Chronicles of a Rat's Life

By Sonja Koene



It's been almost sixteen years since I first saw the Secret of NIMH. I remember that I was at my cousins house who was celebrating his birthday. This was 1991. Of course we got bored of playing cowboys and Indians and police officer and criminals after a while, so my uncle decided to place us in front of the television. He had rented a movie called ‘The Secret of NIMH.' My cousin Rob was thrilled, he had seen the movie before and loved it.

Unfortunately we weren't able to watch the entire movie because it was way passed kids bedtime. I was lucky that my parents were movie-lovers as well, so I joined my dad the next time he went renting a movie. I found what I had been looking for in the children's section.

I'm twenty-seven years old now and I guess that I've seen the Secret of NIMH over a hundred times... and I still love it! About six years ago I decided to write my own fan-fiction. I had the entire story in my head and I felt the need to put it on paper. So here it is, the work where I've been working on for over six years. I've completed it today and I'm really proud of it. Now I have to find some people who are crazy enough to read it. 

My story actually occurs before, during, and after Mrs. Brisby arrived at the Rosebush. The Main Character I used is a young female rat called Wendy Elisabeth. She is a First Generation rat who was born in London, England. She's taking you on a journey through her own life, complete with all challenges that life can bring along. A life that isn't easy for the young female rat ,who's been through enough already. But with love, courage and determination, everything eventually turns out good after all. Oops! I've told you too much already! You must read the rest for yourself.

So if you consider yourself brave enough, take Wendy's hand and let her take you for a walk.

You won't be sorry. I hope you'll have a pleasant journey.  

Sincerely Yours,

Sonja Koene

The Netherlands, the 12th of November 2006.

Chapter 1: An Unusual Request

Please.... you are the only one who can help me!' The plea in the young rats voice was almost painful to hear, though not nearly as painful as it was to her having to ask it.

Wendy Elisabeth, dressed in a semi-formal shift skirt, (which was too hot to wear as it were late August) required to anyone assigned to Council duty, desperately tried to convince Nicodemus for permission to leave the safety and security of the colony, to go to London.

The rats' colony was housed in a Rosebush in the garden of a farm. The farm belonged to farmer Fitzgibbon. He lived there with his wife and two sons.

‘I really need to find information on my background! You have NO idea how much this means to me! I really have to know who I am!'

Nicodemus took a deep breath and eventually said, ‘No, I'm sorry Wendy my dear, I can't let you go. Even if I felt comfortable in doing so, I fear I'm not the only one to decide that. No rat has left the colony since our escape from NIMH, not beyond the farm at least. Certainly not as far as your London! My child, that's more than a world away from you now.'

She ignored his concerns, pressing the old rat. ‘Who else has to give me permission?'

Then as though a light had lit within her mind her expression changed. ‘Oh never mind, I know who, and he'll never let me go!'

‘I'm sorry my child, but this is not something that can be decided right away. I must think on your request...and on how to approach the other.' His great eyes closed for a moment as a smile crossed his face. ‘Not to mention that I suspect you have duties that need tending to, do you not?'


She turned and looked at the softly ticking watch set into the studies far wall, she had forgotten about the fact she was supposed to take the minutes for the Council meeting today. ‘Oh, no!' She exclaimed. ‘I'm going to be late again! He's going to have my fur this time!'

Then, without a word, Wendy Elisabeth left Nicodemus's office at a dead run, leaving the door to swing closed on it's own behind her. Pausing only a moment she turned and ran down the dimly lit hallway and towards the Main Hall. The Main Hall was the place where the Council was having meetings and was the biggest hall within the Rosebush. It was nicely decorated with pieces of glass and curtains. Wendy finally made it to the Main Hall. Panting for breath she paused at the great double doors, trying to ignore the glances of the two huge guards set on each side of it. As she placed her hand on the door, she pulled it open and stepped within where, as she had expected...and feared...she found out the meeting had already started. She recognized a voice, one that she'd rather not have heard today, the voice of Jenner.

Wendy tried to enter the Main Hall as quietly as she could, trying not to attract notice, but it was too late as the large rat's ears flicked on hearing the door behind him and turned to give her a cruel smile.

‘Well, well, well, what have we got here?' Jenner walked in Wendy's direction, his big black cape waving around him like two huge crow-wings.

‘I'm sorry,' she said, thought not to Jenner but to the rest of the Council. ‘But I completely lost track of time' The young rat replied, trying to flinch Jenner's approach. ‘I had to see someone, and that's the reason why I'm late.'

‘For your information Miss Elisabeth, you are LATE AGAIN!' His hard voice echoed through the entire hall, followed by an even more awful silence.

‘I'm really, really sorry, but as I said, this was far more important than the Council.'

‘Such as what important things? When it's your duty to take minutes at the Council, you have no other ‘more important things' to do, or are you the selfish, careless child, you were when you allowed NIMH to capture you, hmmm?'

‘My important things, aren't anything of your business, and you're a fine one to be talking about being selfish....' She caught the outburst before it could be finished, though the intent was already all too plain. Wendy turned fierce, as she always turned when she was in a fight she knew she couldn't win. She knew he was right, of course, but she'll never give in to him, NEVER! No, she'd rather die than giving him that satisfaction.

The Main Hall door opened again, and a tall handsome rat entered the room. It was Justin, the Captain of the Guard, and there was a serious look on his normally smiling face. ‘I'm sorry to interrupt, Jenner, but I need to have a word with Wendy Elisabeth and it can't wait.' Jenner looked at him and turned to Wendy with an exasperated, theatrical sigh. ‘Ah, what did little Miss brown-eyes do now?'

‘Nothing I...'

Justin interrupted her before she could finish her sentence. ‘No, Jenner, she did nothing wrong, this is something personal.'

‘What? She didn't do anything wrong? She can't do anything right, that's for sure!' He started to laugh like he just made the best joke ever, and the entire crowd followed his example.

After he finally finished laughing he continued. ‘Oh well in that case, go ahead, nobody will notice your absence anyway, that's obvious...and besides, you've missed most of the meeting already. I'm sure someone can reconstruct the minutes you've neglected to take today.'

Wendy threw her delicate nose in the air, but felt the tears burning in her eyes, why didn't anyone take seriously? Why was she the only First Generation rat with a stupid, no-no job like this? She left the Hall, taking large steps. Justin had to rush so he could keep the door open for her. He tried not to run, as he tried to catch up with her. ‘I'm so sorry Wendy, it's just not fair. I wish they were a bit nicer to you, but then I guess you should try to be a little nicer, too.'

She totally ignored the words Justin spoke. ‘Justin, what do you want?'

‘Oh, it's Nicodemus, he wants to talk to you, and it's urgent.'

‘So, you've been talking to Nicodemus, haven't you?'

‘Yes, well no actually. I really don't know what this is about. Nicodemus just said that I had to come pick you up and that it was an important matter.'  Wendy gave him a suspicious look as they both reached the office's door. She waited for Justin to open it, and she enjoyed the look of discomfort on Justin's face. ‘Well, are you going to open it, or do you want me to?' With a flustered expression the other bit off a reply and pulled the door open. ‘Nicodemus? I found her.' They both entered the room and the door closed behind them. As he had been when she's run out...had it only been minutes before? The old rat was still sitting in his great chair, waiting for the two rats to come in...

Without preamble he spoke to her. ‘Wendy my dear, I have thought about your request.'

‘Well, what do you think? Can I go?'

‘Go where?' Justin wondered, for he really had no idea where the other two talked about.

‘My child, listen for a moment. I understand how important it is for you to find your roots, but why don't you just start by telling us your story, something about your past, and why it is so critical to go now?'

Her reply was curt, shaper than intended but it was too late to call the words back once she began. ‘Have you got a few hours then?'

‘Your roots? You mean you want to go to England? Hahaha, Wendy! Tell me you are joking! You don't mean this seriously, do you?' He hesitated and looked at Wendy's VERY serious face. He cleared his voice before speaking again. ‘Oh... You really ARE serious... hmmm....' 

‘Yes, Justin... Wendy has requested to go back to England, to find out more about her background.' Then he turned towards Wendy again. ‘My child, for you we have all the time in the world. Please take as much time as you need.' Wendy walked towards Nicodemus and said: ‘All right, I'll tell you, but I don't want him to be here.' As she spoke, she turned and gave Justin a glare worthy of Jenner, as he stood next to the door and looked back at her in some surprise.

‘You want me to leave?' He looked at the old rat as he placed a paw on the door's latch. ‘What about you, Nicodemus, would you prefer this to be a private conversation?'

‘No, I think you should stay, the final decision, and it's conditions, lay upon your shoulders as much as they are on mine.' With that he looked back at the young female.

‘Wendy Elisabeth?'

She frowned, caught in a curios mix of annoyance and just a touch of pleasure that he would remain. Still she wasn't about to let it show in her voice as she replied. ‘Alright then, he can stay, but only because you want him to.'

‘Please sit down, both of you, after all... it promises to be a long tale and, I suspect, an interesting one. Wendy, please, begin your story.'

Chapter 2: Wendy's Story

Wendy gave Justin another short glance before sitting down on one of the two wooden chairs, deliberately picking the one closest to Nicodemus and she gave the tall rat a rather self-satisfied smile. Justin had no choice but to step over and take the second seat, just out of Nicodemus' line of sight. He didn't mind taking this seat at all, besides, this private meeting was all about Wendy. He would have offered her the best chair anyway, she also knew that, but for some reason she had to work off her anger towards him. He knew she was Jenner's target of ridicule for some sick reason. He wondered if her lousy job had something to do with it. He decided he would run his thoughts for a possible new job for the young rat.

Wendy took a deep breath and said: ‘I don't really know where to begin.' 

‘Just begin where you think where the beginning is, my child', Nicodemus said with a soft voice, and the same feeling of comfort and understanding she felt the first time she had seen Nicodemus, after she was brought to him at the Market Place, filled her heart. But she could feel his hesitation as he knew this wasn't going to be easy for her. Opening herself up to others was always painful and difficult for her, even though she was among rats she'd known for so long.

‘To be honest... I can't even explain why I should go to the place I both love and hate, but I feel this great urge, something so deep... I just really have to now who I am....' her voice fell off for a moment. Then with the obvious effort, she continued as though she'd not interrupted herself. ‘My parents are probably already dead. They weren't lucky enough to get those injections at NIMH you know. Just because you and I may not age anymore, that's not true for everyone.' The young, pretty female rat replied with a lump in her throat. The memories of NIMH, the National Institute of Mental Health, had brought back painful memories and made her even more sad.

NIMH was a terrible place where humans in long white coats and rubber hand gloves tested all kinds of medicines and other painful things on rats, mice, dogs and monkeys. The rats managed to escape after being in captivity for years, although they couldn't have done that without the help of Mr. Ages, the medicine-mouse and Jonathan Brisby. Yes, they are both mice, and the only two survivors of their frightful escape from NIMH. The rats and mice were given injections that didn't only lengthened their lives, it also gave them the ability to read. That was a huge mistake of the scientists; the rats were able to read the opening-instructions of the cages. Ever since their escape, the rats had been on the run, but after a while they found a new home, in the rosebush of the garden of Farmer Fitzgibbon. They already live there for five years and they have all the luxury that humans have, like running water and electricity. Although life was good in the rosebush, and the group had tripled the size, there were only a few rats Wendy liked. Among them was Nanny, Wendy's closest friend.

‘Go on, my child.' Nicodemus said to break the silence that grew between the three of them.

‘Alright'... Wendy took a deep breath and said: ‘Obviously my parents didn't want anything to do with me, otherwise they wouldn't have taken me to that orphanage, and...'

Justin cleared his throat. ‘Sorry to interrupt Wendy, but why did you say that? I cannot believe your parents would have...'

‘JUSTIN, you wanted to hear the story, didn't you?!' Wendy snapped.

‘Well, yes but...'

‘Well then, please shut up and listen for a change, or do us both a favor and leave the office!'

‘Wendy, Justin, please, don't argue.' Nicodemus pleaded. ‘There's absolutely no reason to!' He leaned forward in his big chair and said: ‘Justin, let's just listen to her story and let her finish in her own words, and Wendy', Nicodemus turned to her and gave her a smile, ‘please my dear, don't give Justin such a hard time, he doesn't deserve that.'

Wendy looked down to her hands and said: ‘yes, I know, I'm sorry.'

‘Apologies accepted', Justin said and a smile appeared on his face.

Wendy even tried to give him a small smile back. She hated to admit it, but she really was fond of him. Well, not all the time maybe, but sometimes.

He had the most childish sense of humor she'd ever seen, with a love for practical jokes that just confused her sometimes. She hated it when he would sneak up behind her and try to scare her, but even that lightened her day from time to time. At first she thought he was singling her out, but quickly she found out that he did that to everyone. Everyone... that brought her to the second thing that irritated her about Justin.

The worst thing about Justin was, well is.. his popularity. All the young and single females of the colony were madly in love with him, and stood there with pathetic adoring eyes as he walked by. ‘You could have mopped the floor with the drool', she thought to herself, angry at letting such thoughts get to her. Wendy Elisabeth was older than Justin, not that much older, but older. She knew she'd never have a chance... and never really tried... so if she couldn't have him, then at least she could pester the living daylights out of him... tough sometimes she wondered what it would be like if...

‘Wendy?' Nicodemus sounded very distant. She immediately knew she had been daydreaming. She shook those thoughts away from her mind and apologized again. ‘That must have looked real stupid', she thought, and looked at Justin who was smiling at her. That only seemed to irritate her more. ‘There I go again, looking like a total idiot in front of him... and why does that bother me so much, anyway?'

Her voice carried a touch of frustration and embarrassment as she spoke after the telltale hesitation. ‘Alright, I'll continue.'

‘Well, like I said, they put me there, and left me with nothing but this handkerchief. I've been carrying it with me all my life.'

‘Handkerchief my child?' Nicodemus smiled as he looked into her hazel brown eyes, his head tilting in a ‘please explain' gesture.

Wendy nodded to him, then without really knowing why she reached into her skirt pocket and gave the handkerchief to Nicodemus.

It was a white handkerchief, carefully well kept by the young female rat, for it was the only connection she had with her parents. There was a small yellow crown stitched in one of the corners. ‘Did somebody tell you anything about the meaning of the crown, Wendy?' Nicodemus asked.

‘Well I was always told that it was the crown of Great Britain. I guess my parents were followers of the British Queen Elisabeth. Hence my name...'

‘Yes, it might be, it might be....' Nicodemus' thoughts drove off a bit as he passed the small handkerchief to the young Captain of the Guard who looked at the handkerchief thoroughly. He enjoyed the warmth of it, as it just came out of her skirt pocket. Nicodemus must have noticed his action as he gave a short cough followed by a raising eyebrow towards him.

With a blush he tried to laugh and held the handkerchief out to Wendy. As she reached for it he gently touched her fingers.

As she took the handkerchief back, and felt his fingers touch hers, Wendy felt a strange, warm sensation in her stomach, but gave Justin a sharp glance, sharper than indented, and quickly said: ‘Thank you.'

Then she turned to Nicodemus. She felt extremely guilty about the way she turned Justin's gentle gesture down, for Justin was now sadly looking down and inspecting his tail.

‘How was life like in this... orphanage?' Nicodemus asked.

Wendy hesitated, memories seeping back into her mind that she had tried to forget. ‘It was like NIMH... darkness, fear, confusion... it was horrible', she said in a soft, haunted voice. She looked up, with a pain in her eyes that she had always tried to hide. : ‘It was terrible, and I still don't understand why she treated me differently than the others....'

‘Who treated you differently?' Justin tried to ask as careful as he could, clearly not wanting to invite another sharp remark.

‘Oh, sorry... she was Mrs. Jones. The lady who owned the place.

Now Justin was a bit puzzled, but he tried to keep his mind on the story.

She paused, took a quick look on the watch and continued. ‘She and her husband actually. But he was always busy finding food for the children and for her. That women ate more than any three rats would have been able to hold. She was... a horrible creature. She could have been Jenner's sister, or at least his role model. Her husband on the other hand was indeed a very nice man. He was born in a school so he learned how to read as well! He kept files on each child that was brought in. Those files might still be there! There must be more information there, if she hasn't burned it.' She looked sad again. ‘She kind of hated me.'

‘She used to lock me up when the ‘parents' came. Those were rats who wanted to adopt a child, out of pity most of the time. Mrs. Jones would lock me up in a very dark and small place, and there was always a leak. A constant drip...  Sometimes I can still hear it in my dreams and I'll wake up screaming and all covered in sweat... that room probably made me claustrophobic.'

‘Oh, that's why you never take the elevator!' Justin spoke with a soft voice, suddenly discovering something he'd not known before, and finding a small key to what had made Wendy who she was.

Wendy looked at Justin and nodded briefly. ‘She did that because she didn't want the new parents to pick me. I still don't understand, I did nothing wrong, did I?' She looked to the old rat with a plea in her eyes for the first time since coming to the Rosebush.

‘No, no, no Wendy you didn't do anything wrong! Did you have to stay there until you left the orphanage?' Nicodemus asked.

‘No I was allowed to get out of that dark thing when I got older, because by then I was too old to be adopted. The new parents only want young, small and cute children.' Her voice was bitter, almost biting as she spoke, and her eyes started to become a bit watery.

Wendy quickly turned her head to the other side of the office, but Nicodemus had already seen the tears in her beautiful, always alert looking eyes. She immediately wiped them away, pretending there was a piece of her fur in it.

‘Mrs. Jones was the one who ought to be looking after the children, but she was more out than in. I had to take the responsibility for 18 small children. I was too young myself, so sometimes I made a mistake. Mrs. Jones had been out drinking tea with her lady-friends and one child managed to run away. As Mrs. Jones came back I had searched the entire neighborhood. I was desperate. I was so scared something had happened to the poor girl. We spent the entire night looking for her, and around midnight we found her. She was okay, thank goodness, but everything got out of control after that.'

‘What happened? What did she do to you?.' Justin wasn't at all sure he wanted to hear that part of the story. Wendy had gone through such rough times already. Somehow he felt he had to protect her, although she would never let him. He always had a weak part in his heart for her, but now that feeling only grew stronger. He felt pride for knowing her, he'd be honored if she'd only consider him as a friend, or perhaps even more than just a friend. He'd be the most happy rat on the planet if... if she'd be his, but he knew that was never going to happen. She was the only female rat who was not chasing after him. He didn't care about the others: She was all he actually wanted.

Wendy paused and looked at him with a smile. She saw the concern in his eyes. ‘It was not as bad you think, Justin. She didn't slap me, and she gave me my own room.'

‘Where? In the dark thing?' Justin looked at her with large eyes.

‘No... no, thank heavens not. I was sent to the attic. All the way above the house. It was always cold in there in winter, and horribly hot in summer. And when it would rain... everything turned wet. But it was one hundred times better than the dark thing.'

She paused, clearing her throat and looking a bit more optimistic. ‘I found something there, something which changed a lot. It was an old radio, like the one you have, Nicodemus.'

The three rats turned into the direction of the old radio the farmer once wanted to throw away, when it was broken. What a waste! Arthur, the chief engineer, was able to get it back working again.

‘Anyway, it still worked. Not very well, but it least it was something. I used to listen to it every night, softly, when everybody was asleep. The radio was able to pick just one weak signal. I later learned that it was an Irish signal.'

‘That's what it was....' Nicodemus suddenly said. ‘The crown, the crown on your handkerchief, it was not the British crown, it's the Irish crown!'

Chapter 3: The Journey

‘Ireland? You must be a bit confused, Nicodemus! Ireland is no Kingdom, is a Republic country, for as long as I can remember.' Wendy looked very puzzled, where did Nicodemus get that idea!?

‘No, Wendy, Ireland was once a blooming Kingdom, a Rat-Kingdom. Humans indeed always had a Republican for as long as anyone can remember, but there was a Rat-Kingdom. I never had the privilege to meet the King and Queen of Ireland, The Kenmare's, because of the distance, and they were dead, when I first learned about them.'

‘Where did you read all this?' Wendy was amazed. She didn't know anything about this. She suddenly felt extremely anxious to know all about these rats.

‘I didn't learn this by books. It might also just be a legend. Nobody really knows. According to the legend they were murdered.' Nicodemus took a deep breath.

‘The legend says there was one rat who opposed to the plans the King and Queen had for the rats in the country. They wanted to work together with the mice population. The rat who killed them even lived in their palace. He was a close friend of the family someday. One night, when everybody was asleep, he killed them by burning the palace. They didn't stand a chance.' 

‘Were there rats who survived?' Wendy asked.

‘Yes, the nanny escaped with the little princess, their daughter. She was only a baby.' Nicodemus replied.

‘What happened with the baby?' Justin wondered.

‘The baby was taken to a safe place, and was raised as a normal child, nobody knows where she is now... But let's go back your story, Wendy.'

Wendy was still a bit numb by the story Nicodemus just told. ‘That poor child', she thought, but she knew she had more important things to fight for right now.

‘It's a coincidence, though, the fact that you mentioned Ireland that is. I wanted to go there, because I loved the music I heard on the radio. One day, as I looked from the attic window, I saw a huge bird flying over the area, not a real bird, but an iron bird. They flew there all the time. Later I learned that they were called airplanes. I wasn't at all afraid of the noise they produced. I just knew that they were going to be my savior. I was going to Ireland with that huge iron bird.'

‘So... how did you get to Ireland?' Justin was sitting on the edge of his chair, leaning towards her as much as he could, not wanting to miss any of her stories. He really admired her courage. He knew where England was; he saw that in a book at the Boniface Estate long before they settled in the Rosebush. He also knew that Ireland was in the North of that, but still he had to wonder, why and how on earth she ended up in America? She always complained about America. She had said time and time again how much she disliked US, or at least the very small part she'd seen of it.

‘Well... I didn't get there at all.' She took a deep breath. ‘I didn't even get close.'

Wendy looked away from both males, trying not to show the frustration and reproach she felt over that mistake. ‘What?... What do you mean?' Justin was really puzzled now.

‘I... I took the wrong plane.' Wendy said, covering her embarrassment. ‘You know, I couldn't read at that time. None of us could, remember?' Her outburst seemed to startle both the rats and they exchanged glances in puzzled silence.

Embarrassed by her outburst, Wendy looked down at her hands and played with a piece of cloth that belonged to her own brown skirt in the awkward silence that followed. ‘Tell us about your journey to the airport, my child.' Nicodemus said, breaking the awful silence.

‘I left at night, when everybody was asleep. I thought about my escape a couple of weeks before I actually went. I learned that I had to take the bus to Heathrow, that's the name of an airport in London.' She took a breath again. ‘I had overheard some humans talking about it, it wasn't supposed to be that far off, because like I said, there were airplanes flying over the orphanage constantly, and they flew pretty low. I had to wait until the next morning, because the busses didn't leave until five-thirty AM. By that time the bus-house was pretty busy already, so I had to hide myself. When the sun came up, I saw a bus coming. I ran in just before the bus-driver closed the doors.

I hid under a chair in the bus. Boy, It really was dirty down there.' She shivered just thinking about all the dirt in the bus. ‘It stopped a couple of times, to pick people up and there were people getting off the bus. I overheard an old lady ask when the bus stopped at Heathrow, she wanted to visit her grandchildren... somewhere... so I stayed close to her, for I knew she went out where I had to be.'

Justin was looking at her with his eyes wide open. He was shaking and nodding all the time, as if he was the one who had been through the whole terrifying experience.

‘So what happened then, at the airport, what was it like?.' Nicodemus asked, just as intrigued by the story as the young male.

‘Well, it was extremely busy out there. All kinds of people hurrying to get to the right gate. There were loads of gates, all leading to a different airplanes I guess. They carried suitcases and briefcases and they stared at screens with all kinds of strange symbols on them. Of course I know now they were messages for departing and arriving planes.'

‘Well, we don't blame you for taking the wrong plane now, we'd probably end up somewhere even worse!' Justin said, and an encouraging smile crossed Justin's nice face, and when she looked at him, he gave her a wink. A small blush appeared on her pretty face. She smiled at him. ‘Why is he being so nice to me? I haven't been nice to him today, but he's always nice to me. I really don't get it... could it be... nah, it couldn't...'.

She tried to shake those thoughts away and moved on. ‘There were loud voices announcing departing airplanes.'

‘So you were able to hear where the airplane to Ireland was at.' Justin remarked.

‘Yes, I did, gate 6. But when the voice announced that the crowd started moving in that direction, all at once! I had to run for my life!'

‘Damn no!' Justin suddenly shouted, his fist crashing down on the arm of his seat.

‘Justin! Watch your language, there's a lady present, remember!?' Nicodemus said, rather shocked by Justin's outburst.

‘I'm sorry, please forgive me.' He said and turned towards Wendy Elisabeth who could clearly see the blush spread into his ears. She couldn't help but look back at him and smile a friendly smile. ‘He does understand, he knows what it had been like'. Justin quickly turned away, realizing that she'd seen his blush and felt it begin to spread. He felt like a small kid again. He always felt like a small kid in front if Wendy. The stupid part was that he really wanted to be more mature when he was around her, but for some reason he always seemed to screw things up. When he was around her he'd act even more childish than he normally acted and he'd say stupid things, gosh he wished he would finally grow up! He wished there was something he could do to make her proud of him... to make her like him... to make her... love him...

Then Nicodemus asked: ‘How did you get away, and ended up here?'

‘I took a run to a conveyor. That's a thing people place their suitcases on and then they disappear into a dark hole. I climbed on one of them and found a soft bag in the middle of it. It had been partly open, so I got inside and hid in there.'

She looked at the two male rats, both mighty and powerful, with stories on their own, now deeply submerged in her story. That amused her a bit and she continued.

‘Then the suitcase and I, moved into a long dark tunnel, though it was so big that I thought it was a room first. Then suddenly we were in a huge and very brightly lit room, with lots of humans in there, all dressed in blue suits. They had a small car, which they called... a trolley, yes, a trolley, and the suitcases were put on there, well... they threw them in more or less... I really thought I was going to be crushed when they did that, the box they threw in right after the soft bag I was in, broke something in the bag next to me, I could hear it.'

‘Then what happened?' Justin asked, but he was interrupted by a soft knock on the door of Nicodemus' office.

‘Come in, please.' Nicodemus said.

The door opened, and in strode a small, gray, chubby female rat. Wendy smiled at her; Nanny almost never waited for the reply after she knocked. As almost always, she was dressed in her flour dusted cooking skirt. She was the head of the kitchen, and just loved food. ‘Sometimes my dear, I really should learn a little more self-control' she would remark, just before sampling another of her famous raisin and oats cookies. Nanny is married to Arthur, the chief engineer, and she's Wendy's closest friend. Perhaps even her only friend.

‘Hello my dears, I thought it would be time for a cup of tea!' She cheerfully said. It made Wendy smile, for Nanny always ‘sung' her sentences as she spoke.

The three rats nodded and smiled at the older female rat. ‘Regular tea for the two gentlemen, I assume, and Earl Grey tea for the lady, am I right?' Wendy Elisabeth started to laugh a bit. She knew everybody disliked Earl Grey tea. Then she realized that might have been one of the reasons why she started to like it.

‘That's settled then.' She sung and softly made her way outside, on the way to her kitchen.

Nanny was like a mother to all the rats in the colony. She'd be very disappointed when somebody wouldn't finish the dish she made, and if a rat was ill, no matter how old he or she is, she'd come over, bring tea and tell stories. Most of the times she just made them up, but they were always entertaining.

Nanny was great, especially to Wendy, but she could also be very stern, and it was best not to get in her way, especially in the kitchen. Justin found out the hard way once, when he snuck into the kitchen to ‘sample' one of Nanny's famous homemade cookies. Sadly, Nanny and Arthur had never been able to have children of their own. That's why they spoiled Wendy from time to time...

‘Hmmm, where was I.' Wendy thought out loud.

‘Oh, in the bag on the... trolley' Justin filled her in.

‘Yes... thank you. The bag and I ended up in an airplane. I heard the heavy doors close behind the trolley. Suddenly everything started to shake. Not real hard but like it was vibrating. Then I felt the airplane moving, and after some loud thumps and bangs there was a weird feeling in my stomach and my ears started to hurt and suddenly I wasn't able to hear anything anymore! Fortunately, after swallowing a few times, that passed. The iron bird was now in the air!' She gave the others a half smile and said: ‘I must admit I was kind of scared. It was very dark in there and there was no-one else around.'

‘When did you realize you weren't going to Ireland after all?' Justin asked.

‘I got superstitious when I were in the air for hours already. Ireland was supposed to less than an hour away. I knew this wasn't right. After a while I fell asleep, I had been up all night. I woke up when the airplane started to land. Now that was even worse then going up!'

She sighed. I was glad when the banging of the landing finally passed. Shortly after that, the huge doors opened again with a lot of noise and I got back into the soft bag as quickly as I could. Then I felt us moving again. People were unloading the airplane and took the trolley into a huge room! The place was crowded with people! They were controlling all the bags by opening them! They were going to catch me, I just knew it!'

‘Teatime.' A jolly voice, which belonged to Nanny sung, as she carried a kettle of boiled water, three glasses and three small teabags on a tray. ‘Time for a break.' She sung, and she walked towards Wendy and gave her a comforting kiss on her forehead. ‘You'll be fine my dear, just be strong.'

Then she poured the tea into the glasses.

Chapter 4: The Arrival

Justin looked at Wendy as she warmed her hands around the tea glass and carefully took a sip of the hot liquid. He shook his head, wondering how she was able to do that without burning her fingers, or raising a blister on her tongue. He wasn't even able to hold his glass for more than a few seconds, let alone drink it! He balanced it carefully on the arm of the wooden chair, being careful not to spill it onto his lap and cause even more damage than just burned lips.

He watched her as she finally set her now half-empty glass down, holding it carefully between her hands. Then she glanced back to him and noticed him stare.

‘Well, shall I continue or would you prefer to just sit and gawk at me?'

Before Justin could reply Nicodemus interrupted gently. ‘Yes, my child, tell us what happened when you saw where you were. It sounds like a terrifying experience.'

‘Terrifying doesn't even start to describe it. To be honest, I kind of panicked. I... well, I started to try and dig my way into the bag but I realized that they would also open this one, because they opened all the bags.'  She took a breath. ‘Then I knew I had to do something to survive. I came this far; there was no way I was going to die there without having experienced the taste of freedom! I looked around in the bag and found a film, one you'd put inside a camera. I thought it might distract the humans. Well, when a man in a blue suit picked up the bag I was hiding in, I threw the film out of the bag, and it worked!'

She paused a minute. ‘The film rolled between his legs on the ground. Suddenly the man dropped the bag, and ran after the film! He shouted something to the other humans and they all stopped with what they were doing and looked at him running after the little film. While they were doing that I took my chance and run out of the bag. I hid under a desk. Then, when he finally caught the little film, he laughed and acted like he had won a huge prize or something!'

She looked over to Nicodemus for a moment, pausing her story. ‘I don't understand how they can consider themselves the ‘dominate species'. If they weren't so dangerous they'd be silly.' Then she continued her story.

‘Anyway, I didn't want to risk going out into the open again, there were too many humans and the floor didn't really have a place to hide. Then another human threw a big brown bag onto the floor at the other end of the table and I could see it split open on one end. I...I took a chance and ran out to it and ripped it open a little bit more with my teeth and squeezed inside it. No one saw me and the next thing I remember is that I was picked up and thrown into a big car. Everything got all bouncy and someone tossed the bag onto another of those long moving tunnel things. I didn't know what they were then but later I found out that they were called conveyer belts. Then another human picked the bag and me up and took us outside and got into a strange looking bus. When the bus stopped I escaped out of the bag and jumped out, without anybody noticing me.'

Wendy paused for a moment, trying to gather her thoughts for a while. It had been such a long time, and in the time between then and now so many things had happened. The events that took place between her getting off the bus and waking up at the market place were very blurry. She had passed out. Nicodemus had later told her what happened with her during that time.

‘So, when did you find out you weren't in Ireland?' Justin wondered, knowing she must had found out sometime.

‘I found out after Nicodemus had found me, I've asked you haven't I?' Wendy looked in the direction of the older rat. ‘Yes, you did... after you had regained your strengths again.'  He smiled at her and gave her a wink.

Justin didn't know what happened at the market place before he met Wendy at NIMH. So he asked: ‘You had to regain your strengths because you didn't eat anything for a while, is that it?'

‘No, not really... some street rats found me sooner than I found a safe shelter! They were huge and vicious and they were out to kill me! I tried to run away, but they chased me into an alley, and there was no way I could get out! They caught me a couple of times but I managed to run away, anyway. It wasn't easy but they were so arrogant they got careless, and started concentrating more on themselves than me, their prey.'

‘Oh no! You got injured?' Justin's voice was shocked.

‘Let's see... I was bleeding, limping, I could barely stand and I passed out, but...' She looked at Justin's expression and thought it would be better not to fill him in with the horrible details. She softened and continued. ‘It wasn't that bad, Justin, just some cuts and scratches, nothing serious.'

The look in Nicodemus' eyes said otherwise for she was seriously injured when he found her, and no one expected her to live, but he remained silent for a moment before speaking. ‘And what happened next, my child.'

‘Then I guess you found me! And you and your family took me in.' She smiled at Nicodemus again with gratefulness in her eyes. But a dark thought surfaced and brought back even more painful memories as her smile disappeared. ‘And then...' A small tear formed at the edge of her brown eyes and Justin, seeing that, set the glass of tea on to the floor and stood up. He gently placed his hand on her left shoulder. ‘You don't need to say any more, Wendy, the rest of the story we know. That much of your life, we've shared.' He gave her a warm smile. ‘That's when your story, my story and Nicodemus' story became our story.' He looked over at Nicodemus who nodded his head.

Wendy didn't want to look at Justin, because she knew that if she would, she'd start crying. She wasn't going to allow herself to cry. She had been strong all day, and NIMH also brought positive things along, like the ability to read and not growing older...

Justin stood there; looking at the older rat who had suddenly began looking a lot older than he had before reliving Wendy's terrible story. ‘Nicodemus, are you ready to make a decision, or would you like to take some time and think things over?'

The old rat nodded. ‘Justin, Wendy, I think we all need some rest now. Let's wait for a little while before we conclude this. That is, if you don't mind, Wendy.'

Wendy shook her head. The lump in her throat made it impossible to speak. Telling her story brought back many painful memories. Her life had been anything BUT pleasant so to think of it and that made her very, very sad. For some reason a little rest would be more than a welcome. She felt exhausted.

Justin also agreed with that decision. He wanted to think the entire situation over. Besides, he had another problem nibbling on his mind as well. It was a recurring problem, one that seemed to grow with every passing day. This problem started with the letter ‘J' and always ended with something which sounded like ‘enner.' Though once thought of as a friend and loyal supporter of Nicodemus, the large, black rat had changed since the move to the Rosebush, growing arrogant and demanding, and was now anything but a friend. Especially recently, just after mentioning the words ‘moving' and ‘Thorn Valley' and don't you dare saying ‘Plan.' Those words were enough to set off an angry tirade and threatening gestures toward anyone near him.

Moving was the only solution they had to be able to build a new life, a life without stealing, a life without cat and farmer worries, and as far away from NIMH as they could be. But Jenner opposed. He wanted to stay in the Rosebush; he loved the luxury and was convinced of the fact that the rats were able to rule the humans. Kill the humans. The rats of NIMH weren't rats anymore. They are artificial creatures, created by some laboratory people. The medicines changed them, not only by identity, for they are able to read, write and don't age anymore, but also from the way they look. They aren't able to socialize with other rats because they were feared, not even with the rats in the Farmer's barn. Mostly because of their size. The rats of NIMH are twice as big as normal rats. The Plan was the solution, it could help them to become what they COULD be, not what they are.

Wendy hadn't looked at Justin and didn't see the conflicting emotions flash across his face. ‘I'd better be going,' she said. The lump had finally been swallowed, more or less, and she felt the urge to get out of Nicodemus's office as quickly as she could.

‘Alright my child, rest as much as you need and take the rest of the day off.' With these final words the old rat closed his eyes and, placing his fingers together before him, fell silent as though lost in thought or meditation.

