Justin grabbed his hand and literally pulled him all the way to the Community Center. Nicodemus was in his robe at the time, and was ashamed to be seen in such a state.
When they both arrived to the Center about ten minutes later, they stepped into the elevator and tugged the rope. No one said a word. Justin was anxious to get to the top. Why hadn’t Nicodemus known about the Center?
The elevator doors opened with a scrape of metal. The two rats stepped out onto the floor of the front room. Justin had expected to see the lady at the desk he had seen on his way out, but she was not there. Maybe she was on break.
Justin ran to the door with the number twelve on the front. He was still holding Nicodemus’ hand. When they got to the top, they bound through the door. No one was there. Justin looked around. Even the girl and the men were gone. He had told John not to let anyone leave.
"I know they were here." Justin assured Nicodemus. "He said they would not go anywhere!"
"Who?" Nicodemus asked.
They opened the door. Jenner was sitting in a chair at the center of the room, and beside of him was the front desk clerk, and John. John and the clerk were tied up, and the girl with the men were standing next to Jenner.
"Oh, Nicodemus!" Jenner cried. "How wonderful to see you again! Remember when we used to be such good friends when we were captured? Oh well!"
It all had been a trap.
"What is going on, here?" Nicodemus asked.
"I’ll explain." Jenner insisted. "I had some people forge your name to get me out of the hospital. It was quite easy, you see, the people next to me, Alice, Mark and Luke are my spies. They kept a lookout for when the lady, Claire, at the hospital front desk went on break, and got me out. From there, I was here. You guys did exactly what I wanted you to. Oh, and Justin, that note that was on your desk was a fake. It was planted."
"What else is there, Jenner?" Justin asked, ready to kill.
"A good planner does not reveal all his plans at one time!" Jenner laughed.
Mrs. Frisby awoke early in the morning to take her kids off to school. "Wake up, children!" She said as she shook them awake.
"Mom, mom!" Martin groaned. He rolled back over on his side.
"You must get up, sweeties," Sara urged, "Today you all go to school!"
The four children sat up, wide-eyed. "What?" They all said.
"That’s right, you all are going to school. You all are now officially part of the Thorn Valley community. That means that you all must do whatever the others do. You have to comply by the rules and regulations. Hurry up, get dressed."
They all continued to sit there.
"What’s wrong?" Sara asked.
"You haven’t told us to get out of bed yet." Cynthia noted.
"Get up and out of bed!" Mrs. Frisby said quickly.
All of them washed up, and put on their best clothes. None of the children liked the fact that they all had to get up that early, but they were exited to go to school.
"We will stop by the cafeteria and get a quick bite of food before we go." Mrs. Frisby said.
The whole family headed out the door when they were ready. The five of them walked down the hallway, all enveloped in silence.
"Where are all the people?" Teresa asked out of curiosity.
Mrs. Frisby shook her head. She didn’t know, but she had noticed it too.
Still they all walked. When they got to the cafeteria, no one was to be seen. Not even the ladies that worked the bar. Something was strange.
Mrs. Frisby began to wonder if today was a Sunday, and she had forgotten about it. She didn’t think so, and even if it had been a Sunday, that was no reason for the cafeteria to be closed.
The Frisby family looked around. Something was wrong. The air was thick like fog in the springtime, and you could sense the tension in every room they walked in.
Mrs. Frisby took her children by their hand and walked them out of the room. "Come on children," she said to them, "I must speak to Justin!"
Once again, the family headed out of the room, and back down the hallway. They turned a few sharp turns until they finally wound up at Justin’s doorstep. Sara pounded on the door with a fist so tight, her fingertips were nearly turning white.
"Justin!" she shouted. "I need to speak to you!"
There was still no answer. The children just looked up at their mother in anxiousness. Where was everybody?
Mrs. Frisby turned around and faced her children. "You all are still going to school, ya know." She said with a snicker.
The family turned themselves around, and walked to the school.
"Where is everyone?" Martin asked Sara.
Sara did nothing, she just kept on walking.
The weather outside that day turned into quite the opposite than that of the previous day. The sun peeked out merrily from behind puffy white clouds, and the breeze blew crunchy leaves across the muddy ground. Although it was cheerful outside the caves of Thorn Valley, a dark storm was brewing on the inside.
When the family arrived at the school, no one was there. You could see into every room, and there was not a soul to be found. Where was everyone?
At the school, Mrs. Frisby broke out into a sweat. She started to panic. Something was going on, and she did not like it. She had to get to the bottom of things. Scared and stiff, she turned to her children. "Well," she said to them, "we only have one more option. They all have to be somewhere we haven’t looked yet. I think we are going to go down the West Wing again, and check out Nicodemus’ office. I wonder if…" she stopped in the middle of her sentence.
They all walked faster from then on. They all swiftly moved about the hallway.
"Knock on some doors, every door!" Timothy instructed.
This idea came to Sara quickly. How clever her Timothy was. She began to knock on a door. There was no answer.
All of them knocked, but no one got an answer. Either all the people were somewhere else, or they were just not answering the door. No matter what, it did not make Sara like the situation any better.
When Nicodemus and Justin opened their eyes, they were surrounded by shadows.
"Where are we?" Justin said, barely able to make out the dim features on Nicodemus’ face.
Nicodemus answered with a slight grunt, and shrugged his shoulders.
Justin looked around. He knew where he was; he was in jail. He was in the familiar cell that Jenner’s band had been locked up in. So much for the people who had been in it before.
"I can’t believe this." Nicodemus said after a moment of silence. "I just don’t believe it. Jenner and I used to be friends. We used to go down to the Market Place together. He was with me the night we got caught, remember?"
"Now what? Now we are archenemies, and he is ready to kill me. Now I am in jail, and a whole bunch of criminals are running around Thorn Valley, capable of killing anyone. How are we going to get out of this one?"
Justin tried to move his hands. "I don’t know," he answered, "but we’re tied up. Can you untie me, and I’ll untie you?"
Nicodemus gave it an effort, but it was no use. The thick rope which bound his hands were so tight, he could not so much as wiggle his fingers. His head hurt, too.
The two partners sat in the dim light thinking. They had to get out of there. They had to stop Jenner, but both of them knew that even if they were able to get themselves free, it would be to late to catch Jenner.
Justin looked over near the candle that lit the room. If he could get that candle, it would be possible for him to burn the rope off. He studied the candle. It was way too far off for him to reach. That was his only hope.
"Hey, Nicodemus." He whispered. "How can we get that candle?"
"It’s no use, Justin." Nicodemus replied. "I already thought of that. There is no way to get it. Even if we use our tails. It’s in the farthest corner away. I should know- I put it there when I set up this room. I placed it there so no prisoners could get to it. It’s my fault."
Justin sighed. There had to be a way to get out of that cell. "What do you think he’s doing now?"
Nicodemus shrugged. "I think he’s probably planning on a way to take over or something. He might just be sitting in a room reading a book for all I know."
"Our only hope," Justin said thoughtfully, "is that someone will- and I know someone will- hear about our capture, and come to save us. I’m sure that we are not Thorn Valley’s only hope, Mrs. Frisby is fully capable of taking care of things, but the question is, would she?"
From then, the two friends sat reserved in the darkness. Both of their heads hurt, although neither of them would admit to it. Jenner had given them both a vicious blow to the head and knocked them out.
Pat… pat… pat…. A noise was coming from the hall. Both of the cellmates looked up. Someone walked through the door, sending rays of light flying past their figure.
"Ah now." The person said. The voice seemed young and friendly. "I have been looking for you guys."
"Sara?" Justin asked with a gasp. The sudden bright light didn’t help his head any.
"No, not even close, Mr. Suave," The voice said with a laugh. The figure (it was a girl) walked closer toward the cell and shut the door behind her with a slam. "It’s me, Alice. I sneaked to give you something to eat. I’m sorry for what happened back there."
"What do you mean- sorry?" Nicodemus snapped, "You almost killed us! And why are you sneaking things to your prisoners? Not like I have any objections or anything?"
Alice began to explain as she handed them each a piece of bread from between the bars. "You see," she said, "I am, was, a spy for Jenner when he left. I was to stay here, or in the rosebush and get him information if anything came up. Well, I didn’t really know why he wanted me to do this, but I did it anyway, for he threatened my life. Well, he started to come back to Thorn Valley with a plan of his own. I don’t know what that plan is- only the people who came back with him know. Anyway, I am actually on your side. Jenner and I got married when he separated from the rest, and things got out of control. He threatened to kill everyone in my family if I did not do what he said. He was only using me so he could get me to do what he wanted."
A shadow shifted from the corner of the window of the room door. Alice looked up and gasped.
"Look," she continued, "I will get you out of here, so Jenner can be destroyed. I promise. Hurry up and eat that bread, someone’s coming, and if I get caught, that will not only be the end of me, but the end of you." She stood up to greet the person coming in.
Justin and Nicodemus nearly choked themselves with the bread.
The door opened, and Jenner walked in. "Well, Alice," he said, "what are you doing in here?"
Alice looked at the floor. "I was just laughing at these prisoners."
Jenner looked the hostages with a scoff. "Yes, my pet, there are only two now, but I bet this cell you see before you will be filled with fifty people or more by the end of the week." He put his arm around the girl, and walked out, laughing wildly. Alice looked back as she was lead through the door.
"We’re dead." Justin announced. "We will be dead, along with many other people soon. Crap, Nicodemus!" Justin shouted out in anger. "We have to get out of here. We have to!"
"Alice said she would get us out."
"Yeah, but you heard what she said. We don’t know when that would be possible for her. Besides, Jenner has his eye on her. She’ll be lucky to see the end of this month. How can we be sure she isn’t just playing with us? Why did she tell us all that stuff?"
"I don’t know," Nicodemus replied. "All I know is that we have to trust her. She could be giving us a hint or something. Maybe she’ll sneak us something in the food."
Nicodemus stopped talking, and so did Justin. Their heads hurt even more then, and so they both let their heads rest on the others’ shoulder and tried to think.
The three of them had all met in one room, Leanne’s. Simon sat on the bed, staring up at the ceiling, Tony was sitting on the floor picking at the carpet, and Leanne sat in a chair at her desk.
"I don’t know" Simon said. "Quake’s still in the hospital dying. We’re stuck here trying to think of a way out, and Jenner is taking over. What else could go wrong?"
Tony shook his head. "Jenner is bad. He came storming into my room at about three this morning ordering me not to set foot out of my room. Oh well, I came here, so he must not be serious."
"Did you see that sentry at the end of the hall?" Leanne asked.
The others had not seen him.
"He was posted," Leanne continued, "about an hour ago. For heaven’s sake, it’s eight in the morning! We are all hungry and thirsty. I want to know what that Jenner is up to so I can knock the guts out of him!" Leanne clenched her fists and pounded them on the desk.
"Now, now, Leanne," Simon said, "We have to go about this very calmly. Obviously they have Nicodemus and Justin. Otherwise, there would be some action going on here."
"I don’t know who Jenner thinks he is," Tony snarled, "nobody in Thorn Valley will comply with his ways. Whatever it is he’s trying to do isn’t going to work."
Simon remembered his mother. He saw her be killed again right in front of him. He saw her be smacked to the ground, and beaten with a stick. He heard her screaming. "Run, Simon! Run!" she shouted. Simon recalled him running out of his room, and heard his mother’s cry stop in the middle of a thump… another lash with that stick.
"Jenner has his ways of dealing with people who don’t agree with what he does," Simon choked out. "Whether he has to steal, lie, beat or kill, he will see to it that people will listen." Once again, a tear slid down the tip of his nose."
Leanne saw the tear first, and went to sit beside of him. She put her arm around him and hugged him. "It’ll be okay, Simon," she assured, "We’ll get out of this."
"You don’t understand!" Simon protested. "It’s not that!"
"Well what is it then?"
Simon looked around. Should he tell them? He decided to tell all. "You see," he began, "My mother was on Jenner’s side for a while, as you know."
Leanne and Tony nodded.
"Well, people think she went with Jenner. She didn’t. She was going to follow, but once she found out that he wanted to start a colony of his own, she refused. The night that Jenner and his band left, he came to our room. He brought a big stick with him, and beat my mother to.." Simon swallowed hard. "To death. Amber is dead. I watched her be killed right before me. Jenner swore that if I ever laid a hand on him, in the present time or future, he would do to me what he did to my mom."
Leanne and Tony were in shock. They sat silenced still listening.
"So, he must have been planning this taking-over thing for a long time. Either that or it is all a big coincidence." Simon wiped his nose, and tried to hold back the hurt.
Leanne and Tony both got up then and hugged Simon. "If I had only known," Leanne sighed.
"Never mind that," Simon perked up his voice. "We have business to take care of. Well, at least, when we get a plan."
Mrs. Frisby and her family still walked down the hallway. It was still empty and cold. They all were heading down the West Wing, hoping to find some type of life. No one spoke. They all just looked ahead of them and kept their heads facing forward. There just had to be some type of logical explanation!
Mrs. Frisby looked up above her head. Above her she saw a huge stalactite hanging from the ceiling. She had not noticed it before because, on account of her short height, it was so far over her head, she had to look directly up to even see it.
"We haven’t checked up there yet," Sara remarked to her children. "Maybe someone is in there and can help us."
"Yeah, real likely, mom." Martin said with a smirk.
The family of five slowly entered the elevator. At first, the children were scared of the machine that they were riding in. Having never been in an elevator before in their lives, the sudden movement from the floor beneath them came as a surprise.
The elevator came to a slow stop. They all walked out of it and onto the soft carpeted floor of the main hall of the building.
To their dismay, there was not a soul to be seen. But, as Teresa lifted her head, she caught the shadow of a figure running up the stairway. "Hey!" she shouted, and bound off toward the figure.
Sara followed, as well as the other children, and rushed up the stairs. Once at the top, they all paused for a moment to catch their breaths.
It took a minute or so for the new surroundings to set into mind. Now around them, was a large band of rats, each with a very angry face, and arms on their hips. Cynthia gasped and hid behind Martin.
"What do you want here?" Asked one of them. They all still glared at the family.
"Well," Mrs. Frisby tried to act casual, "We were looking for someone to tell us what is going on here. My children are supposed to be in school, and, well, we could not find anyone in the hallways. We all found it a bit strange."
The rats continued to stare. They were the rats that had been in the jail cell last night. "Go get Jenner." The girl rat whispered to another. A rat stepped out of the crowd and headed for the door behind them.
Next, three rats came barging through the door. One rat on either side of one rat in the middle. The rat in the middle was Jenner. The rats beside of him must be his bodyguards. They all looked mean.
"What is it?" Jenner demanded.
The crowd parted to reveal the Frisby family. Jenner looked stunned.
"Ah, Mrs. Frisby," Jenner said slowly, "I did not know you were here. How may I be of assistance?"
Sara gave him an evil look. "I believe you have some explaining to do."
"What do you mean?"
"You know what I mean, Jenner." Mrs. Frisby was now beginning to get angry.
"You mean the absence of the people?" Jenner laughed. "I ordered them to stay in their rooms until I told them otherwise. Is there a problem?"
Sara said nothing.
"Well, aren’t we just a bit cranky today? Well, Mrs. Frisby, I am trying to have people listen to me. I am trying to show people that I am no longer going to be pushed out of society like I was last time. No, I am going to show that I am ten times smarter than that Nicodemus. I am going to prove that I am more powerful than I am given credit for."
Sara was unsatisfied. "Well, you are not doing a very good job, Jenner. Right now you are only proving that you cannot act like a leader, but that you have to steal what rightfully belongs to others. Such as, I don’t know, Nicodemus’ power?" She spat at his feet.
"Take the children!" Jenner ordered. "Take them to cell ten, where the others are. Now!"
With that, five of the largest rats in the group pushed Sara out of the way, and picked up the children. Mrs. Frisby tried to stop them, but they were twenty times bigger than she. The children were dragged away yelling.
Mrs. Frisby fell to her knees and wept. "What was that for?" She gasped. "Why did you do that?"
A smile spread across Jenner’s face. "I did that to teach you a lesson. From now on, I hope you will remember to do as I say, and to never talk to me like that again."
"What will you do to them?" Sara was crying harder now.
"Oh, nothing, really. As long as you do everything I tell you to. As long as you stay with me, and do as I tell you, your children will not be harmed in the slightest way. But, however, If you fail to comply with any of my commands, they will surely die. In my chambers!"
Again, five of the largest rats stepped out from the group and carried Sara away. She did not dare to fight back, because she feared for her children’s lives. She could only pray that Jenner would not go against his word.
The door opened loudly, and the children were thrust into the cell with Justin and Nicodemus. After the rats left, they all began to talk.
The first one to speak was Justin. "What are you guys doing in here?" he asked.
"Mommy talked back to Jenner and spat at him." Teresa answered.
"Yeah," agreed Cynthia, "They took us away, but I don’t know what they did with mommy."
"Untie us, please." Nicodemus said.
The children did as they were asked. Once the men were untied, they could all speak a little softer and closer.
"Jenner did this?" Timothy questioned. "I thought so."
"How is that?" Justin said.
"Because," continued Timothy. "The other night I heard a group of three talking about Jenner. It was well before Jenner came, though. They were talking about a new plan or something. One was a girl, and the other two were boys."
Nicodemus and Justin looked at each other. They both knew who it was, but they didn’t say anything.
"So, how are we going to get out of here?" Martin sat down on the cold floor. He fiddled with a piece of the rope that had tied Justin and Nicodemus up.
"There’s no way out." Justin said with a sigh. We have tried everything, and we have thought of everything. This cell was designed so that no one could get out. Our only hope is Alice."
"Who is Alice?" Timothy asked.
"She is the girl you were telling us about. She said that she was a spy for Jenner for a while, but then decided that she didn’t like him. She promised that she would help us get out of here. She is currently sneaking us food, and hopefully, she will get us out of here with time."
"You mean they do not allow any food in here?" Teresa sniffled. She was about to cry.
"Nope." Justin answered.
"Mommy doesn’t like us to eat in our room, either." Cynthia noted. Her voice was soft, but there was a springy hint of cheerfulness in it, too.
Justin smiled. "Maybe, for you, they’ll make an exception."
The children huddled together. It was cold in this room. The coming of fall, and the cold air lingering outside were now having an effect on Thorn Valley. The children kept cramped together to keep warm, but even that was not very effective.
"We have to do something." Nicodemus concluded as he looked over at the shivering sleeping children.
"I know." Justin said. "We have to get them out of here. They all cannot live on the amount of food we are given. They need meals, and nourishing food. They are growing kids. We have to do something."
"I hoped that we could get out of this cell once we were untied." Said Nicodemus. "But now that I look at it, there is no way to get out. I haven’t the key to open the door, and there is nothing to pick the lock with. It is all hopeless. When all this is over, remind me to destroy this room. See to it that no one will ever suffer in this room again." He looked over at Justin for his approval, but received nothing. Instead, he saw Justin staring at the floor with wide eyes.
"Hey!" Justin said. "There is something on the floor!"
Nicodemus looked at the floor to see what Justin was talking about.
"There is some writing here. It must have come from the people who occupied this cell last. Heck, it had to. Jenner’s band was the only ones who have ever been in here besides us."
Nicodemus shifted to his side to allow the light from the candle to spread to the floor. Sure enough, there were words and a picture carved into the floor. It read:
West Wing- #1 East Wing- #2
South Wing- #3 North Wing- #4
Hospital: 9:50 Cell: 10:00
With a smile and a laugh, He will rein down with his staff. Rule the young and rule the old. Have them do what they’re told. Those who have faith start to pray It is by lives you’ll have to pay.
The message churned over and over in Justin’s head. They both knew what this meant. It meant that Jenner was planning on taking over. From what the message spelled out, it sounded as if he was going to kill his way to power.
Down below the poem, there was an etching of another line. This one was harder to read, but with a little effort you could manage the words.
You can unlock any door if you only have the key.
After reading this last line, Nicodemus and Justin both looked at each other.
"That sounds familiar." Said Nicodemus.
Justin nodded. "Yes, it does, but from where have we heard it?"
Nicodemus shrugged, and rested his head on one of the bars of the cell wall. His head still hurt, and it was not getting any better.
It was still quite early in the morning, only nine o’clock in fact, but on account of the fact that the room had no windows, it was hard to keep track of time.
Justin soon fell asleep as well. He fell asleep thinking about the words written on the floor. It was all a big strange puzzle.
The inside of Thorn Valley had indeed turned into a big storm. Problems had brewed that could by no means have any possible solutions. The people inside the cave walls had grown weary of the long hours in their rooms, and were now becoming curious to whether or not they should leave their rooms.
Leanne and her friends still sat on the bed thinking and planning. So far, they had come up with nothing. The three of them only found one solution: to get out of their rooms and try to stop Jenner. Even that plan was dangerous, for Jenner had men three times bigger than the three of them put together.
"We could distract his people, and then deal with Jenner himself. That could work." Tony plotted.
Simon shook his head. "No, it won’t. He has guards posted at every hallway, and they would see us get out. They alone could easily deal with us."
"He’s right, you know," Leanne said impatiently, "He is very right. We cannot leave this room without being spotted. And even if we did, we are sure to be followed and cornered in Jenner’s headquarters."
The group sat at ease. They were all about to give up. There was no sure way to get out of the room, and at least delay Jenner without being seen.
"Our only true hope is that someone will come and get us outta here." Tony said.
The others nodded. It was getting old, just sitting there without doing anything. The morning had grown into afternoon, and they were all hungry.
"I know," Leanne said as she sat up. "We can play a game!"
Tony and Simon looked at each other.
"We can play charades or something. I don’t know, we just need to do something. We’ve been sitting in this room for nearly three hours now. We need to do something."
"Why do we always have to do stuff?" asked Tony. "Why don’t we just sit here and talk or something. That’s better than playing some stupid game!"
Leanne was disappointed. "Well," she said, "aren’t you just the little party-pooper. I was beginning to have a little spirit and all you want to do is sit here. You all are pathetic!"
"I tell you what’s pathetic," Simon said, "It’s pathetic that all we can do is sit here and argue about what we should do. That’s funny. None of us can agree. If we’re not careful, we’ll do something stupid. We need to get our minds straight, and act civilized." With that, he picked up a pillow from off of the bed and threw it. It hit Leanne smack in the head.
Leanne jumped up and grabbed a pillow of her own. She began to beat Simon with it. Tony soon joined in the battle. Quickly all three of them were fighting a busy battle with pillows. Feathers and pillow stuffing was flying!
"Take that!" Shouted Simon.
"And that!" Tony yelled in return, hitting Leanne as hard as he could.
Leanne grasped her pillow, and covered her head. She charged at Tony and yanked his pillow from his hands. They both fell to the ground laughing.
"Get up, you guys!" shouted Simon. "C’mon! You all need to get with the program! Oh, yeah, that’s right, I forgot. You’re a bunch of ninnies!"
"Excuse me?" Leanne got up in a hurry and jumped on Simon. She slugged him a good time in his stomach. Simon let out a groan. "Ninny, eh?" Leanne walked away and resumed her place on the floor.
Simon held his stomach in agony. "Shoot, girl! Mean!"
Leanne smiled. She knew she was tough. Heck, she could have literally killed him if she wanted to- but, since it was Simon, she just punched him lightly.
The three of them had found a cure for the boring time. They all had stopped bickering and actually started to enjoy one another’s company. It was fun.
Although Tony, Leanne and Simon were having a good time, it was quite the opposite from what Mrs. Frisby was going through. She sat in a chair in the corner of the room, watching Jenner’s every move, and listening to everything he said intensively.
"Then, we will call a meeting." Jenner was now discussing his plans to his group. "Then we will tell them all the rules. If they refuse to do as you say, we will punish them. If they have kids, we will remove the children from their possession. If not, they will either be put in jail, whipped, beaten or killed, depending on how badly they misbehave."
Mrs. Frisby gasped at what was being said. She could not believe it! Jenner was going to kill everyone. She knew he was going to do this, because she doubted that anyone in the right mind would listen to him. But, as she was thinking this, she took it back. If they had kids, parents would do anything to protect them.
Mrs. Frisby looked back over toward the group that was standing around Jenner. One of the rats was looking at her. He was not paying attention to what Jenner was saying, but instead, his head was cocked upward, and he was looking her dead in the eyes. It was the same rat that she had stared at so long in the jail.
He looked so familiar, but she could not place her finger on it. He was much larger than anyone she knew, even Arthur and Justin. She figured, somehow, that he was not like any of the other rats, but more like a smaller breed of rat, maybe a mouse. This was doubtful, though. He was too big. He continued to stare at her.
Mrs. Frisby turned her head and looked at the wall. She had to get out of there. She had to find a way to get out of that room and get to her children. She had thought about running, but she did not know if the door was locked or not. Anyway, she could not get away without being seen, and if she did manage to escape, all of them knew where she would go- she would go directly to her kids. That would not only put her life in danger, but her children's lives as well.
The rat that was looking at her soon brought his head back down to the group and listened. When the group broke, Jenner walked over to her.
"You must do me a favor," Jenner said.
Sara looked up at him almost meekly.
"Don’t be afraid, I only need you to call a meeting for me. The people will not listen to me, for they do not trust me. So far, they only know that they were ordered to stay in their rooms. Get them all into the largest Meeting Room, and lock them in."
Sara did not want to do this, because it would promote Jenner’s plan, but she had no choice. She had to do as she was told. Otherwise, her children would die, and her as well. She nodded.
Jenner clasped his hands together. "Great. I want you to call the meeting in an hour and a half. That way, I’ll have time to write my speech." He turned and winked at his people.
Sara sat and thought. She had to save her children, and the people of Thorn Valley as well. She had to come up with a plan. She was sure that when she called the meeting, the sentries were going to be watching her. If they weren’t, she would run for it. She would lay low for a while, since the first place that would be checked would be the jail. It was going to be tough.