Chapter 5: An Interesting Conversation

Wendy went up to her room, almost dragging herself up the long stairs down the hall. She found herself beyond tired for reasons she couldn't understand, though she suspected having to relive the journey from England to America had taken more from her than she'd expected. At any rate, the only thing she could think of was sleep. She'd had enough of waiting, of building her hopes up and then having to wait again. Yet this time, something seemed different. Perhaps this time she would be allowed to go. Today was the first time she was allowed to tell her story and for some reason she thought she might have accomplished something. It was this thought, and only this thought, that kept her moving.

She threw open the door to her room, looking around in a brief glance at what had become all too familiar. This was her life since she came into a strange, new land, and then rat-napped and forced into that horrible institute... then running from everything, ending up in house called ‘the Boniface Estate' and then ending up here, in the Rosebush. She shook her head, trying to force the memories off her mind. ‘This is home, at least it has been. But not to me... Not the ‘me' I was. Perhaps it is the ‘me' that it's supposed to be...' Life in the Rosebush was everything but bad. Life here is full of luxury! Everything a rat ever wanted! Running water, electricity so no more living in the dark, nicely decorated rooms you name it. But there were rumors. Rumors Wendy normally didn't care about that much, but she would pick things up when she was minute taking for the Council. Jenner, for instance, changed a lot when the Plan, pronounced with the capital P, was introduced. It had something to do with ‘living without stealing' from the farmer, because that's where all the electricity came from. Jenner doesn't want that to happen. He said that the rats deserved what they owned because of their terrible life at NIMH, and that rats were even better than humans were, so much better, that they were even able to fight them! ‘Oh, well... I guess that's just Jenner being Jenner'. The strange part was that nearly none of the women knew about the Plan. They were hardly ever present at the Council, not even Wendy; minutes were obviously not needed at those meetings. ‘I guess that Plan will pass'. Wendy thought, scarcely able to keep her eyes open.

Enough about this Plan, whatever it was... she shook the Plan out of her system. ‘I'm too tired to think, let alone about something I officially don't know anything about.' She looked up and smiled at the soft bed set at the far end of her room. ‘Sleep... To mend the wounds that flesh is heir to'. For a moment she wondered where she got that line from, but was far too tired to care. With a deep sigh she dropped herself on her old wooden bed. The sheets, scattered on the bed, were made of light blue silk, the remains of an old blouse, once worn by Mrs. Fitzgibbon, the farmer's wife. The soft, fluff filled pillow was also covered with the same soft material and she had buried her head in it, her eyes closing in exhaustion.

Her mind drifted off to Justin, though. He really had been nice to her. Not just today but since the very first day they met. She remembered when he persuaded her to leave her cage at NIMH, all the times he stood up for her when Jenner took it out on her, and all the times he tried to put a smile back on her face again. She was confused. She always tried to push him away as far as possible, but now she wondered if.... 

Then, someone knocked at the door.

‘Oh no... Please, could you come back later?' Wendy asked in a way it seemed like it took an extremely amount of effort.

The door opened, and Nanny came in, as cheerful as always and totally ignoring Wendy's bleary expression and remark. ‘So, how is my favorite ratty?' Nanny sung, and nearly jumped on top of Wendy, leaning over the bed and tickling Wendy through her work shirt. ‘Come on, love... No time to be playing sleepy rat!'

‘Hey, stop that!' Wendy pleaded, and started laughing as she battered the other's hands away. Then, with a sigh, she said back up and eased her legs off the bed and sat up.

‘Oh, my poor back!' Nanny said, and got up slowly, arching her back as she rubbed at the sore spot and her face became filled with an unusual expression of pain. ‘That's your punishment for teasing me, Nanny!' Wendy smiled, but immediately leaned over and rubbed the older rat's back. ‘There, is that better?' She said after giving her friend a massage, digging her hands into the other's tense muscles. ‘You've been working too hard again, haven't you?'

‘I'm doing much better dear, thank you. And never you mind about how I've been working.' Then she smiled and turned back to look at Wendy. ‘Well, how did it go, love?' Nanny proceeded in a more serious way.

‘I don't know yet, Nanny', She took a deep breath and said: ‘Perhaps I should just forget about the entire idea.'

‘Forget about it!? Never! You've had the courage to get this far young lady, you cannot tell me you're giving up! I just won't buy that, Wendy Elisabeth!'

‘Oh... I just don't know anymore. I'm a little mixed up.' She said while she was staring at the wall in front of her. ‘I was so sure of what I wanted... of what I needed. Now I don't really know what I want anymore.'

‘What is that look in your eyes?' Nanny didn't recognize that expression, at least not on Wendy's face. She'd never seen it before; at least not in the last ten years she'd known her.

‘Wha...what? Oh, it's nothing I'm just being silly,' and another deep breath followed.

‘Silly? You are never being silly!' Then a thought struck the older rat, one she'd not really thought of in terms of Wendy, but suddenly all the signs WERE there. ‘Oh... I see, this is something new, isn't there? You are in love!' Nanny started to laugh, and gently touched Wendy's neck fur.

‘In love??!!! Nanny where on earth did you ever get that idea? It's ridiculous! Who with? Nanny... that's the most idiotic, silly...foolish...idea...I have ever...' Her voice trailed off as Nanny's words soaked in and she looked down, a naughty smile grew on her pretty face. It was a smile that Nanny knew all too well, one that Wendy only showed when a secret was exposed.

‘Well, tell me!' Nanny said, hopping on her side of the bed, like a small child who just found a huge bag filled with candy. The pain of her back was suddenly completely disappeared.

‘Yes... but keep it quiet! No one is to know about it... please, Nanny, NO ONE! Swear it!' Wendy said in a mysterious way.

‘I'll do my best!' Nanny said, full of excitement. For as long as she had known Wendy, she had never been in love before. Wendy had never tried to make friends with the other rats after their escape from NIMH, yet, it had to be someone from the colony, but who?

‘No Nanny, you should do a lot better than that!' Wendy replied.

‘Okay, okay, I swear it on... on Arthur!' Nanny quickly said, and Wendy looked at her in suspicion.

‘On Arthur! Your hubby! Justin's good friend? No way! He'd tell, that's for sure... oops.'

‘JUSTIN!!' Nanny nearly fell off the bedside, grabbing it with both hands. ‘ SSSHHHH! Keep your voice down! Yes, it's him.' While she said that, a strange combination of hope, loss and confusion touched her voice. She closed her eyes as she spoke and ‘looked' up to the ceiling for a moment before opening them.

‘Oh Nanny, if he wants me to stay, I'll stay. If he wants me to go...I'll...I'll know.' She sighed.

‘Oh dear, love is such a silly thing. One moment it makes you feel strong and undefeatable and the next moment it makes you feel fragile and small. But one thing is for sure, for all the pain it can cause you... it's the most wonderful thing in the world.' Then she smiled and gave Wendy a small push. ‘Besides, you'd make a great couple!'

Wendy laughed and had to admit Nanny got a point there. They were about the same height, same color, others had commented on how much they looked alike. Well, of course, not in every way. The most important difference was that she was a female and he a male.

But that was about all that made them an ideal couple. They both had very different personalities, and the fact that she was older than him, although it was a little, would form a huge problem. He was still a kid at heart, and she... she was forced to grow up much faster, and sometimes seemed much older than she was, due to the things she had been through. Besides, she didn't treat him the way he deserved.

‘No, Nanny! We won't make a great couple!' Wendy sadly added, as she stood up and began walking around her room.

‘That doesn't matter dear. I've seen the way he looks at you as you walk by, and the way he smiles at you. I've never seen him look at anyone else like that.' Nanny said, trying to pull the positive sides above water, and she believed in these facts as well. Justin actually looked at Wendy in another way than he looked at the other young women. He approached her differently as well, a lot more careful, a lot more... respectful. But even if these facts were just build on hopes, Nanny felt really happy, for the older rat had been worried about her young friend and positively delighted at the possibility that she was interested in having a mate... and JUSTIN, of all rats!

‘Yes, that's right! Perhaps I do have a chance!' Wendy cheered up immediately, and sat down next to Nanny again. ‘You know, he was so nice to me today, even when I... I acted ‘me' again.'

She looked at Nanny, and she knew her dear friend understood. She knew Wendy Elisabeth had a reputation of being intolerant, arrogant and stern. But there was this mysterious way about her, which intrigued many men as well. And she was indeed a very pretty rat with a shiny dark brown fur and bright, alert looking hazel brown eyes. She had a delicately build body and a long tail. She was extremely feminine but not girly-like, she was a real lady in many ways, in sprite of her young age. And many young women were jealous of her British accent, her fur, her moves even the special relationship she has with the Leader of the Rats of NIMH... Jealousy was the reason why she didn't have other friends besides Nanny.

‘Wendy, I do think he understands you, even your attitude. Try to open up your heart to him, and let him come near you, even though that scares you.' Nanny said, and softly patted Wendy's shoulder. She laughed softly before continuing. ‘I think every unattached female in the colony has tried to get their claws into that rat, and he has avoided every one of them. Even Isabella, and that is one determined young lady. I didn't think that child would ever get the message. But maybe because you've not thrown yourself at him he is indeed interested in you. Perhaps he finds you a challenge.' Then she shut her mouth and changed the subject. ‘You still haven't told me what you think of the conversation itself.' Nanny continued. ‘How did it go?'

‘I guess it went alright. But I still have no idea what their decision will be.'

In the meantime, Justin walked by Wendy's room heading towards the storeroom to check if there were enough supplies in there for winter. Hearing Wendy's voice behind the door made him pause, and with a guilty smile, he decided to stop for a while and drop an ear.

‘You look tired dear, shall I get you another tea?' Nanny asked.

‘Oh, Nanny, that would be wonderful! I knew you were able to ready my mind!' Wendy said, smiling at Nanny.

Nanny got up from the side of the bed, returned the smile, and started walking towards the door. Justin heard her footsteps and, nearly tripping over his own feet, tried to back away from the door. To his delight, he didn't make a sound as he re-gathered his legs underneath his body. Then he heard Nanny's footsteps stop and heard her speaking to Wendy again. ‘Oh, I nearly forgot, dear! We ran out of Earl Grey!' Nanny said, lifting her hand to her forehead, like it had been a terrible dramatic loss.

‘Oh no!' Wendy replied a little over-dramatic, a gasp in her voice as she joined Nanny in placing her hand against her forehead. ‘No, not the Earl Grey! Never the Earl Grey!' Then, after a moment's pause, she broke out laughing as Nanny joined in. She didn't mind at all, a normal cup of tea would be fine, but she liked the way her sweet friend always pretended to act so theatrically. And it was fun playing with her. ‘Oh well, I'll get some tomorrow, when Dragon's out. Plain old tea is fine for me.. and you know that!'

Mrs. Fitzgibbon always used Early Grey tea, as well. And one teabag could supply Wendy of two weeks tea.

‘Of course!' Justin thought. ‘I can make her happy with a teabag, so she wouldn't have to get it herself!' And he took off with a huge smile on his face.

‘Dragon's been sleeping a lot lately, even without Age's powder. I'm sure there won't be any problems.' Justin thought, that was typical for him, confident and sure of success. Mr. Ages, the medicine-mouse knew a lot about herbs. He also knew strong herbs, which could knock an elephant down, at least, that's what he says. He'd make a powder for Dragon to put him to sleep while the rats had to do a dangerous job out in the open. Only a mouse is able to sneak into the farm through a tiny hole into the kitchen floor. No rat fitted in that hole. Mr. Ages was getting old for things like that, so it was Jonathan Brisby who always did the job. Jonathan found a mate a few years ago. They had four children together. He lived near the Rosebush, in a cement block near the ‘Stone', a big stone in the garden of the farmer. His wife and children had no idea of NIMH and the existence of the rats.

‘I'll make some tea then dear, and in the meantime, try to get some rest, you'll need that! Especially if Nicodemus has any sense left, or that ninny Justin a brain in his head.' Nanny waved goodbye and went to the kitchen, her domain... totally oblivious of Justin's tall form fading into the hallway heading the opposite way.

Chapter 6: A Narrow Escape

The trip from the Rosebush to the farmhouse was a bit risky but one Justin had made many times since the rats had settled on the farm. As usual, the cat was nowhere to be found this time of the day. In the heat of the late August afternoon, the cat preferred the coolness of the front porch and rarely went wandering until evening. A few quick dashes from shrub to shrub brought him to the lattice that kept larger creatures from getting under the house, though there were more than enough breaks and gaps for easy entry if that had been his goal. But not today, today would require something a bit trickier. Taking a firm grip with his hands, Justin easily climbed up the lattice and wedging himself between the wall and gutter drain. He quickly worked up toward the roof and the Fitzgibbon's attic. There was another way to get into the farm without taking so much effort, but that was the hole under the kitchen floor, which wasn't big enough for a rat to get through, so Justin needed to take the hard way. He didn't mind for he is an excellent climber, like most rats, although it does take longer to get inside and he always ended up coated with the powdered residue from the building's old and peeling, flaking paint. ‘One of these days the farmer is going to have to re-paint this place.' He said to himself. ‘Though hopefully not until after we've left.'

Justin finally reached the attic window, which, as usually, was slightly open. Even in the worst of weather it was never closed or latched, something he didn't understand but was thankful for. With a quick glance inside he slipped inside and jumped down to the wooden floor. The attic was packed with old, discarded things, but the rats loved them. For what was trash to some was treasure to others and the rats would come up here, and sneak some of these valuable things away to use for their own home. It still amazed him at all the things humans carelessly threw away, but he was thankful for their bad habits as it allowed the rats to at least begin their own colony. ‘Though now, we've got to teach ourselves to do without these toys....' Then he laughed at himself. ‘And what am I doing? Exactly what Nicodemus wants us to stop doing... and all for a silly teabag....' Then, with a shake of his head, he trotted over the warped door that should have sealed the attic from the rest of the house, yet was so twisted that even Brutus could have worked his way passed it. But not Dragon, thank goodness.

Squeezing past the door he carefully worked his way down the old and rickety steps of the rarely used stairs to the house's second floor. Here there were more signs and scents of life, though at the moment everyone seemed out of the house. Not hearing or seeing anything he dashed as fast as he could down the short hall towards the main stairway, which lead downstairs to the living room and, past that, the kitchen. The rats rarely went this way as it was dangerous, but this was where Mrs. Fitzgibbon kept her tea and such. The kitchen was just past the living room, and was brightly lit by the huge windows. It was a long run, from the stairs through the living room and the kitchen. Then there was the climb up to the cupboard, where the teabags were in. ‘I should have thought this through a little more than I did... I'm acting like an idiot again, that's what Wendy does to me I guess... but why does it make me feel so good?'

He waited and carefully looked around him. The farmer was out of the house, as were his wife and two children, Billy and Paul, but Justin knew they weren't the biggest problem. Humans were usually easily fooled, hidden from or to outrun. The real problem was furry, huge and had a nasty disposition... and carried the name Dragon. It was the family cat, and seemed always around when you least expected him. Normally Dragon wasn't a problem at all when the powder drugged him, but now there was no powder...

For all his size, Dragon was a great hunter and Justin needed to stay out of his claws. He carefully peered around the room below and looked at the cat's sleeping place, but he wasn't there. He then crept out and looked down into the living room, but there was no sign of the cat, either. ‘Maybe I am lucky and he's outside' Justin thought and he decided to take the chance, and dashed from the stairs and towards the kitchen cupboard.

Pausing for only a moment to look around the empty room, he climbed up the kitchen block as quickly as he could. As he reached the top of the sink he quickly looked over his shoulder. No, still no cat around. Then the silence of the house became obvious and he suddenly realized how horribly quiet it really was. The only thing he could hear was the ticking of the kitchen clock, which, for some reason, started to irritate him. It made his neck fur rise and his heart beat faster. The adrenaline was rushing through his body. ‘Not even the watch in hanging in Nicodemus' office was so loud, or is it just my imagination?' He thought to himself.

To his pleasant surprise, he saw that the teabags were still on the sink, so he wouldn't have to go through a lot of trouble to get them. He took the bag in his hands and read: ‘Earl Grey, original English blend', ‘Great!' He said, and tucked the teabag into his belt.

‘Now let's get out of here while we're still in one piece', he spoke to himself, and he jumped to the floor from the sink. Although the leap was huge, he had made greater ones, and he didn't fear them. Suddenly he heard a noise; it was coming from behind him. He spun about and stared in horror, almost frozen in place for a second. It was though a nightmare had come through: Dragon!

He ran as fast as he could, trying not to slip and tumble, for that would mean a painful and swift death. As he ran he could feel the cat's hot breath in his fur, and he felt the floor shaking under the heavy weight of the cat. ‘How can anything that big move so fast?' He asked himself as he ran for his life. He made a dash to the stairway and jumped up the stairs as fast as he could, still hearing the cat close behind him.

Suddenly there was a sound of scabbing claws and a satisfying ‘THUD' from the wall near the foot of the stairs. As he leapt up the stairs he heard a terrible scream of anger and frustration, one that made Justin's fur rise but that gave him hope and an instant to breath. Without looking back, half-afraid of what he might see, he continued up the stairs and dashed down the hall before turning up the narrow stairway to the attic. From behind he could hear the pounding of paws trying to catch up with him but... for once, far enough away that he knew he had a good chance of escape. Finally he made it at the attic and, slipping through the narrow crack between the door and it's frame, ran towards the window. He quickly turned around to see where the cat was. ‘Where is he, where is he?' Justin looked around him, but there was no cat in sight.

He decided not to wait for Dragon to appear again, but put one foot outside the window. With a sigh of relief he re-checked if the bag was still tucked away between his belt and his coat and disappeared through the open window, back to a much safer place. He was sweating like an idiot. The climb down the rainspout was uneventful and with the cat still stuck inside Justin felt almost too confident. Of course he remained alert all the way back to the Rosebush, looking over his shoulder time and time again and not slowing down until he got in.

With a smile, he closed the small hidden entrance door behind him, quietly celebrating victory. That moment of victory didn't last though, as just inside the entrance stood Wendy Elisabeth, and the look on her face said that she could even be more dangerous than Dragon could ever hope to be.

His smile disappeared immediately when he saw her angry face. He couldn't help but see how she stood, her hands at her sides, and her foot tapping, no stamping on the ground. In sheer surprise and self-defense the young male took a step back, and stared at her, his whiskers hanging down.

What were you doing out there?!' She snapped, still stamping her foot on the ground, forgetting entirely that he was the second most important rat in the colony as Justin is recognized, though unspoken, second in command.

‘I... I eh, I went to the... the farm.' Justin stumbled, not realizing what kind of crime he had been committing.

What?! You knew the cat wasn't drugg....' Then suddenly, she saw the teabag. ‘What's that!'

Justin couldn't think of anything to say, other than the truth, and he knew as he opened his mouth that it was a mistake. ‘It's a teabag, Earl...'

‘I can see that!' She didn't even allow him to finish his sentence. ‘What did you need to get that for?'

Justin took a breath, and tried to smile at her, hoping to settle her anger a bit. ‘I brought it for you, I kind of overheard your conversation with Nanny and I thought...'

‘You what!?' Wendy tried to go over that conversation again, and suddenly hoped he hadn't heard all of it. She turned around, closing her eyes as she rubbed her forehead, as though she were developing a major headache.

‘What exactly did you hear of it? You idiot! You could have gotten yourself killed!' She desperately took Justin by his arms and squeezed them, as if she wanted to squeeze some sense into the boy. ‘Don't you know what that would mean to us... To....' Then she pushed him away, too angry to continue.

‘All that for... a teabag!' In her anger and frustration her voice broke, and her eyes filled with tears. She wrapped her arms around herself, as though unsure what to do with them. Justin began to give his arms a massage, where her hands had held him so tightly.

After a moment she turned around and glared at him. ‘You could have at least waited until the cat was drugged.' She settled down a bit, because it was hard to remain angry with Justin. She looked at him over her shoulder, and forced herself to show a small smile. Then, without explanation, she turned around again, tears still burning in her eyes.

‘You're right. I guess it does seem pretty silly.' Justin said and he started walking towards her, slowly. ‘But I thought you'd appreciate the gesture.'

‘I do, I really do, but I... (She continued in a soft whisper) I don't want to lose you, Jus... Justin....' But Justin heard enough to know what it meant and he came closer, until he was right behind her. He gently raised his hand, and didn't know if what he was about to do was right, and knew that he might risk getting a bloody scratched hand, but he did it anyway. His hand touched her neck fur, and he felt a thrill of pleasure at the softness of it.

Then suddenly something happened, something that only a moment ago he wouldn't have even dared to dream. Without warning she turned around, and fell around his neck, her arms around him as she leaned against him. He felt she was trembling for a moment, but only a moment. He enjoyed her warmth and softness. He soon put his arms around her as well, and returned her unexpected but very welcomed hug. He held her gently and comforted her, as he realized she was crying. ‘Justin... something terrible has happened. Jonathan Brisby died today. Nicodemus says he was killed by Dragon.'

Chapter 7: Jenner's Job Offer

Justin gazed into Wendy's eyes in terror, still holding her shoulders firmly. Did she just say what he thought she just said? Was his dear friend Jonathan actually killed by the cat? But the look on Wendy's face was enough to be sure; Jonathan was dead. ‘Does his wife know?' Justin asked, and he noticed that his voice sounded different, due to the huge lump that was stuck in his throat. ‘I don't know, but I think Ages will tell her... as soon as he's past the first shock himself.' She replied and another tear rolled across her cheek. ‘I'm so sorry, Justin... I know the two of you were very close friends. If there's anything I can do for you, anything... then please let me know....' Justin forced a smile of his now sad face. ‘Thanks Wendy, another one of your hugs might do the trick.' Wendy smiled through her tears and she answered his wish by holding Justin close. Jonathan was a very special friend to her, too. He used to be an excellent listener and he would entertain her with stories of his children. She had the feeling that she knew Jonathan's family, even though she never met them. ‘It's so hard that his family doesn't have a clue who we are. We could have at least help them through winter.' Justin sighed. Wendy nodded sadly. When their embrace ended she felt lonelier as she ever felt before in her entire life. ‘I have to see Nicodemus to ask him who is going to tell his wife and children. For as far as I know Ages is too emotionally involved. He might tell her more than she is to know for now.' After these final words, their ways parted, but Wendy waited until Justin was completely out of sight. She thought about Jonathan's wife, and sighed. The poor lady didn't know anything about Jonathan's other life. She and her children didn't know about NIMH, about the rats and about the fact that she would grow older and that he would stay young...

She remembered the long conversation she had with Jonathan when he met his wife. He told Wendy that he felt lonely and that he didn't want anything else than becoming a father. Wendy had smiled and told him that she didn't share this point of view. But now she admitted she was missing something, too. Someone who you could laugh and cry with, a soul mate.  She never realized it before that much, but the emotions she shared with Justin suddenly changed her, like she was struck by lightning. She was ready for love. She was still able to feel his soft fur and his warm body tightly against here... she took a deep breath. ‘Oh dear, what am I thinking? I'm hoping for a miracle!' She softly sighed. ‘He was just being nice! He'd do that with anyone....' She shook her head. ‘What am I thinking! My friend Jonathan has died and I'm rattling about love!' 

She decided to go back to her room. She felt like crying like crazy. She turned around and made a quick dash towards the other side of the hallway.

‘Ouch!!' She suddenly bumped into something hard, but soft. She shook her head and looked up. She bumped into Jenner. Once considered Nicodemus's confident and loyal friend, now his enemy. He looked down with his typical grin, which always gave her the creeps. ‘Well, what a pleasant surprise.'

‘Speak for yourself....' Wendy spoke softly, but he had already heard her comment.

That didn't stop him from continuing. ‘Well, it really is a coincidence that I find you here, or should I say, that you found ‘moi' in a way?' His evil grin was filled with a huge amount of self-esteem, something that made Wendy's neck fur rise. She realized there was no-one around, nobody who could safe her....

‘Oh Jenner, please give me a break... I just found out that Jonathan Brisby was killed today.'

‘Yeah, I know about his death, which is terrible, but this will only take a minute... or two....' As he spoke he put his hand on her arm, which seemed to disappear under the size of it. She looked down, and pulled her arm away before he even had the chance to pad it.

‘Oh, I'm terribly sorry, I never knew that that was a sacred area, I am deeply ashamed, would please accept my humble apologies?' The smile on his face showed he wasn't sincere, but she didn't need to see the expression on his face to be sure.

‘What do you want from me? I promised to help Nanny and I still have some old minutes to run over again.' She lied.

‘Wendy, Wendy my dear... I don't want you to get a burnout. You seem to have tons of obligations lately, so many that you even started to forget your real obligations!'

He started laughing. The words and the laughing made Wendy even angrier, not just because his words were upsetting, but she hated the way he always imitated her British accent, even though he knew she hated that. Besides that, she wanted to cry over her dead friend.

‘Well, this'll better be good.' Wendy said.

‘Follow me.'  Jenner said, while piercing his green eyes into hers.

‘Where are we going? I'm not going anywhere! If it's really that important to you, then you might as well just tell me here!'

‘Wendy... you know how they are, they love to gossip, and I don't want them to think we are ‘dating each other'. That would mean the end of your already very unstable reputation, wouldn't it? Not to mention, the end of your little cozy adventures with our lovable Captain of the Guard, hmmm?'

‘What!? What are you talking about! You really are insane!'

‘Wendy, Wendy, this is not the right time for making compliments....' The grin on his face grew and grew, and the corners of his mouth nearly touched his ears.

‘Come on, let's go to my room, we can make us a bit more comfortable.'

After some struggling and angry words, she finally agreed to going up there. When they reached his room, he made a ‘come-in-and-be-welcome' gesture, and closed the door behind them.

‘What are you doing!' Wendy turned as she heard the door falling in the lock. She ran back at the door, and was relieved when she was able to open the door without any effort.

‘Wendy, did you seriously think I was going to lock it!? I am not a naughty rat, you know....' That irritating accent again. She gave him a sharp look.

He turned around, pouring himself some juice, and offered her a glass as well. ‘No, thank you, I don't intend to stay long', she said, still holding the latch of the door, in case things were getting nasty.

‘It's a little dark in here isn't it? Let me light some candles....' Jenner said and he immediately started looking for some candles.

‘I didn't know you didn't have any electricity in here?' Wendy asked.

‘Well, of course I do! I just enjoy the dim light of the candles. They are so much more romantic, especially when I'm in the company of such a lovely lady such as yourself.'

Wendy took a deep breath of irritation as Jenner lit the candles.

As the light filled the room, a complete arsenal of knifes and swords got exposed, as they hung on the wall.

Wendy gasped after seeing them, and made a step closer to the way out, pushing the latch harder, so it nearly opened. Jenner noticed the fact that she had seen the weapons and smiled. ‘Don't you just love my hobby? I collect weapons. They are my... passion.'

Still shocked by the sight, she forced herself to relax a bit, and nodded briefly. ‘Let's get to the point. What did you want to ask me?'

‘I wanted to ask you, Miss Wendy Elisabeth, if you were interested in a more... meaningful job. A job, which everybody would die for. A job perfectly suitable for somebody with your temperament.'

Wendy thought for a while. For as far as she knew there were no other jobs available.

‘What kind of job would that be?' She asked, and looked up at Jenner.

‘Come and sit down.' He smiled at her and padded his bed.

‘No, I'd rather stand.' She said, becoming more and more aware of the fact she was alone, alone with him! There were no guards around, not a soul that could hear her, nobody...

‘Just say it, okay?' She said, feeling more and more nervous.

‘Okay, I'll cut to the chase... would you like to become my personal Assistant.'

Chapter 8: The Dining Hall

Wendy Elisabeth paused before pushing the doors that lead to the Dining Hall... She was gasping for breath. ‘How did I get here? I don't even remember running down the hallway, I must be losing my mind! Jenner, he... he really did offer me that job, didn't he? Why, WHY would he? He hates me, and he knows I hate everything about him! Something's going on, I only have to figure out why he wanted me to become his Personal Assistant. Oh no, no way I'm going to take that idiotic offer of his. I'd rather die than work for that creep. I, Wendy Elisabeth, am a follower of His Majesty Nicodemus.' Her thoughts wandered off to what had happened before her encounter with Jenner. She thought about Justin and her heart filled with warmth, was this love? With a smile on her face she opened the two huge wooden doors that form a massive shield between the hallway and the huge Dining Hall. Huge it was, though not as huge as the Main Hall. It was brightly lit by hundreds of Christmas tree lights, which were taken from the farmer. The lights were beautiful, and all the rats loved them, but they also knew they were stolen, and that was wrong.

She thought about ‘the Plan' again. The one Jenner opposed to so much. But, somehow Wendy couldn't help noticing that this Plan was far more serious than all the other plans the rats had made before. Not that she had been present to any of the meetings, at least she had learned it had to do with some wilderness called Thorn valley.

She shook her head, knowing the Plan, how serious it was, was never to be. For some reason, Jenner had a mighty influence within the group.

The Christmas tree lights weren't the only things in the Dining Hall, which made it more appealing. The Dining Hall was also decorated with candles and pieces of colored glass. They were found, not stolen, and made into nice pieces of art, created by the women. Wendy also made a piece, but it wasn't in the Dining Hall. Her piece was in her favorite room; the library. She loves reading, and because of the peacefulness of the room, the library is the most attractive place to be. Nice and quiet, nobody who bothers you...She smiled as she thought of the library. But the thought of the library made her sad as well, for it was Jonathan's favorite place as well.  

In the Dining Hall were five large, long tables, with chairs on each side of it. Normally the hall is empty, now it was completely filled with rats. Wendy looked around, hoping to find an empty seat. She finally spotted a nice seat next to Brutus, an extremely large, black but young guard rat. Although he looked like he could be a perfect match for Dragon, he never did any harm. He was quite nice, actually, in spite of the fact that he never spoke much.

It was August, so there was plenty of food. But the rats knew that during autumn and winter the storage would be almost empty, so the rats had to be careful. It was important that enough food remained. In winter the children and young rats were fed first. Then the women who nursed babies, than the other women, like Wendy, and then the old male rats, and finally, the young strong male rats, like Justin. Even today food was hard to find, for Wendy was already far too late for dinner. She didn't mind that much for she wasn't at all hungry. The conversation she had with Jenner made her lose her appetite. She always seemed to lose her appetite when she saw him, let alone run into him. Instead, she poured herself a glass of raspberry juice. She looked around in the crowd, trying to find Justin. And there he was, in the corner of the Dining Hall, eating quietly and, as always, surrounded by three of his admiring young female fans.

Wendy took a deep breath, and rolled her eyes. Her heart sank for a moment. The three very young female rats looked at him dreamily, with smiles on their faces, hoping he'd give a charming smile away... but he didn't. He only concentrated on Nanny's masterpiece, sunken deep into thoughts. Wendy wondered if he was thinking about Jonathan, but when she looked closer, she knew she wasn't for he was smiling. The female rats were still trying to get Justin's attention, but still without success. They finally moved away, looking for another single, good-looking male rat.

‘Good,' Wendy said to herself, and walked in his direction.

‘Hi,' she stumbled.

Justin looked up and smiled at her. To her surprise she saw that the bowl already was empty. He was now playing with it. ‘Hi, didn't see you around for a while, I'm afraid you missed dinner. I would have left you some, if I had known....'

‘Oh no, no, no, no, I wasn't hungry anyway, you see... I ran into Jenner on my way to Nicodemus.'

‘That certainly explains your loss of appetite,' Justin said with a smile. ‘What did he want?'

‘He... he made a proposal' Wendy said, waiting for a response.

‘What kind of proposal?' Justin looked at her with big eyes; all of a sudden he was looking alert. ‘He wanted me to be his Personal Assistant.'

Justin's mouth opened without any sound. His eyes grew bigger, but before he was able to respond, the three young ladies re-appeared, throwing angry looks at Wendy. Wendy looked at Justin who frowned and obviously didn't tolerate being caught in the middle of a conversation.

‘Kids would you please play somewhere else, as you can see, we are in the middle of something, shoo go on.' While saying so, he moved his hand like he was removing an insect, and pointed at the door.

The three girls looked at each other, dropped their whiskers and obeyed. Wendy was amazed. Justin never did something like that! He always stayed polite, but not this time.

Justin looked at the departing girls, and shook his head. ‘Women...'

‘Excuse me?' Wendy said, but she smiled.

A blush appeared on Justin's face. ‘Oh eh, I meant young women, children in fact...'

‘It's alright, I know what you mean.'

Justin cleared his throat, and changed the subject. ‘So, what did you say? What did you do?'

Wendy smiled after seeing the terror on his handsome face. ‘I didn't say anything yet. He wanted me to think it over, but....' She looked at him, seeing a really puzzled Justin, and she gave away a small and teasing smile. ‘Don't be silly, of course I'll never take that stupid offer! That would mean betrayal!'

Justin obviously hoped to hear that answer, and all his muscles relaxed. He was relieved. He looked at Wendy, with his big bright eyes. She could easily discover a twinkle in them. A smile grew on his face, and she smiled back. ‘Did you get a chance to talk to Nicodemus about... about Jonathan?' Justin looked sad and nodded. ‘He says we'll wait until she finds out for herself.' Wendy looked astonished ‘What?! Until she founds out for herself?'

‘I know, Wendy... this is a terrible thought, but she doesn't even know Mr. Ages that well. It would be rather strange if he were standing in front of her doorstep all sobbing about the death of her husband. She doesn't even know that Ages knew her husband! We have to be very careful for our sake. I don't know if we are doing the right thing, but this is the best solution for now.' Wendy didn't say a word. She didn't think this was a good solution at all, but she knew that her opinion wasn't important right now. Instead she tried to change the subject to an easier level. She felt a bit uncomfortable, not only because of the heavy subject, but also because of the fact that Justin still hadn't taken his eyes off of her.

She cleared her voice, ‘So... did you enjoy dinner? She said, hoping he'd look the other way, for she felt the appearance of a small blush.

‘I... I loved it,' Justin said without taking his eyes away from her. Wendy felt she really started to blush now, and felt a strange tickling feeling rushing through her body, a feeling that she enjoyed.

‘I... I really should see if... Nanny needs some help in the kitchen, washing the... the dishes,' she stumbled and she wanted to get up.

Justin wanted to help her with her chair, but did that on a rather clumsy way. The result was, that they nearly both fell, but Justin was able to keep them both on their feet. They looked at each other and started to laugh.

Wendy felt really happy and relieved after talking to him, he knew now; he understood her and respected her. He made her feel so good.

Wendy left the Dining Hall and moved towards the kitchen. Justin went back to the entrance of the colony, to guard it from trespassers. What they didn't notice was that they were observed by a shadow for a while now, a shadow, which belonged to a dangerous rat, a rat they would fear if they learned the truth behind him...

Chapter 9: Wendy's Decision

Wendy left the Dining Hall with a smile on her face. ‘This sure is a day of mixed emotions, confusing... but in a strange way very nice.' One thing was for sure; life seemed a lot brighter now Justin was on her side. He knew about the proposal Jenner had made and he was clearly very happy to hear her decision. He was most likely going to tell Nicodemus about it, and that would make him proud... And the way he looked at her... he was blushing! The Captain of the Guard was blushing!! But still...there were some dark sides to today as well; Jonathan's death and Jenner who didn't know her answer yet. And he was not going to like it. Perhaps he would get mad, and scream at her, or he might ignore her for the rest of her life..., which wasn't a very unpleasant thought, though. She smiled a bit as this thought crossed her mind and moved on to the kitchen to give Nanny a hand.

While up there, she noticed that all the dishes had already been cleaned, and Nanny was nowhere to be found. Wendy decided to go up to Nanny's room. She turned around and nearly bumped into the three young girl-rats who wanted Justin's attention during dinner.

Now they were in front of Wendy; Isabella, Suzy and Sandy all looking very angry.