What was she thinking? Jenner was crazy, but not stupid. He knew that she had power in Thorn Valley. Jenner also knew that Mrs. Frisby was no dummy. She could escape if she was given the chance. Oh, what was she going to do?
A rat came up to her then, and tied her hands to the back of the chair so she could not leave. He, along with the rest of Jenner’s men, walked into the room where John had been. They closed the door behind them, and all was silent.
Justin awoke to a loud noise. The door opened, and bright light poured into the room. The others awoke to the light as well.
"It’s me, Alice."
"Come in." Justin motioned to her.
Alice came into the room, and laid a plate of grapes and water before them. Then she looked back at the children. "I’m sorry for them."
Nicodemus looked at them, too. "Yes, I know."
They were now sitting up and rubbing their eyes.
"I can talk for a minute, Jenner is in there planning."
"Planning what?" Teresa asked.
"He wants to make this colony his own. I don’t know all the details, but I know that it will not be good. Your mother is okay."
"I was thinking," Justin said to Alice, "Why can’t you get the key to this cell, and get us out of here?"
"Jenner keeps the keys tied around his neck. I could not get them without him catching me. Then the whole thing would be blown."
Justin nodded. "What about this?" He pointed to the inscription on the floor.
Alice read it, and began to explain. "You see," she said, "Jenner was planning on taking over in the first place. That is why he was heading back to Thorn Valley. You just sped up his plan. They knew his band would be put in jail, and he in the hospital. The numbers are telling which hallways they would take over first, 9:50 is when Jenner was planning on getting out of the hospital, and 10:00 was when the jailbreak was planned. I don’t know about the rest."
"Is there anything else?" Justin asked as he handed some grapes to the kids.
"Jenner is planning to call a meeting in an hour and a half. He told Sara to call all the people. Listen, I have to go. Jenner will be missing me." Alice got up and left the room.
Martin spoke with a mouthful of grapes. "We could get outta here and lose ourselves in the crowd. If we go out with the crowd, Jenner and his men would never see us, and maybe we could do something. The door to this room isn’t locked, I don’t think."
Justin looked at him. "That is a good plan, Martin, but there is one little problem. We can’t get out!"
Cynthia stood up. I’m the smallest, maybe I could fit through the bars." Cynthia stuck her hand through the cold, black metal bars, and began to push her body through. She got one side of a hip through, and stopped. "My tummy’s too big." She said with a sigh. "I thought I could do it, but I guess I was wrong." She sat back down again.
"It’s hopeless." Nicodemus said.
Three hours had passed, therefore it was now almost one o’clock. The children had devoured the grapes. Nicodemus and Justin ate a few, and passed them back to the kids. The kids needed the food more than they did.
The five of them then sat around talking about nothing in particular, and got to know one another a little better. They all hoped that, soon, someone would come and get them out of that cell.
"What do you think Jenner will do to Thorn Valley?" Cynthia asked.
"I don’t know," Nicodemus replied. "But I have a feeling that it is nothing good."
Cynthia remained quiet.
Timothy was staring up at the ceiling. It was painted black, just like the shadows. He leaned back on the cold bars. There had to be some way to get out of here. "Hey!!" He shouted.
The others jumped, and looked at him. Timothy was now standing outside the cell.
Leanne and the others still sat in the room trying to think. None of them could think of anything or anyway to get out of that room.
"I don’t think anyone is coming for us." Tony said hopelessly.
"Same here." agreed Simon.
"Now, guys," Leanne protested, "Just because an hour has passed and no one has come doesn’t mean we have no way of getting out safely. Remember- we are soldiers! We were assigned to fight for Thorn Valley, and even though we are off duty now doesn’t mean we aren’t supposed to do anything!"
They all knew that she was right. She was more right than anyone had been yet. They all were soldiers, and they all had to prove themselves loyal to Thorn Valley. They had to do what was right. They all had to stand up for those who could not stand up for themselves.
Leanne held out her hand. "Are y’all with me or not?"
Tony and Simon were both hesitant at first, but they soon shook hands and agreed that they all would do what they could for their colony. Whether it meant killing, stealing, lying, or dying, they would do what they could. That was that.
Then, they all sat down on the bed. Leanne grabbed three pencils, and a large sheet of paper for them all to plan on.
"Our room has no windows," said Leanne, "so the only way out of this room is through the door."
"And we have an Einstein!" shouted Simon.
Leanne gave him a look and resumed talking. "We could do as it was suggested earlier; to distract one of the guards, and once they are gone, we take off. One of us can distract him, and the other two of us can run and attack him."
Simon was doubtful. "How could two of us take down one of those sentries? They could carry ten of us on their backs! That.. well, I just don’t know."
"And I suppose you have a better idea?" Tony remarked.
Simon was abashed. "No," he said, "I just don’t know."
Leanne started to talk again. "The one who runs can take off and make a circle around the school and back- just as long as they ditch the sentry. Then, when all three of us meet again, we could go to the garden room on the South Wing, and get a couple weapons. Then, we could have a chance at beating the guard or guards."
"We’d have to do it quickly," said Tony, "Otherwise the guard that saw us will go and tell others. Then we would have too many people to deal with, and we would surely die."
Simon looked up. He realized that his friends were really right. They had a good plan, and, to make up for his foolish behavior, he volunteered to be the distraction. He slowly raised his hand.
"What?" Leanne asked.
"I want to be the runner." Simon said with a gulp.
Tony was shocked. He looked over at Leanne. She shrugged her shoulders.
"Okay, as you wish." Tony said hesitantly.
Simon stood up. "When do we do it?" He walked over to the door and cracked it open. The sentry was still standing at the end of the hall with his arms folded. It looked like he was getting tired. "Good." Simon said to himself. "He’s getting tired. That means that he’ll be slower than he would be regularly."
Leanne reviewed the plan. "Simon takes off toward the school. The sentry will follow him, and we’ll head off to get some weapons. Simon, you make sure you know where the guard is at all times, so you know if he tells anyone or not. Try to keep him away from anyone who could help him out. When we get the weapons, we’ll hit him on the head and tie him up. Okay?"
They all nodded. The plan sounded reliable. The three of them stood up and headed for the door. They all looked at the guard. His head was beginning to nod, but his eyes were still open.
Simon took a long, deep breath. "Ready?" he asked.
"Ready." Tony and Leanne answered.
Simon slowly took a step out of the door. He began to run in place and waving his arms in the air. The watchman looked up.
"Hey, you!" He yelled. "Come back here!" His large body began to run slowly, but he soon picked up his pace. In no time, there was an exciting chase trailing down the hallway.
Simon turned a corner with the guard hot on his tail. He could see, from the corner of his eye, Leanne and Tony running in the opposite direction. He hoped they would hurry.
The guard’s breath began to get heavier and heavier as he chased Simon down the hall. Simon could see the school come into view. He might just have to make two rounds. The guard was gaining on him. Simon knew to avoid other hallways, for fear of other guards that could help out in the chase. The guard following Simon was reaching out his hand. He was trying to grab Simon’s tail!
Simon sped up, leaving the watchman behind, but not out of sight. Then, just as Simon was coming up on it, he saw lying in the floor, a mop. The problem with the mop was that it was lying straight across the floor, in the middle of Simon’s trail! He went down hard. Simon looked behind him. The watchman was practically on top of him!
Simon struggled to his feet and started on his way again. He wasn’t going to make it. The guard only had to reach, and he would have Simon in his grasp. Simon tried to hurry, but it was no use. He felt a tugging at his tail, and he could no longer move. The sentry had him.
"There you are, you little dupe!" Said the watchman.
Simon looked at him. His eyes were blue and cold, and his muscles were dangerously large. They bulged and twitched with every slight movement, and he could probably bench someone twice his size with that tail of his.
Simon saw a huge fist heading straight for his face.
Mrs. Frisby still sat in the chair, waiting for Jenner to tell her what to do. She did not want to spread the word about the meeting, but she had no choice. What was she going to do? She had to save these people, yet if she did, she would lose her children. There was no way she could do both.
Jenner walked into the room. "Well, my beautiful," he said with an evil grin, "It is finally time!" He untied her hands and guided her to the door. "One of my men will watch you in the hallway, so do not attempt to act smart. I will see to it that you, along with your children, and the people of this colony, die a brutal death. Don’t doubt me, either."
One of the rats, the one that had been staring at her, in fact, pushed her to the door. Sara slowly opened it and walked down the stairway. She saw Alice walking up as she left.
No one spoke. The rat that followed her kept a straight face and completely ignored her. Sara decided that she would try to make the best of it. If she could make friends with him, maybe she and her children could have a hope. "My name is Sara." She said.
The rat grunted.
"Can you not talk?"
"Yes, I can. Shut up."
Sara wasn’t going to give up. "What is your name?"
"John. Why do you ask?"
"No particular reason." Mrs. Frisby answered. "I just wanted to strike up a conversation to keep me active. How did you join Jenner?"
"I don’t know. All I know is that I woke up in his headquarters."
Sara found this odd. Why would one of Jenner’s people not know how they got there? She decided to keep talking. "Do you have any family?"
"I suppose I used to. Jenner says that I could no longer see them, though."
"How is that?"
"I don’t know. All I know is that Jenner is ruler, and I must do as he says. He is really easy on me, like he owes me something. I do not know why. I’m not like the others, I’m different."
"Why do you say that?" Mrs. Frisby was now beginning to get interested in the rat’s story. They were now on the elevator.
"First off," the rat crossed his arms, "I am not as big as they are. I do not know why I am with them, and I am not even the same species; I’m a mouse."
Mrs. Frisby was stunned. A mouse? You could hardly tell it. Something was fishy. "I don’t mean to snoop, but what is your full name?"
"John. Jonathan… something or other."
It suddenly clicked in Sara’s head. "What? That’s your name? Your last name is not Frisby, is it?"
The mouse nodded. "That’s it! Jonathan Frisby!"
"Timothy!" Teresa stood up with all the others. "How did you…?"
Timothy brushed himself off. "I guess I’m just skinnier than Cynthia! I was just leaning back, and I fell through the bars! What should I do?"
Nicodemus held out his hands, and Timothy held them. "Listen to me boy," he said seriously, "this is our chance. You have to get out of here and get help. Can you pick the lock?"
Timothy looked at the lock and stuck his finger in it. He clicked his nail around inside, but found that he could not. "Is there anything I could pick it with?"
Nicodemus looked around. "Yes, there is!" He grabbed Cynthia’s doll, and pulled a bobby pin out of its hair. He handed it to Timothy.
Timothy took the pin eagerly, and fiddled with the lock. There was a clicking noise, but that was all. The door did not open. "What now?" he asked.
Nicodemus shook his head. "Nope. Listen, you have to get out and get help for us. Go out into the hallway and find your mother. She should now be calling people for the meeting. Get her. She can help."
"There would be a guard with her. What should I do about him?"
Justin thought. "I don’t know. Tell him that you must see ‘Mrs. Frisby.’ Here, take my shirt and vest. Use them as a disguise."
Timothy removed his shirt and put Justin’s on. "They could still tell who I am."
Nicodemus thought. "Here." He handed Timothy his eye patch and his satchel. "Try these on."
Timothy put them all on, and it became more difficult for people to recognize him. "That will do." He said. "I’ll get you all out of here as soon as I can." He opened the door and left.
The five of them sat tensely on the floor of the cell. They could only pray.
Timothy left the room with caution. Luckily, there was no one guarding the jail. The cells lining the walls still contained the same people. He looked at them with sad eyes- he was on his own now. One false move could kill eight people.
He slowly left the jail completely. It was a good thing that no guards were guarding the entrances. Jenner may not be as smart as people give him credit for.
Timothy took a left, ready to be chased. He turned another corner and still spotted no guard. What was he to do if he happened to run across one? A number of excuses started to fill his mind.
He could tell them that he was lost. He could get away with it- he was still really young. But then again, he would have to be lucky enough to be seen by a guard that has not laid eyes on him before.
He could also claim that he had to use the bathroom, and the one in his dorm was broken. That could work... but again, he would have to be lucky enough to be seen by a guard that has not laid eyes on him before.
Timothy wandered the hallways aimlessly. He was only keeping an eye open for his mother, and he had to also come up with a decent excuse, should he be discovered.
He turned down and right, toward the heart of the Thorn Valley hallways. He still continued to think to himself.
There was a cough. Timothy looked up. Where had it come from? Since he was now in the middle of Thorn Valley, the cough could have easily come from any of the connecting hallways. There was someone nearby, he could feel it. If they saw him, he was as good as dead!
Timothy looked for cover. There was nothing. Where could he hide? He saw a shadow shift, coming from the North Wing. It was getting closer.
Simon sighed a sigh of relief and the guard rolled over on his back in agony. "Thank the Lord for you guys!" Simon exclaimed. "Boy, I thought I was going to die just now!"
Leanne smiled. "Na, we’re just really good. Anyway, did you not think that we would save your butt?" She tossed the shovel to the floor.