‘Good evening ladies, don't you have any homework to do?' Wendy just loved to tease them. ‘No, we came to find you!' Isabella took the lead, as always. She always enjoyed playing boss over the much younger other two girls. She was Justin's number one fan. The one who always tried to be as close to him as possible. Wendy wondered when the very first ‘We love Justin' Fan club would be founded.  Wendy just didn't understand why Isabella even bothered anymore. Justin had always ignored her presents, but he always stayed polite, up until that evening that is...

‘Why did you go to see him? Why didn't you leave him alone?!' She continued, stamping her right foot angrily on the hard floor.

‘So, you tell me to leave Justin alone?' Wendy asked, and the three girls nodded their heads. Wendy frowned and started to feel stronger. Her position was a lot more solid now Justin sent the girls away. ‘Well,' Wendy continued, ‘I believe Justin asked you girls to leave, am I wrong?' She smiled when the girl's whiskers dropped, and they looked at each other helplessly. Sandy stepped forward. She was the youngest of the three girls. Far too young to even be interested in a male like Justin. ‘Maybe so, but... but...' She stumbled.

Suddenly her eyes grew bigger, and Wendy noticed a large shadow appeared right behind her back. The three girls took off without saying a word, and Wendy turned around as soon as she could.

There he was, huge as ever, dressed in black. Green eyes, which pierced into hers. Powerful, overwhelming and extremely irritating; it was Jenner again.

He stood in the dim light of the hallway, just outside the kitchen door.

‘Jenner,' Wendy started, hiding her sudden unpleasant feeling. She never felt comfortable around him, especially not when she was alone. ‘Didn't see you at dinner.'

‘Well, I don't suppose you'd even had noticed me, you were far too busy playing who-becomes-the-biggest-blush with our little Captain of the Guard.' He smiled an evil smile, seeing he obviously cut a sensitive subject.

‘Who-becomes...?! What are you talking about? You really are out of your mind, aren't you? I have a right to talk to him just as much as...'

‘Wendy, Wendy... slow down, I shouldn't have said it like that. Please forgive me.' 

Wendy gave Jenner a glance. ‘Were you looking for me?' She asked.

‘In fact, I was... I'm always very happy to see a beautiful female rat such as yourself, but this time I also have a reason for wanting to speak to you. Don't you suppose it would be better if we continue this conversation in my room again?'

Wendy wasn't particularly comfortable the last time she was up there, so she told him she'd rather talk in the hallway. Jenner agreed.

‘The only thing I have to know is your answer anyway, so we might as well just stay here.' He touched her chin and straightened his long, dramatic, black cloak with his other hand. None of the rats in the colony wore such a thing. It was a token of his power, his mighty influence in the colony. Sometimes that cloak would make him look ridiculous, like a kid playing he's some kind of hero. Well, Jenner was anything but a hero, he was a pathetic clown. He was very proud of his cloak; if something happened to it, then you'd better get out of his way...

Wendy looked up, disgusted by his appearance. ‘My answer is ‘no.' It was stupid of you that you would even consider it! After everything Nicodemus, Nanny and Justin had done for m....'

‘Ah... Justin! That's what this is all about, isn't it? You talked to him about it, didn't you?! Admit it!' As he started to yell, his grip on her chin became firmer, and that started to hurt.

‘Ouch!! YES! I did tell him, but that didn't change what I decided already, ‘ Wendy shouted. ‘I cannot work for you! You never did anything for me, and they did. That's the difference. You hate me, and that feeling is mutual, and get your dirty hands away from me!'

He finally let go of her chin, and he continued on a more polite tone. ‘So you have decided to continue minute taking, don't you?' Jenner caught her at her weak spot again. She had always hated her job. The job that didn't mean a thing, the least important job of all. A job you wouldn't even give to a girl like Isabella! Wendy, a rat from the First Generation, a rat who was smart, too smart to do such job.

‘No, this is something different. But Minute Taking would be far more rewarding than being your Personal Assistant. Ha, Personal Assistant. What is that really? Bringing you your drinks every time you click your fingers? Huh? Washing your laundry, scrubbing your back, sewing your over-ugly cloak? Over my dead body!!' Wendy started to lose her temper this time.

‘I see... You have a rather flat idea of what it means to be a Personal Assistant, but just remember, Wendy Elisabeth, you will regret this. You will regret the fact that you didn't take my offer... suit yourself. Enjoy your evening, while you can.'

After his final words Jenner left the hallway, up to his room. He left a rather puzzled rat behind.

Footsteps... running. Wendy looked around, trying to find out where they came from. Her heart started to beat faster, and her neck fur rose, thinking about Jenner. Perhaps he forgot something, forgot to tell her something. To her relief she saw it was Nanny.

‘Nanny, am I glad to see you!' Wendy took a deep breath and smiled. ‘Wendy, Nicodemus wants to see you. It's important. He's in his office.'

Wendy went up to Nicodemus's office. She opened one of the two large doors, after knocking. ‘Come in my child,' Nicodemus said, and to her surprise she saw that Justin was also in the room. She stepped forward.

Nicodemus stood up from his chair and walked into Wendy's direction, with the help of a large walking stick. He gently touched her right shoulder and said; ‘My child, Justin and I have made a decision.'

‘Already, even with the death of Jonathan and such?' Wendy asked, amazed by the quick decision.

Wendy Elisabeth took a deep breath and looked at the faces of the two rats. They were serious, though friendly as ever, but always reserved. She was a bit surprised about Justin's expression. They had been rather close today, but now he looked at her as if she were a visitor. Polite, but very formal, very different from what she saw this afternoon.

Nicodemus smiled at her and said; ‘my child, we have thought about this a some time, and we have come to a conclusion, a conclusion Justin and I have agreed on...'

Chapter 10: The Moment of Truth

Wendy stared at the two male rats. They had made a decision, a decision, which could change her entire life. One so important that it would either make her, or break her. What if Justin wanted her to go? What if he wanted her to go because he wouldn't miss her anyway? But what if she wasn't allowed to go? She'd never find out who she is, if it wasn't too late already. ‘Okay, just bring it on...' She thought to herself.

‘Wendy my dear child, the decision we made might be hard for you to except, but we have decided to do it like this anyway. We fear you might get hurt, and we want to keep you safe from all sorts of danger. We would never want to put you in a position like we all were at NIMH again, that's why we both agreed that your trip to London wouldn't be alone.

‘My... my trip to London?' Wendy said after a long pause, after the words sunk in.

‘Yes, your trip to London.'  Nicodemus repeated and smiled at the young rat who suddenly didn't seem so tough anymore.

‘But... I won't go alone? Is somebody going with me to London?' Wendy asked, while her brain was desperately trying to figure out who.'

‘Yes, well, I've always wanted to see more of this world, and this is a great opportunity. This way I can also keep an eye on you and...' Justin's sentence was interrupted by the young rat.

‘What? You are going with me to London? But what about Jenner? What about Nicodemus's safety?' She was caught in a mixture of complete happiness and fear. She just didn't get it. He wanted to go with her!

‘Well, we have taken care of that Wendy. That's the least of your concerns. The only thing you have to worry about is how many clothes to pack, and you'd better start packing straight away!' Justin smiled. He was looking more than forward to going to London with Wendy, and although he didn't show it, like he never really did, he was more then very excited about the trip. ‘We just hope you won't mind Justin being there,' Nicodemus wondered.

‘Don't worry, we will sleep in separate beds.' Justin smiled and gave her a wink. She smiled back at him. That was Justin's typical kind of humor, and she got used to it, slowly, but she did. ‘No, of course I don't mind you being there! Especially not now I know Nicodemus will be safe... When do you want to leave, and how? The airport... where is it?' Wendy really had no idea.

‘We don't know that, but there are creatures that do know that.' Justin, who probably already figured out what kind of creatures, was waiting for Wendy's reaction.

‘The...b...of course! The birds! They can see the airport! From above!' Wendy smiled, knowing Justin had all the answers. With him around she knew for sure she wasn't the only one to figure all these things out.

Justin laughed. ‘Yes, the birds, crows in specific, and I'd prefer leaving tomorrow, so we can inform the rest of the colony about our departure tonight.'

‘Tomorrow? So soon already?'

‘Yeah, you still want this, don't you?' Justin wondered.

‘Yes, of course, but I'll have to get used to the idea!' Wendy said.

‘Well, you've got one night to get used to it!' Justin smiled, knowing she was at least a little bit afraid of the big journey, the same journey she made in opposite direction some ten years ago. He was also a bit nervous, knowing the dangers after having heard Wendy's story, but that didn't stop him from grabbing the opportunity with both hands.

‘Well, I'd... I'd better start packing then.' Wendy stumbled.

‘Yes, I'll do the same thing later. First I'll have to talk with Philip. We'll have to discuss some matters before I leave. He'll fill in my job while we are gone.'

Wendy was relieved knowing that Philip would take Justin's job of being the Captain of the Guard. He was on Nicodemus' side, something she knew for sure.

With a quick ‘bye, bye', she left the office. She was heading to her room, and this time there was no one who could stop her, not even Jenner. He'd be amazed after he'll find out where she was going!

While running to her room she got passed Nanny's. ‘Nanny! You never guess what happened! I can go to London!' The older rat looked at her with big eyes, and for some reason, Wendy could detect a bit of disappointment in them. ‘Oh... love, that's great! I...I don't know what to say! Just be very careful, okay? When will you leave?'

‘When will WE leave.' Wendy said with a big smile.

‘Wait a minute, you are not going alone?'

‘Nope, and guess who's coming with me?! Justin!!'

‘Really? That's wonderful!' Nanny said and hugged Wendy tightly.

Wendy smiled. ‘I'd better get packed! Justin wants us to leave tomorrow! We are going to tell everybody tonight!'

She took off, running to her room. She opened her wardrobe. There weren't many clothes in there, not casual clothing anyway. Most of them were working outfits, and there was no way she'd take those with her! She wanted to take something really classical, so Mrs. Jones could see what have become of her. Something warm as well... England could be cold, and... of course, let's not forget an umbrella. ‘My coat... where is my coat, ah... there you are...' She took her brush, some toiletries, a lady should always have those, oh and books, of course, let's not forget books. ‘I'll have to run down the library to get some of those!' She was nearly ready to go when a thought suddenly hit her. ‘My diary!! How could I forget my diary!' Wendy kept a diary ever since the rats had moved to the Rosebush. She hid it under her mattress, so nobody was able to find it. It was very dull at first, but things had changed. They changed until she ‘noticed' Justin, even though she had known Justin for a very long time. She wrote down everything he had said to her, and what he had done when she was around. She enjoyed reading the stories over and over again, so how could she be so stupid to nearly forget it! She'll be all alone with Justin for at least a week! ‘Gosh, I'll need at least two extra diaries!' She said out loud and started to laugh.

‘Now, the suitcase.' She kept her suitcase under her bed and was covered in dust. The old thing hadn't been used for a while. She opened it, and put her belongings in there, except for her coat, she'll need that one. She knew that once Justin and she had reached the airport, they'd have to put their clothes off. People won't believe their eyes when they spotted a rat, especially when the rat was wearing clothes! She smiled when she pictured it before her.

‘Ready!' She thought, and closed the suitcase. ‘Let's find some good books around here'.

She left her room and walked towards the library. While walking, she came across Philips room. Justin was there and they were talking business. Wendy slowed her steps and listened for a while.

‘Philip, it's very important that you don't lose Jenner out of your sight. Jenner and his friend Sullivan.'

‘Sullivan? But he's not dangerous, is he?' Philip asked.

‘No, not directly. He does seem to be getting along a little too close with Jenner, lately. Just keep an eye on them, okay? Wendy and I will be back in a week or so, so don't worry. You don't have to discuss the Plan with Jenner, okay? (That Plan again) Just tell him you have my orders. He'll have to deal with me about that when I get back.'

‘Yes, Sir, you have nothing to worry about.'

‘Thank you Philip, I know I can rely on you...'

Wendy moved on when she heard the conversation had come to an end. ‘So, he really is worried about Jenner. But Sullivan? I know he's not the most friendly rat in the colony, but a follower of Jenner?'

She shook her head and tried not the think about it. She'll ask Justin all about it on the trip and about the Plan of course. There will be plenty of time for that. She finally made it to her destination; the library.

The library was also a large room in the colony, though not as big as the Dining Hall and half as big as the Main Hall. It was completely filled with books. Most books were written by rats. Human books would be too large to handle for a rat, although they'd read a lot of books at the Boniface Estate. There were a couple of shelves attached to the wall, almost reaching the ceiling. That's why there were several ladders attached to the rail near the ceiling, so they were movable. Wendy Elisabeth looked up, trying to spot a nice book for the long trip.

‘What kind of book will I take on my trip? A detective? A history book, yuk no...a romantic novel! Of course!' She found two ‘over-romantic-she'd-never-pick-if-she-weren't-in-a-romantic-mood' books and she was just about to leave the library when she was drawn towards the study-table. There was a notebook lying on that table. Curious as she was, she walked towards the table and picked the notebook up. She looked at it carefully. It had a green cover and was pretty old already. There was no name on it, so she decided to see if there was a name in the inside of the notebook. She wanted to return it to its rightful owner.

When she opened the notebook she recognized the handwriting, but she just couldn't place it. She sat down at the study-table so she could take a better look. She read the first few lines of the first page:

‘January the 1st. The Council came up with a new plan. It's even more ridiculous than all the other idiotic plans that passed the review. This one comes directly from Nicodemus and that BRAD Justin probably has a lot to do with it as well. I'll put a stop to this plan, I'd rather die than to start all over again in that place called Thorn Valley'.

‘That's Jenner's handwriting, I remember! I've seen it before when he corrected my minutes! Gosh, I hate it when he does that! This notebook is a journal! He keeps all his secrets in it! How could he have been so careless to leave it on the study-table! I cannot return this, I'll have to show Justin!'

She hid the notebook behind the other two books and held it closely to her body. She rushed back to her room. ‘What should I do? Should I confront Jenner with it? No, I'd better not, shall I tell Justin now? And Philip, shouldn't he know? Of course I can't leave Nicodemus out of it, gosh he'll be heartbroken if he knows what Jenner wrote. Perhaps there are even more insulting things in it towards Nicodemus.' Suddenly there was a knock on the door.

‘Come in.' Wendy said and Justin came in. ‘Great, I see you're almost finished packing! I've decided to leave tonight instead of tomorrow, that will be more save. But we'll have to say goodbye to the other rats right now. They are already waiting in the Main Hall.'

Wendy quickly threw the books and Jenner's notebook in her suitcase and closed it. Then she followed Justin to the Main Hall.

The main Hall was very crowded and very uproarious. All the rats were there. Wendy felt important for a moment, but she realized that most rats (if not, all rats) came for Justin to say goodbye. She felt sad for a moment but cheered up when she saw Nanny and Arthur, both waving like idiots. Isabella, Suzy and Sally stood in front of the crowd, all with tears in their eyes. Nanny told Wendy Isabella had thrown herself to the ground in front of Justin and begged him not to go. Justin had fully ignored her and walked on. That information made Wendy's heart jump for joy. Justin walked towards her and took her left hand. He led her to the stand which was in the left corner of the Main Hall. Nicodemus was already on the stand. He began to speak as Wendy and Justin climbed the stand. The noise faded away. ‘Dear Lady- and gentlemen-rats, we have all gathered this evening to say our goodbyes to Wendy Elisabeth and Justin. They'll be leaving to London tonight. The journey won't be an easy one and might even be dangerous from time to time, but I am convinced of the fact that they'll be fine on their quest. They will go to London to find some essential information for our Wendy, who spent her childhood in that beautiful city of England far, far away from here. Let us all keep the two of them in our thoughts until they are safely back home again.' After Nicodemus finished his words the tumult started again like it did before, perhaps even a bit louder than before. Wendy felt strange, a bit empty perhaps. Was there a possibility she was even going to miss this place?

Chapter 11: "London, here we come!"

‘It won't be long now, they'll be here any minute.' Justin's voice spoke softly. It was completely dark outside so the only things Wendy could see were Justin's shiny eyes. She winked hers a couple of times to try to get used to the darkness, but it didn't help. There was no moon so this was the perfect night to travel. Besides the darkness there was also a complete silence. The only thing Wendy was able to hear was Justin's breathing, which was calm. She couldn't believe it! She was sure Justin was able to hear her very fast breathing AND her heavily beating heart which was beating like crazy. She was extremely nervous and for some scary moments she thought she was making the wrong choice. What if Mrs. Jones had already died, or what if she said something annoying while Justin was around. What if they wouldn't even be able to find the airport after all in this darkness! Jenner would haunt her for the rest of her life with stupid jokes and painful remarks. They were standing there for ages... or were it just minutes? Wendy couldn't think straight anymore. Saying goodbye to all the other rats might have looked easy, but actually it wasn't. She was indeed fed up with all the nasty words, the laughing the act-like-she-wasn't-really-there, but this also meant safety, shelter and food.

The sound of silence was enormously loud until the silence was finally broken by the sound of wings. A cold wind blew across Wendy's fur. The crows had landed. Now the nerves really took control over Wendy's body and mind. Cold sweat ran over her back and she stood there paralysed on the cold ground.

‘It's time to leave, Wendy.' Justin said and he softly touched her shoulder. Wendy thanked God he wasn't able to see the terror on her face. She pulled herself back together and climbed onto the crows back, and firmly held it by its feathers. Justin also climbed up his crow and before she knew it they were up in the air. This was the first time she was actually on a birds back! She was grateful that she wasn't able to see anything below so she didn't know how high they actually flew. Now she understood why rats were made with legs and only legs: they simply HATE flying.

What are those...lights? Are those lights? Yes they are... but they are growing bigger, and growing fast! Wendy's bird suddenly ducked down so Wendy had to hold on to the bird even firmer. It happened really fast so she didn't even have time to scream. ‘Wendy! Are you ok?' It was Justin's voice; he flew in front of her. ‘Justin, what on earth was that!?'

‘That, Wendy Elisabeth, gave you an opportunity to have a good look at an airplane!' He started laughing. ‘Justin! I nearly died and you are laughing!?'

‘Wendy, I'm sorry but admit it's kind of funny isn't it?' He said while still laughing.

Wendy ignored that last remark. Justin immediately felt sorry he laughed at her, so he decided to make it up to her later. Almost running into an airplane also meant something positive...they were near the airport. Wendy Elisabeth got more and more used to the idea that she was really going to London.

Her heart started beating faster, not because of fear but because of anxiety. She was actually looking forward to going and there was no way Mrs. Jones could ruin it!

Wendy noticed that the birds were flying lower and she was able to see more now. They finally landed on a place where people couldn't see them. They thanked the crows for the safe flight and hid in the bushes. ‘Well, that was alright, wasn't it? To tell you the truth I was a bit scared up there.' Justin admitted. ‘Well, you weren't the only one, I can guarantee you that much.' Wendy answered, and they both started laughing. They took off their clothes, although it's against Wendy's principles, and they started walking in the direction of the airport's main entrance. Thank goodness it wasn't very busy, although an airport is never deserted. This was the best time for two travelling rats. It was three A.M.

‘Hmmm, let's get a shelter near one of those monitors. We can read when the next airplane departs to London.' Justin said.

‘London Heathrow.' Wendy added, completing Justin's sentence who gave her a smile.

They found a brilliant hiding place behind a huge box with a huge plant in it near one of the monitors. Justin quickly found out that the plant was fake, but Wendy didn't care. She was completely focussed on the screen.

‘Oh Justin! There it is... British Airways, London Heathrow, departing time 5:30 A.M flight number 20960 gate 20... let me see... gate 20 is that way!' She pointed to the right.

‘Yes, it is. Well, we'll wait here until it's 5:30 and in the meantime you can catch a little sleep.' Justin said.

‘Sleep? Oh no, I won't be able to sleep right now, I'm far too nervous! You can take a nap, I'll mind the time.' She said and looked at Justin.

‘No, I'll keep you company and tell real stupid jokes until it's time for departure.' He gave her a wink. ‘Oh, I'd rather just kill the time by looking at people if you don't mind.' Wendy replied.

‘Oh alright then, let's go ‘people spotting' then, oh look there's a man with funny hair on his chin and a lady with very unnatural red hair, gosh that almost hurts my eyes!' They both laughed and continued spotting people as the minutes passed.

Suddenly Wendy jumped up. ‘Justin look! There's security everywhere! There are camera's all over the place!' Wendy's whiskers dropped.

‘Ah, cheer up Wendy, we'll think of something.' Justin started looking around to find a way to get by the security people and the camera's without being seen. ‘That's it! Wendy I have the perfect solution and it's sitting right next to you.'

Wendy looked at her left side and saw a chubby looking lady with a huge bag. ‘No, Justin, I'm not going to hide inside a bag again! I was very much bruised when I did that last time!' ‘No no, we won't get inside the bag, but this lady has a HUGE dress on! We could run under there and walk with her as she starts walking towards the gate.'

‘Ok, good thinking, but how come you are so sure that this lady is going to London?'

Justin took Wendy by the hand and led her towards her handbag. Her airline ticket was sticking out a bit but just enough so they could read the words. This lady was travelling alone to London Heathrow at 5:30 A.M. flight 20960. ‘Wow, Justin, you're a genius!'

‘Hey, I know, I know.' Justin replied and Wendy gave him a glance with a small smile around her lips.

‘Justin, what time is it?' Wendy asked. ‘People spotting' was becoming a bit boring after a while. ‘It's 4:59, so it won't be long now.' Justin answered.

Wendy took a deep breath. ‘Justin, are you nervous?' She finally asked.

‘Are you?' He replied with a teasing look in his eyes.

‘Sure, I'm nervous. I have the courage to admit it, unlike you....'

‘Hey, I would admit it, IF I was nervous, which I'm not!' Justin said.

‘You really aren't nervous? Not at all?'

‘How can I be nervous? With this beautiful lady by my side who knows a lot about a city called London, who is definitely going to give me a tour around, why should I be nervous about a beautiful prospect like that!?'

Wendy blushed a bit. ‘So I'm stuck on giving you a tour, aren't I?'

‘Yep! As stuck as a fly on one of those sticky things people hang up in the air to get rid of them.' They both laughed. Justin's sense of humour was endless and the final 30 minutes passed like crazy. The lady with the long dress got up from her chair and took her handbag with her. This was their chance... they ran to hide under the lady's dress and started walking like idiots to keep up with the lady. ‘Good Lord! You'd better not look up, that really is disgusting!' Justin said while running and Wendy was so helpless with laughter that Justin had to take her by the arm to keep her on her legs.' They made it safely into the airplane and found a save place underneath the seat of the cubby lady. She was seated near a window so it was unlikely that people could see them. ‘You'd better hang on to something Justin, this could become a bit bumpy.' Justin nodded and crawled towards an iron obstacle, which belonged to a chair. The captain welcomed the passengers on board and the stewardess showed the people what to do with some silly instruments when there was a problem. After that the plane departed. Both Justin and Wendy held on to their part of the chair and everything went well, except for the fact that Justin was constantly complaining about his ears. Wendy later said that she should have informed Justin about the pressure one could feel when a plane departed, but that she had forgotten about it. When the plane was in the air everything was steady and the passengers received their beverages. Justin and Wendy also took drinks with them and food as well. They both also took a book or two along and they decided to read a bit. After about an hour Justin fell asleep. Wendy thought it was really cute and she read on. She had chosen a real good, though sugary novel. She opened up her bag to see if she could find some water when she suddenly found the notebook that belonged to Jenner. She had totally forgotten about it. She looked at Justin who was still sound asleep and she opened the book. She had already read the first page, so she moved on to the next. All next pages were full of hatred towards Nicodemus. Wendy couldn't believe it! Wendy just couldn't continue reading the notebook. She had to tell Justin when he woke up. She really got worried about Nicodemus now. Jenner wouldn't harm Nicodemus while they were gone, would he?

Suddenly the plane had to cope with turbulence. It shook Justin out of his sleep. The captain requested everyone to go back to his or her seat and put the seatbelts on. ‘Whoa.. What's happening?' Justin asked. ‘I don't know, but everyone seems to be calm.' Wendy replied, but she wasn't sure if they were ok. Thank goodness the turbulence didn't last long, and the two rats were able to relax a bit again. She wondered if she should hand the notebook to Justin. She decided not to keep the notebook from him. Luckily the turbulence didn't take long and the passengers ordered some more drinks and some of them took a little walk through the airplane.

‘Wendy, you really should get some sleep, it'll do you good.' Justin said, rubbing his eyes.

‘Yes, I guess it would be better, but I want to show you something first.' She handed over the notebook to Justin. ‘Wendy, what is this?' Justin wondered.

‘It's Jenner's notebook. I found it in the library, and I accidentally put it in my bag! I found it back while you were asleep. It's not good, Justin. he really hates Nicodemus.' Justin opened the notebook and started reading it with a serious look on his face. ‘I was right. It's a good thing I made Philip watch over him.'

‘You knew? You knew he was in danger? How come you are here, shouldn't you be with him instead?' Wendy looked at Justin with an astonished look on her face.

‘Nicodemus wanted me to go with you. He wouldn't take ‘no' for an answer. You weren't allowed to leave without me. He really loves you Wendy, he considers you as his own daughter.'

‘He... he does?' Wendy felt a lump in her throat of pure love and warmth.

‘Yeah, so that's why I'm here, to keep you company and safe throughout the journey and learn from it myself.' Justin smiled at her as he saw the tears and he softly ran his fingers through her neck-fur. He was surprised of the softness of her fur. Wendy closed her eyes and enjoyed Justin's comforting touch.

He closed the notebook and gave it back to Wendy. ‘Keep the book on a safe place. We'll keep it so we can use it against him if necessary. Now, you try to get some sleep and don't worry about Nicodemus. He's in good hands.'

Wendy closed her eyes after Justin's reassurance. She suddenly felt really tired and she fell in an instant, long, dreamless sleep. She woke up when Justin shook her arm. ‘Wendy, we are about to land...'

Wendy set up and held the iron thing which was attached to the chair above her firmly. She suddenly realized she was in London again. Her heart missed a beat and she suddenly got really nervous. In a while she'll face the person who she hated that much all these years. The person who kept her in isolation. The person who refused finding new parents for Wendy, the person who made her life a living hell.

Chapter 12: Exploring London

The two traveling rats waited until all passengers left the plane. After they made sure all the passengers were gone, they left the airplane as well and stepped onto British grounds. The sun had come up so they had to be extra careful. By now the airport was packed. People were running around with luggage, some with fancy looking briefcases and some with their children. Some people were sitting in chairs waiting for their airplane to arrive and some of them were arguing about where the other had put the passports (whatever they were).

They quickly hid behind a large abandoned suitcase and looked around to where the nearest exit was. The nearest exit was like 20 feet away from where they were hiding, so it was a long run to get out of this place safely. There was a sudden noise that came from everywhere. Loud voices echoed through the terminal and all the passengers stopped and listened to where the noise came from. Justin and Wendy realized there was an important message told and they took the opportunity to escape to the outside. As far as they could tell they weren't seen by anyone. ‘Gosh, we were lucky!' Justin said, still catching his breath.

A moment later, the two traveling rats were outside in the sunshine. ‘So, what do we do now? Oh, wait... you mentioned a bus in your story. I suppose we should take one of those?' Justin asked and Wendy nodded. She looked around. There were many bus on the platform, but Wendy suddenly started to smile. ‘Look! We'll take that one.' She pointed at a bus without a roof. On the side of the bus the words ‘London Site-Seeing Tours' written. ‘You'll have a professional tour guide, Justin... and I can sit back and relax.' She gave him a wink.

‘We can climb in front of the window in the front of the bus. People won't notice us because there's a cardboard advertisement behind it. It'll provide us enough space and safety. Let's get on the bus now, it'll probably leave soon.' She added and they both made a dash towards the site-seeing bus. Within a few minutes they climbed between the cardboard advertisement and the window and they had a beautiful overview.

This was the beginning point of the bus, so it was still rather empty except for two Japanese tourists. They had huge camera's around their necks and wore funny hats.

‘Welcome ladies and gentlemen to London's best site-seeing tour.'

‘Don't believe him, they always say they are the best in town.' Wendy whispered to Justin. The voice continued. ‘We'll be leaving Heathrow Airport in a few minutes. The site-seeing tour will guide you through London and will bring you to the most interesting places of London's history. The journey will take you to beautiful Hide Park through the streets of  Kensington. ‘Hide Park...'  Wendy thought, ‘that's where the orphanage is...' Of course you are able to leave the bus there to take a romantic walk through Hide Park and it's beautiful ‘Lake Serpentine', the lake that runs in this park. You could also visit Kensington Gardens, once home to our late Princess Diana, who died in a tragic car-accident the 31st of August 1997.'

‘What!? Did Lady Di get killed? Oh my.' Wendy said in shock. She hadn't known anything about that! That moment the bus started to move and the journey through London begun.

‘Well, enough about our first stop, you'd have to see it for yourself... Our tour will continue with a drive on Piccadilly Road. On your right hand you'll be able to see Buckingham Palace, where Queen Elisabeth lives but we won't be stopping here, you can do that some other day. Don't worry ladies and gentlemen, I'll give you a sign when you have to grab those camera's.. hahaha, well our next stop will be at Piccadilly Circus. You are able to spend loads of money in Oxford Street, London's most famous shopping center. And for all of you who want to keep the this holiday cheap we'll continue our tour on Oxford Street through Holborn to St. Paul's Cathedral, the most impressive cathedral in Europe. This will be our third stop dear people. Please don't miss the opportunity to climb up to the Whispering Gallery, of where people believe it's haunted by medieval ghosts, and learn more about London's history by a tour given by a professional guide. For those who want to remain seated we'll continue our journey to the London Bridge. We'll pause on this bridge for a brief moment because there's a beautiful view to the Tower Bridge. This short break will give you an opportunity to take pictures. Then we'll go all the way to the other side of the water and through Duke Street and Tooley Street we head for The Tower Bridge. As we drive across the most famous bridge of London we can take a final look across the river Thames. At the end of the bridge we'll have our fourth stop: The Tower of London. Diamond lovers won't be able to skip this one, for all the Queen's Crown Jewels are kept here. The Tower is said to be haunted as well by prisoners who died a lonely death. If you're not interested in Jewelry then the tour continues over the Tower Bridge back to the route over Cornhill Leadenhall Street back to New Oxford Street. You'll be able to get off the bus whenever we have a stop. Of course we'll tell you when and where. We hope you'll enjoy this trip and your stay in beautiful London.' Then the voice started repeating the entire thing in a different language, a language both Justin and Wendy didn't understand.

‘So... where do we get off the bus?' Justin asked.

‘I'll tell you when we get there, just enjoy the view, alright?' Wendy said but she wasn't at all enjoying the view. She wasn't at all looking forward to her talk to Mrs. Jones and she wanted to postpone it as long as possible. She looked at Justin who was indeed enjoying the tour. He had a smile on his face and the wind softly went through his fur. It was a beautiful day. The sun was shining brightly and there was hardly any wind at all. Wendy wondered what would happen if she had this talk to Mrs. Jones. Would it change the weather? Would this beautiful day change into a day full of thunder and lighting, rain and coldness? She could hardly believe that. She tried to relax and not to think about it, at least not now...

‘Wow! What's that!?' Justin pointed at a huge colored building full of advertisement messages. ‘Oh, that's Piccadilly Circus, and there's Oxford Street,' she said, hardly paying attention to what was happening around her. ‘Oh yeah the place to spend ‘loads of money'' Justin smiled but his smile disappeared when he saw Wendy's serious face. She was staring right ahead of her without seeing. ‘Wendy, are you alright?' Justin asked.

‘Oh, I'm sorry... yes, I'm okay, I guess I'm just a bit tired, that's all.'

‘Tired? You've slept far into the day in that airplane! Something else is on your mind, isn't there?' Justin asked but he already knew the answer to that question.

‘I'm just not really looking forward to meeting Mrs. Jones after all these years. She really hated me and that was likewise. I just, gosh I guess I'm just not ready for it.'

‘Look, we can also go there tomorrow. I'm a little tired myself and we should find a shelter for tonight. I bet London is really pretty at night, perhaps we could spend a little time in Hide Park.' Justin said. ‘Hide Park? Why Hide Park?' Wendy wondered.

‘Well, because our tour-guide-friend just said it was the most romantic place in London.' Justin said with a small blush on his cheeks. Wendy blushed heavily and gave Justin a naughty smile. ‘Well, okay, we could go there tonight... but remember... We are to sleep in separate beds, you know.' Wendy looked at Justin as casually as she could and could clearly see his blush spreading to his ears. She couldn't help laughing and she gave him a soft, teasing push. ‘Ah, just kidding, Justin.' Justin now also started laughing, and gave her a push back.

She was finally able to relax a bit. She sat back and she enjoyed the oh-so familiar view. outside. It was like she never left London in the first place. Although she had a terrible childhood she had always loved this city. She couldn't leave without seeing Big Ben. Unfortunately the site-seeing bus didn't pass there, but there were more site-seeing busses in town, so all she had to do is take another bus. Or taking the underground of course! That would be a lot easier. She had traveled by the underground before. Heck, she'd run away more than once. She'd explore the surroundings. She knew the city, she knew everything. She loved Big Ben and she loved the Docklands, where it was always nice and quiet. The Docklands were the place to think things over. She'd take Justin there, too... But not today. He'd probably forget all the (for him) strange names of buildings, so traveling by another site-seeing bus would confuse him. They had passed Piccadilly Circus so the first stop was over. A few new people came on board. Wendy checked it the Japanese people were still there. They were, and they were taking pictures of every building in the area. Wendy smiled a bit. Perhaps they learned the entire tour-of-London-book by heart. She'd seen busses full of Japanese people before. It was rather strange that these people were traveling by themselves. They were a little bit like Wendy and Justin. Alone, just the two of them, away from their colony like they left theirs temporarily.

The second stop was St. Paul's Cathedral. Justin really enjoyed the City of London. He looked around him and asked a lot of questions and Wendy knew most of the answers. She enjoyed the look on his face and his big bright eyes. He looked like a little boy in a candy-shop. St. Paul's Cathedral was one of Wendy's most favorite buildings, although she never had the chance to visit it. She knew the stories about the ghosts who lived in the chapel and was fascinated by them. She didn't want to admit it, but for some reason she was too chicken to visit St. Paul's. The Cathedral which was destroyed in 1666 was completely restored now. 1666 was the year of the Great Fire. A fire that started in a bakery and destroyed a big part of the city. Wendy was glad she didn't live in that time, although the circumstances of life in the orphanage were rather like a dungeon in medieval times as well. She shook those thoughts out of her head quickly. Justin stared at the cathedral. ‘Wow, that's beautiful! I'd love to go in there and take a good look around. Perhaps we can find a few ghosts!'

‘Forget it Justin, there's no way we can have a peak around without anybody seeing us. A chapel doesn't have any corners to hide in, you know.'

‘Yeah, I guess you're right, but I'd really, really want to go in there and take a look.' Wendy had to admit she wanted to go in as well. This was probably the last time she was in London, so she wanted to see everything before going back home. Home!? Did she think ‘HOME', this was the first time she thought of the Rosebush as ‘home'...

‘Well, perhaps we could go there at night some time.' Wendy said rather casually. ‘Yeah! That's a great idea! Let's go there tomorrow night!' Justin said with a huge grin on his face.

Wendy turned to him rather immediate. ‘We can't do that!'

‘Why not? Nobody will see us. Well, except perhaps for some ghosts, but they won't tell.' Justin said with a growing smile.

‘We'll see,' Wendy said, but she said it without a lot of enthusiasm. She knew Justin would never give up if he really wanted something. She actually wanted to go as well, besides, what could go wrong, Justin will be there.

The bus went on and on until they finally reached the third stop: The London Bridge. Wendy always got the creeps when she thought about the London Bridge. Mrs. Jones told the children that it was the bridge of prisoner heads. When a prisoner was sentenced to death a long, long time ago, they'd chop of his head and put it on a stick which was attached to the London Bridge. This to make sure they'd scare other criminals off, away from London. A few moments later they arrived at the London Bridge. Wendy told Justin the story she had heard from Mrs. Jones about the heads and Justin just couldn't resist making jokes about it. He told Wendy he thought it was a perfect way to keep unwanted guests away from the Rosebush as well. He said he'd ask the Council about taking his idea along in a next meeting. This was typically Justin. Wendy laughed at his jokes especially because he was able to tell them with his most serious face on. Justin also grinned and suddenly put his arm around her. At first she didn't know how to react but later she relaxed a bit and moved a bit closer to him. He also moved a bit closer to her and they both enjoyed the silence.