Simon winced. "Oh, I had faith alright, but I started to get a bit worried there near the end."
Tony laughed and touched Simon’s good ear. "Had faith," he said, "I’ve never seen your ears that red in my life! Had faith, ha!"
Simon shook it off and looked at the guard lying on the floor. "What are we to do with him? We can’t just leave him to lie there. We have to move him."
"Let’s take him to the jail and lock him up. He can’t do anything there." Leanne suggested. "The back cell. No one is in it now that Jenner’s men are out."
"Sure, Leanne," said Tony, "But what about keys?"
"What are those on his pants?"
Tony looked at the guard. There, attached to his pants, was a large ring of keys. "Oh. Well, let’s go before he wakes up again!"
The three of them all worked together to drag the guard down the hallway. The guard was abnormally heavy.
As they walked toward the annex of Thorn Valley, Simon gasped, and let out a loud cough.
"What’s wrong?" Leanne asked.
"I.." Simon said between coughs, "Have a tickle in my throat. COUGH! It’ll go away soon." They worked their way down the hall.
"Shhhhhhh." Tony said in a whisper. "There’s someone down there, I just saw them."
The three of them perked up, expecting to see a huge man approach them.
"Hold still," Leanne ordered, "and get a good grip on that shovel. We might have to conk this one on the head, too!"
Timothy gulped. He had to approach the person coming toward him. He secured his eyepatch and practiced his deep voice.
"Who’s there?" asked the person in the hall.
Timothy walked forward into greater light. "Here goes nothing." He said to himself.
Before he could answer, the figure came out from around the corner with a shovel in his hand. To Timothy’s surprise, it was a girl!
"Who are you? What are you doing here?" She said, realizing that it was not a man, but a boy that she was looking at.
"My toilet is broken." Timothy said meekly. "I was looking for another one."
The girl knew better. "Come out here, guys!" she called behind her. Then, from out of the shadows, came Simon and Tony, both dragging the guard behind them. "He claims to be lost." Leanne told them.
"If you really live here," Simon said, also knowing better than this excuse, "You would know where one would be."
"Take off that patch." Tony demanded. "We see you are not any older than ten."
Timothy reluctantly removed the patch. He was relieved that the people he had met were not guards. As he took off the patch, he realized exactly who was in his presence.
"Hey," Timothy said pointing, "You are Tony!"
The three looked at each other. Tony recognized Timothy, too. "No threat, guys," Tony announced to the group, "this is Mrs. Jonathan Frisby’s son."
Simon and Leanne looked at the boy in amazement. They had no idea that this was Timothy Frisby!
Timothy then explained all that had happened with his escape. The rats sat and listened the whole way through, silently.
"And so," Timothy concluded, "that is how I came to find you guys."
"You mean that’s where Nicodemus and Justin are?" Tony asked.
"Well, we have the keys, let’s get a move on!" ordered Leanne.
With that, the four of them dragged the guard off toward the jail. Timothy overflowed with joy at knowing that he had done better than he had planned. The others would be proud of him as well.
Mrs. Frisby wrapped her arms around the mouse. "I thought that I would never see you again!"
"Hold it, lady," Jonathan said, "You are supposed to be calling the people, not putting moves on me!" He took his fist and pushed her off.
"Do you not remember me?" Sara asked, tears welling up in her eyes.
"All I know about you is that Jenner had ordered you to call the people. That is all."
"Do you not at all find me familiar?"
"Well, now that you mention it, yes. But that means nothing. I also, well, let’s just leave it at that."
Mrs. Frisby put her arms back down to her sides. They were almost past the West Wing which meant that soon, she would be coming across dorms. She dreaded it, but right now she had something more important on her mind. This mouse that stood beside her now was her husband, the father of her children. How could she make him remember?
They kept walking. Sara looked up at Jonathan. He had a dazed look in his eyes now, as if he were thinking about something. She looked ahead again.
"What is it like, working for Jenner?" She asked.
Jonathan hesitated. "Well," he said, "at first, he was really mean, and kept me locked up in a hole somewhere out near a farmhouse. Then, after I realized that there was no way to escape, he put me through this ‘training’ thing. I was taught how to fight and stuff like that. Then, Jenner decided that we needed to go to Thorn Valley. At the time, I didn’t know what Thorn Valley was, but I learned when we came here, or, at least was met by Thorn Valley recruits."
It all made sense to her now. Somehow, Jenner had taken Jonathan and taught him to be his personal slave. But when? Did he do it when Jonathan was poisoning Dragon’s food bowl? Was it after that? And why did Jenner want him? Why did Jenner want a mouse, a mouse that was a hero, a leader, and had morals? There were other rats, she knew, that were dumb enough to follow Jenner. Why her husband?
The first dorm came up. Sara took a deep breath, and looked up at Jonathan. He gave her a suspicious look. Sara gulped, and knocked on the door.
A woman answered the door, almost panic-stricken. "Yes?"
Sara cleared her throat. Now she wished that she had thought of some type of wording for what she needed to say. Better yet, she wished she had come up with some secret way to signal to people not to take her seriously. Maybe it wasn’t too late for that…
"Uh, hello ma’am. I am Mrs. Frisby, and I was ordered to go around to all the rooms in Thorn Valley and tell them that Jenner has called a meeting in about an hour and a half. Everyone is ordered to come. Anyone who doesn’t, will probably suffer the consequences."
The woman looked at the guard behind Sara, and then looked at Sara dead in the eyes. "Who do you think you are kidding? Is this some kind of joke? Now listed here, missy. This is not something to joke about…" She shut the door in their faces before she even stopped talking.
Jonathan yanked Sara around and shook her viciously. Soon, he was shaking so hard, he was actually lifting her off the ground. Mrs. Frisby gasped out in pain.
"What did you do?" Jonathan screamed. "Tell me- what in God’s name did you do?"
Mrs. Frisby looked at him and didn’t know what to say. If she told him- would he kill her? Would Jenner kill her? Probably.
He just shook harder.
Leanne held the shovel tight in her grip, and walked ahead of the others, to check the corners, and keep an eye out for sentries.
However, just as it had been for Timothy, they had no problems. There probably wasn’t a single guard around until the next dorm. What a stroke of luck.
The four of them slowly made their way toward the Jail. They walked down to the end of the hall, trying not to notice the other prisoners watching them.
They opened the back door with a loud scrape of metal, and saw Justin, Nicodemus and the children stand up. In that room, they were nothing but shadows. It made them seem like ghosts.
The sentry’s body hit the ground with a thud.
"Timothy! Who do you have with you?" Cynthia asked.
Timothy gave them all a brief rundown of how Tony, Simon and Leanne came to rescue them while Simon tried the sentry’s keys to see if any of them fit the lock.
As if by cue, by the time Timothy finished, the door of the cell swung open, and the five images of prisoners came out. There were handshakes exchanged, as well as hugs and thanks.
Simon and Tony quickly put the guard in the cell, and locked the door. Simon thought about putting the key just out of the guard’s reach for when he woke up, but then he thought about if anyone came in to find him, (Such as Alice) they would not let him out. The idea was dismissed from mind.
Teresa looked out the tiny window in the door of the cell room. She saw all those other prisoners, sitting there, hostages in cells, just as the other citizens of Thorn Valley were in their rooms. "Hey." She said. The others turned to her.
"What if," she said, "we take the guard’s keys and free those prisoners?"
The others looked at her as if she were crazy.
"No, really," she went on, "they could help us. They are prisoners, and so are the other citizens of Thorn Valley who should be free. We could join together. It couldn’t hurt. They don’t like Jenner otherwise they would have joined him a long time ago. It would only help us be stronger, and with about twenty of us, we could probably handle guards as long as there aren’t any more than two guards at a time."
Nicodemus and Justin looked at each other. They knew where she was coming from; they knew she was right. It was so simple it was scary. It was sheer brilliance!
"Justin," Nicodemus said, "go get the keys."
The guard was locked up, Justin had the keys; everything was set for their perfect plan. But, before they released the prisoners, Justin wanted to make everything clear to them about what they were supposed to do, and what was in it for them."
Justin held his hands up before the prisoners, and began to speak. He had full attention. "Listen up, you guys! We need your help!"
Justin went on to tell them what they were needed to do. He explained to them that they were fighting for freedom, and the lives of those who inhabited Thorn Valley. The people agreed, and they were unlocked.
Twenty-one rats and mice stood together there, in the hallway of the Jail. They talked, and were happy to be working together. Every one of them felt noble and brave for what they were about to do. Even Cynthia felt as if she could kill Jenner herself.
The deal was that if the people helped them, when all this was over, they would no longer be prisoners, but would be frees and treated as equals in Thorn Valley. All their crime histories would be erased.
From there, all of them started on their way. The idea was to find Mrs. Frisby first. Then, they would storm Jenner’s headquarters and take him by surprise. The plan was perfect.
They walked and walked. No one said a single word as they were looking for Sara. They knew what they were supposed to do. Leanne still clutched the shovel, and walked second in line, after Nicodemus. She did this because if she were first, and a guard saw her, she would be the first to be captured, therefore losing all the capability of using the shovel. If Nicodemus went first, they wanted him most, and she would have enough time to take aim and bonk whoever needed bonking.
It seemed almost too easy with the careless way Jenner had posted his guards. They were only posted where the dorms were, not where the high people, such as Justin and Nicodemus were. With Jenner’s careless planning, they had access to almost anywhere in Thorn Valley without even being noticed.
But, even though it seemed like they had everything planned out perfectly, Martin was not easy with it. Neither was Timothy. There had to be something to help them out. With all these advantages, they were only taking advantage of the free space they had and not all the places they could enter. Timothy was the first one to break the silence.
"Justin." He whispered.
Justin gave him a signal to keep quiet, but Timothy persisted. He walked over to Timothy. "What?" Justin snapped.
"Justin," Timothy continued, "if we go into Jenner’s headquarters, he will have weapons. So will the guards in the halls, and so will all the other rats that are with Jenner. I strongly don’t think we can beat them all with our body strength and a shovel. If there is a fight, you know someone will wind up getting injured, and a shovel isn’t exactly a first class weapon."
Martin joined into the conversation. He had been thinking the exact same thing. "Isn’t there anywhere that we could get a knife, or sward, or something?"
Justin paused to think. Boy, kids were getting smarter every day! "I know you are right," he said, "but what can we do? Go back?"
Justin did have a point. If they went somewhere- anywhere, they risked running into a guard, and they didn’t know what Jenner’s plans were therefore, while they were out looking for weapons, Jenner could do serious damage.
"Okay then," Timothy said, "I’ll do it myself. Let’s see. We’re heading toward the West Wing, and…." His voice trailed off.
"Yes?" Martin urged.
"The cafeteria is just down that way," he pointed, "I bet they have knives and junk there. I’ll go myself. I’m young and quicker than those old crummy guards, and I think I could do it."
Martin liked the idea. It was sneaky, dangerous, and he wanted to do it. "I’ll go with you." He said.
Justin waved his hands. "No you wont," He whispered. "It’s too dangerous, and besides, I think we are just fine by ourselves." Thinking his words were final, Justin joined back in with the group.
Timothy and Martin exchanged glances. They knew what they were going to do, no matter what Justin said.
The group kept on walking, and soon, they heard yelling, and a woman’s cries.
"It’s up ahead," Nicodemus said. "Come on, but be careful."
The group headed toward the noise.
He kept shaking her. "What did you do?" He was almost screaming at her now.
"Put me down and I’ll tell you!" Sara yelled back.
Jonathan put her down, but did not let go of her shoulders.
"I did this," Mrs. Frisby said, and made a face. The face was terrible! She had her eyes crossed, her tongue hanging out, and stream of drool coming out of her mouth that was almost as tall as she was.
At the sight of this, Jonathan could not help not laughing. No wonder the woman did take her seriously. He put a hand over his smile and tried to straighten up before Sara saw him, but it was too late.
"I see that smile you’re trying to hide," Mrs. Frisby said with a grin.
Jonathan said nothing in return. Instead, he pushed her to the next door. "Knock!" he snarled at her. "And no funny stuff or I’ll kill you myself."
Mrs. Frisby took him seriously, and knocked on the door. There was no answer. She tried knocking again. Still, there was no answer. She turned to Jonathan and looked at him square in the eyes.
Sara thought about how she had kissed Justin. She enjoyed it, too. And now, here she was, staring up at her husband. She felt dirty and felt as if she had been unfaithful. Then again, she thought, when she and Justin kissed, she thought her husband was dead. What was she going to do?
"What is it?" Jonathan asked.
"Look at me. Look at me right in the eyes, and tell me you don’t know me. Hold my hand and tell me that you have never held it before. Touch my ears and tell me you have never whispered secrets into them. Just…"
Jonathan cut her off. "Don’t start this now, ma’am. I’ve had it up to here with your loneliness. I do find it strange that you knew my last name and all, but nothing thrilling. I brought you down here to do your job, and I am to see to it that your job gets done. Enough of this." He shot her a look that could have killed the devil himself.