The stop was short and all the passengers moved back into their seats. When everybody was back in their seats the bus drove on to the Tower Bridge. The Tower Bridge is one of London's most beautiful bridges. Like the name reveals, the Tower Bridge can be recognized by the two huge towers on each side of the bridge who are held by a blue construction of steal. The bus brought the passengers to The Tower of London where the final stop was made. ‘We'll go all the way back to Hide Park, it's getting late and we should also find something to eat.' Wendy said.

The bus finally drove on to Hide Park. Justin and Wendy prepared to get off the bus. They walked down the stairs into the section where people could have the indoor-site-seeing-tour. Luckily that part was completely empty. All passengers (well at least those who were still on the bus) were upstairs where the sun was shining. The bus stopped at Hide park and the doors opened. Justin and Wendy got out without any problems. There they were, in the biggest park in London, Hide Park. It was getting rather foggy and there was a grim atmosphere, an atmosphere which kind of belonged to London. Justin was surprised about the sudden change of weather but Wendy told him this was rather normal. England is known for it's unstable weather and loads of rainfall besides, it's late August already. Most humans already left the park because it was dinner time. Some humans had decided to have dinner in the park; they brought along their meals. Justin was hungry as well. Seeing the humans eat didn't make that feeling any less. ‘Come on Wendy, let's find something to eat.' Justin took Wendy by her hand and pulled her onto the open field. Suddenly they heard a loud scream. ‘Aaaah! John! Look it's a RAT! There's two of them!'

They didn't notice a group of humans picnicking right where Wendy and Justin were headed. It was too late, they were noticed. There were four of them, a big lady and a big gentleman, and two children, a boy and a girl. The lady saw the two rats first. She jumped up and pulled one of the children, the girl, firmly against her body in total terror.

‘John! We can't stay here! Let's go, let's GO!! We can't put the children's lives in jeopardy!' The lady shouted and by now she had also pulled the little boy up and held him close to her as well. Wendy and Justin were both nailed to the ground. ‘John, can we go now, please... I want to go, NOW!' The small girl nodded so firmly that, for some moments, Wendy feared her head would fall off.

‘Ok, let's go some place else then, dear, but those rats won't harm anyone, really they won't, they are even more afraid of us than... well at least I am.' The husband ‘John' answered.

‘JOHN! They are RATS, they spread deceases!! Everybody knows that!'

So after some struggle and arguing, they left... in a hurry. They left in such hurry that they forgot to take most of the food with them. Justin and Wendy were still in shock. ‘Wow, that was close. We'd better get out of here before they come back for all that food.' Wendy said.

‘Those humans won't come back. Besides... humans don't eat food from the ground especially not when the same rats who scared the hell out of them walked on that same ground! Wendy, look! We've got more food than we can eat!'

Wendy looked at the big amount of food. There was bread, cheese, fruit and chocolate.

‘I guess you're right... well it would be a total waste if we abandoned the food... so... let's take it to a safe place and let's celebrate that we had a safe flight and a nice day.' Wendy said with a smile on her face. She was happy and for a moment she had even forgotten for where they actually came for.

They weren't able to eat everything, but that was no surprise. It was simply far too much. Today had been wonderful but exhausting and after a meal like that, exhaustion hit the two rats like a bomb. They made a bed, just one, under the bushes and curled up to sleep, closely together.

Chapter 13: Mrs. Jones

Wendy Elisabeth opened her eyes. She had to wink a couple of times to get used to the light. It was morning and the sun was shining brightly, just as brightly as it did the day before. When she looked beside her she saw Justin. He was still sound asleep. His arm was still wrapped around her. She lived in a dream for a short while, but that dream suddenly turned into a nightmare. Today was the day she was going to meet Mrs. Jones after all these years. She carefully sat up, not to wake Justin. She took a deep breath and thought: ‘I have to do it today, I can no longer postpone it.' She thought about Nicodemus and the words in Jenner's notebook. She also thought about the Plan. The only thing she knew was that it had something to do with a place called Thorn Valley. According to Jenner Thorn Valley is a wilderness. ‘Oh, you're up. Any idea what time it is?' Wendy turned and saw that Justin was already sitting up. ‘Penny for your thoughts...' He teased.

‘Oh, I was just thinking about Nicodemus and Jenner. And the Plan.'

‘The Plan? Oooooh, you shouldn't worry about that one at all.' Justin smiled.

‘Yeah, I know, but.. aren't I allowed to know what it's about? I mean, it would be good background information in my minutes.'

‘Hmm... good reason, very good reason indeed, but I'm afraid it's not good enough. I'll give you the information, but of course, I won't give it to you that easily...' Justin said while rubbing his chin.

‘Ah, come on Justin! You could just tell me. It's not a deep dark secret, is it?' Wendy pleaded. Justin looked at her with one eye closed, pretending he could see her better. Then he got up and started walking around under the bush in circles. ‘Yes, it is indeed a deep dark secret. Very deep and very dark...' Then he moved closer to Wendy and he continued his story in a whisper. ‘it's far, far away, in a land you've never been before. There are creatures there..' ‘Creatures?' Wendy interrupted ‘Yeah creatures...' Justin whispered. ‘Well', Wendy also started to whisper now, ‘Are those creatures dangerous?' Justin looked up, like he was thinking very hard. ‘No... no, I wouldn't say they are dangerous... but they do have this nasty habit.' ‘nasty habit? What is it they do,' Wendy asked, still whispering. ‘They...TICKEL!!!'

Justin jumped up and threw himself on poor Wendy Elisabeth and starting tickling her like crazy. ‘Nooooooo, Justin, STOP IT!' Wendy shouted and tried to get Justin off of her, but without success. Justin's firm grip loosened and he smiled at Wendy. He was still on top of her and wasn't planning of moving away soon. His handsome face was extremely near and Wendy gazed deeply into his eyes. By now she was able to smile as well. Justin's whiskers softly touched hers and he closed his eyes a bit. Their noses gently touched when suddenly there was a loud scream and a thumb sound. Justin lifted his head and was suddenly very alert. ‘Darn it,' he whispered and got up. He offered Wendy a hand and pulled her up. ‘That noise came from down there, let's a have a look.' Justin said.

They both started walking in the direction where the noise came from. As they came nearer, there were sounds of breaking branches. ‘careful now, I'll check it out, you stay here, ok?'

Justin looked over the thick branches and suddenly saw what caused the noise. It was a squirrel, and it had probably fallen out of the tree. It was still a young squirrel, probably Isabella's age and it was stuck between two branches. ‘Wait, don't move! You'll hurt yourself.' Justin shouted, and he made himself a path through the thick branches. ‘Oh I really do hope you won't harm me,' the squirrel said in a very high voice with an even heavier English accent as Wendy's. ‘Don't worry, I'll free you. Don't be afraid.' Justin said.

‘Justin! Are you ok down there?' Wendy asked and she started running to the place where Justin and the squirrel were at. ‘There you go... Wendy, could you give us a hand here? She's kind of stuck.' Wendy hesitated a moment. She was always taught that rats didn't help other creatures. It was like that at the orphanage, and it was like that in the Rosebush as well. Justin never seemed to care about that rule, he never cared about rules, so Wendy decided that she wouldn't either.

She pulled a few thorny branches gently away from the young squirrels fur. She was able to remove one of them and she started removing branch number two. A few minutes and a lot of branches later the squirrel was set free.

The young squirrel was obviously ashamed that she needed to be rescued by a couple of rats, so she was looking to the tip of her toes and softly thanked the rats while her hands were on her back. ‘Are you sure you aren't hurt, dear. Let me check your fur, you're probably scratched.' Wendy said and the little squirrel obeyed. Justin moved away to give the two of them a little privacy. Wendy came back a few minutes later. ‘Well it's a good thing you're already getting your Winter-fur. You'd be a lot more scratched if it wasn't for all that hair!' Wendy said and she smiled at the squirrel. ‘You'd better go back to your parents.' Justin said. ‘Yes, I suppose so, thank you so much, if you'd ever be in trouble you could always call my name. My name is Mitzy.' Mitzy said and she disappeared into a high tree.

‘I seriously doubt it.' Justin softly said and he smiled at Wendy. ‘So... where were we?' He softly added with a small blush on his face. Wendy smiled at him with a similar looking blush on her face. ‘Perhaps em... we ought to have breakfast and pay a little visit to a certain woman-monster called Mrs. Jones.' Justin said. ‘First work and then back to pleasure.. besides, we have a date with Saint Paul tonight.' Justin said while forcing himself to smile.

‘Woman-monster Mrs. Jones', Wendy repeated and she started to smile. ‘Yeah, let's go, but first I need to change... I need to put on my best dress. I'll make sure she'll be completely speechless.' Wendy said and she looked happy for the first time Justin ever saw here when she spoke about Mrs. Jones.

‘Way to go, Wendy. Make us proud! Now, would you like a piece of bread?'

After breakfast, Justin and Wendy both changed. Justin also decided to put on some clothes. He didn't want to appear naked next to Wendy who definitely took her most beautiful dress with her. He softly whistled when he looked at her. She looked like a beautiful, successful business-ratty, although she wasn't anywhere near that. When they were all set they decided to go. They had to be careful, though... again two dressed up rats would appear a bit strange, even in the big city of London. Thank goodness the orphanage was housed in the park. They traveled underneath the bushes, but even there it wasn't at all that save. Humans weren't the problem here, but dogs were. One time a dog almost pulled his boss under the bush where Justin and Wendy were at. Lucky for them, the boss pulled the dog back and punished it. After a while, Wendy suddenly stopped walking. Justin looked at her and then looked in the direction where Wendy was staring. It was a little wooden cottage, perfectly hidden under a thick tree in the center of Hide Park. ‘Is that the orphanage?' Justin asked. ‘Yes, that's the place.' Wendy answered. ‘Well, shall we knock on the door?' Justin asked again. ‘Yes, I suppose.' Wendy answered with a slight hesitation.

Justin knocked on the door. The door was made out of wood, like the rest of the orphanage. The orphanage was old, most of the wood was splintered and dry. The small windows were broken and most of the attic was destroyed by a branch of the tree which grew into the house. It was very poorly and Justin wondered if it had always been like that.

‘Nobody seems home, let's go.' Wendy said. Suddenly the door slightly opened. ‘Who's there?' said a cracking voice that came from an eye which looked through the small opening. ‘My name is Justin and this is Wendy Elisabeth, but you've already met before.'

‘I don't know either one of you, so scram!' The eye said.

‘Hold on ONE minute!' Justin said while he placed his hand firmly against the door.

‘Mister... Jason...'

‘Justin' Justin interrupted.

‘Mister Justin, would you please step away from the door and leave me alone!'

‘Mrs. Jones, we HAVE met before and I won't leave until I had a word with you.'

‘Ms Elisabeth, I have no idea what you are doing here after all these years.' Mrs. Jones said. ‘So you DO know me! Please let me in, I really need to speak with you!' Wendy said.

‘Oh alright, just give me a minute.' Mrs. Jones growled and she slammed the door.

Justin and Wendy waited for about ten minutes. ‘Come on Wendy, sit down for a second. You're making me dizzy.' Justin said. He was sitting on a small wooden block in front of the orphanage's doorstep. ‘I can't help it. I'm sure this door won't open again. At least not today!'

‘I'm sure she will, she's probably cleaning the mess or something.' Justin said, but judging from Wendy's look he probably didn't think that was the case.

Suddenly the door opened and an old, gray, skinny rat stood in the doorway. She was nothing from what Wendy had told her to be. Wendy was obviously shocked by the way Mrs. Jones looked. Mrs. Jones had turned old, very old and she was fragile now. They both stepped inside in what once had been the sleeping hall. It was still filled with beds, but it seemed like they had been empty for years. It was dark inside, a little spooky as well. It was damp and hot inside and there was a strange smell in the hall. ‘Sit down.' Mrs. Jones pointed at two old chairs which seemed to fall apart any minute. Justin and Wendy looked at each other but did as they were told. Luckily the chairs didn't collapse under their weight. ‘Why are you here, Wendy, and why did you bring Mr. Jasper with you?'

‘Justin.' Justin corrected again. Mrs. Jones simply ignored him and sat down herself. Justin took a deep breath. ‘May I answer that question Mrs. Jones?' Justin asked. ‘Well, you see Wendy and I... well, we are very madly in love with each other and I would do anything to marry her, but you see, she can't marry me... not yet. She simply can't.' Justin started his story as he gave the very puzzled rat on his left side a wink.

‘She can't because she feels that she cannot become my wife without knowing her family name.'

‘So, you're getting married.' She looked Wendy up and down with a frown on her face. ‘I can see that you've been doing very well lately. I knew you'd come back sooner or later. You've always been the most intelligent child that I've ever taken care of. It's a good thing you didn't come back a few years ago. I wouldn't have told it you back then, but now the time has come to tell you who you really are. You see Wendy, I'm old and I won't live much longer. Unlike you apparently, I'll die alone.' She started walking around a bit and she opened a small cupboard which Wendy knew from the days she lived there. Mrs. Jones took out a small box. ‘Your parents never abandoned you, Wendy, not the way I used to tell you. They were killed, and if it weren't for me, you weren't be sitting here today either. But on the other hand, you weren't be sitting here if they were still alive today, you'd be in Ireland then. Yes, Wendy Elisabeth, you're an Irish child.'

‘I...I'm from Ireland? So, are you telling me that my parents did love me and that I'm Irish? So now you are probably going to tell me that my parents had purple fur and red eyes and that you were the one who saved me, right?'

‘Yes, I did save you, I saved you from the claws of the monster who killed your parents, who weren't at all purple and had brown eyes, like you. He was your father's right hand. Your father wasn't just a man, and your mother wasn't just a woman. You, see... Ireland is a Republic for humans, but a Kingdom for rats. Your parents were the much loved King and Queen from Ireland. Your name is Wendy Elisabeth Victoria Emma Kenmare.'

‘Kenmare... wasn't that the family Nicodemus was telling about?' Justin asked but Wendy didn't hear him anymore, she was in complete shock. ‘You are lying, I'm not! I can't be!' Wendy suddenly shouted.

‘Yes you are Wendy! You are a Kenmare! Where's your handkerchief? If you want proof, you'll have proof. The evidence is in this box!'

Mrs. Jones gave the box to Wendy, who didn't open it. She wasn't able to make sense out of anything. Didn't Nicodemus say that the Kenmare family was just a legend?

‘If I was saved by you and you took care of me why did you treat me like trash! You didn't give a damn about me! You locked me up in that dark hole down there and you wouldn't let me near potential parents! And you dare to say that you've saved my life!'

‘I couldn't give you to other people! I felt responsible for you! I was your mom and dad! I risked my life for you, and what did you give me? NOTHING! Yes, you scared the hell out of me if you ran away, and you never obeyed. You didn't give a damn about my rules!' She grabbed her chest and started breathing heavily. ‘I LOVED you, Wendy Elisabeth, but you made it so hard for me.'

‘But WHY the isolation? Why that, if you loved me so much! It doesn't make any sense!'

‘I wanted you to grow up respecting me, but I guess I handled it the wrong way, and I regret that.'

‘Yeah right.' Wendy said and she crossed her arm and turned away from the old rat.

‘Are there files you can show us or give us that intensify your story, about Wendy's name and parents perhaps?' Justin quickly asked, hoping to prevent one of Wendy's famous outbursts, which worked.

‘I do have those files, and I will give them to you, but first I want Wendy to open the box I gave her. She'll recognize what is in there.'

Wendy did as she said, but she didn't do it for Mrs. Jones. She did it because she had become curious. Inside the box there was something which was indeed familiar to her. It was a necklace with a silver crown on it. The same crown which was embroidered on the handkerchief. The Irish Crown was what Nicodemus had said, and he was right. She thought about Nicodemus and Nanny, and she suddenly felt the urge to go home. Home to the Rosebush. She now knew that London was not her home anymore, a country where her home supposedly should have been was never her home, so the Rosebush was the only home she ever known. This thought confused her but it had also made a lot clear. She felt like going outside, she couldn't stand this house, she couldn't stand Mrs. Jones and she certainly had enough about hearing that she was some sort of living legend who was much loved by her evil stepmother all this time.

She got up from her chair. ‘I'm sorry, I need some air.' Wendy Elisabeth took off.

Once in the open air she had the feeling she was finally able to breath again. She enjoyed the warmth of the sun on her fur and she suddenly realized she was crying. She sat down on the wooden block where Justin sat on before and gazed at the silver crown. She opened the lock of the necklace and she put it on her neck. Suddenly the door behind her opened. It was Justin. ‘Gosh, that was a strange conversation. That's a weird woman. I guess loneliness hit this woman HARD.'

‘Yes, she's crazy. Do you think she's telling the truth?' Wendy asked.

‘We'll find out soon, I've got your files. I don't suppose you'd like to say goodbye to Mrs. Jones, do you.' Justin wondered.

Wendy hesitated and eventually said: ‘Actually, I do.'

Justin was quite amazed by this answer, but he realized that Wendy was sincere. She got up from the wooden block, smiled at Justin and stepped in side the orphanage again.

‘Mrs. Jones?' Wendy looked around but she wasn't able to spot her. She decided to take a look around in the place where she grew up. The sleeping hall looked very sad. It was once filled with children's voices and laughter, yes laughter. She wished she had been able to enjoy that more. She moved on to the stairs. They lead to the attic, the place where Wendy spend the final months of her life here. She decided to have a look. When she arrived upstairs she saw that nothing had been changed. Her bed was even covered with the same sheets! Her pillow was still there and so were some of her clothes. They were hanging on a chair, similar to those downstairs, for she didn't have a wardrobe. ‘Oh my, the radio is still here as well!' Wendy thought and she walked over to where the radio was standing. She turned on the switch and she found out that it still worked.

‘Yes, it still works.' Mrs. Jones was standing in Wendy's former room. Wendy turned around. ‘Why did you keep all these things? Why didn't you just throw it all away?' Wendy asked.

‘Like I said, I knew you were coming back one day, so I decided to leave it here. Wendy, you really look very well. I've always known you were a smart lady. You are lucky finding a mate like Jackson.'

‘Justin, his name is Justin.' Wendy said, but she was smiling a bit. ‘Thank you for giving us the files, we'll read it carefully.'

‘I see you are wearing the necklace,' Mrs. Jones said.

‘Yes, I put it on when I went outside. Did it really belong to my parents?'

‘That necklace belonged to your mother. You look just like her. You are both beautiful, strong women.' Mrs. Jones said, and she stared in front of her. ‘Oh, I really do miss your mother, she was a wonderful person.'

‘What about the rat who killed them, do you know more about him, was he ever caught?'

‘No, he wasn't caught, but he disappeared. He was a large rat, black, green eyes. He used to be very loyal to your father, in fact, he was your father's right hand.'

‘What was his name?' Wendy wondered.

‘I cannot really recall it, but I think his name was Jeffer... Jefferson or something like that.'

Chapter 14: St. Paul's Cathedral

‘She said his name was Jefferson.' Wendy and Justin walked back to the place where they spend the night. ‘Jefferson... hmmmm, do you suppose she remembered his name just as well as she did mine?' Justin was smiling a bit, but stopped smiling because it was kind of an inappropriate thing to do, while talking about the person who murdered someone's parents.

He quickly changed the subject: ‘What was it she said your names were? Wendy Elisabeth, eh...' He opened the file and read, ‘Victoria Emma Kenmare, wow.'

‘Yeah, that's quite a name, isn't it?' Wendy said.

‘Quite a name for quite a lady,' Justin answered with a blush.

Wendy smiled and looked in front of her. ‘This is a good place to read the file, don't you think?' They sat down under a bush. The leaves weren't very thick, so they were able to sit the sunshine a bit. Wendy suddenly started to laugh.

‘I'm glad I had the opportunity to see Mrs. Jones. She won't haunt my dreams anymore, that's for sure. The years obviously haven't been gentle to her, I've never seen anybody looking so fragile. She's pathetic actually, I mean, she's all alone, living in a ruinous thing like that!'

‘Yeah, what goes around, comes around.' Justin said.

‘I guess so, but I guess I kind of feel sorry for her. She'll die soon, and I guess she's really sorry...' Wendy said, while opening the file, but she closed it again when Justin started to talk. ‘So... what are you going to do now? Knowing you are a Prin...' Sssst Justin! I'm NOT a princess, perhaps I was.. one day, but I'm plain old Wendy Elisabeth! Please don't treat me any differently than you've ever done before. I'd rather not tell anyone but Nanny, Arthur and Nicodemus, okay?' Wendy said in a very determent way. ‘Okay, promise... but em... would you have told me... if I weren't here I mean.'

Wendy looked at him and smiled, ‘Yes, Justin, I would have told you,' and she softly stroke his neck fur. He turned red like a tomato and quickly turned his head around. ‘Are we still going to have our little adventure up in St. Paul's Cathedral tonight?'

‘Yeah sure! But there are also some other places I would like to show you before we go home to the Rosebush in good old USA.'

‘Good old USA? Go home to the Rosebush? Wendy are you running a fever or something?'

‘A fever? No, I feel better than I have ever felt in my entire life! Mrs. Jones is only a memory and I've learned something today. I've learned that the Rosebush is indeed my home, not England and not Ireland either.'

‘I'm proud of you, you know that? And I'm so glad you feel that way. And... to tell you the truth...I'm glad you took the wrong plane back then...'

She smiled at him with sparkling eyes. ‘Thank you Justin, I really appreciate you saying that. I'm also kind of glad I took the wrong plane, otherwise I would have never .. met you.'

Justin smiled at her and gently touched her chin, ‘I'm also glad I met you, very glad.'

He leaned forward towards her and...'Hello, hello! Oh, I really do hope I didn't interrupt anything or something.' It was Mitzy, the squirrel, again.

Justin slapped his hands in front of his face and muttered something like; ‘why, why, why, why, why, why, why did we ever help you...'

Wendy grinned and looked at Justin's covered face, then she looked at Mitzy who sadly inspected her fluffy tail. ‘Mitzy, how are you this afternoon?' Wendy quickly asked when she saw the defeated impression on Mitzy's face.

‘I'm fine, very fine miss...I have been playing with my brothers and sisters this morning and I've told my entire family about you and that you saved my life and, and that I told you that I'd always be there if you needed a favor and...' Mitzy! Don't forget to breath!' Justin quickly shouted. The little squirrel took a deep breath, ‘I'm sorry to interrupt, but we didn't exactly save your life. You could have gotten out yourself! We don't need any favors, we would have done it for everyone.' Wendy said, hoping she'd leave now.

‘Well, that's what I wanted to talk to you about, miss... My mother said I wasn't at all allowed to do favors because I'm actually still very young, so...'

Wendy smiled, ‘Dear, don't you worry about that, we can take care of our own, besides, we'll be leaving soon.'

‘Oh, okay! Well thank you again, also from my mother, father, twenty-four brothers, twenty-one sisters, my uncles, my aunties, my.. ‘

‘Alright, alright, alright we got the message Mitzy! You are very welcome, now you promise you'll take care of yourself, okay?' Justin said, who was obviously developing some sort of migraine because of the entire list.

Mitzy jumped off, said bye-bye a couple of hundred times, waved for about half an hour and took off into a tree.

Justin took a deep breath and smiled at Wendy. ‘If she ever interrupts our... eh, conversation again, I'll ignore her, I really will.'

‘I don't suppose she will anymore, at least not today.' She grinned.

‘You'd better be right. Cause if she will return I'll personally tickle you so long that you'll beg me for mercy, Miss Royal Highness, now let's read that file of yours.' Justin said and he pointed at the file. Wendy gave him a teasing glance and re-opened the file again. They both started reading the first page.

‘Personal file, child number 001, Wendy Elisabeth Victoria Emma Kenmare.'

‘I'm amazed! She got your name right straight away!' Justin said in a teasing way.

Wendy grinned and said: ‘Well, I guess I would have killed her if she didn't, I've spend my entire childhood with that woman.'

‘Wendy Elisabeth Kenmare, born 4th of March 1979, Dublin, Ireland. Parents William Anthony Kenmare and Victoria Dorothy Welsh. Siblings: none.

Brought in by Antoinette ‘Antoinette? That's a beautiful name for a freak like her.' (that was Justin) Jones when she was three months of age.

Reason for adoption: Parents are murdered by opponent, royal palace burned down.

Treatment: Special, she's the child of the King and Queen of Ireland.

‘Yeah right, special treatment indeed!' Wendy added to the text in the file. And that was about all the text in the file. Wendy turned over the first page and to her surprised she noticed something falling out of the file. ‘Justin look! It's a picture!' It was indeed a picture. It was and old picture, but still in a good state. In the picture were a very good-looking man and a very beautiful lady. The lady held a baby on her lap. The lady was a Wendy look-a-like, but older and very beautifully dressed. Wendy turned the picture around and saw the names of her parents and her own name. ‘That's... that's me.' Wendy stumbled, and she pointed at the baby. ‘Aw, you look so cute, and you look so much like your mother.' Justin said.

‘They are so... nice-looking, don't you think?' Wendy asked to Justin.

‘They really do... they sure do.' Justin said, and he put his arm around Wendy. He felt really sad for a moment. Seeing the picture made him think about his own parents and siblings. Would they still be alive? Would they have missed him? He sadly stared in front of him. Wendy noticed Justin's sad impression, and she put an arm around him, too. They sat like that for a moment, without speaking...

After a few moments they looked at each other and smiled. They where kind of stuck in the same situation. They decided to enjoy the rest of the day in the park until it was late enough to visit St. Paul's. This was the perfect opportunity to have a very large lunch (which they kept in a secret place) and sleep a bit.

Justin woke up when the sun had disappeared. Wendy was still sound asleep and she was lying next to him. This was his chance. He leaned over and gently kissed her lips. He sat up again with a huge smile on his face. He had kissed her! He knew for sure that if they would ever have a relationship, he'd kiss her twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. He decided to wake her up. They had a full program planned for that evening. ‘Wake up sleepy-rat,' Justin said, as he gently shook her shoulder. Wendy opened her eyes. ‘Is it morning already?' She asked.

‘No, it's evening already. And we are going to St. Paul's, remember?'

‘Ahhh' Wendy softly moaned ‘I wish you had forgotten about St. Paul's' but she sat up anyway. Justin ignored her remark. ‘Do you already know how we can get to St. Paul's? Will we take a site-seeing bus again?'

‘Nope, we'll take the underground. We'll take it from Lancaster Gate, which is near here, to St. Paul's.' Wendy said casually.

‘You have everything figured out, haven't you. You amaze me, really you do. How long have you been away... ten years? How is it possible that somebody remembers all this?'

‘It's a gift.' She said and she gave Justin a smile and a wink.

‘So there they went, all packed, into the darkness, to visit the ghosts of St. Paul's Cathedral.' Justin said with a ghostly voice. ‘Justin, what are you doing?'

‘I'm making a horror movie.' He laughed. ‘Stop laughing, or I'll tell the ghosts of St. Paul's to go after you!' Wendy threatened, but she was also grinning.

‘Ah, Lancaster Gate, we're here, I can't wait!' Justin said and he carefully looked around if there weren't any humans around. There weren't any, so they ran down the stairs towards the underground. Once down there, they stood in a large hall, with a dark tunnel at the end of it. There were orange chairs coming out of the wall and there were only a few people around. ‘It's really quiet in here, do you suppose it's too late for the underground to ride?' Justin wondered. There were indeed only a few humans down there, but they weren't at all paying attention to the two traveling rats. They were either reading a newspaper or all lost in music coming from silly round machine they call disc-man, but doesn't at all look like a man.

 ‘Don't worry, Justin. The underground rides day and night.' Wendy said, and suddenly the dark tunnel was filled with noise and lights. ‘What on earth is that?' Justin asked, with a slight sense of panic in his voice. ‘That my friend, is our ride to St. Paul's.'

The underground stopped and the doors opened. There were three humans getting out of it and the humans who had been waiting for it stepped in. So did Wendy and Justin.

The light in the underground was a little too bright for Justin, so he winked his eyes a couple of times to get used to it. ‘Bright isn't it?' Wendy said, and she gave Justin a teasing smile.

‘We'll be out in no time. It's only eight stops.' She continued.

Apart from the very bright light, the ride was smooth and there were no problems at all. After about fifteen minutes they arrived at St. Paul's. They got off the underground and carefully looked around. Again there weren't a lot of humans around, and even if they were, they weren't paying any attention to their surroundings. They took the escalator upstairs and stood in the open air again. St. Paul's cathedral was huge! Justin wasn't able to see the chapel at all from where he was standing. He knew it was there, he saw it from the site-seeing bus. The cathedral was deserted, like Wendy had predicted. Now they had to figure out a way to get in. ‘So, how can we get in?' Justin asked.

‘Um...shall we give the door a try?' Wendy said, and they both stared at a solid wooden door which was FAR too big for a herd of rats to handle, let alone two. ‘Any ideas?' Wendy asked, and she added: ‘You wanted to get inside St. Paul's so... you have the honors to figure out how.' Justin looked at her and said: ‘Gee thanks Wendy. Then I'll give YOU the honors to give ME a hand.'

They both walked around the cathedral to see if there were cracks in the wall. Justin found something even better, a small opening in a barred window, which probably lead to the basement. ‘Wendy, Mr. Genius here has found a way into the deep, dark dungeons of St. Paul's Cathedral.' Justin said proudly.

‘Well done Mr. Genius, but I would have preferred an opening somewhat more decent, for I am the Princess of Ireland.'

‘Technically speaking, you're the Queen of Ireland.' Justin said and he deeply bowed.

‘Even better... so how do you suppose I should get down there without making my fur all dirty, Mr. Captain of the Guard?'

‘I fear, my dear Royal Highness, that you don't have a choice.' Justin said and he started to grin a bit.

‘Then, I suppose I don't have a choice, and I shall follow you into the deep, dark dungeons of St. Paul's Cathedral.'

‘It would be a pleasure to wipe off all the dirt on you fur, your Majesty,' Justin said and they both climbed down to the basement of St. Paul's.

The opening in the window didn't exactly lead to a dark dungeon, but to a large room filled with statues, crypts and old flags. It was a museum. ‘Wow, look at that! A statue of Napoleon, and here a grave! Hmm, let me see, Christopher Wren, architect of St. Paul's Cathedral. Gosh, this man designed this place!' Wendy said.

‘And here's a grave of The Duke of Wellington. I've heard about this man before, and over here Admiral Lord Nelson. Oh, I know him, I guess his statue is on Trafalgar Square!' Wendy continued, and they both read all the names on the graves.

‘Let's go upstairs!' Justin said and he pointed at the stairway. They both went upstairs and came in the actual church. ‘Wow, this really IS impressive.' Wendy said as she looked around and above her. In the center of the church they were able to have a good look into the chapel which was right above them. ‘Wow, this is huge! I want to go all the way up!' Justin said and he started to walk on to the other side of the church. They found a monument of the second World War. It was a book which was open but safely kept under glass. They climbed onto the glass which protected the book and started to read the names. The names belonged to soldiers who fell during the war. Wendy read the inscription next to the book. It said that the pages were turned every day in memory of those who had been killed. ‘That's so... beautiful.' She said, and she joined Justin in reading the names. Today the pages belonged to soldiers who's family names started with ‘J.'  ‘Hmm, M. Jackson... As in Michael Jackson?' Justin asked smiling, and Wendy also started to laugh. ‘Perhaps his great-grand-father.' Wendy answered and they moved on to the stairs which lead to the Whispering Gallery. During the climb up, Justin started to count the stairs. ‘257, 258, 259... there! 259 stairs to get to the Whispering Gallery.' He said while catching his breath.

‘Brilliant.' Wendy said, while rubbing her painful legs. For some reason she suddenly felt nervous. So this was the Whispering Gallery, which is supposed to be loaded with ghosts. A cold shiver went over her back, but she didn't want Justin to notice it. ‘I'm going to explore the Whispering Gallery for a bit!' Justin said and he made a dash towards the other side of the round chapel.

Wendy stayed behind, hoping Justin would return quickly. She wasn't going to run after him looking like a complete fool, so she stood closely to the wall. The distance between him and her was huge, but she was able to hear everything he said perfectly clear. ‘Wow, this is absolutely awesome!' She heard Justin say, as well as she would have if he were standing next to her. ‘Justin, can you hear me?' She said. ‘Yes, I ...can, how... how's that possible?' Justin replied. ‘Wow! Wicked!' Wendy shouted, and she tried again, now whispering, ‘Can you still here me?'

‘Yeah, wow... now I understand why it's called the Whispering Gallery! It has nothing to do with ghosts!' Justin said, also in a whisper.

He stood closely to the wall and whispered in the most soft way he could: ‘Wendy, I love you with all my heart.' Then he added in a normal voice, ‘I wonder if she heard that.'

‘Heard what?' Wendy asked, who clearly didn't hear Justin's first line.

‘Oh... eh, nothing, I was just trying something out. Do you have any breath left to climb higher?' He asked. ‘Yes, as you know I'm in great shape.' She said laughing, ‘Yeah right, perhaps in my previous life I were.' She added.

‘Aw Wendy, it's not bad at all.' Justin said, although he knew she wasn't at all into sports.

They climbed the stairs again, this time 119, who lead to the Gallery of Stone. This Gallery wasn't very impressive so they decided to climb further, again 152 stairs to the Golden Gallery. When the climbed the final stairs up to the Golden Gallery, they could clearly feel the wind in their fur. ‘We're outside!' Justin said when he arrived upstairs. ‘We are?' Wendy asked when she arrived a few moments later, panting for breath. ‘Yeah, come and see!' Justin said and he took her hand. Through the openings of the Gallery they were able to see London, from above! It was a magnificent view which made the both of them speechless for a while. ‘Tell me, what do I see.' Justin softly said.

‘Um... well, over there you can see the River Thames and The Tower Bridge... gosh I never realized it was so beautiful from up here, look at those lights! Oh, and there! The houses of Parliament and the Big Ben! Oh, wow... gosh, I missed him!'

She pulled Justin's arm and dashed to the other side of the gallery. ‘Look! Hide Park! And Kensington Palace! There's Piccadilly Circus and New Oxford Street! Can you see that brightly lit building? That's Harrods, the most exclusive shop in London, perhaps even the most exclusive in entire Europe!' Wendy's eyes sparkled as she saw all the building she once used to only see from the ground and now from the top of St. Paul's Cathedral. Justin could clearly see why she loved this city so much, for he also started to love it. And her. Gosh how he started to love her. But he couldn't tell her. What if he'd put their friendship at risk! He was already very grateful for that. They stood on top of the St. Paul's for a long time, until it was getting colder. When they finally made it downstairs they were tired but very happy and satisfied. Their stay in London was far better then they both had hoped for.

‘Would you like to see the Big Ben up close? I... I kind of love that building, and I'd like to say good-bye before we leave.' Wendy said with a small blush. Who on earth ever loved a building so much she wanted to say good-bye to it? She felt rather stupid again.

‘Yes! Of course! I cannot wait to see the love of your life.' Justin said. Wendy suddenly felt a lot better. ‘Well, at least the first love of my life.' She said and smiled at Justin, who developed a small blush again.

‘So, will we travel by underground again?' He asked. ‘Yeah, we will, we'll take the underground from St. Paul's to Holborn. Then we have to get out of the metro and take another one to Westminster.' She said. So off they went to Big Ben.

Chapter 15: Going Back Home

The underground seemed even less busy than it did when Justin and Wendy went to the St. Paul's Cathedral. It was very late, about two a.m. so most of London's human population was sound asleep. The journey to Westminster was an easy one, and once again a pleasant one. Wendy looked at Justin. She cleared her voice and said: ‘I guess we'd better start thinking about home, I mean, we have everything with us so we can take the next underground to Piccadilly and then move on to Heathrow again, if you don't mind that is...' 