Now, Mrs. Frisby felt even worse. There was no way she could get him to remember her. The only way she had a chance was if he was willing to comply with her, but by the looks of things, that was not going to happen.
She stood there, silent for a moment, staring over Jonathan’s shoulder. She was looking at the wall behind him, but then, when she looked at him, she saw yet another wall. And then a shadow behind him moved.
She had not time to warn him that someone was behind him for, at that moment, something raised into the air, and came down on top of his head with a BONG!
Jonathan fell to the floor with a thud, and Sara stood facing the person who just hit her husband.
Timothy and Martin cautiously made their way down the hall toward the cafeteria. They were going to get some butcher knives and maybe some frying pans and stuff.
Both of them knew that the group they just left would not be able to protect themselves with just physical strength and a shovel. The two brothers were just going to get some knives and then hurry back to the group. The probably wouldn’t even be missed.
The cafeteria was dark now since the lights were not on. There wasn’t a light switch to be found, either. It made the place seem scary almost. It was cold, too. Ever since Jenner had been in Thorn Valley, it had been closed. The bar was all clean, with the exception of a few stray green beans on the counter.
"You go back into the kitchen," said Martin, "and look for knives. I’ll stay out here and look in the cupboards. There’s bound to be something in them."
Timothy did what he was told, and went back to the kitchen. There he did find knives and such, but he only found enough weapons to give to fifteen people. He sure hoped that Martin found some in the cupboards.
Martin found nothing. He really didn’t think you could harm many guards with mugs and cups. He sighed. He hoped that Timothy found something.
Timothy came out of the kitchen holding the knives.
Martin looked up and smiled. "Great," he whispered, "I didn’t find anything."
"I only have fifteen."
"There’s nothing but cups and plates out here."
The two brothers sat for a moment and looked at each other. This would have to do. They began to stand up, but Timothy pulled Martin down again.
"Grab some plates, the strongest you can find," he ordered Martin. "And some heavy mugs if you can. We could at least hit someone in the head with them." Timothy made a Frisbee motion with one of the plates.
Martin got the idea and closed the cupboard. He was carrying the plates and some of the mugs. Timothy carried the knives and the rest of the mugs. They both stood up.
Martin ducked and yanked Timothy down with him. "We’re not alone!" he said as quietly as he could.
He was right. At that moment, a big shadowy figure made it’s way across the cafeteria. You could hear his footsteps on the tile, and he was coming closer.
Timothy and Martin slowly slid the knives, plates and mugs under the bar, and got in one of the cupboards.
The figure- it was a guard- was breathing hard, and was coming closer and closer to the bar. He went around and stopped… right in front of the cupboard that Martin and Timothy were hiding in!
The two boys were breathing hard, but they were also straining to keep their breaths under control. If they made the slightest noise, they were dead meat.
The guard moved and went into the kitchen, and Martin heard the refrigerator door open. "Let’s move!" Martin said, and they both picked up their things and ran.
They ran out of the cafeteria and out into the hall. There they stopped and looked to see if anyone was following them. There was no one.
"Remember what to do." Timothy said to Martin. He was referring to watching for more sentries.
They started walking back to the group.
Jenner paced his office. Alice stood beside him, helping him with his speech.
"I want it to sound professional, Alice," he said as he stopped pacing. "I want the people of Thorn Valley to get the impression that I am now in control, and if they don’t do as I say, they will pay for it."
Alice nodded her head.
"And I don’t want them to be afraid of me, either. I want to be as good as a ruler as Nicodemus, if not better. I just want to change the rules a bit."
Alice flipped through the pages of speech they had already written. She waited for him to continue.
Jenner cleared his throat and began speaking again. "Get this down, Alice, and then read back to me what we already have. There will no longer be choice eating times. From now on, each of you will go to breakfast, lunch and dinner at a given time. Later in the week I will hand you your eating schedules. Ya got that, Alice? Now read it back."
Alice flipped back to the first page and began reading:
"’Ladies and Gentlemen, give me your full attention. As you have already figured out, I, Jenner, will from this point on, be taking over. Now, now, don’t get all upset. Really, I plan on being a good leader; as good as Nicodemus himself if not better. I do, however, want to make some changes in rules. To begin with, everyone must be in their rooms by ten o’clock every night unless I announce otherwise. From now on, there will be no more school, but everyone will go to work. Children of two years and up will work. There will no longer be choice eating times, From now on, each of you will go to breakfast, lunch and dinner at a given time. Later in the week I will hand you your eating schedules.’" Alice then sat in silence waiting for Jenner’s approval.
Jenner looked at her in thought. "I like it," he said, "but there is still more to work on. I want the child laws put in there, the new every day laws, and the consequences. Okay Alice, ready to write again?"
"Who in God’s name do you think you are?" Sara screamed.
"Whoa, Mrs. Frisby, calm down!" Leanne was trying her hardest to keep Sara quiet for all their sakes.
"Well Leanne," Mrs. Frisby said, quieter, "why did you do that? Huh? Just to have you know, you just beat Mr. Jonathan Frisby unconscious!"
The group looked around. They were standing behind Sara, and she did not yet know they were there. What did she mean, Jonathan?
"Sara, calm down now. That was not your husband. Jonathan is dead."
"Do I look insane to you?" Sara asked.
"No, but you do look awfully unstable."
"Well you’d be unstable if your husband, who you haven’t seen in a year and thought was dead, was all of the sudden beaten over the head with a shovel!" Sara was getting angry again.
Leanne stared at her for a minute. "Sara," she said, "that is not Jonathan. Jonathan was killed by Dragon a year ago. This is not him. This is a rat. He is too big to be Jonathan. I can see some resemblance, but this is not your husband."
"Listen to me!!" Sara yelled it at the top of her lungs. It was a wonder that no guards came.
It was at this point that Sara turned around and noticed the group of people standing behind her. Justin looked at her and stepped forward.
Justin came forward and wrapped his arms around Sara’s waist. "Shh. Now, Sara, it’ll all be all right. I promise." He looked at her and kissed her on the cheek but Sara pulled away.
"What’s wrong?" Justin asked.
"If you all just be quiet," Sara said, "I’ll tell you."
Leanne shuffled feet, and stayed quiet. She was now going to let Mrs. Frisby speak.
"This is Jonathan. I assure you. I was brought out here to tell the residents of Thorn Valley that Jenner is going to call a meeting. I was talking to my escort and asked him how he came to work for Jenner. He said that all he remembered was that when he woke up he was there with Jenner. He said that Jenner put him through training and everything."
Leanne coughed and looked at Sara with disinterest.
Sara continued. "I asked him his name, and he said that it was John. Then he corrected himself and said that his name was Jonathan. It all fit together. I asked his last name, and he said that he didn’t remember. I suggested the name Frisby, and he said that that was it! He told me about how he felt. He said that he was a mouse, and that people treated him with better care than most of Jenner’s men."
By now, Leanne had latched on to Mrs. Frisby’s words, and was even beginning to believe them. "And?" she asked.
"Don’t you see?" said Mrs. Frisby. "This is Jonathan. Jenner took him, and trained him to be one of his men. He’s so big now because he was trained to kill and be strong. He is here now. All we have to do is make him remember!" She was out of breath now and was looking at Justin.
Justin was just looking back at her in disbelief. He didn’t believe the story she just told. He didn’t know what to do. He loved Sara- he had ever since he had laid eyes on her- but now she was acting like she was married again. Was this her way of saying she didn’t want him? Had she lost it? Was she going crazy? He didn’t know. All he knew was that they had to do something about this.
Now Cynthia stepped out of the group. "Mommy?" she asked.
Mrs. Frisby swooped the child up in her arms and hugged her. "Where are the others? Teresa? Martin? Timothy? How did you ever get out?"
Teresa stepped forward and looked behind her. "Come on out, guys." She said.
No one came.
Sara called for the boys, but still, no one appeared.
"They’re gone!" shouted someone from the back.
The panic came in a rush and devoured her. Sara began to frantically circle the group, spreading the people out, looking for her beloved children. They were right- Martin and Timothy were gone.
"I think I know where they are," Justin said. "They both were talking about going to get some weapons to fight Jenner with. They were going to go to the cafeteria for knives and things. I told them no, but I guess they didn’t listen."
Mrs. Frisby walked up to him. "You just told them no? You should have kept them in your sight at all times! You should have been watching all the children from the beginning so they wouldn’t get hurt or go wandering off!"
Justin looked at her in awe. He didn’t believe how she was acting. First, she was imagining that one of Jenner’s guards was her husband. Now she was yelling at him for not knowing how to babysit. He wasn’t going to take this. "Now you listen here, Sara," he said, "don’t you yell at me! I thought that your children were mature! I thought that they could take no for an answer and do as they are told, but I was way off!!!"
Mrs. Frisby got closer to him. "I don’t expect you to be perfect, Justin," she hissed, "but I do expect you to have some type of common sense! You know how kids are! You rule over them, you have met mine before, and you have been with them all the time we have been here! Who do you think you are for telling me all this? It’s not my fault! I was captured by Jenner and held in his chambers! I was given orders to be here! If I didn’t do as he told me to, you would be dead right now, and so would my children! But now I guess that effort was made in vain because two of my children are probably already dead thanks to you!!!"
Sara’s ears were crimson with fury. What a day she was having! She was introduced to her husband whom she thought was dead, and now she was getting yelled at for something that should have been taken better care of. She couldn’t believe this.
Sara lunged at Justin, and wrapped her hands around his wrist. She opened her mouth and clamped down as hard as she could. Justin screamed and jumped up.
"Why the…" he stopped himself from saying something bad in front of Cynthia. "Why the heck did you do that? What did I do, huh? What did I do to deserve that?" He looked down at his wrist and watched a steady stream of blood flow from his wrist to the floor. A puddle formed on the smooth floor, and when each drop of blood fell, it splattered and speckled Justin’s feet.
Mrs. Frisby wiped the blood from her mouth. She didn’t know why she did it, either. No- she did know. She did it because she knew he loved her. She knew Justin loved her yet he didn’t believe her. No one believed her about Jonathan. Her kids were lost- probably dead- and all anyone could do was yell at each other.
"I… I’m sorry! I don’t know what came over me." Sara tried explaining. "I.. just don’t know. I don’t know where my kids are, and this is my husband, and all we are doing is yelling at each other… it’s all just overwhelming!" She broke down.
Justin put his arms around her cautiously and hugged her. "Shh now. I now you’re under a lot of stress. I’m okay, really. Don’t worry about it. Just think about finding your children. That’s all we all need to worry about. It’ll all be all right, I promise."
She wrapped her arms around to hug his shoulders. She let out a sigh and looked at him. She loved him. She really loved him. But then, she could not. Her husband lay on the floor beside her and she was hugging Justin. It didn’t feel right, and she knew what the right thing was.
There was silence. No one spoke, they only watched the two of them cradle each other.
"You know, the kids were right. You should have more weapons than just a shovel!" Jonathan said as he sat up.
His speech was prepared. It was worded to perfection, and he was all ready to go to the meeting. He only hoped that Sara had done as he had told her. If she hadn’t, she would surely die for humiliating and disobeying him. It was a half an hour until he had to give the speech, and he was really anxious. He knew that everything was perfect. Nobody should get in his way.
What a fine plan he had laid out before him. All Thorn Valley stood at his feet; at his mercy. He had a fine plan. Everyone would surely love him once they saw his brilliance. They would shout, and applaud, and worship him. He would be one step down from God and people would only think him higher. He was a genius.
Jenner thought back. He knew that stupid Dr. Shultz would follow him. After the two rats were found in the rosebush, Shultz knew what he had on his hands- something as smart as himself, if not smarter.
Jenner grinned at how he had used that man- a human of all things- to get what he wanted. As he had estimated, Nicodemus did meet him halfway, to save all their sakes. No, Nicodemus had thought Jenner clumsy and careless for leading Shultz toward Thorn Valley, but he was wrong. It was all part of his plan. He had used Shultz to get to Thorn Valley quicker. He had used the doctor in such a way, it put him in an even better advantage point than he had anticipated.
And now, as he listened to the radio, Dr. Shultz had given up on his search for the traveling rats. He had lost them when Thorn Valley’s troops came, therefore his search looked idiotic and outrageous. He had spent government money to follow them, and then lost them. Surely he would lose his job. And even if he didn’t, there was no way he could get to Thorn Valley legally.
Thorn Valley was a reservation which meant that no helicopters were permitted to fly over it. Vehicles weren’t even allowed to go anywhere in Thorn Valley besides the outer rim of the forest, and only park rangers were allowed to do that.
No, Jenner was not clumsy. He was brilliant. He had gotten even more than what he had planned, and kept the entire valley safe while doing it. The people of Thorn Valley should get down on their knees and thank him, and kiss his feet. That’s what they should do.
Jenner found a chair and sat down. He liked praising himself. He liked thinking about how fine his plans were, and how he had been so smart.
It had taken place a long time ago, when he had seen Justin and Mr. Ages walk over to the Fitzgibbon’s house and sneak under it. He had followed them to the house in the darkness of the night unnoticed. No one had heard the rustling of grass behind them, and they never suspected that someone should be following them.
Mr. Ages had walked Jonathan in, since Justin was too big. Only mice could fit through the hole in the house, and make it down the jump under the cabinet.
He had watched Justin check his watch, and he had seen Mr. Ages disappear under the house, guiding Jonathan along. He had witnessed the packet of medicine be handed between peoples, and he had held his breath when Justin drew closer to the corner of the house in boredom.
He had strained his ears that night, to hear the conversation over the chirping of crickets. The agreement between Justin, Mr. Ages and Jonathan was that they would meet Jonathan back in the rosebush when he got done. Justin and Ages had to go to a meeting, and Jonathan had to feed Dragon himself.
It was only by luck that the plan was to leave Jonathan alone. It was only by luck that Ages and Justin left, leaving Jonathan in danger. It had been a perfect plan- only the beginning of Jonathan had come out from under the house safely- not killed by Dragon. Then, Jenner stepped out from the shadows and beat Jonathan to a pulp with a metal pipe.
It worked perfectly. At that time, Jonathan was the leader of the rats and of the rosebush. Nicodemus had only filled in as first in command when he figured out that Jonathan had been killed. Sure Nicodemus was leader when they were at the Boniface Estate, but things change. Jonathan was brighter, and Jonathan was more aware of the world than any of the rats were.
When Jonathan woke up, he remembered nothing. Again, another stroke of luck for Jenner. Beating him over the head with that pipe had triggered a strong case of amnesia in the poor mouse. What perfect luck! Jenner could tell him anything he wanted to, and Jonathan was at his mercy!
Everything so far had gone so perfectly. Everything had been smooth and according to plan. In fact, even though Jenner had been surprised at points, all the surprises had ended in pure wonder. All the surprises had been with Jenner and for him.
Another wonderful thing about being here in Thorn Valley was that he knew his opponents’ weaknesses. He knew as a fact that Nicodemus and Justin carried on their backs a strong sense of guilt about that night. They blamed themselves for Jonathan’s "death" and for leaving him there alone that night.
They were not guilty, of course. They just didn’t know any better. They didn’t know that Jonathan was alive, and they weren’t intended to find out.
They were nervous. After that encounter with the guard, they were not at ease until they were almost back to the group.
Timothy and Martin were still hauling their items. Several times they had stopped for a break, but they could never stay for long. They didn’t know what Jenner had in store, so they had to keep on their toes.
"What wing are we on?" Martin asked on their break.
"I don’t know. We’re still on the cafeteria wing. We must be coming to the center of Thorn Valley soon. From there, we’ll just read signs. I didn’t really pay attention to which way we came. I’m sure there’ll be a sign directing us to the Meeting Room or something. How could there not be?"
They sat in silence for a few minutes until it was time to head back. With all their things they were hauling, it tired them out quickly. They stood up reluctantly.
"Do you think they’ve found Mom yet?" Martin asked.
"I don’t know. I sure hope so. I really want to know if she’s okay"
"I know. Timothy?"
He looked over at Martin. "What?"
"Do you think Justin and Mom are going to get together? I mean, marry?"
Timothy swallowed. "I don’t know. Maybe."
"I don’t know what to think about them. I guess it’s okay, I guess. Justin’s a good person and all, but I would prefer Dad instead."
"Yeah, well, Dad isn’t here, is he?"
Martin looked at the ground. He knew he was thinking foolishly. He just didn’t know what to make of all that was happening around him. With Jenner and all, it really sent him to thinking. He thought mostly about Jonathan. He really did miss him, but he was afraid that he would just have to set it aside. If all this worked out with Jenner, Justin might become a new member of the family. His thoughts were interrupted by Timothy.
"Martin?" Timothy said.
"Something isn’t right. I’ve been thinking, and, well, it just doesn’t make sense."
Martin looked at him in confusion. "Excuse me, but I don’t know what you're talking about."
"Well, Jenner had all these spies at Thorn Valley way before he even started to come here, right?"
"Uh, yeah. What about it?"
"Well, with all the guards we have in Thorn Valley and all, they couldn’t have just slipped past them, unless they came the night Nicodemus called the meeting. But, Alice was a spy, and she was here just before that. It’s weird."
Martin had never thought of this before. Timothy was right, of course, as he always was. No, it didn’t fit together.
"What are you coming to, bro?" Martin asked. He was really interested.
"What I’m coming to is that, when Jenner left years ago, he didn’t just leave because he disagreed with the Plan or Nicodemus. He had something else up his sleeve."
"I don’t know. But, now that I think of it, it could be anything, really. I mean, how much do we really know about the history of Thorn Valley and the rats? We know nothing. We know their story, but from where the story ends, we don’t know the gaps in between. Do you see it? We know about the rosebush and all, but we don’t know anything about their life in the rosebush. We know everything about them up until that point. I’m just saying that I think Jenner had his own plan, before anyone else."
Martin rubbed his chin. He never realized this before, but now that it had been brought to his attention, he became intensely perplexed. "What do you think is going on?"
Timothy fell silent, and then cleared his throat. "Follow me," he said, "let’s get back to the group first and then we’ll think of something. I think I already know the answer, and it would help solve the problem if Justin and Nicodemus were here with us."
The two mice continued on their way.
As Jonathan sat up, the others’ eyes got wide. Justin released Sara and peered down at Jonathan. "Who are you?" he asked.
Jonathan got on his feet and looked back at Justin. "I am Mr. Jonathan Frisby, Justin. Who else would I be?"
His jaw dropped. It really was him! Justin stared into Jonathan’s eyes. It really was him. Justin looked at him abashed. "I am so sorry, Jonathan! It really is you!"
Jonathan rubbed his head. He remembered everything. He remembered that night, and Jenner training him. He remembered him marrying Sara, and remembered that he had children. He also remembered walking down the hall with Sara, and denying his identity. It was like a thick blanket of fog had suddenly been lifted from his mind; he could actually see again.
Tears welled up in Sara’s eyes as she rushed to him. She wrapped her thin arms around his neck and buried her crying face in his chest. He was home at last. She couldn’t believe it. Like a broken dam, her emotions poured out at that moment, as did his.
Jonathan looked down at his wife, who had her arms around him now, sobbing helplessly. He hugged her back, and began to cry. He could smell her, and feel her, and see the love in her eyes as he saw it when they first married. He was home. He had his family back, finally.
It seemed like hours, but only a few minutes had passed when they at last broke free of each other and stood, facing the crowd.
Jonathan stood on his tip-toes, looking for his children. "Timothy? Teresa? Cynthia, Martin?" He called out.
Cynthia and Teresa ran forward and smothered their father with kisses and hugs. No one said a word. Not the children, not Jonathan, not the crowd. They just stood and watched. They stood and watched a broken family at last piece itself back together. It seemed like something out of the Odyssey. Odysseus and his family, finally reunited after what seemed like years apart. Though it was planned for him never to reach them again, Jonathan had reached home, and his family, at last.
After this moment of silence, the Frisby family looked up. It was then that it struck Jonathan that his sons were not there to greet him. Where were they?
"Where are the boys?" Jonathan asked.
Sara looked at him and wiped the dampness from her eyes. "We don’t know," she said. "All we know is that they are missing. We have an idea that they went looking for weapons, but that’s all. We don’t know which way they went, or even when they left."
Jonathan peered around the hallway. This was dumb, standing in the middle of the hallway like this, with Jenner around. "Let’s get inside a dorm or something, so we aren’t seen. Once we get in there, we have more time, and less likelihood of being spotted."
\In agreement, the group knocked on the nearest door. An elderly man opened the door, took one look at the large group, and, in fear, slammed the door in their faces.
Tony pounded on the door. "Open up, sir. This is an order from the Thorn Valley Recruits!"
With that, the man reopened the door, just enough to show his eyes, and then opened it further. He said nothing, only motioned them inside. All of them went into his home, and began to form a plan.
The group that now stood in the old man’s residence spread out about the room, as the old man himself stood in the corner, bewildered.
"Now, Sara," Jonathan asked, "you say that both our sons went looking for weapons. Did you hear them say anything about going to get them?"
"No," Sara replied, "but I know Justin heard them mention something."
Jonathan looked at Justin. "Is that true?"
Justin could barely look at this mouse in front of him. He was so ashamed. He had fallen for Sara head over heels, and even kissed her, and now her husband stood before him. He felt that he had committed adultery. It made his stomach churn.
He looked up. "Uh, yeah, Johnny boy. They mentioned something about going to the cafeteria for knives and things like that."
"You knew this, and you didn’t say anything to them? You didn’t tell us?"
"I told them not to go. They did have a point – we don’t have the right equipment to go after Jenner with – but I told them not to go. I swear it!"
Jonathan gave Justin a dirty look. What had he been thinking? Justin obviously did not know the first thing about children. "What were you thinking!? You should have kept them in your sight at all times! You know how mischievous they are! What in the world made you think they would obey you?"
Jonathan’s voice was so loud, Sara was afraid that they would be heard. "Jonathan," she said, "Now, go easy –" But Jonathan shrugged her off. He was furious. Now, thanks to this man in front of him, his children were probably dead. What would he do?
Nicodemus, who had been standing back thinking, said, "There is nothing we can do. If the children are all right, then they will try to come back to where we were last. I suggest that we do not go anywhere until they come back."
"But shouldn’t we send out a person to look for them?" A female rat from the back suggested.
Nicodemus shook his head. "No. Then, if that person got caught, and the children returned before them, we would have wasted a person, and would probably be wasting our time waiting for that person to return. All we should do now is to use this time for planning, and to wait for Timothy and Martin to return."
They all knew he was right. It was the best plan that could have been made up at that time. The group turned back to Jonathan, waiting for instructions.
The old man stood silently in the corner of the room.
"Where are they!?" Jenner shouted. "They should have been done by now! Alice!" Jenner pounded his tail against the ground as Alice came rushing into the room.
"Yes, Jenner?" she answered.
"I want to know where the Frisby girl and Jonathan went. I sent them out to spread the word to Thorn Valley about the meeting, and they have not returned. Go out and find them now, and bring them back to me!"
Alice hurried out the door and down the stairs.
Jenner continued pacing. Where could they be? Sara and Jonathan had better not mess with him if they valued their lives. If they are caught fooling around it would be death for the both of them for sure. Jenner would see to it.
Everything was going perfectly and he was not about to let two measly mice mess everything up. That would not happen. He would not let that happen.
Yes, he was going to be a powerful man. He soon would be ruling all of Thorn Valley and no one could stop him. He had men stronger than all Thorn Valley’s recruits. If Thorn Valley refused to go along with his plan, he would start to kill the citizens off one by one. They would take him seriously then.
Nicodemus could not even stop himself now. He was determined to gain this power, and he would succeed even if it killed him. It was his time to shine now.
Timothy and Martin followed the signs and drew closer and closer to the group. Neither of them said anything. They both had their minds full of ideas. Timothy was right - Jenner was up to something, but what? They could only imagine.
Martin thought that Jenner was planning to go against humans, and try to take over the world.
Timothy on the other hand, thought something similar, but not quite as large. He figured that since Jenner had made it this far, he had to have been planning this a long time ago. He also believed that this problem with Jenner and Thorn Valley was somehow connected with the death of his father. He had to get to Nicodemus. If he had time to ask him questions he could then find out the truth, even though the truth might not be pretty.
Still silent, the two brothers rounded the corner to the hallway where they first left the group. They were gone.
"Where did they go?" Martin asked. There was a trace of panic in his voice.
Timothy shook his head. "I don’t know."
"Maybe something happened to them," Martin suggested. "Maybe someone living in one of these dorms will know." He reached up and knocked on a door.
The door opened slightly, and a tall, blue-eyed woman peered through the crack.
"Yes?" she asked.
"There was a large group of people on this hallway not too long ago," said Martin. "Do you know where they might be?"
The woman looked at the two mice for a moment. "Uh, yeah. Check two doors down. I thought I heard something in there." She closed the door.
Timothy and Martin looked at each other. They would try it. They walked two doors down.
Timothy was the one to knock on the door this time. The door slowly opened.
"Baby!" shouted a voice from inside.
Before they knew what was going on, Timothy and Martin were jerked inside. They were then smothered in hugs and kisses, and were surrounded by people they knew. They were back.
After the commotion was over, they looked past the crowd at the robust mouse standing in the back.
"Martin…" Timothy started to say, but before he could finish the mouse ran up to him and picked him up.
"Do you know who I am?" the strange mouse asked.
Timothy looked perplexed for a minute, but gazed into the mouse’s eyes. "DAD!" he shouted at the top of his lungs.
It was then that Martin saw it, too. He ran up to his father and hugged him harder than he thought possible. His father was back, at last.