‘No, I don't mind, Wendy. I won't forget this journey, it's been a pleasant one, but it'll be nice to go home again.' Justin said while smiling.

They took the escalator upstairs again and within no time they stood on the square which lead to a few of London's most beautiful buildings. They were standing near the Thames and the Westminster Bridge, also one of the many popular bridges which leads to the other side of London. They already saw the Houses of Parliament from where they were standing. ‘Wow, this building is very impressive! And look at that tower with that beautiful clock!' Justin said, staring his eyes out. ‘That's the Big Ben, it's incredibly old and look at those lights!' Wendy never saw the greenish light which illuminated the Big Ben before. It was a beautiful night. There was a full moon and the weather was calm. Autumn was in the air. Justin looked at Wendy and he noticed she was having tears in her eyes. This Big Ben obviously meant a lot to her while she lived here. ‘We'll leave for Heathrow in a few minutes, okay?' Wendy said, but she kept her eyes on Big Ben.

‘If you'd like to stay longer, we can.' Justin said, but Wendy started shaking her head.

‘No, it's time, I did what I wanted to do and heard what I wanted to hear, well, kind of. This was the perfect way to say goodbye.' She smiled and the two rats started walking towards the underground again.

Off they went, to Heathrow airport. They arrived about thirty-five minutes later and again the airport wasn't very busy, though not deserted either. ‘Ah, look there are the monitors! Justin, what time is it?' Wendy asked.

‘It's a quarter past three, Wendy.' Justin answered and he looked at the monitor as well.

‘Oh my! Then we'll have to hurry! Gate 14, quick!' Wendy shouted.

Justin and Wendy grabbed their suitcases and dashed off to Gate 14 without paying a lot of attention to safety. Wendy heard the sound of a falling coin, and realized the coin had fallen right behind them. The woman who picked up the coin saw the two running rats. ‘Rats! Oh my God! There are rats here!' The woman shouted.

‘Come on, Wendy, we have to keep on running!' Justin shouted and Wendy followed him.

There were more humans screaming and shouting when they heard the panic-signal of the coin-woman, but it didn't slow them down. They had a plane to catch.

They finally reached Gate 14 and they were just about to get in when their way was blocked by two funny dressed men. ‘Oh no! Bobby's!' Wendy shouted.

‘Bobby's?' Justin asked.

‘I'll explain later.' Wendy said angrily, ‘We have to find a way to distract them!'

‘Wendy look out!' One of the Bobby's tried to catch Wendy with his bare hands.

She duck away just in time. ‘That was close!' Justin said and he looked around, hoping to find a way to distract the Bobby's. That, however, was not necessary.

‘Help! Stop thief!' A lady shouted from one of the shops. A shoplifter obviously stole some of her goods. The Bobby's looked at each other and forgot about the two rats for a moment. This was their chance! Justin grabbed Wendy's arm and pulled her into the terminal. They jumped into the airplane right behind some businessmen. Then the doors closed. They made it!

‘Gosh, we ARE lucky, that was far too close if I may say so.' Justin said.

They were sitting under one of the airplane seats, holding that iron thing again which kept them from tumbling through the plane. ‘Yes, it was. Well, one thing is for sure, this trip was everything except dull.' Wendy said and she laughed. Justin also started to laugh and after the airplane took off they installed to go to sleep. This had been a long night with lots of adventures. Now they were going home again, to the safety of the Rosebush.

They woke up when the airplane started to land. ‘We're already here?' Wendy asked and couldn't believe how fast time had passed. This time they had to be less careless. It was morning again, so the airport was a lot more busy. ‘Justin, how are we going to get to the Rosebush?' Wendy asked.

‘I have a way to alarm the crows. Look I have a special whistle.' He showed Wendy Elisabeth a whistle. ‘Nicodemus gave it to me when we left the Rosebush. It's known by crows all over the world, so even in London the crows were able to help us, if that was necessary of course.'

‘That's good, let's get out of this place and let's call the crows. I've certainly missed Nanny!'

‘I missed her, too... and her food, and Nicodemus and Arthur. I sure hope Philip didn't have to cope with Jenner too much.' Justin said.

They carefully looked around them and made it safely outside.

Justin blew the whistle and within a few moment two crows appeared. ‘To the Rosebush.' Justin said and the crows nodded their heads.

Justin and Wendy climbed onto the crows again and off they went into the air. ‘We'll probably fly higher this time, Wendy, cause we don't want anybody screaming again, do we?'

‘No, but... higher? A lot higher?' Wendy asked with a slight sense of terror in her voice.

‘Nah, not a lot more higher, just higher.' Justin answered.

Wendy didn't dare to watch at first, but short after they went up into the air she decided to slowly open her eyes. ‘Wow! This is wonderful!' She shouted at Justin.

‘Yeah, good old USA is nice, too!' Justin said, but he had to admit he was very amazed by the beautiful view. Wendy sat up a bit more. That way she was able to see a lot more. She could see the buildings from above. They looked so small! And the cars! It's like she was easily able to grab them. They slowly moved out of the ‘civilized' world and Wendy was able to see the fields and woods from above. A while later she saw a white farm which she recognized immediately. It was the Fitzgibbon farm. ‘Look! The Rosebush!' Wendy said and she pointed down at a tiny bush. The crows started to land. A few moments later they arrived safely to the ground. Wendy and Justin got off the crow's back and they thanked the crows.

‘After you.' Justin said and he bowed graciously. ‘Thank you, Justin. Oh I... I wanted to thank you for coming with me to London and I really do hope you won't say a word, promise?' She asked. ‘You can count on me, and it's been my pleasure, Wendy. I've had a wonderful time with you in London, I wish we'll be able to travel somewhere again... just the two of us.'

Wendy smiled at him and repeated: ‘Just the two of us.' Then she hugged him and he answered her very welcome hug.

‘Hey, what's that at the entrance! Intruders?' It was the voice of Brutus and he rushed outside. ‘Well, it's...Wendy and Justin!'

‘It is?' A second voice asked, and Philip stepped outside. ‘Well, don't just stand there! Come in!' Philip was a tall, handsome, young guard rat and very much in love with a pretty girl named Shirley, a second generation rat, like Philip is. They make a handsome couple and are most likely to have many children. Philip embraced Wendy and shook Justin's hand. ‘Tell us all about it! What was it like? Did you find something out, Wendy?' Wendy liked Philip very much. He never laughed at her and wasn't at all prejudiced. ‘Well, let's just put it this way, I've learned a lot about my trip to London, and yes, I also know more about my parents. They were kind, hard-working people and I'm proud to be their daughter.' She looked at Justin who smiled. He knew she didn't want to tell the rats the truth about her parents, she didn't want the rats to treat her any differently. Brutus also shook Wendy's hand, muttering something like: ‘I'm glad you're back in one piece,' and he did the same to Justin. ‘So far so good.' Wendy thought. They left Philip and Brutus at the entrance and they walked on to Nicodemus' office. Justin knocked on the wooden door which belonged to Nicodemus' office. ‘Come in, please.' Said a name on the other side of the door. Justin opened the door and made a ‘you-go-in-first' gesture to Wendy. ‘Ah, Wendy! Come in my child!'  Nicodemus said and he smiled at her when she appeared in the door opening. ‘And Justin! It's so good to see the both of you in perfect health.' Nicodemus got up from his chair and hugged the both of them tightly. ‘Please, seated.'

Wendy and Justin sat down in the two chairs in the room. ‘I had a feeling you'd come home today.' Nicodemus said. ‘Have you found what you have been looking for, Wendy?'

‘Um, yes... I have. We spoke to Mrs. Jones and she told me everything about my parents.' She told all about what Mrs. Jones had said and what was in the file. She showed Nicodemus the picture and the necklace. Nicodemus didn't seem impressed by the fact that Wendy had Royal blood running through her veins. Instead he said: ‘Wendy, my dear child. I knew you were special from the first time I saw you. In a way I knew you were, but after seeing your handkerchief I knew it for sure. I'm really sorry about what happened to your parents.' He looked at Wendy with a sad smile. Then he got up from his chair and deeply bowed. ‘It's an honor to have the daughter of William and Victoria Kenmare among us.'

‘Nicodemus?' Wendy said while she hid the necklace under her blouse. ‘I'd rather not tell anyone, except for Nanny, because...' Wendy started.

‘Then we should respect your decision.' Nicodemus said. ‘Perhaps you should ask Jenner about Ireland some time. He was born there.'

‘HE was born there?' Justin asked. ‘I never knew...'

‘He told me when we were... friends.' Nicodemus said in a sad way. A few moments later they were outside the office again. ‘I guess most rats are in the Main Hall.' Justin said, so they decided to go there to announce the fact that they were back. Justin was right, most of the rats were in the Main Hall. So was Nanny who jumped around Wendy's neck and cuddled her like crazy. Jenner walked in the direction where Wendy was and just at the moment he arrived, Nanny released Wendy from the hug. As a result, the small necklace Wendy got from Mrs. Jones was exposed. When Jenner noticed the necklace and the crown, he suddenly grabbed it and accidentally scratched Wendy's neck. ‘Ouch! Jenner let go of it!' Justin jumped between the two rats and pulled Jenners hand from Wendy's necklace. ‘What are you doing?' Justin said in shock and he looked at Jenner. Jenner was clearly upset about the scratch and he apologized to Wendy. Wendy only nodded but she stepped away from him. She touched her bleeding neck. ‘What...what's gotten in to you?' She stumbled. Jenner didn't answer that question. Instead he left the Main Hall without saying a word.

Chapter 16: Jenner's Story

Jenner rushed upstairs towards his room, taking large steps. He shook his head; how could he have been so stupid! Why did he let his emotions get to him like that? It was the necklace she wore. But it couldn't have been... it just couldn't! He looked at his hand, the hand which wounded Wendy's neck. He closed and squeezed his hand so hard that he felt his own nails in the palm of it. He was angry, not at her, but at himself. Why did he hurt her? Why didn't he just ASK her where she got the necklace from? Why did he always have to use violence? Could she be... No... she couldn't be! The girl was dead! HIS little girl was dead!

He slammed his door when he finally reached his room. He sat down on a chair behind his desk and he lit a candle. He opened a small desk-drawer. He took an old picture out of it. It was a picture of (what used to be) a male rat, a female rat and a baby. The male's face was cut away, but it clearly had been a male rat. His finger touched the baby in the picture. ‘You should have been all grown up by now, but I was so selfish to take your life, even before you were able to live it!' He slammed his fist on the desk so hard, that the candle stumbled and fell over, right on top of the picture. Jenner quickly removed the fallen, still burning candle and saw that his picture, the only picture he owned from his daughter, was almost completely gone. Burned, like he burned his daughter. ‘I KILLED HER!!!' He screamed and he started to cry, cry like he never did before. ‘I've killed you....' He whispered, ‘And now the time has come that I pay for that.'

He got up from his chair and started walking towards his cupboard. He poured himself a drink. His throat was sore because of his outburst and he closed his eyes while the liquid eased the soreness a bit. Nobody knew about his secret. He had never been able to share his loss with anyone, for HE was the one who caused this misery in the first place. He never meant for that to happen! The plan was that he would get her to safety in time and let the others burn. To let his betrayers burn. The way they deserved to burn.

Instead, he lost the only thing that mattered; his daughter. He had been too busy to satisfy his revenge by standing outside and watch what he had done. But that satisfaction didn't last long, and now he burned the only thing he owned of her, the picture that he had treasured all his life. He managed to keep the picture a secret even at NIMH. But he was not only able to keep it from the scientists, but to his once best friend, too; Nicodemus. Of course he managed to destroy this friendship, too, when he opposed to the Plan. The Plan that would lead them to nothing but poverty, hunger and war. Was he the only one willing to stand up to the people, to NIMH? Was he really the only one who believed that they were strong and intelligent enough to beat the humans? He had also managed to destroy the entire Irish Kingdom by himself so why not destroy the human-popularity?! So what was stopping him from destroying Nicodemus and his followers? Nothing! He could do this, he didn't need anyone.

He poured himself another drink and walked towards his desk again. He sat down and in his mind he saw Wendy's face in front of him again. He saw the same kind of fear in her eyes, fear which he saw before; the same fear he saw when he showed her his room. He saw it again today, when he ripped the necklace off her neck. He never meant to scratch her, or hurt her in any way for that matter. He meant it, when he offered her a job. He was serious about giving her a more meaningful job. He liked her, although he never admitted it out loud. Not that he was romantically interested in her; he just liked her. She had style, in spite of her young age. The kind of I-don't-give-a-damn-style he enjoyed. He knew she had been through a lot herself, although he didn't have a clue what she had been through. But he knew that her past created her in what she was today, the same way as his past created a monster out of him. He was really disappointed when she rejected his offer. He was angry, in fact, he was so angry that he decided that she had to die with the others when the time was right. That time was getting closer and closer, for the Plan was getting more and more specified.

But still he didn't have a clue how she got that necklace. For as far as he knew, the necklace only belonged to members of the Irish Royal Rat Family. She went to London, which is in England, not in Ireland. She couldn't have found the necklace, somebody must have given it to her. He sure as hell never saw the necklace around her neck before. Did she already own it? No, he seriously doubted that. He knew her for ten years already and he also knew she wasn't a good secret-keeper. She got it in London and he was going to find out who she got it from.

Chapter 17: Jenner's Plan Against the Plan

Dear Diary,


It's been months since Justin and I returned from our stay in London. I still didn't tell anyone about my parents except for Nanny and Nicodemus. I've decided to keep it a secret, especially since Jenner completely lost it. Today's been a rather strange day, and it's not even over yet. First of all I'll start telling you about this morning. I went outside for a walk in the sun. Even though it's not spring yet, this morning was a nice one. I was glad to enjoy the warmth on my fur. I realized that winter wasn't going to last forever after all. I guess it's too early to celebrate since it's only the middle of February, but perhaps spring will be early this year! I really hope it will bring us all the food we need to mend the wounds that winter gave us. We have all lost a big amount of weight. Luckily, nobody died this year. Well, once outside I suddenly heard a noise. It came from a place near the old watermill. At first I thought that Dragon had caught a young crow or something, but when that crow managed escape I sensed that the cat was after something else. I decided to take a closer look and saw a mouse running for her life. I didn't hesitate and jumped into the water. I did fear that this mouse owned the same personality as Mitzy, the fluffy tailed squirrel, but I just had to help her! I was able to get the mouse to a safe place, but the cat scratched my back rather heavily. I'm really sore now, but at least I was able to save the little mouse's life. She was really grateful to me and she was about to ask my name, but that young crow (named  Jeremy) came back so I was able to leave without a sound. I was able to get inside the Rosebush without being seen. You know rats aren't allowed to go outside without permission. I didn't have any permission and no reason to go outside, so I'll be in deep trouble when they'll find out. I hid my blouse, which was ripped and covered in blood and changed to go downstairs, to take the minutes again...

Well, it won't be a big surprise to you when I tell you that I was late again. Jenner didn't pay any attention to me, so I was lucky. He's different since I came back from London, or rather since the scratch he placed on my neck. He did apologize to me a few days after it happened. Which is ok, of course. But you know, there was something about the way he said it. It's getting even more weird, for he was particularly interested in my necklace. He wanted to know where I got it and who gave it to me. He wanted names. He had this scary look in his eyes, so I told him that it was given to me by Antoinette Jones. Gosh ,you should have seen the expression on his face after he heard that name! He looked as if he had seen a ghost! I asked him if he knew Mrs. Jones, but he shook his head and muttered something about reading it in the newspaper. Yeah, right... Oh well, anyway, he was attacking Nicodemus again. The Plan to go to Thorn Valley is almost final now. Some of us have already been there. I haven't. I'd like to see it, though... According to Justin it's a beautiful place. I believe him... He's been busy; I haven't seen much of Justin lately. I guess I miss him, even though we live in the same colony.

Anyway.... Jenner was spitting fire and didn't even notice Justin, Mr. Ages (who broke his leg yesterday!) and a visitor coming in. To my surprise I saw that the visitor was the mouse I helped that morning. Jenner was furious! He was shouting his head off that visitors weren't allowed inside the Rosebush etcetera but Justin kept really calm and made a fool out of Jenner. I couldn't help grinning. Suddenly Jenner turned at me and grabbed my chin firmly the way he always does when he knows he can't win a situation. Justin really got mad! I guess that's the moment that Mrs. Brisby (yes, that was the visitor, which I saved!!! Me, can you believe it? I saved the famous Mrs. Brisby! Jonathan's widow!!) recognized me. So, then she said that I saved her life that morning and that I got injured on my back and so on... I can assure you that Jenner wasn't very pleased with me. He started  shouting that I could have been seen and could have brought myself and the entire colony in jeopardy and so on and so on and so on....

Anyway, I'll get to the point. Mr. Ages told the Counsil that Mrs. Brisby needed help to move her house! The farmer had started to plough and her son Timothy is very ill. I really thought Jenner was going to lose it after hearing her request but instead he and Sullivan had a little chat. Unfortunately I wasn't able to overhear it because the entire Counsil was talking at once. After Jenner had spoken to Sullivan, who had a strange, not-understanding expression on his face, he welcomed Mrs. Brisby over-politely. He went completely down on his knees! I was surprised he wasn't drooling all over the poor mouse! He said that it would be an honor to help her. An honor!? Can you believe that! Yuk!  Mr. Ages seemed really puzzled. I was also amazed. Justin looked at me and gave me an ‘I've-got-to-have-a-word-with-you' look. Justin, Mr. Ages and Mrs. Brisby were ready to leave the meeting hall and I wanted to come along because Justin wanted to talk to me, when Jenner suddenly took me by my arm. He told me to never ever go outside without permission again. Again he had this strange look upon his face. Not an angry one... more a... worried one. Do you know what he did? He grounded me! Can you believe it? He grounded me for at least a month! I didn't want to waste any to listen to his nonsense so I went outside right behind Justin.  

I found Justin right outside the door. I was just about to tell Justin that Jenner had grounded me, but I didn't even get the chance! He was rather upset with me. Ever since we came back from London he's more... careful with me. He really wants to know every move I make and Nanny told me he had been looking for me all Friday while I was just in my room. That is so sweet and I really felt bad. I mean, I hurt Justin's feelings and I hadn't seen him that much anymore and my back was really sore... So I started crying like a lunatic. He immediately comforted me and held me with both arms. Now THAT was painful, so we both started laughing and then he suddenly gave me a small kiss! I mean, not on my cheek or forehead but on my lips!!! He started to blush and so did I, and then Mr. Ages came back to tell Justin he had to prepare the boats. Gosh, why... WHY does everybody interrupt us all the time! Well, anyway, I'm off now, I've promised to bring Nicodemus and Mrs. Brisby some tea....

It's been a weird morning and afternoon, but I haven't felt this good in a long time, in spite of the pain in my back...



Your Wendy Elisabeth Victoria Emma Kenmare....   


Wendy went to the kitchen to prepare the tea. Everybody was back to his or her work so the place was normally crowded. She found Nanny in the kitchen. She was preparing a huge pan of soup for dinner. She looked up at Wendy with a concerned expression on her face. ‘Are you alright my dear, did somebody check your back?' Wendy smiled at Nanny. ‘No Nan, nobody checked my back... but that's ok, I've never felt better in my entire life!.' She gave Nanny a wink.

‘Goodness grace, that scratch infected your brain, didn't it? Mr. Ages should have to take a look at that back of yours and he has to do it right now!'

‘Nanny! Justin just kissed me!' Wendy shouted.

‘He did WHAT!?' Nanny immediately stopped stirring the soup. ‘You're joking, aren't you?' Nanny paused for a second ‘You are not joking, are you!?' Wendy smiled and shook her head. ‘Why... how....' Nanny stumbled. Wendy smiled and told Nanny the entire story. While telling the story, she prepared the tea and when she was finished she kissed Nanny good-bye on her cheek and she rushed the tea up to Nicodemus' office.

Wendy knocked on the huge wooden door. She heard the nice soft voice of Nicodemus asking her to come in. ‘Wow, he must be the nicest person on the face of the earth!' Wendy thought while she softly opened the door and walked towards the huge chair where Nicodemus was seated. Mrs. Brisby was standing in front of the huge book, where Nicodemus used to write all kinds of things in, although Wendy had no idea what he wrote in it. She always assumed it was a diary, like hers, but she would never think of somebody reading in it.

Wendy presented the tea to Nicodemus, who nodded to her friendly, and Wendy was about to leave but Mrs. Brisby stopped her.

‘Em... Wendy isn't it?' Mrs. Brisby started carefully. ‘Yes, that's me.' Wendy answered.

‘I really hope I didn't cause any trouble by telling them you saved me' Mrs. Brisby continued.

‘Oh no Mrs. Brisby! Jenner and I... just... well, we don't get along that well. He was just glad that he had another excuse to GET me into trouble, but I don't really care that much about what the others think.' She gave Mrs. Brisby a smile to reassure her a bit.

Mrs. Brisby smiled. ‘Well, Wendy... I'm really glad I can properly thank you for saving my life this morning and for putting your own life at risk.'

‘Oh Mrs. Brisby, it was nothing. I'm sure you would have done the same thing.'

‘If there's anything I can do for you... please ask me.' Mrs. Brisby said.

‘You don't have to repay me or anything, I was just at the right place at the right time I suppose... But I ought to get going now, I have to stop by the library and it's my duty to help Nanny in the kitchen today.' Wendy smiled and gave Mrs. Brisby a wink as she left the office.

Wendy closed the wooden door and nearly bumped into Justin. ‘Hi!' He said. ‘Now we meet twice a day! Strange isn't it, I mean... we live in the same colony, but we rarely ‘bump' into each other.'

‘Yes, it is.' Wendy answered with a blush.

‘Well, I know the solution to that problem.' Justin smiled and gave her a wink. ‘When we move to Thorn Valley, I'll make sure that our rooms are next to each other! Then I could come around whenever I want to... to borrow a cup of sugar or something!' They both laughed for a moment. ‘Well, I'd better go inside. I've prepared the boats, so we can take Mrs. Brisby home. It's already quite late, she should be home in time for her children.'

‘Yes, she should... oh Justin... who's going to drug the cat now? Mr. Ages isn't able to run now his leg is broken!' Wendy wondered.

‘Yeah, that's a problem alright, but I'll think of something. I could get into the kitchen through the attic...I'll ask what Nicodemus thinks about it.' He paused for a moment. ‘Well, I suppose I'll see you around later?'

‘Yes, sure... I'll see you again tonight, could luck Justin.'

‘Thank you, it would be a pleasure to see you again tonight.' While he said these words he softly touched her chin. She thought she was going to faint right there... But then he opened the door and Wendy continued her way to the library.

As she passed Jenners room she heard voices. She stopped to hear who he was with. It was the voice of Sullivan. She carefully moved a bit closer without making a sound.

‘What did you mean in the Main Hall?' Sullivan asked.

‘I meant that this is our chance to get rid of Nicodemus, once and for all....' Jenner answered. ‘Moving a house like the Brisby home is a tricky organization, you see, it's a large cement block. An accident could happen.'

‘An accident?' Sullivan asked.

‘Nicodemus will be present when the house would be moved. The house would be moved through the air. If we cut the ropes, the weight of the block will crush his bones.'

‘What about Justin?' Sullivan asked.

‘Leave him to me....' Jenner said. Wendy heard enough. She made a quick dash back to Nicodemus' office, but everybody was already gone. She ran towards the boats as quickly as possible, but the boat was already gone as well. She was on her own, she had to save Nicodemus' life, she just had to.

Her mind drifted off to Jenner. ‘Why does he act the way he acting? Is it really just the Plan or is there more that's going on.' She started thinking the conversation over which she had with Jenner briefly after the scratch. ‘Why did he react on Jones's name that strongly? She didn't belief the newspaper-nonsense-story. He couldn't even READ back then! He HAD to have known her. According to Nicodemus, Jenner was also an Irish rat. Perhaps she is his mother after all! That must be it! I must be raised by Jenner's mother, YUK!' But the strangest part was the you-are-grounded-for-at-least-a-month-thing. Jenner has never grounded anyone, not has any other rat inside the colony, unless they were related! ‘Jenner must be losing his mind...' She shook her head and she started to prepare herself for the moving.

Chapter 18: Wendy's Mission

Wendy had to come up with a plan and she had to come up with one FAST. The Brisby home would be moved tonight and there was no-one who knew about Jenner's evil plan. Wendy knew Jenner was crazy and determent. He did everything in his power to get what he wanted. It was probably in a black rat's nature. Wendy could have come up with all kinds of things, like sabotage, but murder!? No, she'd never come up with that one. And yet, Jenner had planned to murder Nicodemus, AND Justin and who knows who more! He even tricked Sullivan into helping him! She didn't know Sullivan that well but she knew he wasn't at all evil. She knew for sure Sullivan had no chance to stand up to Jenner. ‘Gosh, perhaps Jenner even threatened Sullivan that he would kill him if he didn't cooperate! What would have happened if I had decided to be Jenner's Personal Assistant!' Wendy shook her head to get rid of these thoughts. ‘I have to stop him!' Wendy was walking back and forth in her room. Nicodemus and Justin will probably not return before dusk. Oh no! The cat has to be drugged as well! Justin won't return before it's completely dark! How could she have forgotten about that! Well then, she needed to look after Nicodemus first then. He'll be Jenner's first target. She knew that much.

‘Who can I trust? How can I be sure the rats are sincere towards Mrs. Brisby? Most rats wouldn't even think twice of helping a mouse! Those hypocrites are willing to help, but only because she's Jonathan's widow. Justin was different, he'd help no matter who he dealt with. So would Nanny and Arthur. Heck, I didn't even know she was Mrs. Jonathan Brisby and I saved her from the claws of Dragon as well! But how on earth can I be sure of the fact that rest of the rats are faithful to their leader!? Many rats agree that the time has come to choose a younger male. Nicodemus doesn't want to resign yet, but you'll have three guesses to who will be our next leader; Jenner! Brutus, can I trust Brutus? Oh I'm not sure... Mr. Ages! Yes, he can be trusted... oh wait, he's probably preparing the powder in his lab. It'll take him ages to get back with that broken leg of his and I'm not allowed to leave the colony any more, well not after today, that's for sure. No Wendy, you have to solve this on your own.'

Wendy took a pen and paper and started writing down what Jenner's was up to. ‘If I'll get killed, at least Justin will know what Jenner has been up to.'


Dear Justin,


I'm writing this letter before the moving. It all ended up in chaos, I know that, and I also know who caused it! It's Jenner, yeah and Sullivan as well. I over-heard their conversation after you, Mrs. Brisby and Nicodemus left. They were planning to cut the ropes of the construction that held the Brisby home so it would fall on Nicodemus and kill him. I wasn't able to tell you this in person because you were already gone, so I tried everything in my power to prevent this. By the time you'll read this note I'll be dead. But I'm proud that I had the honor to give my life for our leader. Oh and Justin, be careful... Jenner is  after you as well.



Love you very much,


Wendy Elisabeth Victoria Emma Kenmare.


She took the note to Justin's room and put it on his desk. His desk was one big mess. She had forgotten how much he hated cleaning up. When Wendy turned to leave Justin's room she hesitated. She turned back into the room and closed the door. ‘I'll never see you back again, I'm sure this is my final day and you won't return until it's too late for me. At least you've kissed me... I'll never be able to tell you how much I love you and how long I've been in love with you. I'll never be able to kiss you again and I'll never be able to know how you feel about me...' Then she shook her head. ‘No, no way. I'm not going to die, not today, I HAVE to tell you how I feel about you, I won't die before you know it.'

She walked back to the desk and took the note in her hand. She looked at the note and tore it apart. She threw the note away and walked out of Justin's room with her nose in the air. ‘We'll all be fine Justin, you can count on me!'

She went back into her room. ‘Ok, let's get rid of this dress. This one disables me to run fast, so I'll have to change.' She opened her closet and found another dress.

‘Yes, this one is perfect. And it's dark brown, so it won't attract a lot of attention. I bet women aren't allowed to go anywhere near the construction. Especially not grounded women. I'll have to act very carefully. They can't catch me before I've saved Nicodemus.'

She changed and sat down on her bed. ‘I'll have to wait until it's dark. Gosh, I don't even have a plan! Well, I guess I'll just have to improvise when it's the moment of truth.'


In the meantime Justin, Nicodemus and Mrs. Brisby came to shore. Mrs. Brisby had been asking about the Plan in the boat and by now she understood that the rats wanted to live without stealing. She learned that the rats were too intelligent to stay rats. They had to start over somewhere else, in some place they call Thorn Valley. A place without a farmer next door to provide for all the things the rats had gotten used to. Not only things like food to survive, but luxury stuff the rats didn't actually need. She also understood that drugging the cat would be a huge problem without Mr. Ages climbing through the tiny hole in the kitchen floor. Mrs. Brisby never knew of such hole, but she suddenly had this brilliant idea, that she would take over Mr. Ages' dangerous job.

Justin said it was a bad plan. He told Mrs. Brisby there was no way he was going to allow her to drug the cat. Nicodemus didn't say a word. Mrs. Brisby decided to ask him instead. Nicodemus answered that she had to do it if she really wanted to. Justin agreed, but wasn't completely behind the plan. He agreed to meet Mrs. Brisby on the Westside of farm, at dusk.


He did as he promised. He met Mrs. Brisby at the Westside of the farm. He didn't speak much, he was clearly more nervous than she was about the idea of her doing the job. And although he spend the entire late afternoon thinking of an other option, he had to admit this was the best and only solution to drug the cat. He looked at Mrs. Brisby and wondered if she knew where she got herself into. It was a crazy, idiotic mission, but it had to be done. Dragon had to be in a deep sleep while they would move the Brisby home. Justin had no idea there was an even bigger danger than the cat. This danger was as alert as he ever would be and was ready to attack, and there was nothing and no-one who could stop him.

‘Mrs. Brisby, here's the powder... are you nervous?' Justin asked.

‘Yes, very nervous.' She answered. ‘Well, don't be, it won't be long now, ssst listen... Mrs. Fitzgibbon is filling Dragon's bowl. Get ready.' Justin quickly said.

‘Oh my, I don't think I can do this.'

‘Yes you can, now take a deep breath, concentrate on the bowl, steady... now, NOW!'

Mrs. Brisby made a dash towards the cat's bowl. She threw the powder in it and ran back. But, oh no! Billy caught the running mice! Billy asked his mother to keep it. His mother agreed that the mouse could stay in Porky's old birdcage.

There was nothing Justin could do to get Mrs. Brisby out of the farm, away from the farmers. He had to wait until the entire family was asleep. But now he had to rush back to the stone in the garden patch, where the moving would take place.


Wendy also rushed there. She was on a mission and she couldn't afford making mistakes.

She looked around, seeing if she could spot Nicodemus anywhere. She found him, standing on a small rock, right in the middle of the construction. The next thing she had to do was look around where the ‘block' (as it was mainly referred to because of it's concrete composition) headed. She spotted the block and saw that it was heading right towards where Nicodemus was standing. She was already afraid of that. Now she had to find Jenner. She looked around, but she wasn't able to see him anywhere. ‘Where is he? Did he finally realize this plan of his was stupid? Gosh I hope so... but I can't take any chances, I have to get Nicodemus away from that rock!'


But Jenner was there. He and Sullivan were standing on a spot where they could see everything, but couldn't be seen. They both held a long knife and were ready to attack even though Sullivan was having second thoughts. ‘Jenner... I can't do it' Sullivan stumbled.

But Jenner didn't listen and stared at the block which was reaching closer and closer above the place where Nicodemus was standing.

‘When the block reaches midway you cut the lines!' He said and suddenly he jumped at Sullivan who had put the knife down. He took his knife and put it at Sullivan's throat. ‘Don't get any ideas my friend, you're in this up to your neck.'

Wendy Elisabeth rushed to the Nicodemus' rock. ‘Nicodemus! I need to speak with you! It's very important.'

‘Wendy, my child, I hope it's nothing serious.' Nicodemus replied.

‘Well, actually it is, but.. can we please step away from that stone, I'd like to talk to you over there...' Suddenly a loud cracking noise was heard right above Wendy's head. It struck Wendy that Jenner had cut the ropes. She gave Nicodemus an enormous push so that he fell forward. A piece of rope hit Wendy's head very hard. Then everything went black.

Chapter 19: The Amulet

Mrs. Brisby looked around to see if there was a way out of the birdcage. The birdcage she was captured in was hanging on the ceiling which one day had belonged to a bird named Porky. Billy wanted to keep Mrs. Brisby as a pet-mouse for nobody knows how long! Mrs. Brisby hoped Justin had stayed long enough to hear that she was caught and that he'd come back to get her out! The moving had probably already started. Her children must be terrified! Mrs. Brisby started to panic. What if Justin didn't know she was caught, what if the children needed her? She thought about the conversation she had with Nicodemus and the amulet she was given. It was a red, round stone. She received the amulet because of her courage, and now look at her... she was terrified! She didn't deserve it! The amulet had a special powers. Nicodemus didn't tell her what the amulet was capable of, but it had to be something incredible. But the amulet was no use right now. It was hanging somewhere under the kitchen floor, carefully put there by Justin. The Fitzgibbon family was already sound asleep. So was Dragon, so it seemed that the powder had done it's job.

Suddenly there was a sound. A ringing sound. Mrs. Brisby never heard a thing like that before. The farmer came downstairs, muttering some words Mrs. Brisby wasn't able to hear. He started talking into a white thing he picked up from another white thing. Mrs. Brisby carefully listened to what the farmer told the white thing. The words spoken by the farmer were rather disturbing. She could clearly hear he was talking about the rats and about the fact that he wanted the Rosebush to be exterminated. Did she hear the word NIMH? Yes, she clearly heard the word NIMH! She had to get out and warn the rats. She started running around in her cage hoping to find a weak spot. Then she suddenly saw her way out! The drinking bowl! She jumped into the drinking bowl and tried to squeeze herself through the small opening, but the opening was even too small for her! She got out of the drinking bowl again and took a run to jump against the bowl. It moved a bit, and she tried to get through again. This time she was able to squeeze herself through the small opening and she was outside. But she forgot a minor detail...The birdcage was hanging more than three feet above the floor! Well, she concurred her fear of heights before by flying on Jeremy's back. She had to concur her fear then and she definitely had to concur it now! She owed it to Nicodemus, Justin and to Wendy, who saved her life from the cat earlier. She spotted a woolen something on the floor of the birdcage. There was a lose thread hanging just out of it. Mrs. Brisby pulled the thread and decided that this was her way downstairs. She closed her eyes and jumped with the thread tightly held in her hands. She hit the floor hard in spite of the thread and made a sliding in Dragons direction. She made a painful bump into Dragon's fat cheek, shook her head and ran off as fast as she could, hoping Dragon wouldn't be fast enough to follow her. Right before she wanted to jump into the hole under the kitchen's floor, she looked over her shoulder to see where the cat was. Dragon was still sound asleep. She just couldn't believe it! That stuff is really strong! But that was not important right now, she had to inform the rats about NIMH.


In the meantime Justin made his way through the chaos that was caused by the sudden material failure. Nicodemus came out just fine, but he was very worried about Wendy,

who pushed Nicodemus away from the scene. What the hell was she doing outside? His heart was beating like crazy, his neck fur raised and he wasn't at all paying attention to fallen wood and ropes, so sometimes he stumbled and got scratched a couple of times. Suddenly he stopped. He was catching his breath and started shaking his head: he found Wendy.


Mrs. Brisby ran across the barnyard to where her house was. She didn't have to worry about the cat, so she was able to run free. When she made it to her destination, she froze. She saw her house and all the chaos around it. The construction had collapsed.


Justin looked at Wendy. She was lying on her side, looking asleep. He started moving in her direction... slowly. He was afraid of what he might see. He was relieved to see she was still breathing. ‘Wendy! Come on... wake up!'

He gently pulled Wendy onto her back. He saw a huge head injury, right on the spot where her head hit a rock. As he wanted to touch her head he softly pulled his right hand away from her neck, where he had hold her. To his astonishment he saw his hand was covered in blood. He started to panic as he saw this huge amount warm, dark-red fluid. ‘Justin, where are you?'