When Jonathan finally set both boys down, Timothy asked to Nicodemus, "I was thinking about all this that is going on with Jenner. And my dad. How- (he wasn’t sure exactly how he should phrase this) – how is my father alive? I mean, I thought everyone knew he was dead. I thought – you see, I thought that Dragon killed him. Wasn’t that true? Well, I guess not after all, had Dragon killed him, he would not be standing here in front of me –"
Nicodemus cut him off. He knew already what the boy was coming to. He knew that Timothy, and his whole family for that matter, had been living in a lie, or at least something no one was truly sure about.
"I have some explaining to do," Nicodemus said at last.
Justin stepped forward. "Me too."
While the two of them had the group’s attention, they told the story about Jonathan. They told how they had left him on his own which did not make certain the fact that he was "killed." They told how he never came out, and how they just assumed that Dragon had caught him.
"After all," they said, "The seven rats that had died in the hardware store were supposedly Jenner and his troops. But that was just assumed, also."
After the story, Sara was speechless. She didn’t know what to think. She had been living in a lie ever since Moving Day. All the thoughts that had been put into her head about her husband and the fate of Jenner had been merely based on assumptions. She couldn’t believe it. When Nicodemus told her his story that day in his office, the least he could have done was tell her that they weren’t sure if Jonathan had been killed. It would have at least given her and her family some sense of hope to hang onto. Oh well for that, she thought.
All of them sat around for a minute after Justin and Nicodemus had finished speaking. Like Sara, none of them knew what to think.
Cynthia broke the silence. "So you lied?" she asked.
Justin didn’t like it, but now that he thought about what he and Nicodemus had done, he realized they had sort of lied. They hadn’t told the Frisby family about their uncertainties, and that could really be considered lying.
"I guess so." Justin answered.
Nicodemus saw this too, and felt that he should say something. "I know this is bad. And I know that we should have told all of you, but I’m sorry, we can’t change that. All we can do is apologize and you do what you want with that."
Sara stood up and held Jonathan’s hand. She knew Nicodemus was right, too. You can’t change something you did in the past, but apologizing doesn’t necessarily make things better. It was a sticky situation filled with mixed emotions.
Then she snapped out of it. Why were they standing around feeling poorly about someone who had helped them? Jonathan was alive and that was all that mattered. Besides, they had work to do. They had to do something about Jenner. If they didn’t, they might be dead in a matter of hours. They had better figure something out…quickly.
"Listen, everyone," Sara said at last, "Who cares what Justin and Nicodemus did? Jonathan is alive and that is all that matters. We have more important things to deal with right now, anyway. We have to make a plan about Jenner. He is a great threat to Thorn Valley, and us just sitting here doing nothing about it is putting Thorn Valley in greater danger."
As if nothing had ever happened, the group began to plan once again. Not another word was exchanged about what had just happened. Everyone just exchanged smiles, and began working again.
Alice walked down the hall in panic. She really wanted Mrs. Frisby to figure out some way to stop Jenner, but how could she? Her children were in jail along with Nicodemus and Justin. Her husband had amnesia, and was now a totally different man. Oh, how could Jenner be stopped?
Instead of checking the hallways, maybe she would stop by the jail to see how they were. Maybe they would have a message for her to tell Sara. She had to do something. Maybe she could tip Sara off about what to do. But what could they do? Jenner is now almost unstoppable. He has the strongest men, and all of Thorn Valley is at his mercy. If anyone tries anything, people would definitely be killed.
What was the one weakness Jenner had? She didn’t know of any. It was almost as if Jenner did not have a heart. Maybe if she could convince Jenner’s men that what he was doing was wrong they’d have a chance. She didn’t think so. What if…
What if. That is all they could really do now, is say what if. What if this, and what if that – there just wasn’t any way to be sure of Jenner’s defeat. He had made it this far, why shouldn’t he go all the way?
She kept asking herself questions she couldn’t answer, and that made her even angrier. If she were a bit –a lot – stronger, she would kill Jenner herself. She was there when Jenner killed that young rat, Amber, and she saw him do it without flinching. She watched him hurt Simon – poor Simon. She hadn’t seen Simon in years. The last of him she remembered was a small frightened child having his mother killed right before his eyes. Jenner probably killed him by now. Jenner probably killed him before he left Thorn Valley. Poor Simon.
She had to think. What was one thing Jenner cared about more than anything in the whole world? His life, no doubt. He cared about nothing other than himself, and that was for sure. She had to think of something, she just had to.
The first thing she noticed when she reached the jail was that there wasn’t anyone in the outside cells. The doors swung open freely, their big metal mouths squeaking with the slightest breeze. What had happened?
This filled her with worry as she began to walk faster toward the back cell where Nicodemus and Justin were kept.
To her surprise, when she got to the back of the jail, the outer door of the cell was unlocked. She let herself in, and, to further surprise, saw a weary guard locked in the cell where Justin and Nicodemus had been. Where did they go?
"Let me out of here, Alice!" The guard spoke up in a raspy voice. He was cradling his head.
It took a moment for his words to register in her mind. "What?" she asked.
"I said let me out of here!"
She knew who it was, it was Tiny, the security guard. "I’m sorry, Tiny," she replied, "I don’t have the key. The door was unlocked. How did they get out?"
"I don’t know," Tiny answered. "All I remember is that I saw some rats on the hallway, and I had a good chase with one of them. And I would’ve gotten the little rascal, too, if someone hadn’t come along and hit me on the head. After that, everything went black. When I woke up, I was in here, and my keys were gone."
This brought a smile to her face. This meant that they were out, and maybe, just maybe, they've found Sara by now. Maybe they were already making plans against Jenner. But where were they now? Hopefully, somewhere safe.
"Thank you, Tiny!" Alice shouted. She felt like kissing him. It took all her strength not to.
Alice departed in an instant, leaving Tiny alone once again in the dim room. He just sighed.
This meant there was hope! This meant that there was a chance that Jenner may be unsuccessful in carrying out his plans. This meant that she knew something Jenner did not know.
The plan had been brought about by accident, but it was almost brilliant. Actually, Teresa had been the one to come up with it.
The plan was to attack Jenner’s room that night. Jonathan would act like he was still a guard, and act as if he was bringing the enemies (Nicodemus, Mrs. Frisby, Justin, Simon…) to Jenner so they could be "dealt with". When they all enter Jenner’s room, they would attack him. As they were doing that, the rest of the group (the prisoners that had been freed and the children) would burst in and help take care of the guards. It was risky, but anything they did would be risky.
Though this plan fit together perfectly, and sounded like it would go just as planned, there was one little problem: what would they do to Jenner? They would, of course, do away with him, but should he do anything before his death? And how would they end his life? Kill him with swords? Poison him? Hang him? They didn’t know what to do.
"I don’t like the idea of killing him," Cynthia said, almost in a whisper.
Justin knew where she was coming from. He didn’t want to kill Jenner, either. After all, Jenner and he used to be good friends. Jenner had been a good friend to Nicodemus, and Jonathan for that matter. In addition, Cynthia was young. She would always have that knowledge inside her that they, her family and friends, had killed someone. Who knows what that would do to her? For her sake, Justin came up with an idea.
Justin cleared his throat. "I have an idea," he stated as he lifted his hands. The group gave him their full attention.
"I don’t think the children should be included in this fight."
Martin and Timothy raised their heads and began to protest. "What?" Martin said, "What? You mean to tell us that after we got all of you weapons, we can’t fight? After we walked all that way from the cafeteria, we can’t fight? You’re not serious."
Nicodemus said, "He is serious, just as he is right. I agree with you, Justin. I think all the children should stay in my office while we carry out the plan. In my office they’ll be right there on the West Wing so if there is any danger that we learn of, we can get to them quickly."
And so it was. They all packed up their things and headed toward the West Wing. On their way to Nicodemus’ office, they would also stop by the supply room to pick up some of the Thorn Valley army supplies. For this mission, dishes and cups weren’t going to do the job.
With the children left behind, the crew could finally work out details. They could discuss death and punishment; things that were not suitable for young ears.
"Sara," Justin said, "we need you to act like you’re in serious distress. Jenner is going to be furious when he sees Nicodemus and me out of our cell. Just keep in mind that Jenner is not hesitant to kill. Just act real."
Sara rolled her eyes. "Thanks. That makes me feel a lot better."
Night came. The plan seemed perfect and confidence was high even though the tension in the air was so thick you could taste it.
Justin, Nicodemus, Jonathan and Sara all approached the stalactite cautiously. This was it. This was the hour of judgement. In just a few minutes they would find out exactly who was destined to be the leader of Thorn Valley. Everyone hoped for the best.
It was so quiet you could hear a caterpillar a mile down the valley. Silence did not make Sara’s stomach feel any better. She felt like throwing up.
The elevator raised the four of them up slowly, slowly. Not only was the anxiety choking but the suspense was deadly.
The door opened without a sound. It was as if the room had been expecting them. The secretary was not at her seat and the whole hallway was deserted. Phase One complete.
Jonathan tightened his grip on the three of them and made his way up the stairs. Perspiration was dripping down his nose by the time he reached the top. He opened the door.
"Jonathan! Where in Sullivan’s name have you been? Ah, I see you brought little Miss Sarah, too. Oh? And what’s this? What are Justin and Nicodemus doing here? Answer me!"
Jonathan swallowed hard. "Well, sir," he said meekly, "I caught Justin and Nicodemus roaming the hallways. Don’t ask me where the children are…they must have escaped. Sara here tried to pull a fast one on me, but luckily I’m stronger than all three of them put together."
Jenner eyed the three prisoners angrily then made his way over to Sara. "Well, well. I see I have misjudged you, my dear." Jenner reached up and stroked Sara’s chin softly. "See where thinking gets you? It gets you death, that’s what it gets you. As for your children, I don’t care where they are. They cannot live without you. In a matter of hours you will be dead. If they turn up they will be my slaves. Do you like thinking?"
Fury. Sara’s stomach filled with fury. She looked in Jenner’s eyes and could almost read his every thought. Then the room began to spin. She couldn’t recognize where she was. What was happening? Her stomach…
"You fool!" Jenner roared as he wiped vomit from the front of his vest. "How dare you!"
Sara fell to the floor in dizziness. Jonathan strained himself from picking her up. He had to keep character.
It was then the group burst through the door. It was perfect timing – they had caught Jenner completely off guard. Phase Two complete.
Justin and Nicodemus broke free and pulled out their weapons. The fight was on.
At first they came out of nowhere. Jenner had an army of men equaling three men in strength. The first one came after Nicodemus. Of course Nicodemus would be the prime target.
The first rat came after Nicodemus with a sword but Nicodemus dodged it just in time. Nicodemus whipped around behind the rat (they were strong, but they were big and slow) and plunged his dagger deep into the rat’s back. It would take a good many hits to bring him down, but this slice should slow him up.
Another rat was attacking Tony. Tony was pinned on the ground biting and lashing with all his might. Luckily, though, one of the rats from the prison cut the enemy’s tail off. The enemy lay on the ground and bled to death.
Justin was cornered by the female rat. She was probably the best fighter of all Jenner’s men. She was quick, agile and strong. She had already taken a few good chunks out of Justin’s arm.
Justin fought her one-handedly but seemed to do little damage. She lashed her tail around and whipped him in the legs. Justin fell to his knees but kept swinging his sword. It seemed like forever, but he finally cut the girl’s throat and she fell to the floor bleeding excessively.
The battle lasted forever. Leanne and Simon fought as hard as they could as did the rest of the group. Then, after it seemed like the group could no longer carry on, the last of Jenner’s men fell to the floor in a crimson puddle. But all was not success. The majority of the group lay wounded on the floor. Two members were in critical condition and had to be taken to the hospital immediately. Phase Three complete.
It was silent for a moment when Tony realized that Jenner and Mrs. Frisby were no longer in their presence. He announced this to the group.
Jonathan went into panic. Although he had been stabbed three times in the leg, he bound up and rushed for the back room. The two of them were nowhere to be found. He cursed under his breath. He had to find them.
"Come on, guys," he ordered, "Let’s go.
Those who were capable of walking followed Jonathan urgently. Those too weak to stand remained on the floor at rest until hospital staff came along. If they came along.
"Where do you think they went?" A rat asked Jonathan.
Jonathan shook his head. "I don’t know. But when I find Jenner, I will kill him. That’s not a threat, that’s a promise!"
Walking behind Jonathan there were five rats, all of whom he did not know; they were all from the prison. Their names were Allie, Tobias, Chay, Piers, and Skylar. They all seemed pretty nice.
Jonathan didn’t know where to start looking. They could have escaped at any time during the battle therefore they could be anywhere by now. He only hoped he would come across them with luck.
As the six of them walked down the hallway, Jonathan remembered all there was about Sara and his family. He remembered their wedding and the birth of Martin. He remembered thinking about her before he went to put the powder in Dragon’s bowl, and he remembered that Sara had said something about being in Thorn Valley for about two weeks. What would he do?
"If you were Jenner, where would you go?" asked Piers.
"Well," Jonathan replied, "if I were Jenner, I wouldn’t do anything stupid. Jenner may be ignorant, but he is not a complete idiot. I would certainly not corner myself somewhere in Thorn Valley. I would, of course, take a winding path to get to where I was going, but I would go somewhere hidden, yet easy to escape."