Mr. Ages' voice sounded near, but Justin was numb. ‘She... she's bleeding badly.' He stumbled. Mr. Ages immediately started to examine the injury in Wendy's neck. ‘Justin, I need more light hear. I'm not able to see where it is exactly coming from, there's too much blood!'


Suddenly Wendy started to moan softly. She was waking up. ‘Wendy! Oh, thank goodness! Can you hear me? Everything will be just fine... I promise.' Justin said.

‘Jus... Justin... Jenner... he wanted to...'

‘Hush, Wendy, you should spare your energy.' Justin interrupted.

‘Jenner... he wanted to kill... Nicodemus. He... and Sullivan.' She whispered and those were the last words she spoke. She died in Justin's arms.


Outside, Mrs. Brisby was trying to convince Jenner that NIMH was coming to destroy the Rosebush. ‘You must believe me!' She shouted, but it only aroused Jenner's anger. ‘She's a liar! Get out of my way! You will not interfere with my plan!'


Justin stepped out of the chaos, all covered in blood. Wendy's blood. He wanted to stay longer with Wendy, God he wanted to stay with her all his life! He was so stupid! He didn't even tell her how much he loved her and that he wanted her, and only her, to become his wife... and now she was dead. But he wasn't able to cry... not yet. He was far too furious. Jenner was the one who killed Wendy, and he had to pay for it. As he walked along the ruined construction he saw Mrs. Brisby. For a moment he was glad to see her free again but his happiness disappeared as soon as he saw Jenner. Something was going on. Mrs. Brisby was running for Jenner. And what was that shining thing he's holding. Justin gasped: it was a sword!

He looked around him to find some sort of weapon, but the only thing he could find was a wooden stick. He took the stick and ran in Jenner's direction. ‘Jenner stop this!' He shouted, but Jenner had already seen the shining amulet. Jenner raised his sword and injured Justin's left arm. Then he jumped on top of Mrs. Brisby to get the amulet he wanted to have ever since he laid his eyes on it. He always knew Nicodemus kept it somewhere, but he never knew where. He got furious when he saw the mouse wearing it, she didn't deserve it. She wasn't even one of them!

Suddenly Jenner was caught by a surprise. He felt a painful punch in his right side which pulled him off of the mouse. It made him disorientated for a moment, but he quickly found out that Justin kicked him. To his anger he saw that Sullivan threw his sword to Justin. Jenner got up and made a dash towards Sullivan. He lunged his sword into Sullivan's body and injured him badly. Sullivan fell on the ground, his face in a grimace of pain.

Justin had a sword now, and was determined to revenge Wendy's death.

Jenner made a dash towards Justin and the duel began. The fight was intense and merciless.  The sound of clinging swords echoed through the night. Suddenly there was a pause. ‘You did it. You destroyed the construction, admit it!' Justin asked, still catching his breath.

‘Yes, I did it, but without the result I wanted to have. Nicodemus had to die.' Jenner replied casually.

‘Instead you killed Wendy, and that was quite convenient, too, wasn't it!'

‘Wendy's... dead?' Jenner stumbled and he lowered his sword. ‘Yes, you killed her.' Justin said and he lowered his sword as well. ‘No, no... she can't be! She can't be dead! Not again, not now!' Jenner shouted. ‘Jenner! What the hell is wrong with you? You never cared about her! So why are you....'

‘I'm her father! I am her father!' Jenner shouted. ‘I want to see her! I want to hold her!'

‘No way you freak! You won't get anywhere near her! You are the one who killed her! YOU ARE HER MURDERER! I will do anything in my power to stop you from seeing her!' Justin yelled back but then he froze; like Jenner's words finally sank in.

‘You... are you her father?'

‘Yes, I am her father. Her mother and I were in love with each other ever since I set foot in their palace. But she was already engaged to the much older William. We met secretly outside the palace and one day Victoria told me that she was expecting a baby. I was so happy when I found out. I knew that Victoria finally had a reason to leave William to have a life with me! Instead she told me to stay away from her and the baby and that she choose William. They married and I was fired. I did receive a picture with the entire happy family Kenmare when my little girl was born. I was so angry and heartbroken that I decided to burn the palace down. When I reached my daughters' room I found out that she wasn't there. I thought I burned her along with the rest. I thought I lost her forever. When I saw Wendy's necklace and heard the name ‘Antoinette Jones' I knew enough; Wendy is my daughter. Antoinette must have reached her room sooner than I did.'

‘And now you killed her ‘again', this time for real.' Justin said.

‘But I never meant for this to happen!'

‘You didn't mean for what to happen? For the block to fall down after you got the ropes or that Wendy died? Even if she didn't die, you would have killed Nicodemus!'

‘I wanted to kill Nicodemus, to destroy him! It should have been him!'

‘Well, your daughter didn't share that opinion, now did she?' Justin replied and he took his chance by pushing his sword deeply into Jenner's stomach. First he screamed of anger and pain, then he started to laugh. ‘It's a beautiful day to die, isn't it? It doesn't matter to me anymore, so finish it, coward!'

Then Justin pulled his sword out of Jenner's stomach, and threw it away. ‘No, I want you to suffer.' He said, and he left Jenner, Wendy's father, to die alone.


He walked back to where Nicodemus and Mrs. Brisby were standing. Mrs. Brisby had already told Nicodemus about NIMH. He looked sad, very sad and he looked much more older than he normally did. Mrs. Brisby had been crying when she learned about the fact that Wendy had been killed.

‘Justin, I'm so sorry about Wendy.' Nicodemus said, and he placed his hand on Justin's shoulder. ‘I am too.' Justin said, and he suddenly felt defeated, sad and empty. He felt tears rolling over his cheeks; he was finally able to cry. When he stopped crying, because there were no more tears left to cry, Nicodemus took him for a small walk. ‘Justin, the time has come. I know this going to be hard, but I've decided to retire. I want you to be the Leader of the Rats of NIMH.'

‘No, Nicodemus, I can't do that! Not now, not without...'

‘Yes, you can. You have shown great courage today. The rats need a leader who is young and strong. And that is you, my son.'

He looked up to the sky and said: ‘It's time to inform the rats about the moving. We'll be moving tonight. We'll take Wendy with us, to bury her.' Justin took a deep breath and said:

‘You can count on me, Sir... I'll lead the Rats of NIMH to safety.'

Then Justin walked up to the place where the rats gathered to say their farewells to their new heroine, Wendy Elisabeth.

‘Friends, we are leaving tonight. We'll take Wendy with us to Thorn Valley. The others will stay here. We'll take their clothes with us, so no tracks will be left...come...'

‘Justin! Behind you!' Mrs. Brisby shouted.

Justin turned around as quickly as he could and looked right into Jenner's evil face. He raised his sword as high as he could and the enormous amount of hate in his eyes made Justin freeze at the spot where he was standing. Suddenly Jenner screamed a horrifying  scream and fell to the ground below, right before Justin's feet. There was a small knife sticking out of his back. ‘Sullivan.' Justin whispered, and he started running to the place where he last saw Sullivan. He found Sullivan. He was bleeding heavily and whispered: ‘I'm sorry, Justin.' Then he died.

Justin didn't know what to feel right now. Was he sad about Sullivan's death, or was he relieved. He didn't know. The only thing he knew was that he missed Wendy and couldn't believe he lost her. Losing Wendy kind of felt like an amputation. A part of him was...gone. Suddenly he saw Nanny sitting on a rock. Her head was buried in her skirt. Justin was glad to see her. For some reason he always felt good to see Nanny. He kind of saw her as his second mother. It comforted him. ‘Nanny... I'm so sorry.' He softly said. Nanny raised her head and got up to give Justin a long, warm hug. ‘Oh Justin! I miss her so much!'

‘I miss her, too. Oh, Nanny... I don't think I can live without her!' Justin said and he started to cry again. ‘Yes, you can... look at me! You'll do fine, you're not on your own. It will take a long time before we can accept the fact that she's... no longer here, but we'll be fine.'


In the meantime, Mrs. Brisby walked up to the block. She just couldn't believe all the things that happened that night. The capture, Wendy's death, the fight, the block... ‘Hello, is anybody out there?' The voice came from within the block. It was the voice of Martin! Her children were alright! But what was that noise? The block... it moved... it started sinking!

‘Justin... JUSTIN! The block, it's sinking!' Justin didn't hesitate and jumped off of the rock. He ran towards the place where the block stranded. The block was indeed sinking into the mud. Justin grabbed a couple of ropes and jumped on top of the block where Mrs. Brisby was already standing. He tightened one of the ropes onto an iron ring which was attached to the roof and threw the other end of the rope to Brutus, who attached the rope around a solid rock. Then Justin jumped off the block and started helping the other rats. Mrs. Brisby was still on top of the block and she tried helping the rats as good as possible. Suddenly the rope that Justin attached snapped and Mrs. Brisby fell back on the roof. Then the block started sinking very quickly and she sank with it. Justin was desperate and tried to look for her in the dark mud. All of a sudden there was a noise and Mrs. Brisby flew out of the mud. It was the amulet that pulled her out. Justin grabbed her and pulled her towards the safe side. Mrs. Brisby wanted to go back. Life without her children was not worth living. Suddenly the amulet came out of the mud and flew in Mrs. Brisby's direction. She touched the amulet which burned her hands but she held on to it. Then she touched the snapped rope and it started to turn red. But that was not all that turned red, the place where the block sunk turned red as well. A few explosions followed and the block came back up! The power of the amulet brought the block to the place where it originally should have been brought and placed it there safely. The amulet started glowing again and flew away to the place where Wendy died. Justin immediately followed the amulet. Mrs. Brisby, Mr. Ages and all other rats followed Justin to the place where the red glow came from. The amulet was resting on Wendy's chest. It was still glowing but now it was changing all the time. Sometimes it was glowing intensely, sometimes it looked like it wasn't glowing at all. The on and off glowing occurred as a beating heart. Suddenly the glowing stopped and the amulet flew back to Mrs. Brisby. Justin walked towards Wendy. Was he dreaming or did he really see her chest moving? She was breathing! He immediately fell on his knees next to her. ‘Wendy, can you hear me?' Justin whispered closely to her ear. She moaned a bit and opened her eyes. ‘Justin... you look... awful.' She softly said and closed her eyes again. ‘Oh my head.' She complained.

‘Oh Wendy! I cannot believe it! You're okay!' Justin said and he kissed her forehead.

‘Ouch! Well, okay is a big word.' Wendy said while she touched her head. She opened her eyes again. ‘Why are all those rats here? Then she tried to get up but Justin stopped her. ‘Hey, what do you think you're doing! You were dea... death seriously injured! You should rest.'

Mr. Ages came to see Wendy. ‘This is a medical mystery!' He said.

‘Is he talking about me?' Wendy asked.

‘Can we move her?' Justin asked. But Mr. Ages shook his head. ‘I'm afraid we can't move her.' He looked at Wendy's eyes. ‘She has a heavy concussion, so she'll need to rest for three weeks.'

‘Three weeks! May I have a word with you Mr. Ages.' Justin said, and he took the old medicine mouse to a place where Wendy couldn't hear them. ‘We HAVE to move tonight! You heard Mrs. Brisby! We can move her in a stable...'

‘No way, Justin. We need to come up with another plan. She's not able to travel in any kind of way! She died just a few hours ago, remember?'

‘Excuse me, may I interrupt?' Mrs Brisby asked and she came closer.

‘Wendy saved my life this morning and I didn't do anything in return, yet. She's more than welcome in my home.'

‘Do you mean that?' Justin asked and he smiled at Mrs. Brisby. ‘That's great! I'll personally pick her up in about two weeks!' Justin said.

‘Three weeks.' Mr. Ages corrected.

‘Okay, okay... three weeks.' Justin said, and he ran towards the place where Wendy was.

All the rats were happy and wanted to celebrate the fact that their new heroine was alive again, although nobody understood HOW that miracle could have happened. Justin ordered everybody to get packed and celebrate later, so all the rats ran into the Rosebush again to get their things.

‘Wendy, you're going to stay at Mrs. Brisby's home for a couple of weeks and then I'll pick you up myself.'

‘Why? I'm fine... why is everybody so happy to see me? I really don't get it.'

‘It's... a long story, Wendy. I won't bother you with that just now. Mrs. Brisby will tell you all about it when you're... better.'

‘Okay...I guess. Well, don't forget to take my things to Thorn Valley.'

Justin started to laugh. ‘I guess Nanny knows exactly what to take along.'


Brutus volunteered on carrying Wendy to the Brisby home, but soon came to the conclusion that he was never going to fit into the house. Instead, Philip and Justin carried Wendy, as stable as they could, further into the house She was brought to the same room where Timothy was. Timmy was up and very curious about the lady-rat who was brought into his room. The other children were, too, although they were still in shock of what all had happened that evening. Mrs. Brisby ordered them to get out of the room. Philip also left the room but Justin decided to stay a little longer. Mr. Ages came into the room with some clean bandages. ‘Shall I put a bandage around your arm, Justin?' Mr. Ages asked.

Justin shook his head. ‘No, I'm fine, I never felt better in my entire life.'

‘Your arm? What's wrong with your arm?' Wendy asked.

‘Nothing is wrong with my arm. It's a laugh compared to your injuries.'

‘Promise me you'll fill me in about Thorn Valley when you come to get me. Don't tease me with tickling creatures.' She started to laugh a bit, but immediately grabbed her head again.

‘Take it easy! Yes, I will, I promise.'

‘I bet Jenner isn't happy about moving...speaking of moving! Where's Nicodemus! Is he okay?'

‘Nicodemus is fine thanks to you! You saved his life! And don't worry about Jenner anymore. He's gone, he won‘t cause any more troubles.' Justin said, and he thought about his conversation with Jenner. He was her father! She lived with her father for over ten years without even knowing it! She hated Jenner, oh God, how would she react if she found out that that monster was her father? She is never to find out, never!

‘Justin! We have to leave now! I can see the sun coming up!' Somebody shouted from outside. ‘I must go... you take care of yourself, Wendy... I'll come to pick you up in three weeks, okay?' Justin said and he gave her a small kiss on her lips.

‘I'll be looking forward to it... be careful, Justin.' Wendy softly whispered and Justin smiled. He bended over to give her a final, more intense kiss.

Then he got up, bumped his head and went outside. He thanked Mrs. Brisby at least one hundred times. Mrs. Brisby thanked him by giving the amulet. Then the rats left the Fitzgibbon farm, and the long journey to Thorn Valley began.

Chapter 20: A Very Bad Start

Darkness surrounded a dark silhouette on the cold muddy soil. Raindrops were falling down on naked black fur... The fur had stopped bleeding for a while. It was deserted, but not at all alone. Quick, unknown feet shuffled near the black, dead fur. Then suddenly, the feet kneeled and a small hand touched the lifeless fur. The feet and hand belonged to a strange bare rat, a barn rat. The small rat suddenly screamed in great terror: the fur moaned.


Justin's arm started to hurt. Mr. Ages stayed with Wendy, just in case, so there was no potion to get rid of the stinging pain. Not only his arm was painful, his entire body ached. He was covered in scratches and there were pieces of metal in his right hand, probably caused by the rough knife he held on so strongly during the fight. But he didn't care. He didn't even care about the cold raindrops. Jenner was dead, Nicodemus still alive and Wendy wasn't only alive but she was a hero as well! No-one will ever find out what happened during the fight last night. Things will be so different when she gets home... home, yeah home. Justin suddenly felt the spring in his heart. ‘I'll ask her to marry me when I take her home!' He thought to himself and a huge smile grew on his face. The farm was already out of sight and the rats were moving towards the woods. The woods could be dangerous, especially with this large company. He had to be alert, their lives were in his hands... that was a scary thought, but an exciting thought as well. Adrenaline was rushing through his body, it made him forget how tired he really was. There were many strange noises in the forest and it was pitch-black because of the thickness of the trees. Justin asked Nanny and Arthur if they wanted to keep the group together by constantly asking if somebody missed another. In spite of his age, Nicodemus was able to keep up with the young rats perfectly, in fact, he was walking at Justin's left side. ‘I'm proud of you, my son.'

‘Why did you choose me to be the next leader, Nicodemus, I'm much younger than...'

‘Yes, you are younger than other first generation rats, in fact, you are the youngest, and you are a lot smaller and more fragile-looking than most first generation rats, but you have courage, a good heart and you are the most clever rat I've ever met. You are the one who figured the way out of NIMH back than.' Nicodemus said and he placed his hand on Justin's shoulder. Justin smiled and his heart filled with intense happiness. ‘Nicodemus, I'll ask Wendy Elisabeth to marry me when I bring her home.' 

After hearing these words Justin felt a soft squeeze in his shoulder. ‘You'll make a handsome couple.' Nicodemus answered, but his words didn't describe the warm happy feeling that rushed through his old body, and a small tear shined in his good right eye. He lost his left eye during a fight, which made him half-blind. But that didn't matter, he didn't even need his eyes. He was able to see far more than any other rat could ever see. Suddenly he felt a cold shiver. He felt a shiver he never felt before, not even while staying at NIMH. This was a feeling of intense fear. He immediately thought about Wendy, and he closed his eyes. No, it wasn't Wendy, she was sound asleep. It was something else...


Wendy woke up after a short sleep and tried to open her eyes again. Her head felt better now, probably because of the darkness. She was able to see a small light somewhere to her right. Turning her head was impossible. Her neck was very painful, though not as painful as her head. She pulled her arm from under the cloth and she tried to focus on her fingers. After seeing twelve fingers on one hand she decided to close her eyes again. ‘Three weeks... I'll be better in three weeks. Justin will return... Justin...I really love you.' Then she fell asleep again. She started to dream... a restless dream. She saw a black, furious rat who swore revenge... She woke up sweating and panting for breath... She felt sick.'


The next morning Justin didn't feel at all as wonderful as he did the night before. He was very tired and sore and all he wanted to do was sleep. He missed Wendy. He missed the fact that she would curse the bad weather and the fact that her dress got all dirty because of the mud. She'd complain about being tired and she'd constantly ask when they'd arrive to their destination. But she didn't. Her part was taken over by fifty-five other women and by the time the sun chased the rain away, Justin decided to take a break. Brutus and Philip agreed to stand guard while Justin and the other rats rested. Gosh, he needed sleep. He never felt more tired in his entire life. He sat down on a flat rock and checked his arm and hand. His hand started to infect and his skin was hot. So was his head. He was running a fever.


Wendy woke up with a splitting headache. She had a terrible night in which she was haunted by nightmares. ‘Good morning, Wendy!' Mrs. Brisby stepped into the room with a pot of hot tea in her bandaged hands. She had burned them while she was holding the burning Amulet last night. ‘Would you like some tea?' 

‘Well, I haven't slept that much at all last night. But I'd love some tea.'

‘Mr. Ages will come by to check on you. If you're okay he'll also go to Thorn Valley. He's a bit concerned about Justin's arm.'

‘Justin's... oh yeah, he mentioned something like that yesterday, or was it today... I don't remember, anyway, what exactly happened to his arm?'

‘He and Jenner got into a fight last night. Jenner is dead.'

‘Jenner's dead? Did they check that?'

‘I don't... know... you see, the block started to sink and...'

‘So, they didn't check! I had nightmares about Jenner! He is alive!'

‘Wendy, please slow down, you're still very weak. Jenner couldn't have survived his injuries and they even took off his clothes. He's dead alright. Please, don't worry about that, okay?'

 Mrs. Brisby poured some tea for Wendy when there suddenly was a stumbling sound.

‘Oh... all this rubbish! What on earth have those brutes done to your garden! And what about all that mud in your living room!'

When the voice entered the bedroom, it stopped talking and started screaming instead. ‘Brisby! What's that rat doing in your bedroom!'

‘Aunty Shrew! Please keep your voice down! The children are still asleep and Wendy has a heavy concussion.'

‘Wendy? Such beautiful name for such an ugly creature!' The shrew shouted.

‘Hey, watch your language!' Wendy shouted back, but she quickly grabbed her aching head.

‘Wendy, please! You're not allowed to sit up!' Mrs. Brisby shouted and gently pushed the much larger female into the soft pillows.

‘Well, I guess she won't form a danger to you and your children yet, but what if she'll get better! What would Jonathan think about this!' The shrew said while shaking her head.

‘Jonathan would have welcomed her as much as I do, in fact, he'd welcome their entire colony if the house was big enough! She has saved my life, and she's not going anywhere.'

‘Well, I won't stay here to see you being eaten by THAT, I'll go.' Aunty Shrew said and she quickly put her coat on.


In the meantime Justin woke up because of his arm. He tried to sit up, but he felt weird in his head, and he fell back right onto his injured arm. ‘Ouch! Darn it!'

He tried again and succeeded this time, but his cheeks were glowing and he couldn't really focus on something. His fever was worse. He removed the muddy bandage from his arm and saw that the injury was red and thick. It was infected, just like his hand. He was thirsty but he smelled water nearby so he got up and moved away from the group to find the water he smelled. He was right, or rather, his nose was right. There was a crystal clear lake nearby. He took off his dirty clothes, covered with mud and Wendy's blood, and walked into the water. It was cold but it made him feel better immediately. Now for the hard part. He had to re-open the injury in his arm to make sure the dirt would be washed out. He swam back to the shore and grabbed his small knife. ‘Well, here goes...' He took the knife and slid it through the closed injury. Blood and dirt came out of his wound and he sat down in the water. The opening made the pressure disappear so the pain was immediately eased. He sat back, closed his eyes and he whispered Wendy's name.

‘Justin? Are you okay?' Nanny asked, and she picked up Justin's dirty clothes and inspected them with a dirty look on her face.

‘Yes, I'm much better ... I guess my injuries got infected, but most of the dirt is washed out by now, I'll be fine.' Justin said and he smiled.

‘Where's your bag, Justin... you'll need clean clothes.'

But Justin shook his head, ‘No way, Wendy's blood is on it, that way she'll be with me a bit.'

Nanny shook her head but smiled, ‘You must really be fond of her.'

‘No Nanny, I'm not at all fond of her, I love her... I LOVE WENDY ELISABETH!!!' Justin screamed and he jumped out of the water and hugged Nanny firmly. ‘Oh...'re wet and... naked, but that's wonderful news!!'

Nanny shouted, but Justin didn't hear her. He took his dirty clothes from the ground and put them on and he walked back to the group while whistling a happy tune.


Wendy Elisabeth finished her tea and wondered if the shrew was like that all the time. She knew shrews had a temper, she thought that was okay, but she didn't at all approve the name-calling. She wasn't raised like that, even though that was about the only thing she was taught back in London. But all that was behind her. Mrs. Brisby's ordered her children to leave Wendy Elisabeth alone, at least until she was doing better and most of the dizziness was gone. Wendy decided she wanted to meet the children, especially Timothy, mainly because he was doing so well again today.

‘Wendy, Mr. Ages is here, he'd like to examine you.' Mrs. Brisby said in a small voice.

‘Okay, but you'll have to promise me that you'll introduce me to your children once he's ready.' Wendy said and she smiled.

Mrs. Brisby agreed and Mr. Ages moved over to take a look at Wendy's head and neck.

‘Mr. Ages, how's Justin? I mean, I heard he was injured, but how badly was he injured?'

‘Not too bad, Wendy... his arm got scratched by Jenner's knife, but it wasn't that deep. I do fear that his arm will become infected. He didn't want me to take a look at it.'

‘He didn't? Gosh, he's stubborn!'

‘Well, he had other things on his mind. You, for example.'

‘Me? How come?' Wendy asked.

‘Well, you kind of... died in his arms.'

‘Mr. Ages! Death is not the kind of subject to joke about!'

‘It's not a joke at all! Wendy you died! You were dead! I checked your pulse! There was nothing there! The amulet brought you back to life!'

Wendy shook her head. ‘The amulet brought me back to life? Yeah right. That thing doesn't have magical powers!'

‘Well I... I wouldn't have believed it if I didn't see it with my own eyes.'

‘I really don't understand...'

‘Well, I wouldn't worry about it too much, Wendy, you've gotten a second chance, and you made Justin a very happy boy eh... man.'

‘Justin...' Wendy whispered and intense happiness filled her heart.

‘Yes, I've never seen him more happy, and I know him for a long time.' Mr. Ages said and he gave Wendy a new bandage. ‘I wanted to get packed and leave for Thorn Valley myself, but I decided that I'd stay a bit longer to take care of you. Don't worry, you are going to be fine but you'll need rest, the sooner Justin can pick you up. That boy always amazes me, he is determent to pick you up himself, even with all the hard work he'll have to attend to.'

‘Yes, I guess there's a lot of work to be done to build all the houses and such.' Wendy said.

‘Oh, that's right! You probably don't even know! Justin is the new leader of the rats of NIMH!'


Justin felt a lot better after washing most of the dirt out but his fever wasn't completely gone yet, his hand was also still painful, but turned out to be a bit slimmer. Justin decided to move on to Thorn Valley, they still had a long way to go.

The group gathered and they continued the journey to their destination. The rest of the day was nice, the weather was great and the group optimistic. The rats were in a celebrating mood. They were singing and the group made a lot of progress that day. They sat down to rest and eat and Justin over-looked the group. Pride filled his heart. There have been moments in his time among the rats of NIMH that he wanted to be alone, all alone, but now... now he was their leader, those were HIS rats, and one of them, the most beautiful one... was going to be his wife, well... if she said ‘yes' to his proposal, of course.


‘Justin... the leader of the rats of NIMH... wow... I hope he won't completely forget about me once he is all busy and such.' She took a deep breath and settled herself in the pillows. She met Mrs. Brisby's children and they were really nice. They weren't at all afraid of her. Her thoughts drifted off to Justin again. ‘He'll be the leader... he IS the new leader. He'll change... and he'll see me as ‘one of them', I won't be special anymore.' Wendy felt like crying, so she did.


The group passed a huge waterfall. A soft breeze blew water drops away from the waterfall. Justin enjoyed the cool water on his fur. His fever was raising again. He thought about Wendy. He knew that he would ask her to marry him at this spot. She'll love it here... But wouldn't she see him differently now he's the leader of the rats. What if she doesn't want to marry him because of his leadership? He shook those thoughts away and moved on.

‘Come on, we'll have to climb a few rocks and then we'll be almost there. Justin looked up at the rocks. Thorn Valley was lying right behind them. The rocks weren't steep, but for some reason Justin wasn't able to focus anymore. He started to feel dizzy. ‘Brutus, could you show them how to climb?' Justin asked the largest rat of the colony. Brutus hesitated a bit but he climbed the rocks anyway. The other rats followed Brutus's example. Justin's forehead was even more hot than it was the day before and he started sweating. A while later all the rats were on top of the rocks except for Justin. It was his turn now. Justin looked up and grabbed a steady piece of rock. The rats were looking down to see what was taking Justin so long to get up. Normally he didn't have any trouble with whatever kind obstacle. He looked up to the rats, but all he saw was a blur. The fever took over his body and mind and he passed out.

Chapter 21: The Nightmare

Thorn Valley is a paradise. It's a national reserve, which means that it belongs to nature and it's animals and not by men. There are trees everywhere you look, and lots of waterfalls, crystal clear rivers and mountains embracing the Valley, to keep everyone and everything inside, safe. The world was on the edge of Spring and the sun was getting stronger and stronger each day. Even though Thorn Valley was filled with breathtaking scenes, there was someone who didn't enjoy it. Justin was sitting on a rock far from where the new colony was settled. He was wearing a brown uniform and a white sling around his left arm. His arm was nearly fully recovered although it had taken one-and-a-half whole weeks to get the way it looked now. Justin was extremely lucky for not falling down the rock when he fainted. He was even more lucky to have a strong rat like Brutus amongst them, so he could carry Justin to Thorn Valley. But he didn't feel lucky at all. He felt humiliated because of his fainting and because of the fact that another male had to carry him to his new home. What kind of leader was he? He wasn't even able to lead his people to Thorn Valley, he needed another, much younger male to finish his job. Men don't faint, especially not when this particular man was recently chosen to be the most powerful rat-male of the colony. He knew he couldn't help it. Gabriel, Mr. Ages' assistant, told Justin that his situation had become critical. He was suffering from a severe form of blood-poisoning. He knew all that, but he noticed the fact that the rats of NIMH didn't show the same type of admiration to him than they did to Nicodemus. He hadn't proven himself enough. He didn't kill Jenner, Sullivan did, he didn't prevent the Brisby home from sinking, the Stone did, he couldn't even safe Nicodemus from the attack, Wendy did... and he was even physically too weak to lead the rats to safety... Brutus did. He sighed and felt bad, real bad. What was he going to tell Wendy? Wendy... just another week and he'll be able to hold her again. Perhaps the rats would respect him more once he was married...if she'd say ‘yes' of course.


The Brisby home was surrounded by beautiful flowers. They were snowdrops, which grew early in spring. Wendy was sitting outside the house, enjoying the sun. She was doing a lot better in spite of some headache-attacks and periods of dizziness. She didn't worry too much about it, she still had a week and a half to recover completely. However the fact that she loved her stay at the Brisby home, she also longed to go to her new home...with Justin.

The Brisby children were playing near the house. Wendy started giving them reading lessons as soon as she was well enough to get out of bed. Especially Theresa and Timothy were fast learners. They were also the most motivated children. Cynthia was far too young to read, although she tried. Martin didn't care about reading. He was far more interested in playing with the other children in the area. Timothy was the biggest storyteller she ever met in her entire life. She had enjoyed his stories when she was still attached to the bed, and she had to admit that she was bonding a lot with the kid. Theresa was a wise girl, always trying to keep an eye on the boys and her very small sister. She always tried to keep Timothy away from Wendy because she was afraid he'd tire her too much with his stories, but she loved them. She was also very fond of Mrs. Brisby. Mrs. Brisby was a very intelligent mouse with the courage of a lion. Jonathan certainly left an independent family behind with interesting personalities in it. Wendy silently hoped he was able to see his family, from wherever he was...


Nicodemus sat down next to Justin. ‘My son, the rats wonder where their leader is.'

‘No, they don't wonder where their leader is, they wonder where their ‘Loser' is...'

‘Justin, that's not true and you know it. You might have had a bad start, but you can still...'

‘Prove that I am a good leader after all? I have no idea how I should prove that. Look at this place! We have neither enemies nor problems here. ‘ Justin answered sadly.

‘We might not have problems now...but we will in the future.' Nicodemus said, and he looked intensely old after saying these words.

‘What do you mean?' Justin said, with a tense of confusing in his voice.

‘I cannot tell you that, Justin... you'll have to find out yourself. Time will tell.'

Justin felt pretty uncomfortable after hearing these words, but he was even more concerned about Nicodemus' expression. He only looked like that when he sensed something, something really wrong. Nicodemus had the so-called ‘sixth sense.' Some rats claimed that he got it ever since he was born, other rats say that it is the Stone which caused it. Nicodemus touched Justin's shoulder and got up. He started moving in the direction of the other rats. Justin followed him. He decided to work some more on Wendy's room. He did as he promised her a while ago, he made sure their rooms where right next to each other. He figured that she needed time to get used to the idea that the two of them might share a room one day, so he thought this was the best solution. He already spend a lot of time in her room. The other rats were decorating their own rooms and trying to make themselves home in the new home. For some rats this was a real struggle, for other rats a relieve. The rats had to get used to the fact that they were living above ground instead of underground, and for some rats that was hard to except. Fortunately Justin wasn't the one who made that decision, otherwise he was in a lot more trouble than he already was.


Wendy picked some snowdrops to decorate the Brisby home a bit when suddenly she felt a shiver. She had one like this before, the first night she stayed at the Brisby home. She had a vision of a black rat that night. It was only a shiver this time, she also felt that she was being watched. She carefully looked around but she didn't see a living sole around. Her heart started beating faster, she didn't at all feel comfortable. Was the black rat that she was seeing supposed to be Jenner? Was she haunted by some sort of ghostly vision or was there a chance that he wasn't dead at all? They undressed him, so they would have noticed the fact if he was still alive, wouldn't they? But what about his body? Wendy decided to walk towards the stone where the fight took place. She didn't find Jenner's corps there, she also didn't find Sullivan. Perhaps NIMH took their bodies away to examine it. Perhaps the cat ate them... Perhaps they were both still alive... The Rosebush was completely destroyed. NIMH had taken the entire thing away and cleaned it out entirely. It was a tragic sight. The sight would have probably been worse if the sun didn't shine. But that strong sunshine didn't take the shivers away. It made them even worse, especially when she moved near the barn. The feeling of the presents of evil there grew so large that she had to leave the place, back to the safety of the Brisby home.


Justin looked around in Wendy's room-to-be. It was nearly finished, he only needed to unpack the back Nanny packed on Wendy's behalf. He opened her bag and picked out one of her dresses. This was a nice dress which she didn't wear while taking the minutes... well, there will be a lot less minute taking around because Justin wanted to get rid of the Council. He didn't want another ‘new' Jenner-figure to stand up. Meeting...okay, Council... no way. Of course a meeting would require a minute-taker as well, but Justin would risk a few more bloody scratches if he gave that job to Wendy again. No, he decided to give that job to Isabella. That way she'll learn to become more responsible. He had other plans for Wendy; he wanted her to become HIS Personal Assistant. He sure as hell needed one....

He opened a closet in Wendy's room and put the dress in it. He did the same with some other pieces of clothes and then he found a small book. He examined. He never saw this book before. He opened it but closed it almost immediately: it was her diary.

He knew he couldn't read it, even taking a peek in it would be a violation of her trust. But he failed in resisting it.

He chose a page and his eye immediately fell on his own name. He turned the page and there he saw his name again. He skipped a few pages and there was his name again! Happy confusion rushed through his head and body. He decided to read a bit. It was a page written about their trip to London.


'I never thought Mrs. Jones was going to tell me who my parents were. Justin, however, told Mrs. Jones that we couldn't get married if I didn't know my family-name. Can you believe it!? Married! If that were only true... would he have said it because... no, probably not. I'm seeing things I want to see...'


He didn't even know she kept a diary at all. His heart filled with love. ‘Oh no, Wendy, you don't see things you only want to see...I would be honored to be your husband.'

Justin closed the diary and put it in a drawer. A few women passed her door. They paused in front of her door for a moment and had a conversation about Justin. Justin couldn't help overhearing it. ‘Thorn Valley is definitely an improvement, but the new leader definitely isn't.'

‘Oh, we should give the boy a chance, he just has to get used to it.'

‘Well, I still think Nicodemus ought to pick an older man.'

Then they moved away from the door and left a confused, very young rat behind. This was all he could handle, he was going to pick Wendy up, and was going to get her NOW!


He needed her, more than he ever needed anyone in his life before. There was something about Wendy which comforted him. She was a strong woman, young herself, but strong. He went up to Nicodemus' room, to tell him that he was going to pick up Wendy. Nicodemus was sitting in an old chair, similar to the one that was back in the Rosebush.

‘But it's been shorter than two weeks, my son. Perhaps she's not well enough.' Nicodemus said.

‘I know that, but I have to take the risk. If she's not well enough, I'll stay at the Brisby home until she is.' Justin answered.

‘My son, why do you need to go now?' Nicodemus asked, but the question didn't need to be answered; he already knew the answer. He knew Justin wasn't accepted by the rats of NIMH and that he missed Wendy like crazy. When Justin confirmed what Nicodemus had thought, he didn't hesitate. ‘Justin, my son, if you feel you need some time away from the colony, that you should. Things won't get better when you come back here, but I won't think about changing my mind, Justin. I've chosen you to be the leader of the rats of NIMH, above other male rats who are much older and larger and stronger than you are. I did that with a purpose. You'll prove that you are the best leader the rats ever had and will ever have, but that takes time. Don't look for danger, the danger will come to find you, and if it does, you'll be prepared for it, and you'll succeed, together with that very special lady of yours.'

‘Wendy? Will she be playing a part in this... future thing?' Justin asked, hiding his very uncomfortable feeling.

‘Yes, Wendy will play a very important part in it... the leading part I fear...'

‘The leading part? Of what?! Is she in danger? Nicodemus, I HAVE to know!'