Chay sighed. Where would he go if he were someone like Jenner? It was then that they all passed a window. Chay glanced up through it and suddenly he had an idea. There, just beyond the side yard, lay the escape tunnel which was built for the farmers in case of emergencies. The tunnel went about five feet underground and wound around to the other side of the mountain where, if in need to, you could descend down the side of the mountain toward the city.
"Jonathan!" Chay cried. "Check this out!" He pointed out the window.
Before Chay could explain his thoughts, Jonathan already knew what he was thinking. He ripped a piece of cloth from his vest and wrapped it tightly around his fist and then jabbed the window with all his might. The glass shattered instantly and they all wiggled their way outside.
The storm had passed, leaving nothing but red mud and rubble on the ground. Rocks had tumbled down from the far cliffs, creating craters in the Thorn Valley yard. A thin gray cloud still loomed overhead, but conditions had improved by far.
The tunnel was about twenty yards ahead of them. The entrance was nothing but a small thin door placed in the middle of what seemed to be just a pile of rocks cemented in place. Once you opened the door, you had about a eight inch drop off (which was a lot to a rat) before the steep stairs began.
The six rodents approached the tunnel entrance in huffs. Winded, Piers threw the door open. Skylar grabbed a lantern from off the wall (they were kept there in case of power losses and such) and lit it up just in time to see a shadow shift down below him.
"This way! I see them!" he shouted.
Down, down, down they went. The dark tunnel was wet and musty due to the prior rainfall. Trying his hardest to keep his balance, Jonathan strategically placed his feet on the narrow steps. He could hear heavy breathing ahead of him in the darkness. He kept his eyes open wide in vain in effort to see something yet it was, of course, impossible if the lantern was not ahead of him, which it wasn’t.
Soon the stairway stopped going down and smoothed out into a path that headed toward the west. An occasional taproot would trip someone up, but nothing much. Jonathan made a personal note to clear the tunnel of roots when all this was over…if it was ever over.
Onward they walked in search of something that could not be seen. Every once in a while, one of them would hear a wisp of air ahead of them, indicating someone nearby. They were close. Very close.
The tunnel was endless. It began to veer slightly to the left, which left the six feeling the wall for guidance.
Then there was a scream. Jonathan, already running as fast as he could, picked up speed. He was sure it was Sara, he was sure of it. There had to be a door here somewhere…
And as if on cue, Jonathan caught sight of a sliver of light up ahead. As he rounded a corner he realized that it was finally the outdoors. There must not have been a door put at the end of the tunnel for he could see the sky clearly now and could feel the damp air rush by his ears.
When he reached the exit, he came to a sudden halt which made the five other rats collide into his back. Looking down, there was no more pathway, just open air and a drop of about five hundred feet. He knew Jenner had come down this way, but where had he gone?
"This way!" Shouted Allie, who had spotted a small passage carved into the body of the mountain. The trail must have coiled all around the mountain like a screw until you reached the bottom. They had to get to Jenner before they got into the city. If they reached the city, they were as good as dead.
One by one, they filed down the track as fast as they could. Every now and then, they would hear a few pebbles crumble behind them as if someone was following them, but they did not have time to turn around.
"I see them!" shouted Jonathan.
And sure enough, he was catching up with the tip of Jenner’s tail. In Jenner’s arms was Mrs. Frisby, gagged and passed out.
"You’ll never get me, now!" Jenner roared. "I can see the city from here!"
Jonathan sucked in his gut. He had to get to Jenner. If there was only an opening….
He jumped. His stomach flew into his throat and fell. Falling, falling. It felt like a giant roller coaster. It was the only way. Besides, it was only a few yards.
He landed with a thug. His side ached along with his head. He looked up and saw the other five rats peering down at him. They probably thought he was crazy for jumping down the trail like that, but hey, it was the only way he could get ahead of Jenner.
"What, are you crazy, Jonathan?" yelled Tobias. "What are you doing?"
"Go! Keep following him! Go!" he shouted. Instantly, the five resumed their places in the chase.
Jonathan estimated about three minutes before Jenner would appear around the bend. It was a fat mountain, so he had time to do some planning.
He looked around for something to protect himself with. All he found was a brittle stick and a few muddy rocks. He doubted seriously either could hold up to Jenner’s sword.
Before long, Jonathan heard the huffing and puffing of a rat ahead of him. The swerved around to face Jenner. He clutched a rock firmly in his hand.
Jenner rounded the corner at break-neck speed, but came instantly to a screeching halt. He dropped Sara on her back and stepped over her to become face-to-face with Jonathan Frisby. This was it. This was the final showdown.
Where the other rats were, Jonathan did not know nor did he care. At this point all he wanted to do was kill. Gripping the rock tightly, he swung his fist around and whapped Jenner right on his temple. Although the blow was mighty, it did not bring Jenner down. It didn’t even seem to phase him.
Again Jonathan tried to hit Jenner, but was this time stopped by Jenner’s arm which grabbed him and twisted Jonathan in such a way, he doubled over in agony.
"I taught you well, Jonathan," Jenner said with a growl, "but I didn’t train you to beat me. That, of course, would be impossible!"
He twisted harder, bringing tears to Jonathan’s eyes.
"I don’t care what you do to me," Jonathan cried, "Just let my family go, please."
Jenner looked coldly in his opponent’s eyes. "Now, how foolish is that? If I wanted to kill them, I would have done it by now. Heh, I just want to keep you in suspense, Jonathan. I want you to die first."
Jonathan analyzed the situation. It made a lot of sense now. Jenner would only want to kill him first because he was the biggest threat to him. Of course! It was not Nicodemus or Justin Jenner wanted, but it was Jonathan! Why?
The pain was excruciating now. It was as if his arm would break at any instant. Then, as if the twisted arm were not enough, Jenner kicked Jonathan in the back with all his might.
The world was fading now. The pain was almost too much to handle. Focusing on the sky, Jonathan watched the world get dimmer and dimmer….
The pain was instantly relieved, allowing blood to flow once again to his fingertips. What had happened?
Jonathan turned around to find Jenner sitting on his butt in a pile of mud. He seemed to be a bit dazed, but he was surely not unconscious.
Jonathan looked up. Above him, staring down, was his own son Timothy, who had, just in the knick time, dropped a heavy dish down upon Jenner’s head. He got ready to shout back at Timothy when Jenner started to come to. The battle was only beginning.
Jenner growled. "Now you die, Jonathan. Which is a shame. I put so much effort into you. Training you, building you, brainwashing you…"
Jenner then drew his sword from behind his vest and held it up high. "Don’t move, Jonathan," he said, "This won’t hurt a bit."
It seemed like it was all over. There was nowhere to go but farther down the trail, which would be ridiculous. Jonathan ducked and, in the reflection of Jenner’s sword, saw a dark figure approach them.
Jenner brought the sword down and…missed. The sword, along with Jenner, fell to the ground beside Jonathan.
"That was for my mother, you no good, lousy excuse for a rat!" said Simon.
"Thanks, Simon. I thought he had me."
"Na, you know I’d never leave your side, Jon," Simon replied with a smile. He tossed the rock with which he had hit Jenner with up in the air and helped Jonathan to his feet.
"Now what are we to do about your wife?"
Jonathan walked over to Sara and gently stroked her forehead. He felt her pulse, and she was still alive and breathing. She was only unconscious.
"Got any water?" asked Jonathan.
"I do, dad!" a voice said from behind Simon.
"Timothy! I thought you were supposed to be in the caves! What are you doing out here?"
"Well," he said, "I didn’t go all the way to the cafeteria for nothing. I wanted to use one of these things!" He held up a plate and grinned as his father hugged him.
"I guess that’s okay. After all, I would be dead if it weren’t for you and Simon here."
Timothy bent down and emptied a canteen of water over his mother’s face. Immediately Sara came to.
"Where am I?"
"You’re safe, on the side of Thorn Valley," Jonathan answered. "And Jenner is out like a light. I doubt he’d try something again."
"Timothy," Sara demanded, "why are you out here?"
"Don’t worry about it, mom, I’ll tell you the whole story once we get back."
Sara looked up. She saw him. She saw him standing, sword in hand, ready to strike. She had to say something. Oh, where was her voice, where was it? She was speechless!
Jonathan, who had been watching his wife’s expressions saw the reflection in her eyes. He grabbed his wife and thrust her to the ground, and bent over on top of her. Simon and Timothy, who had not seen Jenner rise, took the same action.
Jenner, already in position to kill, was leaning forward. And as he brought his sword down, he lost his balance and fell. He missed the narrow trail and fell completely off the mountain. Instead, he fell about one hundred feet to the bottom of the mountain to his death. It was as close as he would ever come to the city. Phase Four complete.
The Frisby family stood quietly together in hospital room 515. Justin’s arm had been bandaged up and he was asleep. Nicodemus was drugged up and rambling on about the Plan.
"Mommy? When are they going to wake up?" Cynthia asked as she tugged on her mother’s paw.
"Shhh, honey. Just a little bit longer, and then we’ll leave."
"Do you think Jeremy is still outside?" asked Martin.
"I should think he is, son," Jonathan answered as he ruffled his son’s hair. "We told him we’d be a while before we could come out to talk. If he has gone somewhere, I’m sure he’ll come back later this evening."
"Jonathan?" someone asked.
Heads turned to the new visitor as he entered the room and shook Jonathan’s hand.
"I thought I’d never see you again. How is everyone?"
Jonathan smiled and glanced over at his family. "Oh, we’re doing alright. Right now we’re waiting for Justin and Nicodemus to come to. They’re waiting for them in the meeting room. They have some awards for them."
"And I see they had some for you," Quaker said as he noticed the shiny medals around his friend’s neck.
"Yes, they did. And for Sara and the children, too."
"That’s great. And guess what? I have some good news to. Wanna know what it is? Good. I’d tell you what it was anyway. I’m getting married."
Jonathan could not believe it. Quaker and he had been friends since childhood.
"And I would like you to meet my fiancée, but I’m sure you already know who she is."
Leanne stepped out from behind the wall and blushed. "I thought he might need some help taking care of his kids."
And from behind Leanne appeared three young children, all boys. One was six, one was ten, and one was about fifteen, the same age as Teresa.
And, of course, Teresa perked up at the sight of the eldest son. She got to her feet and walked over.
"Hi," the son said with a slight smile.
"Hi," Teresa answered.
They stood looking at each other for a while, occasionally blushing. It was as if they would read one another’s thoughts. Before long, they were both asking if they could go off by themselves for a while.
"Yes," replied Quaker, "Just be back in time for lunch."
"My, what a day," said Jonathan. "My archenemy destroyed, and my best friend getting married!" He put his hand on his forehead. "What will happen next?"
There was an awkward silence before Quaker interrupted.
"Well, I best be on my way. I have a house to clean and a wedding to plan. I’ll see you around, Jon. And you to, Mrs. Frisby."
Sara nodded graciously and watched Quaker leave the room. He had a slight limp to him, but that was understandable. She wondered if it would be permanent.
Jonathan looked over and caught Justin’s eyes beginning to open.
"Uh, what’s going on?" he asked wearily.
"You’re in the hospital, Mr. Justin." Answered Cynthia.
"Yeah," Martin butted in, "And they have something for you and Nicodemus down in the Meeting Room! Can I wheel you down?"
Justin tried to answer the child, but was too focused on seeing that he didn’t reply.
"Maybe in a little while," said Jonathan, realizing the trouble his friend was having.
While the Frisby family was waiting for Justin to improve, many visitors had come by to congratulate them all. Brutis brought a bouquet of flowers, and Tony brought some clothes Judy made for the family.
Mrs. Frisby’s head was spinning. She could not believe that at last Thorn Valley was safe. At last she could try again to start a normal life here in the Valley. She had a feeling in her stomach somewhat like the feeling you get when you just finish a really, really good book. It was a feeling of emptiness, yet a feeling of renewal. It was a good feeling.
School was continued the next day. All the Frisby children loved it dearly. They made new friends as quickly as ever, and always seemed to be smiling.
Timothy’s class had been given an assignment to write a two-page essay on their experiences while Jenner was at Thorn Valley. Timothy, of course, exceeded the required amount by six pages.
…we thought we were fine after that, he wrote, But we were wrong. Jenner rose from what seemed to be the dead. I was frozen stiff, but his desperate efforts were his own undoing. As if in slow motion, I watched the evil rat lean forward and lose balance, causing him to plummet downward, downward to his tragic death…
Timothy’s paper was posted up in the hall of fame, right beside a photo of his father. Sara had never gotten the chance to read the whole thing, so she now stood in front of the framed paper looking over it.
…the weight was lifted then, to never return. Once again, peace consumed Thorn Valley and relieved the frayed nerves of the people. And I’m glad of it all. It gave me a wonderful example of how the lust for power can control a person. I even look forward to the coming of the future generation of the rats, so I can tell my children and grandchildren of what would have been the empire of Thorn Valley!