‘I'm sorry Justin, I cannot say more... I don't know more...but for now, go...go and find your Wendy. She'll be very pleased to see you.' Nicodemus closed his eyes, which inclined that the conversation was over. Justin walked out of the room. His head was hurting because of the odd conversation he had with Nicodemus. What kind of danger was he talking about? When will this danger arrive to destroy everything? But he didn't want to think about that right now, all he thought about was packing his back to leave for the love of his life.


He ran upstairs to pack some clothes. Then Philip knocked on Justin's door. ‘Sir, the rats ask you to... why are you packing?'

‘I'm off to get Wendy.' Justin answered without looking up to Philip.

‘But, you are the leader, you cannot just leave like that. The rats need you!' Philip asked, and Justin stopped packing and looked at him.

‘Philip! The rats don't need me! Come on! They don't accept me to be their leader! You could take over all the duties I'm having without any effort! I'm sick and tired of being the leader!'

‘Justin! Calm down. I..I think you're a bit stressed because of all the things that have happened to you the last few weeks. And you know, the rats are stressed too. They need some time, and so do you...'

‘Maybe that's it, maybe it's not. But the last thing they need right now is a depressed Leader. I've already asked Nicodemus for permission. I would like to ask you to take over my duties while I'm gone. You've done so before and you've done great.'

‘Yes, but... you were the Captain of the Guard back then... you are the First Rat now... I don't know if....'

‘Yes, yes you can. I want you, and no-one but you to take my duties. Can you inform the rats of my decision? I'll try to be back as soon as possible.'

As night fell, Wendy twisted and turned in a restless sleep. She was outside, outside near the big stone in the farmers' garden. It was a rainy evening, with lighting and thunder on some occasion. She could clearly feel the rain on her fur, she saw the lighting and she heard the thunder, but she knew she was sleeping, she knew she wasn't at the stone... or was she? A pinch of panic rushed through her body.  She looked around in the dark, trying desperately to get used to the dark. Why was she here? Why this place? Suddenly, her attention was drawn to a sound somewhere to the left of the stone. Although she didn't wanted to find out what it was, she had to. There was this certain desire to take a look.

She slowly moved closer and closer to the spot where the sound came from.

Did she see a movement? Did she hear breathing? And what was that sound? A moan?

She moved closer to where the moaning sound came from. At that moment the lightning lit the sky clearly, only for a second, but that second made Wendy gasp in terror; it was Jenner! He stood up from the dead! She turned around to make a dash towards the safety of the Brisby Home, but her foot got caught in a branch and she fell. Her right ankle got scratched but she didn't have time to worry about that. She pulled herself free and started running...

Chapter 22: Justin's Decision

Justin didn't waste any time by saying goodbye to the other rats. He didn't even feel like it. He used to be the most popular male rat of the colony, especially among the female rats, but things had changed. He felt like a stranger in the colony. The new environment also had a lot to do with it. He loved the new area, the woods, the mountains, the beauty, the safety... but it wasn't his home yet. It wasn't his home because she wasn't there yet. The thought of being close to her again made him happy. He was able to smile again, something which he hadn't done these entire two weeks. His mind wandered to the night which changed everything. The night the Brisby home was moved. He remembered all too well that Wendy died in his arms. She stopped breathing, her heartbeat was gone... she was really dead! What would he have done if the Stone hadn't been there, what would have happened to him? He would have probably died with her. He shook those thoughts away and smiled again. The Stone saved Wendy's life, she was okay and he was going to see her again. The stones where Justin passed out came in sight already. This was the spot he hated, the spot which showed his weakness and made the rats wonder if he was the right person to be the leader. He climbed down the rocks as if he were a professional. He wished the other rats were able to see him now. He still had a long trip to go, but he didn't mind. He was glad he was able to breathe again, being himself again. But, even though he enjoyed this freedom, he felt terribly alone. He wished he was a child again, a child who could cry if he wanted to. He decided to move on, he wanted to get to Wendy as soon as possible. He paused at the spot where he wanted to ask Wendy to marry him. The waterfall was even more breathtaking than it was the other day. Justin always loved water, and he knew Wendy loved water as well. Both him and Wendy were the best swimmers the colony had. Justin decided to take a swim. He got undressed and took off his sling. He jumped into the water and enjoyed the coolness of it. He tried to get closer to the waterfall, he wanted to touch the water and the water to touch him. He swam towards the rocks and tried to climb them. The strong water pushed him back several times, but he didn't want to give up. Finally he was able to climb the rocks. He reached over to feel the solid rocks behind the waterfall, but there weren't any behind the waterfall. Justin decided to climb to the other side of the rock where he stood on. What he saw amazed him. Behind the waterfall there was a paradise. A scene so beautiful that it belonged to a fairy-tale. There was an entire world behind it, filled with trees, flowers and a beautiful lake. This was the perfect place to bring Wendy to, to ask her to become his wife. Justin swam towards the shore. He decided to explore the area a bit. The flowers were amazing, Justin never saw so many colors before in his entire life. This spot was perfect. This was going to be his and Wendy's secret.


Wendy was finally able to cut lose from the horrible nightmare. She was bathing in sweat and heavily disorientated. ‘Wendy, Wendy, are you alright?' Mrs. Brisby rushed into Wendy's corner of the bedroom and found a terrified rat with huge eyes, her forehead covered with sweat and panting for breath. She was running a fever.


Justin stayed at his newly discovered piece of paradise before moving on. He felt a lot better since he left the colony. Thinking about his past few weeks as the new leader of the rats of NIMH made him want never to go back there again. He knew in his heart that the circumstances of the past few weeks weren't at all ideal, but he started doubting the fact if Nicodemus had made the right decision. The rats didn't want him to be the leader, they wanted everything to stick to the old. Perhaps the moving to Thorn Valley, the fight and the new leader were simply too many changes for the colony to handle... He was tired, he just simply couldn't handle it anymore.


‘There, there Wendy, here's some water. Did you have a nightmare, dear?'

Wendy Elisabeth winked her eyes and relaxed a bit. Her breathing slowed down and she started feeling cold because of all the sweat. ‘I guess I had a nightmare, but it all seemed so real. Even now I'm still able to remember every horrible detail of it. I even felt the rain on my fur, I ... Oh I'm being ridiculous...'

Mrs. Brisby smiled and touched Wendy's forehead. ‘Go back to sleep, before you know it, it will be morning again.'


Wendy smiled back and was just about to turn around in her bed when she felt a sharp pain through her right ankle. She pulled the rug back and screamed; her right ankle was scratched and her bed was covered in mud and branches!


Mrs. Brisby leaned over to the poor rat the hold her down. She was still far too weak even though she looked a lot better today. Mrs. Brisby didn't understand where the fever came from. ‘Wendy! Please! You really should calm down! You are still very weak!'

‘Jenner... Jenner... he's not dead! Please, I have to get out of bed! I must warn Justin!' She pushed the much smaller mouse away, stumbled out of bed and made a dash to the door. But she never made it there, she collapsed right before she was able to reach the latch.

Chapter 23: Life at the Brisby Home

‘Wendy? Wendy, wake up dear.' The voice sounded from afar. Wendy did recognize the voice, but she couldn't quiet place it. She softly moaned, and tried to open her eyes. When she realized she couldn't, she moaned again, this time louder and angrier. ‘Wendy! Come on! Wake up!' She tried again, and this time with success. She opened her eyes with a tremendous amount of effort, and tried to find the face that matched the voice she heard. ‘Ah, there you are, we were worried about you! How are you feeling? I gave you some medicines to get the fever down. I guess you've got a rather bad cold.' Now she knew who called her; it was Mr. Ages, the medicine-mouse. He stood next to her and he padded her hand.

It was hard for her to focus her eyes. The world around her was one big blur and Mr. Ages had two heads. She was dizzy and sore. She shook her head to get rid of Ages' second head and a terrible pain struck her head as if she were hit by an electrical shock. She immediately closed her eyes again. ‘Oh good Lord, I guess I overdosed her....' Mr. Ages softly said. ‘I never know how much of this stuff I have to give to a rodent her size.'

‘Well, what can you do about it?' Another voice spoke now. It was Mrs. Brisby. Wendy was fully aware of where she was, although she wasn't able to speak or see.

‘I cannot do anything about it for now, I'm afraid. We'll have to wait until the medicine is out of her system. I don't know exactly how long it will take. Stay here and keep an eye on her.'

Mrs. Brisby obeyed and Wendy felt someone stroking her cheek. She tried to smile but lost herself again in a deep tunnel of sleep.


Mr. Ages took Mrs. Brisby to the other room. ‘What made her so upset?' He asked.

Mrs. Brisby replied: ‘The nightmare did. Of course it was just a nightmare, but there was something strange going on, too. Her right ankle is scratched and her bed was covered in mud.'

‘She went outside? No wonder she's got a cold like that!' Mr. Ages said, more to himself than to her.

‘She claims that Jenner is alive!' Mrs. Brisby said, while she looked at Wendy's room with a concerned look on her face.

‘Jenner? Alive? No, it couldn't have been! Is she losing it? Mrs. Brisby, please lock all your doors. Wendy is probably sleep-walking because of the trauma. And, whatever you do, don't mention the mud. She is better not to know.'


When she finally woke up, it was already dusk. She opened her eyes a lot easier now and gazed in the poorly lit room. She heard children's voices in the other room. The thought of having the Brisby children nearby gave her a comfortable feeling. She tried to carefully sit up a bit but noticed that the dizziness hadn't gone away completely yet. And God, she was thirsty! Suddenly she remembered the vivid nightmare she had the other night... or was it two nights ago already? She pulled away the blanket and stared at her legs. There were no mud or branches down there anymore, but her scratched ankle was wrapped in bandages. She stopped breathing in terror. ‘What happened out there? What exactly did I see?' Her mind was loaded with questions. ‘Mrs. Brisby!' Wendy shouted.

Mrs. Brisby came running in as fast as she could. ‘Wendy! What's wrong?!' She shouted. As she rushed in she found the rat with huge, bewildered eyes.

‘Mrs. Brisby! Did you put the bandages on my ankle?'

‘Eh... yes... but....'

‘It was covered in mud and such, was it not?'

‘No, Wendy... calm down! There were no such thing. I swear it, believe me! Relax, you need to calm down! Would you like some water, dear?' Mrs. Brisby asked, trying to get the rat to calm down.

‘But why is my ankle scratched like that? That must have happened after I came here!'

‘Your ankle was already scratched the night you came in! It is not scratched that badly, so I guess we never noticed it. Your head and neck were much more important for medical care. You were on medication so you probably never felt that injury in the first place. But the injuries were already there, please don't worry, ok? Everything will be just fine.'

Wendy sat back again and she nodded her head, which caused another electrical shock again. She instinctively grabbed her forehead. ‘Then I guess I must have dreamt it... It was all just a silly dream.' She added with a nod and sat back in the pillows again.

‘I know you have slept al lot already, but sleep is good for you. And now that you know that there is nothing to worry about, you might even have a more pleasant night.'

‘I guess you are right, Mrs. Brisby. Sorry for all the problems I've caused. I guess I scared the heck out of your children.'

‘No... no Wendy, you haven't caused any problems and you sure didn't scare the children. In fact, they started to like you very much. I guess they'll be very sad when you leave.' Mrs. Brisby said, but Wendy didn't hear her words, she was sound asleep already. And this time she dreamt a pleasant dream, one without Jenner but with Justin. Oh how she longed to see him again...


The next morning she was woken by Cynthia Brisby, who was playing with her doll, right next to Wendy's bed. She was playing silently, but loud enough to wake Wendy. Wendy smiled when she heard Cynthia talking softly to her doll, which she had named Rosa. ‘Good morning, Cynthia... oh and Rosa, of course.' Wendy softly said and the small girl jumped up and suddenly hugged Wendy. ‘Are you better now?' Cynthia asked and she looked at her with her large, bright eyes.

‘I'm doing much better than yesterday, and even more better than the day before yesterday. So I guess I'm getting better each day.' Wendy said, and she stroke the girl's cheek.

‘Cynthia! You shouldn't be playing here!' Theresa shouted as she rushed into the room.

‘I was....' Cynthia stumbled.

‘She was just entertaining me a bit. But thank you for your concern, dear.' Wendy said, and she gave Theresa a wink.

‘Oh, ok... tea Wendy?' Theresa continued.

‘Yes, please! Oh and Theresa, could you ask your mother if she could ask Mr. Ages to come by? I'd like to get up and walk a bit.'

‘Then you play with us!' Cynthia said, while she was jumping with joy.

‘Well, I certainly do hope so!' Wendy answered, and she watched the two girls leaving the room.


A few hours, a difficult bath (a very clumsy bath in which Wendy needed help from Mrs. Brisby) and breakfast later, Mr. Ages arrived to check Wendy another time. He was amazed by the progress she made. Two nights ago he thought she wasn't going to get through the night and now she was hoping to get out of bed as soon as possible. She looked better and her fever was gone. Of course it had just been two weeks since the accident, but she was healing pretty well. Later that day Wendy was even teaching the Brisby-children some new words. Well, except for Cynthia and Martin. Martin was outside with his friends and Cynthia was far too occupied with her doll ‘Rosa', who she decided to call ‘Wendy' instead. Wendy even spend some time outside. She decided to make a small walk through the high grass, where Dragon wouldn't see her. She really enjoyed her walk, but there was something about the Fitzgibbon barn which wasn't at all pleasant. She was overwhelmed by cold shivers when she got near the barn. She had felt it before. It was so bad that the feeling made her avoid the spot completely.

Chapter 24: The Reunion

The next morning Wendy woke up early, sensing something pleasant. It made her smile, even though she had no idea what it was. She started daydreaming a bit about what it would be like to see Justin again. She quietly hoped he would come and pick her up today, but she knew that wasn't possible. She knew she had to wait at least one more week before she could see him again. She wondered what it would be like. Would she embrace him? Would he embrace her? Or would it be cool and distant, nah she didn't think so, not even now, when he's the Leader of the Rats of NIMH. Many things had happened, especially since that horrible night. Mr. Fitzgibbon had been working in the garden again. He had to plant a new rosebush for Mrs. Fitzgibbon. She really didn't like it when the rosebush was removed from the garden. She was even more furious when she found out that there were no rats there at all, so that removing her rosebush was for nothing. None... that scared Wendy a bit. Mrs. Brisby had told her that the rats undressed Jenner but put him near the rosebush. She still had bad dreams, even during the day, about a dark rat who was screaming for revenge. She didn't have them today, she had a much better feeling about today, like something nice was going to happen.

She carefully got up and noticed that the dizziness was gone. She felt a lot more strong than she did yesterday. Perhaps Mr. Ages' overdose did the trick. She decided to go outside, where the children already were. It was a nice morning.

She sat down in the chair which was placed right in front of the Brisby home. She watched the children who were drawing pictures. She enjoyed watching them. She never thought about having children of her own, mainly because she already had to care for eighteen children when she was living in the orphanage. She didn't like doing it back then, she was afraid of taking the responsibility, but now she thought differently about having children. In fact, she wanted to have children! She felt like having them straight away! ‘What would Justin's children look like? And what would they look like if I was their mother? They'd have brown fur, that's for sure. They'll grow tall, have a long tail... will they have my eyes?' Wendy smiled and she closed her eyes. She suddenly saw the most beautiful place on earth, filled with flowers, trees and crystal clear water. The water was lighting up because the sun was shining through the leaves of all the trees that surrounded the lake. She saw Justin and herself, they were enjoying the beauty of the place... and each other. Wendy opened her eyes again. ‘Wow...that was a beautiful dream...I wish dreams could come true....'


Justin had been walking all night. He didn't sleep at all, his adrenaline simply hadn't let him. He sat down for a little snack, but he didn't want to eat, he just wanted to move on. His injury was healing very well, although he was still wearing his sling. After a brief moment he decided to walk on. The sun was already climbing up the hills. He was determent to reach the Brisby home before nightfall.


Wendy Elisabeth decided to help Mrs. Brisby with finding food. It wasn't hard to find food this time of year. The farmer's garden was full of peas, wheat, corn and carrots. Wendy's arms were covered in all kinds of vegetables. Mrs. Brisby also carried as much as she could carry, although that was a lot less than Wendy could handle. When the rat and the mouse entered the block they heard the voice of the shrew. She had been visiting the Brisby home a lot more often since Wendy lived there. Wendy knew how to handle the shrew. She knew the shrew meant well, she was concerned about the mice, but she had a strange way of showing it. Wendy just loved teasing the shrew and she was becoming very good at it. Wendy entered the block as softly as she could. The shrew was asking the children if they feared the presents of the female rat. The children said that they loved Wendy, and that they didn't want her to leave, ever again. Wendy melted when she heard these words. She loved them, too... but she also knew she wasn't going to stay much longer anymore.

When she heard the shrew muttering some words, partly to herself, partly to the children, she decided to end the conversation by stepping into the room.

‘Aunty Shrew! What a nice surprise! You just came at the right moment! It is time to prepare dinner, and we've brought everything except for a nice big piece of shrewmeat.' Wendy said, and she gave the children a wink. Theresa, Martin, Timothy and Cynthia softly started to laugh. The shrew stepped back in complete terror. ‘Wha... what did you mean by that?'

‘Oh, didn't you know? Rats just love eating shrewmeat, in fact, it's one of our favorites. The children are very curious to the taste of it, aren't you?' Wendy gave the children another wink and they started to nod. ‘Mmmmm... Can't wait, Wendy! But, how do you prepare Shrew?' Martin asked, playing the game along.

‘Let me see... well, it's been a while, but... well, we should get rid of the skin first...'

The Shrew gasped, ‘the... the skin?'

‘Yes, the skin. And we should peel it off while it's still alive, you know, to prevent the meat from drying out.' Wendy looked at the shrew. Her grin grew as she saw the terror in Aunty Shrew's now very big eyes. ‘But, I guess your mother likes Aunty Shrew, so we won't eat her... yet.' Wendy said.

‘Aw, Wendy! What should we eat then?' Martin asked, thinking he won't get any supper that night. ‘Well, your mother and I found lots of food, vegetarian food, so we could use some extra pairs of hands over here.' Wendy said smiling and she added; ‘Perhaps you'd like to stay for dinner Aunty Shrew?' But when she turned around to hear the answer she noticed that the shrew already had left the building.

Theresa and Martin decided to help out in the kitchen. Timothy promised his sister Cynthia to teach her to write some words he had learned from Wendy.

Wendy gave Mrs. Brisby a hand in the kitchen. She always enjoyed cooking, she used to help Nanny a lot. She really missed Nanny.


After dinner, Wendy decided to spend some more time outside. She felt the urge to spend some time on her own, although it had been a very pleasant day. She has had a lovely time with the kids and dinner had been wonderful. After she helped cleaning the dishes, she brought Cynthia and Timothy to bed. She read them a bed-time story. She really enjoyed it when the two children listened to her stories carefully, with half-open mouths. She also loved it to kiss them good-night and to tuck them in so that they would stay warm. Theresa and Martin were older and were able to stay up longer and they were playing a little more in the living-room. Suddenly she heard footsteps right behind her. She turned to see who they belonged to. To her surprise she saw that Martin was outside and he watched Wendy from a small distance.

‘Hey, Martin... Why don't you come over here?' Wendy asked, because she could see behind the tip of his nose that he wanted to ask her something.

‘I... I didn't want to disturb you, but... Did you know my father well?' He stumbled as he came closer. ‘Yes, I did know your father. We were friends. So I guess I knew him pretty well.'

‘Did he really safe the rats from NIMH? Why did he never tell us about you? Why didn't he even tell my Mom? I really don't understand!'

‘I suppose it is quite a shock to find out that your father was keeping secrets from you and your mother, but he didn't have a choice. It wouldn't have done any good to tell you about us. Not yet that is. There were a lot of things we didn't even understand. I mean... Those injections back at NIMH, they kind of kept us young. We didn't age anymore. Your father had the same kind of injections we had. You see... Your mother would grow older and he would stay young. We don't even know what kind of effect the injections have on children, who's father, mother or both of them, had been injected. I guess Nicodemus wanted to wait until we knew more.' Wendy explained, although she had trouble understanding the secret-keeping herself. She always thought the Brisby's needed to know the truth.

‘But why did he marry my mother then, even though he didn't know what was going to happen?' Martin asked, trying to understand any of this.

‘I guess your father fell in love. There's not a lot you can do about that, I'm afraid. You know, I remember when your father met your mother. He came to me right after they kissed for the very first time.'

‘Kissed! Yuk! Did my father actually kiss my mother?'

‘Hahaha, yes Martin! Of course he kissed your mother! You will understand when you get older and find a mate yourself. And you know what? That's when Jonathan decided to leave us and live with your mother instead.' Wendy smiled at Martin. She knew he had reached the so-called ‘girls-are-stupid'-age.

‘He also came to me when your mother was pregnant with you. He told me he had never been more happy in his entire life. He couldn't wait to hold you in his arms. He already had a name for you, even before you were born. He didn't even know if you were going to be a boy or a girl!' She paused for a moment when she saw tears in Martin's eyes. She placed her hand on his tiny shoulder and said: ‘You might not understand why your father has been keeping all this from you, and you must think that it's very unfair, but remember that he did it to protect you, your brother, sisters and your mother.' Martin looked up at Wendy and smiled at her.

‘Please, don't be angry with your father, he didn't know what to do either.' Wendy added, and Martin embraced her firmly. ‘You know, you look so much like your father. You should be proud about that. Your father was a hero, please never forget that.' Wendy said and the poor boy softly started to cry.


A while later he let go of Wendy and he looked at her with his large, slightly watery eyes. ‘I am proud of my daddy, I just wish he could stay with us a little while longer.'

‘So do I, Martin, so do I.' Wendy said as she stroke Martin's cheek.

‘Martin, where were you? Do I really have to finish the drawing alone? I need a little help here!' Theresa shouted.

‘I'll be right there!' Martin shouted back. He briefly embraced Wendy for the last time and ran back into the house to finish the drawing where all four of the children had worked on that afternoon.

Wendy sat back and sighed. ‘Poor kid, he's really been through a lot.'

‘Well, I must be really mistaken if you hadn't had your share of bad luck as well.' A voice said. Wendy froze for a moment; where did that voice come from. Who said that?

‘Is somebody out there?' She asked, hoping she wasn't hearing things that weren't there.

‘I'm amazed! How long has it been? Two weeks, and you don't even recognize my voice anymore?' Spoke the voice again, this time he was softly laughing.

Then, as the words finally sunk in, she realized that there was only one person who could say those words.

‘Justin! You're here already!' She shouted and she got up from the chair.

Now she saw Justin standing a little further away. He was wearing a dark-brown uniform and his left arm was in a sling. He was smiling.

‘But you are much too early!' Wendy said, while she was walking towards him.

‘Well, I could leave again and come back next week, if that is what your want?' Justin said with a naughty, boyish smile on his face.

‘No way, you'd better not leave!' Wendy said and she started running.

She didn't hesitate one second when she arrived at the spot where Justin stood and she jumped right into his arms. Because Justin was only able to catch her with his right arm, they both stumbled and nearly fell, but Justin was, once again, able to keep them in their feet.

‘Silly girl, you really must be careful!'

‘Oh, sorry... Did I hurt your arm?' She asked, when she realized she bumped directly against it. ‘Hahaha, no! I was talking about that head of yours!' He smiled and he gazed deeply into her eyes. Wendy gazed back, and noticed something different about Justin. It was the same twinkle in them, the one she had seen before, but there was something else; Justin had grown up. ‘Whaaaat... what is that look in your eyes, Sweetness?'

‘You've... you've grown up. What did they do to you?'

‘Ah... let's say... it's been a rough learning-school. I'll tell you all about that later, because I see we have company.'

Wendy turned around and saw four tiny, blinking eyes staring at them from afar.

‘Theresa? Martin? You can come out now.' She said with a smile.

She took Justin by his good arm and pulled him in the children's direction.

‘Theresa, Martin... I would love to introduce you to Justin, the cap... eh, Leader of the Rats of NIMH.'

‘Whoa... The leader?' Martin asked and he carefully stepped forward.

‘Martin! Stop gazing like that!' Theresa said and she bowed deeply with a huge blush on her face. ‘I'm very pleased to meet you sir.' She said, as the blush started spreading even further. Wendy smiled when she saw the blush. Justin was a very handsome, charming young man. She wasn't at all surprised that the young girl fell hard for him. The blush grew even bigger when Justin kneeled down right in front of poor little Theresa, took her hand and kissed it. Martin started making soft ‘throw-up sounds' when he realized Theresa was falling in love with Justin. Wendy gave the boy a glance and shook her head.

Mrs. Brisby came out because of the noises she heard. She was surprised when she saw Justin standing outside her house, but she was very glad that he was. She knew that Wendy still had to recover, but she also knew that it would be a lot better for her rat-friend that she would get out of these surroundings. The nightmares about Jenner might come to an end when she was away from the Rosebush. She admitted that seeing Justin and Wendy together made her smile. They looked wonderful together.

‘Justin! It's so wonderful to see you! Are you hungry? We have plenty of food left!' Mrs. Brisby said, and she embraced the much larger male.

‘Well, thank you. I guess I could use a little fuel, hehe, I walked all night to get here before ya'll were sound asleep.'

Mrs. Brisby nodded and went back inside to heat the stove again. The kids followed her because she needed a little help. Of course she only wanted to get the children away from the two rats who needed to catch up.

‘Well, you met at least two already. The smallest two are already asleep.' Wendy softly said. She suddenly felt a bit uneasy now she was so close to Justin.

He stepped closer until he was right behind her. He pulled his injured arm out of the sling, placed his both hands on her shoulders and gently pushed his nose in her neck-fur. ‘I've missed you so terribly much, Wendy Elisabeth.'

Wendy smiled and closed her eyes a bit so she could enjoy the way he touched her.

‘I missed you, too... more than you can ever imagine.'

‘May I try to imagine how much exactly?' Justin asked, with his nose still in her fur. She could feel his warm breath, his strong hands and the warmth of his body.

‘Yes, you may.' She replied and she finally turned around.

‘I... I think I love you, Justin.' She softly said while she placed her head on his chest.

‘Hey, those are my words!' Justin said, but she knew he was smiling.

He stepped back a bit, touched her chin gently, closed his eyes... and he finally kissed her. He kissed her like she had never been before; he kissed her passionately, sweeping her completely off her feet, forgetting where she was, almost fainting because of the impact of it, losing the notion of time. The kiss lasted and lasted, but was brutally interrupted by Martin. ‘Yuk! Wendy what you doing! That's disgusting!'

Justin and Wendy quickly ended the kiss, but started laughing at each other.

‘You are wrong, my little friend, that's delicious.' Justin answered, without taking his eyes off Wendy.

‘It sure looks disgusting! Mom's got dinner ready for Justin. At least if he hasn't lost his appetite.' Martin continued and he went back into the house.

‘On the contrary; I only want more of that.' He took the heavily blushing Wendy by the hand and took her into the Brisby home.

Chapter 25: The Journey to Thorn Valley

‘Wendy? Do you think you are strong enough to leave?'

Justin's voice was soft and there was a pinch of worry in it.

‘I guess so, although I was running a fever not too long ago. I feel a lot better today, perhaps due to Mrs. Ages' overdose.'

‘He overdosed you? What kind of quack doctor is he?'

‘Hey, I heard that! And may I add in my defense that I am NOT a doctor, but a medicine-mouse!'

‘Ages! What a pleasant surprise!' Justin quickly said when he heard the angry tone in the voice of his small, cranky friend.

‘What are you doing here? You are far too early! She's not ready to go yet!' Ages continued, ignoring the words Justin said.

‘I came to see how she was doing.' Justin tried to lie himself out of it.

‘Yeah, right... Typical....' Mr. Ages muttered.

‘I think I'm strong enough to go home, Mr. Ages.' Wendy carefully said.

‘Eh... no, eh...yes, maybe....' Mr. Ages stumbled, but he wasn't so sure about that yet.

‘Let's say this; you can take her, but I'll be traveling with you two to keep an eye on Wendy.' Mr. Ages said, thinking he had found the right solution. He knew he wasn't able to stop Justin from taking her to Thorn Valley, he just wouldn't take ‘no' for an answer.

Justin and Wendy looked at each other with large eyes, but Justin's face started to smile that same boyish, don't-worry-I've-got-a-plan-smile she had seen before.

‘Great plan, Ages! Let's do it!' Justin said, and he got up.

‘Wait just one moment! We are NOT leaving tonight! Do you realize what kind of creepy animals are out there?' Mr. Ages shouted.


‘I really don't understand how I let you talk me into this!' Grumbled Mr. Ages.

The-party-of-three was walking though the thick, dark forest. They had thanked Mrs. Brisby and said goodbye to the children. Wendy even woke up the two smallest children; she couldn't bare the idea of leaving without saying goodbye to them. She promised them that they'd always be welcome in Thorn Valley, but that they had to wait until they were older. The children had given her the drawing which they had been working on all day. It wasn't completely finished yet, because of Wendy's sudden departure, but it was lovely. She promised the kids that she'd give it a beautiful place in her new room.

Now, the two rats and the grumpy medicine-mouse were already on their way to Thorn Valley. Justin was thinking hard to find a plan to get rid of Ages. But he didn't want to abandon the poor, scared mouse in the middle of the night. He agreed that the woods would be far to dangerous for the small mouse to wander all by himself, so he decided to do that when they were almost in Thorn Valley. Before they reached the waterfall, of course, because this was the place where he was going to pop the big question. Suddenly he felt real nervous. He looked at Wendy who was smiling and walking right beside him. Mr. Ages was behind because of his broken leg. It was healing quite well, but the mouse was already old, so healing didn't go as fast as it used to. ‘Hey! Let me keep up, will you? You wouldn't even notice if some creature got me, would you?' He shouted angrily, and the two rats paused for a moment.

‘You know, we could bring you back, Mr. Ages. Maybe it is better when you move when your leg is completely heal....'

‘No way, Justin! And leave her? I told you three weeks! Not a day sooner! And what do you do? You pick her up ONE WEEK sooner than we agreed, ONE WHOLE WEEK!'

‘Mr. Ages, I'm more than ready to go... to go home, I haven't been dizzy for quite some time, the fever is gone and the headaches are a lot less....' Wendy pleaded, but the mouse shook his head. ‘I have promised Nicodemus that I would keep an eye on you, and that's exactly what I will be doing.'

Wendy and Justin looked at each other and shook their heads and moved on, slowly this time.


After a while they decided to rest a bit. Justin sat closely to Wendy, in order to keep her warm. Mr. Ages noticed it: ‘Justin, why don't you sit on the poor girl's lap, in that case you are even closer to her! What in the world is going on with the two of you, anyway?'

‘Nothing is going on! Is there Wendy? Mr. Ages, are you sure you are okay? You're seeing things that aren't there.' Then Justin turned to Wendy and whispered: ‘I wish he stayed at farmyard. I wanted to discuss some things with you, but I can't with him around.'

‘What was that? Did you hear that?' Mr. Ages jumped up in terror. The two rats listened carefully but didn't hear a thing.

‘Come on, Ages!' Justin yelled, but he was immediately hushed by Wendy, who also heard a sound now. She also felt the cold, scary shivers again which she felt when she was near the farmer's barn. ‘Somebody's out there.' She whispered, and she took a few steps forward. There was clearly a sound of footsteps; sometimes running, sometimes walking slowly, but now they froze. Justin had finally heard the footsteps as well and his ears told him that the stalking ‘something' was right behind them in the thick bush. Justin didn't hesitate one second and pulled the bush away, revealing a small lady-rat.

‘Who are you?' Justin asked, but the rat ran for her life and soon disappeared in the forest. She obviously headed back towards the farmyard.

‘I think I know what that was! It was a barn-rat!' Wendy said, while she pointed in the direction where the small rat disappeared to.

‘Hmmm, possible... But, why are you so sure about that?' Justin asked.

Wendy had to come up with something soon. She couldn't possibly tell Justin and Mr. Ages about the creepy feeling she had when she had approached the barn while she stayed at the Brisby's, so she quickly said: ‘Well, it came from that direction. It might have been wondering why the Rosebush had been abandoned.'

‘Yeah, I guess more creatures wonder where we are. We have been living there for five years, so I guess you are right.' Justin said.

Mr. Ages nodded, and picked up his walking-stick from the ground. ‘Let's move on before more creatures come to sneak up on us.'

Justin looked at Wendy who had a worried expression on her face. ‘Are you ok, Sweetness?'

‘Oh, I'm fine. I just wonder why a barn-rat would follow us like that.'

‘Well, we don't know IF it was a barn-rat, of course.' Justin said, and he softly stroke her cheek. Wendy smiled but thought to herself; ‘oh, it was a barn-rat, alright.'


Justin, Wendy and Mr. Ages moved on slowly through the night. Mr. Ages was constantly complaining about the fact that the two rats were moving too fast, that Wendy needed more breaks and that Justin shouldn't be bothering Wendy too much with all his nonsense about Thorn Valley. Justin completely ignored the old medicine-mouse and continued talking to Wendy about way Thorn Valley looked and where they would live in. The new home was popularly called ‘the Castle' by the rats. It actually looked like a castle with the four huge, thick walls and the two towers that were sitting on top of the construction. The rats of NIMH lived inside the walls, together with the many crops that they were growing. The seeds had been planted last fall, so many of the crops were almost ready to be harvested soon.

Justin told Wendy that her room was next to his, and that he already spend a lot of time decorating it. Wendy was happy about hearing the stories about Thorn Valley, and she was very eager to see it with her own eyes, but she had the feeling that Justin was holding back. There was something about Thorn Valley which Justin hated. She didn't want to ask him while Mr. Ages was there, but she had a feeling that Justin was going to change that soon.


When the sun was coming up over the hills, it was clear that they hadn't made a lot of progress yet. Justin didn't really mind, he wasn't very keen on returning to the place where he had felt even more miserable than at NIMH. At least he was respected at NIMH because it was he who escaped right under the noses of the lab-people. His first attempt failed, but gave him time to have a look around. He discovered the ventilation system, and that was the first step to freedom. Some rats wanted him to be the leader back then, but he didn't want the leadership. He even stepped back in position by taking the part of Captain of the Guard, while Jenner was elected for the position Head of the Council. That was the biggest mistakes the rats could have ever made. But neither Justin, nor the rest of the rats could have known that the entire situation with Jenner could escalate like that. Even Nicodemus thought that Jenner was going through a temporary phase. He used to be so different. Why on earth did he change into that monster?

‘I certainly do not hope you are thinking about me looking like that!' Wendy's voice sounded from afar, but brought Justin right back to earth again.

‘Ah no, I was thinking about Jenner.' Justin said; he put his arm around Wendy and pulled her close against him. ‘I can only think about you with an enormous smile on my face.'

Wendy smiled and pushed herself even a little closer towards him, placing her head of his shoulder. They were aware of some angry muttered words grumbled by Ages, but they both couldn't care less.

Chapter 26: A Real Job at Last

When the sun was up completely, the party-of-three decided to sleep a little. Walking during the night and sleeping at daytime was a lot safer than the other way around.

They found a nice hidden spot right under a big oak. Apart from the safety, the oak also provided a nice view over the forest. And as the forest awakened, the traveling rats and mouse fell sound asleep. A few hours later, Justin opened his bag and pulled out some bread, corn and... chocolate!

Wendy had to take a closer look to recognize the big piece of chocolate Justin proudly shown. ‘But... that's chocolate! Where did you get that?' She said, pleasantly surprised to see it. She knew chocolate, she had tasted it once before. She thought it was the best thing she ever tasted in her entire life. ‘That's the correct answer! You have just won a big piece of it! Our dear Nanny has discovered the recipe by accident. She wanted to make that yukkie bean-soup she always makes.' Justin said grinning. ‘What? She wanted to make bean-soup and ended up making chocolate?' Wendy asked frowning. ‘Hehe, yeah, can you believe it! She was really pissed when she thought she ruined the soup, but Arthur wanted to try anyway. He was amazed by the taste of it. She added cocoa beans instead of normal beans. Everyone is addicted to the stuff. She started experimenting with it to transform it into... a more solid something, like this here.' Justin said, and he started to break the chocolate to pieces.

‘Ok now, close you eyes and open up... that's it.' Justin softly said while he gave Wendy a small piece of chocolate. She wanted to reply but before she knew it, Justin's lips were already onto hers. She welcomed his kiss intensely.

‘What in the... Justin! What are you....' Mr. Ages stumbled when he found the two kissing rats.

Justin slowly ended the kiss and said: ‘I was just tasting chocolate'.

‘Just tasting chocolate....' the old medicine-mouse repeated angrily. But he saw this romance coming for several years. For as far as he knew, they had a crush on each other ever since they first laid eyes on each other. He was happy for them all right, but he'd rather not under his own nose; he simply despised romantic stuff.

‘Are you two love-birds ready for a few extra miles?'

‘Miles? He means a couple of feet'. Justin whispered to Wendy.

‘I heard that!' Mr. Ages said and the small group moved on, as slowly as before.

A while later, the group passed the lake where Justin re-opened his injury a few weeks before. He knew they were half-way now. Half-way... and they were already traveling for two days already. And he hadn't forgotten about the question he wanted to ask Wendy. The nervous feeling he had before struck him again, but much more powerful now. He shook his head; this was not the time to think about that now, he had to get rid of Ages first. But that was a walk in the park compared to the Big Question.


Justin decided to ask Wendy another question first. Something he wanted very badly. ‘Eh, Wendy?' He stumbled.

‘Yes, Justin, what is it?' She replied as she looked over her shoulder to check on the muttering Mr. Ages who was limping about three feet behind them.

‘I wanted to ask you something.' Justin continued.

‘I figured that out already.' Wendy said grinning.

‘You did?' Justin asked rather puzzled.

‘Well, yes... otherwise you wouldn't have started with ‘Eh... Wendy'?' She answered frowning.

‘Oh... yeah, of course. Sorry....' Justin said smiling, but his heart was beating like crazy; he thought she knew about the Big Question.

‘Well, there won't be a Council anymore in Thorn Valley.' He continued.

‘No Council? But what about...'

‘Your job? Well, that was just the thing I wanted to discuss with you... You see... I want to offer you another job.'

‘You mean a real job?'

‘Yep, as real as can be. I want you to be my Personal Assistant. Don't worry now, I don't want you to bring me drinks, make my bed and you to go to the bathroom for me, hehe, just... you know, administrative things, consulting me, being my boxing-ball from time to time, (he gave her a reassuring wink) just being my right hand, that's about it.'

‘Oh, well... apart from the boxing-ball thing... I think it sounds great!' She said and she gave him a hug. ‘Thank you, Justin. I really appreciate it....' She said, when she finally released him go. They smiled at each other, totally ignoring the angry looks of the old mouse. Justin looked over his shoulder, wrapped his arm around Wendy, pulled her near to him and whispered softly in her ear; ‘I have a plan to get rid of the old mutter-mouse.'

Wendy looked right into his naughty eyes; she knew he wasn't joking.

Chapter 27: Cutting Loose

Wendy Elisabeth looked at the sky. The sun had turned bright orange and was soon to disappear behind the mountains. They had made more progress today than they did yesterday, partly because Justin carried the poor, heavily protesting mouse a few miles on his back. Thorn Valley must only be one or two miles away from here now....

‘Wow, it's beautiful, isn't it?' Justin's voice sounded near; he was whispering. He sat right next her. ‘Though it's nothing compared to your beauty.' He softly added.

Wendy blushed and wondered if she could ever get used to Justin's everlasting compliments. She gazed at him and gave him a kiss on his nose. ‘Now, what did you mean by getting rid of Mr. Ages?' She softly asked.

‘I meant that we'll be cutting ourselves loose from Ages soon. I'd say... in an hour or so.'

‘And leave him here, all alone, in the middle of the dark?'

‘Nope, I never said anything about leaving him all by himself....' Justin said as he pulled a small wooden something out of his bag.

‘What's that?' Wendy wondered.

‘That my love, is our ticket to freedom.' He said and he stuck the wooden thing between his lips. There was no sound, but Wendy understood what it was; it was a whistle.

‘And now we wait.' Justin said proudly.

Wendy shook her head and relaxed a bit. ‘Ok, Justin. Who have you been bribing?'

‘Bribing! Me? Nah, I'm just calling an old friend.'

A few minutes later Wendy heard a sound. She didn't quite know where the soft sound came from but soon learned that the sound was coming from above; it was Jeremy the crow!

‘What you don't know yet, is that Jeremy has given us a han... eh wing in Thorn Valley. He lives with us temporary until all the hard work is done. And right now, he's within our range, so that he can hear the whistle. See, I would have done this a LOT sooner if the whistle would have worked a couple of miles back.'

‘Jeremy! Here we are! Could you do us a huge favor?' Justin asked, but the crow was far too interested in the lady-rat who he had met briefly at the day Mrs. Brisby was saved from the cat. ‘Hey, you are that rat who saved Mrs. B!' Jeremy shouted.

‘Yes, that's me... It's good to see you again, Jeremy.' Wendy said.

‘Jeremy, may I have your attention please?' Justin tried again.

‘Hey! What is this all about? Mr. Ages muttered as he came limping to the place where Jeremy was at. ‘What is this? A crow?' He asked, while he checked his glasses.

‘Yes, sir! I'm a crow. My name is Jeremy, and I'm your Captain today.' Jeremy said with a polite bow. ‘Captain...?' Mr. Ages wondered.

‘Yep, he's your Captain for he's going to transport you to Thorn Valley, through the air.' Justin said with a growing grin on his face.

‘I'm not going anywhere! Especially not through the air, birdbrain!'

‘Who did you mean by birdbrain, mister?' Jeremy asked.

‘I guess he's referring to me.' Justin added casually.

‘Mr. Ages, don't you just think this is a great idea? I mean, your limping has gotten worse, and I'm doing much better so... I mean, wouldn't you just love to travel through air, feeling as light as a feather?' Wendy said, trying to stand by Justin.

‘Well, my limping is getting worse, I hate the forest by night and all the love-bird stuff... oh, sorry about that Jeremy.' Mr. Ages said, while rubbing his chin.

Justin softly gave Wendy a punch and gave her a wink. She smiled, but also got nervous. If Mr. Ages wasn't here... what will happen between Justin and her? Oh God! What if... Oh dear, she couldn't even think about that!

‘Oh all right, I think I'll give it a shot. I mean, what harm could it do?' Mr. Ages said.

‘Great! Let me help you up there.' Justin said and with a smooth movement he took the mouse by it's armpits and placed it on top of Jeremy's back.

‘Okay Jeremy! Off you go!' Justin yelled to the crow and totally ignored Ages' angry words.

Within seconds they were off into the air.

‘Alone at last.' Justin said and he turned towards Wendy. When he saw the concerned look on her face, he stroke his hand through her neck-fur.

‘Don't worry Sweetness, he'll be okay.' And he softly kissed her.

He knew she wasn't worried about Ages, he knew she was afraid of what would happen between the two of them. He was scared to death about ‘the first time' as well, for he was as green as she was. She had nothing to worry about, he wasn't planning on doing anything. All he wanted was kissing her, giving her a great time and asking to marry her. A shiver ran through his body. ‘Come on, let's walk a bit further. I have a surprise for you.' Justin said, and he took her by the hand.

So off they went, this time without Mr. Ages, moving a lot faster than the days before. ‘So, are you really okay?' Justin asked.

‘Justin, you've been asking that every fifteen minutes these past three days!'

‘I know, I just want to be sure that you are okay, okay?'

‘I'm okay... Justin, did I really die out there?'

‘Yes, you did... You died in my arms. I thought I was losing my mind! It felt as if my heart was ripped out of chest and stepped on over and over again.' Justin took a deep breath. ‘I wanted to die that very instant, hoping to catch up with you on the way to heaven.' He softly smiled and looked at Wendy.

‘What happened after that?' Wendy asked as she stared right into his eyes.

‘Mrs. Brisby returned from her adventure in Porky's cage. She overheard an alarming conversation between the farmer and NIMH. They were planning on removing the Rosebush the next morning. Jenner was the one she ran into first. Of course he refused to hear her story, so he attacked her. Ages called me to safe her from Jenner. I wasn't armed, so I grabbed a stick and went after him. That's how he injured my arm. Then the Stone, you know, the one Nicodemus gave to Mrs. Brisby, started to glow. When he saw it he went crazy! He jumped on top of Mrs. Brisby, trying to grab the necklace... I guess he's got a thing for necklaces, hehe... Well, Sullivan threw his sword at me, so I kicked Jenner off of Mrs. Brisby and then the fight began.'

‘Wow... you're so brave.' Wendy said and she gently touched Justin's arm. ‘Did Jenner say anything during the fight?'

Justin's heart missed a beat as he heard her question. He couldn't tell her what he said, he just couldn't! Jenner was dead, so there was no need for her to know.

‘No, he said nothing, nothing at all.' Justin said and quickly added; ‘Well, he was distracted for some reason, so I had the chance to push my sword's blade into his stomach, I pulled it out, turned around and threw it away. I thought he was going to die, but he got up, and he attacked me from behind. Sullivan was the one who ended it. Then he died as well.

We all thought it was over, but then the Brisby home started sinking. We tried what we could, but the lines weren't strong enough. The Stone is the one who pulled the block out of the mud. After that, the Stone kind of ‘flew' towards you. It landed on your chest and you started breathing again! I can't tell you how happy I was when I saw that you were alive!' Justin smiled and he softly touched her head and neck. He removed some of her neck-fur to see her scar. He was amazed; the scar was so small! He could hardly believe that so much blood could come out of such a small cut.

She gazed into his eyes. ‘You are so brave... Mr. Leader.'

‘Oh Wendy, never call me that. Nothing has or will change for us... well not because of the title.' Justin said and he embraced her firmly.

‘I promise... I was afraid that things would change between us... I'm so happy that it won't.'

‘Never.' Justin added. And they moved on again, heading towards the waterfall.

They reached the waterfall right before dusk. The setting sun changed the sky from blue to red and was just breathtaking. ‘Oh Justin, this place is beautiful!' Wendy said and she gazed at the area with her mouth slightly opened. Justin enjoyed the look on her face.

‘What do you think? Would you like to crash here?' Justin asked.

‘Oh yes! I would love to sleep here!' Wendy answered grinning. She was getting used to Justin's American ‘slang' more and more.

‘Oh my Lord, look at you. You're so handsome in that dark suit.'

‘Hey, what is that look on your face?' Justin teased when he noticed Wendy staring at him.

‘I... eh, I was just wondering... where's your blue suit?'

‘It's completely ruined. Irreversible damage, Nanny called it.'

‘Oh, well... this color looks great on you, too.' Wendy said with a blush.

‘Yeah, sometimes ‘change' isn't too bad.'

‘No I guess not... So, what is it like in Thorn Valley? Do you like being the leader?'

‘Eh... Thorn Valley is great. It's beautiful, it's safe.' Justin said, partly overwhelmed by Wendy's question.

‘And...' Wendy said, trying to push Justin into answering more satisfying.

‘I... hate being the leader.' Justin said determent.

‘You what?' Wendy asked in astonishment.

‘I hate it. And I blew it. I admit it, I'm a loser.' Justin said and he started walking towards the water. He kneeled down and drank some water. He wasn't at all thirsty, he was just unsure of what to do next.

‘Justin...' Wendy sat next to him. ‘Please, don't walk away.'

‘I'm not walking away, I'm just thirsty.' Justin lied.

‘Don't lie to me. What happened?'

‘Nothing quite happened, that's the point. I... passed out on the way to Thorn Valley because of the arm.'

‘Oh Justin, I'm so sorry.'

‘It got infected... But I didn't pay enough attention to it. I cut it open, a couple of miles back, but I guess the knife that I used wasn't too clean, either. Gabriel later told me that I was suffering from severe blood-poisoning. Brutus had to carry me up the rocks we'll be entering in a couple of feet. The rats are now doubting the fact if I'm good enough to being the leader, I overheard some conversations. Besides that, they are still going to Nicodemus for answers... Like I said; I'm a loser. I need a miracle to be accepted as a leader.' He sighed.

‘You're not a loser!' Wendy said and she wrapped her arms around him.

‘You couldn't help getting hurt! You couldn't help the blood-poisoning! You were terribly ill! Nobody could have dealt with that!'

Justin sadly smiled and said; ‘No, I guess not, but they don't buy that. And then there is Thorn Valley, the world's safest place. I will never able to prove that I deserve the title! I'm doomed.'

‘Doomed?' Wendy said, and she started to grin. ‘You're so silly!' She gave him a push.

‘Hey, stop that! This is a serious conversation!' Justin said, but he started grinning as well.

‘Oh Mr. Grumpy...' Wendy teased and she got up, for she was risking a tickle-attack.

‘Mr. Grumpy? Wendy Elisabeth Victoria Emma Kenmare, come over here!' Justin said, he got up and started chasing her.

Wendy was running like crazy, trying to keep out of Justin's claws. Gosh, he was so fast! There was no way she was going to outrun him!

She took a turn and hid behind a tree. For a while the tree was a shield between Justin and Wendy. She thought she could beat him by suddenly running away, but he must have thought about the same thing and he suddenly grabbed her, lifted her and threw her into the lake.

‘Justin!' She screamed in astonishment, but she admitted that it was quite funny. Justin didn't hesitate and jumped in right behind her. They both started to laugh and started plashing water at each other. A while later they were both resting on the side of the lake. They took their clothes off so that they could dry. Wendy slightly hesitated when Justin asked her why it took her so long to get her wet clothes off. She told herself not to be silly; she had been naked in front of Justin many times before, not even too long ago. She remembered the very first time she met Justin. It was at NIMH. She had seen his escape-attempt and was quite impressed by the young male. She also overheard his conversations with Nicodemus at the laboratory. Her cage was on top of Nicodemus'. She hesitated back then to get out of her cage. It was Justin who came by to tell her the good news. She was naked back then, as was he. She remembered that he had approached her carefully. She was scared, all curled up at the back corner of her cage. He convinced her of leaving her cage and jumping into adventure with him. She knew back then that Justin was special. She fell in love with him that very moment. Now, she was curled up again, this time with her head placed on his chest. The sound of his heartbeat was so reassuring that she almost dozed off to sleep. ‘Are you asleep?' Justin softly asked. Wendy only answered with a soft moan. ‘Allow yourself to fall into that deep sleep, Sweetness.' Justin softly whispered, but she didn't even hear those words; she was already sound asleep.

Chapter 28: The Surprise

When Justin woke up it was already pitch-black. There wasn't even a moon! He carefully pulled himself away from Wendy, who muttered something, but was soon sound asleep again. He went over to the waterfall. He found a spot where he could easily fit through, a spot without falling water. ‘This is perfect!' He whispered to himself. He carefully walked back to Wendy was sleeping. His eyes were getting more and more used to the dark when he carefully lifted the lady-rat up. Within minutes she was lying down again; this time at the other side of the waterfall. Justin looked at her with pride. He did it! He laid down beside her again, maneuvered his arm in a comfortable position, and went to sleep.

The next morning Wendy slowly opened her eyes. Sleeping curled up in Justin's arms is lovely but isn't at all lovely for all kinds of neck-,back-,arm-,etc muscles. She slowly stretched her aching back and neck and gazed around. She could swear that the surroundings looked different yesterday. And where is Justin? She started panicking for a brief moment but relaxed when she heard happy whistling; Justin's whistling. 

‘Aw, yow woke uw too wearly!' Justin said behind a huge pile of forest-fruit. 

‘Excuse me?' Wendy teased.

‘I said: ‘Aw, you woke up too early'!' Justin repeated as he put down the fruit.

‘I got that...' Wendy smiled.

‘You little rat.' Justin said and he was smiling too.

‘I'll pretend I didn't hear that.'

‘Well, so much for the surprise but... HAPPY BIRTHDAY!'

‘My birthday?' Wendy stumbled.

‘If I am not mistaken, it's the 4th of March today, and that happens to be your birthday.' Justin said and he jumped right next to Wendy and gave her a kiss.

‘Got you breakfast. Strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries...You name it!'

‘Wow... Can't believe you remembered that.' Wendy whispered.

‘Of course Sweetness! Hey, did you have a look around?'

‘Thanks Justin, you're great, you know that?'

‘Yes, as a matter of fact I do.'

‘Oh God, Justin!' She said, and she gave him a punch.

‘Just kidding, just kidding!'

‘But to answer your question; I have, and this place is beautiful! How on earth did you do that?'

‘It's magic.' Justin teased, he got up and walked in the direction of the food.

‘Oh come on Justin!'

‘No... come here Wendy, this fruit is waiting for you...'

Wendy smiled, took a deep breath, rolled her eyes and slowly walked in Justin's direction. She sat down beside him and took the blackberry Justin offered. She was pleasantly surprised by the Sweetness of the it. She noticed that Justin was looking at her and carefully she looked back at him. ‘What?' She asked as she saw the worried look on his face.

‘I... eh... I wanted to ask you something.' He stumbled.

‘Sure, go ahead.' Wendy answered while she focused back onto the blackberry again.

Justin suddenly gently took the blackberry from Wendy's hands, kneeled in front her and he cleared his throat.

‘My dear, sweet, beautiful Wendy Elisabeth Victoria Emma Kenmare, would you please give me the honor to be my wife?'

‘Justin? ... Are you asking me to marry you?'

‘Yes, I am. And please don't keep me waiting for an answer too long! I'm extremely nervous, you know?' Justin said, still on one knee.

‘Oh, Justin! Of course I want to be your wife!'

‘Is that a yes?' Justin said with a huge smile on his face.

‘Yes! It's a yes!' Wendy shouted and she kissed Justin passionately. Justin answered her kiss enthusiastically as he softly pulled her towards him. He pulled her further and further with the result that she lost her balance and landed right on top of him. They both laughed, but when Wendy tried to get off of him, she noticed that he had a firm grip on her arms.

‘Eh, Justin...' She stumbled.

‘Yes Sweetness...' He softly said, while he was gazing deeply into her eyes again.

‘I guess you're not going to let go of me, are you?'

‘Nope.' Justin answered, but she saw that his eyes were smiling.

‘You're silly, did you know that?'

‘No I'm crazy... about you...' Justin whispered, and he kissed her again, this time more romantically, putting his heart and soul into it. He gently loosened his grip, but she didn't want to move away. She wanted this day to last forever and ever.

Chapter 29: Life in Thorn Valley

Dear diary,

It's been four weeks since Justin and I arrived in Thorn Valley. The rats gave me a warm welcome, although they didn't expect me back so soon. Nicodemus threw me a party. Justin and I danced until all the rats were gone up to their rooms. He even requested a song for me; ‘Dancing Queen' from some band named Abba. I really had to laugh when I heard the lyrics. We have told the rest of the rats about our engagement. They were all happy for us, especially Nanny and Arthur. Isabella was the only one who was very disappointed when she heard about our plans. But we don't care about that. Unfortunately there is also a black side to Thorn Valley. Justin is indeed not accepted by the colony. They still ask Nicodemus for everything. Nicodemus says that it won't last forever. He says that the rats still have to get used to Justin, and to a new leader. I certainly hope that will happen fast because he feels very insecure lately. I wish there was something I could do about that, but I can't. The only thing I can do is support him as well as I can and help him with his administrations. Anyway... my room is fantastic! But I must admit that I haven't slept in it much; I have been sleeping with Justin ever since we arrived in Thorn Valley. Don't worry, we haven't done anything like ‘that' yet, but we have been really close. Just a little while longer and we will get married. Oh, we have a date now; we'll get married the 25th of May! Just one-and-a-half months away! Even less than that! Thank Goodness I have Nanny to help me with organizing the wedding. She's even making our clothes! I'll try my dress on tonight! I haven't even seen it yet. I can't wait! But before that, I'm going up to the roof to enjoy the sun and do some more work for Justin...


Wendy Elisabeth Victoria Emma Kenmare


Wendy closed her diary and took some papers upstairs with her. The weather had been wonderful lately; sunny and warm. The ‘Castle' has a huge courtyard, but Wendy Elisabeth preferred the roof. It was always nice and quiet up there.

It didn't take long before Wendy lost interest in the papers. She closed her eyes and wondered what it would be like to be Mrs. Justin. She suddenly opened her eyes. ‘Mrs. Justin who? Heck, I don't even know Justin's last name!' She never recalled him ever telling it. ‘I'm going to ask him tonight.' She told herself and she relaxed again.

‘Just the person I was hoping to see...'

Wendy looked up and saw Justin standing a few feet away from her. ‘Justin! I was just thinking about you....'

‘Were you now....' Justin said and he came closer.

‘Don't you just love the weather?' Wendy asked as she closed her eyes again.

‘Yes. In fact, I love it so much that I decided to give the two of us a day off.'

‘You have? That's great!' Wendy said and she jumped up.

‘Oh Justin! What shall we do? Shall we go to the waterfall? Shall we take a walk in the valley?'

‘That all sounds great, Sweetness, but I have a little plan of my own.'

Justin stepped closer and suddenly lifted Wendy up.

‘Justin! Where are you taking me?' Wendy shouted, but she enjoyed his firm grip. She could feel that his arms were getting stronger and stronger since he was practicing sword-fighting. It suddenly struck her how irresistible Justin looked today. He was wearing a dark uniform, he was slightly sweating from the heavy practice he just had, and his eyes were shinier and more alert-looking than normal. The way he looked made her heart beat faster. What was wrong with her?

Justin experienced the same sort of thing. When he found Wendy on the roof it looked like her fur was made of pure gold. Her blouse had been slightly unbuttoned because of the warmth.    

As Justin gently carried her downstairs Wendy started to understand where he was taking her. But she didn't ask, for he wasn't talking either. She wasn't at all afraid, she wasn't nervous; she completely surrendered to Justin and whatever he was planning with her.

A few moments later they arrived at Justin's room. He slowly placed her on his bed.

‘Wendy, please let me know if you don't want me to...'

‘Shhh, Justin... I'm all yours.' Wendy whispered as she placed her finger on Justin's lips.

‘Ok, but please at least let me know when I hurt you....' Justin whispered back.

‘I will.' Wendy said and she gently kissed him.

He kissed her back and slowly unbuttoned her blouse. She hesitated a while before loosening his belt. His heavy belt with the leather sword-holder softly fell on the floor. Justin took Wendy's blouse off and carefully placed it on the floor. Now Justin took off his own uniform. Mainly because it was a little hard to handle for someone else, but also because he didn't want her to be nude first. He didn't want her to feel vulnerable. All he wanted was to make her feel comfortable. She also took her skirt off. He sat back on the bed again, this time behind Wendy. He gently placed his hands in her neck and gave her a massage... But this time his didn't only focus on her neck. He gently lowered his hand towards her lower back. Wendy felt a tickling rush through her body. She closed her eyes and enjoyed Justin's touch. They lost themselves into each other. Wendy totally forgot to ask Justin's last name and the wedding dress she was supposed to try on that night. But who cares about that when you lay in the arms of your dream prince?

Chapter 30: How the Most Beautiful Day Turned Into a Nightmare

Dear diary,

Today's the big day! Justin and I are getting married! I'm glad it didn't take much longer, otherwise I wouldn't have fitted in my dress anymore. Nanny had to remake already. Just another two months and I'll become a mother! I cannot believe it! Justin is so happy! He hasn't left my side ever since we found out about the baby. I cannot wait to take it in my arms. But that has to wait. We are stepping into another adventure today. I've been longing for the moment that he'll take my hand and slide his ring onto my finger. I'll be Mrs. Justin King today... Yes, that's Justin's last name! King! We really had some laughs about it when he told me. So I'll be the King's Queen today and forever! Oh, I almost forgot! The Brisby's are here, too! Justin secretly had Jeremy picking them up. I can't wait to see them again!


Wendy Elisabeth Victoria Emma King (well, almost!)


‘Wendy! Wendy where are you?' Nanny rushed into Wendy's room and found the young rat-lady behind Justin's desk.

‘Nan, we still have plenty of time! Please, it seems as if you are the one who's getting married!'

‘Yes, I guess you are right, dear. But you seem a lot more relaxed since you are pregnant.'

‘Haha, I'll take that as a compliment, Nan.'

‘But you should! I can see that you are far less ‘jumpy' since you found your mate. You're eyes now reflect security, love and happiness. I love to see that you are doing so well, now. And it's because of your Justin, but most of all because of you. I mean, look at you! You've changed so much since the first time we met. You were scared, un-socialized and angry. Now you are a hero, a respected member of our community and a mother-to-be. I really feel privileged to have met you, and to have become your friend.'

‘Oh Nanny! You are far more than just a friend to me! I consider you as my mother. I love you with all my heart. If it hadn't been for you....'

‘You would have done fine, dear. And I love you too, more than you'll ever know.' Nanny said with tears in her eyes. ‘Let's get you dressed up! You don't want to be late on your own wedding, now do you?' Nanny said, and she smiled. It would be typical Wendy to be late on her own wedding as well. She was always late, but she even learned to love that bad habit.


Justin was nervous. Nicodemus and Arthur were with him in his room. They could both feel his tension. ‘Stand still, Justin! I can't attach your batches when you keep on moving all this time.' Arthur said, while he was standing on a chair. The much taller Justin just couldn't help standing still. But he was happy. He was happy because he was going to marry the love of his life and the mother-of-his-child-to-be. But Nicodemus had other things on his mind. He woke up after an extremely troubled night. Even this morning he had troubled feelings which he couldn't get out of his system. He didn't want to feel this way. He couldn't. The two rats that mattered to him most in the colony were getting married today. He had to feel happy, he had to feel proud! He shouldn't let negative feelings get to him. But somehow he couldn't help feeling like this. He was scared.

‘Nicodemus!' Justin shouted.

‘Sorry my son, I was sunken into thoughts.'

‘That's ok, I'm not blaming you. I'm rather disturbed myself.' Justin said, while he checked his looks in the mirror. ‘How do I look?' He continued as he turned towards Nicodemus again.

‘Like a strong, brave, proud leader.' Nicodemus said with a smile, but in his heart he felt fear, nothing but fear...


The new Main Hall was decorated nicely with flowers. It was already crowded with rats. All the rats of the colony were invited to the wedding of their Leader and the First Lady. They were all in their best clothes, hoping to catch a glimpse of Wendy's dress soon. Justin was already in the Main Hall, standing in the front of it. He was talking to Mr. Ages and Arthur. Nicodemus was preparing the ceremony, for he was going to marry his two most precious rats. Justin's eyes searched the Brisby family. For some reason their presents made him relax a bit. He spotted Cynthia Brisby first; she was dressed up in a pink dress. She was holding her doll ‘Wendy' firmly in her arms. Timothy Brisby was up and well, looking a lot stronger than the last time he saw him. Martin and Theresa were staring at Justin. He raised his hand and waved at the kids. Martin waved back enthusiastically, but his sister was immediately inspecting her tail. She was obviously still in love with him. Mrs. Brisby was on the right of her family. She was smiling and gave Justin a wink. She could clearly see his nerves. Justin gave her a wink back and stared at the huge doors that could open any minute, although he suspected Wendy to be a little late, as usual. Suddenly the doors opened and Nanny entered the Main Hall. She was wearing a pillow with the two rings which would connect Justin and Wendy. A moment later, she was followed by Wendy Elisabeth, who looked absolutely breathtaking. Her off-white wedding-dress was simple, but the way she was glowing made it so special. Justin realized he had stopped breathing the entire time and as she finally stood next to him, he gasped for air.

‘Wow, you are so beautiful.' Justin whispered.

‘No, you look beautiful, eh I mean handsome, sexy and irresistible....'

‘I don't know how you do it, but you can still make me blush like an idiot.'

Wendy smiled and started to blush a bit as well.

Nicodemus cleared his throat and started the ceremony by welcoming the rats in the Main Hall.

‘My dear friends, we have gathered here to bind these two very special rats in Holy Matrimony. The two of you have met under extreme circumstances in the laboratories of NIMH. We have traveled an enormous distance before we finally reached our destination. During this journey, we have faced problems, joy, loss, enemies, friends and love. Both Justin and Wendy know what I mean by that. Wendy has been through a lot in her young life and therefore had some problems with trusting others. Her rough childhood started in London, England. Justin was born at the Market Place where our adventure started. He was the youngest of four and was outside with his older brother when NIMH came to get us. His brother was lucky enough to escape.' Nicodemus paused and looked at Justin's face. He was biting the tears away. Nicodemus knew how much he missed his family. ‘Wendy found the market Place by accident. Unfortunately she was discovered by wrong rats when she arrived. My brother and I found Wendy more dead than alive. Fortunately she recovered, but as if bad luck had been chasing her, she was captured by NIMH, like the rest of us. She had been quiet all during our stay, not drawing any attention. I didn't even know that she was also captured until shortly before we left NIMH. Justin, who had figured the way out of the cage, was also the one who persuaded Wendy to leave her cage and to join us with our adventure. The Boniface Estate was the place where Wendy and Nanny started their friendship, a friendship which will last forever. After the Boniface Estate we've seen many places but we finally found peace at the Rosebush. But, after having lived there for five years, we decided to leave the Rosebush and start a new life, one without stealing. Unfortunately there were opponents to our Plan. One of them almost took our beloved Wendy away from us. That's why this day is so special, not only for you Justin and Wendy, but for all of us. And now it's time to take the vows.'

Nicodemus paused and cleared his voice.

‘Justin, will you take Wendy Elisabeth Victoria Emma Kenmare, to be you lawful wedded wife, to have and to hold, in sickness and in health, in good times and in bad, for as long as you both shall live?' Justin gazed deeply into Wendy's eyes and before answering.

‘I have longed and waited so long for this moment. I fell in love with you the very first time I laid my eyes on you. From that moment on, I knew that you were going to be special to me, to us. We've been through so much together; our escape from NIMH, our journey to the Rosebush, our trip to London... the night that nearly made this day impossible... it's like I've known you all my life. And now look at us! We are getting married at this very moment and you are carrying my child. I love you so much that words cannot even begin to describe it. Yes, I want to be your husband so badly! I never wanted anything more than that... So my answer is; yes... I do. ‘

Wendy smiled at Justin with tears in her eyes. Nicodemus smiled and continued the ceremony.

‘Wendy Elisabeth Victoria Emma Kenmare, will you take Justin King to be your lawful wedded husband, to have and to hold, in sickness and in health, in good times and in bad, for as long as you both shall live?'

‘Oh yes, I do... I owe so much to you. You've made me into what I am today. It's because of you that I can look at myself in the mirror and be proud of what I see. You complete me, you make me feel safe, but most of all you've put me under a magic spell for these past ten years. I've loved you ever since you appeared inside my cage at NIMH. I'm proud of the fact that you want to be my husband, so yes, I do want to be your wife. You make me so happy.'

‘Then I now pronounce you husband and wife. You may kiss your bride.'

But as Justin prepared to kiss his bride the ceremony was brutally interrupted.

‘Justin, Justin! It's Brutus! He's dead!' 

Chapter 31: Jenner's Return

All the guests got up from their seats and gazed at the door. Justin and Wendy also turned around and gazed at the door with open mouths. Mrs. Brisby gasped when she saw the in blood covered rat. Was that really Sullivan? Justin was the first to step down. He slowly walked in Sullivan's direction.

‘You! You are dead!'

‘No, yes. I don't know how it happened, either! Suddenly I woke up! I was taken to the barn, where the barn-rats live. Jenner was there, too. He's alive too! He's the one who did this to Brutus! I wanted to warn you! But they are so strong, so strong...'

‘What are you talking about! Jenner's dead! Do you hear me? Jenner's dead! And so are you!'

Justin grabbed Sullivan's shirt and started to shake him. ‘You are supposed to be dead!'

‘I know, I know! Justin please! Stop this!'

‘Justin! Think about the Amulet! Perhaps they also live because of the Amulet!' Wendy shouted, as she took Justin by his shoulders.

Justin released Sullivan and looked at him. It was the same Sullivan he left at the Stone in the Garden. He was still the same small, stocky, gray rat he used to know. As if struck by lightning, Justin realized what Sullivan had said; Brutus! He ran out of the Main Hall to where Brutus had stand guard. When he found him he immediately kneeled down and he checked his pulse and breath. ‘Help me! He's still breathing!'


‘Do you think he'll make it?' Wendy stood next to Justin, still wearing her wedding dress.

‘I don't know.' Justin replied, with an empty look in his eyes.

‘Is there anything I can do for you?' Wendy softly whispered as she touched Justin's shoulder.

‘No... yes! Promise me you'll stay inside until this problem is solved. If he finds out about your pregnancy, he'll be bound to....' Justin suddenly stopped.

‘He'll be bound to do what? Kill me?' Wendy asked.

‘No, he'll take you away from me. He'll take you away...' Justin stood up from his chair. ‘I was so stupid! I should have finished him off, I should have chopped his head off! I should have...'

‘Justin! Calm down! Please... What do you mean? He won't take me away from you!'

‘Yes, he will! He's been waiting for this moment his entire life!'

‘Justin... tell me what this is all about!'

‘No, I can't do that. You'll hate me....'

‘Try me.' Wendy said and she softly pulled Justin towards the bed.

‘I can't do it. I can't. It'll kill you! You're pregnant, I cannot tell you the truth....'

‘Justin, please. You're my husband, and even though our wedding wasn't what we hoped it would be, we've taken vows. They were about honesty, trust. Love. I swear to you that I won't hate you. How can I hate such a wonderful person...'

‘Wendy stop it! I kept something from you which I should have told you the moment I found out. But I was so scared that it would hurt you, that it would destroy you. When he died I thought that he took the secret into his grave with him, that it wasn't important anymore, that it would only do you harm.' Justin sighed.

‘Justin... I'm asking you one more time, and if you don't tell me what it is that's bothering you, I'll....'

‘You'll what?' Justin stumbled.

‘Justin... just tell me.'

Justin took a deep breath. ‘Well, you don't give me a choice, do you?'

‘No.' Wendy replied casually.

‘Alright, but please don't go crazy, ok? Think about the baby.' He said and he placed his hand on Wendy's stomach. As he softly felt the movement of the baby, he relaxed a bit.

‘I promise.'

‘I lied to you when I said that Jenner didn't say anything during the fight. He said something alright. I don't even know where to begin! Jenner didn't know you were... dead. When he found out he wanted to see you, hold you etcetera. That freak... Of course I said that he should stay away from you because he was the one who killed you and that he never cared for you in the first place! Well, to make a long story short; he said that he had every right to see you because he is your father.'

Wendy didn't say a word, she just stared at Justin with a frown on her face.

‘Well, that's it.' Justin said. ‘Please say something...?'

‘It's obvious... He was just trying to make you even more angry than you already were.'

‘No, Wendy... he told me the truth.'

‘No... He's lying! I don't even look like him, do I?'

‘No, no, no! Thank goodness not! You've inherited NOTHING of him! You are perfect! Both from the in and the outside!'

After these words, both Justin and Wendy started to cry and found comfort in each others arms. That evening they experienced the most intimate, passionate night they ever had. From that moment on they knew that nobody was ever able to break them apart, no-one and nothing.

Chapter 32: Losing Grip

‘Brutus? Brutus can you hear me? Open your eyes.'

Mr. Ages was standing next to Brutus' bed in the infirmary. Brutus had been extremely lucky; the knife entered his body right next to his heart. Other from a collapsed lung, there were no internal organs damaged. He had been sleeping ever since he came from the operating-room.

Brutus slowly opened his eyes and he looked at the medicine-mouse.

‘You saved my life.' He said in a whisper.

‘No, Justin has. He's the one who checked on you when all the others thought you were dead. I guess they were too busy seeing Sullivan standing up from death.'

‘Sullivan?' Brutus moaned.

‘Yeah, Sullivan is back, and so is Jenner. He's the one who did this to you.'

‘No! No! no!...' Brutus yelled and he tried to get up.

‘Brutus! Please, you must not get up! I'm afraid Jenner is back, son... Dark days will enter our lives now he's returned and I hope to God that we'll get through this. I hope Justin will get through this...'


‘What are we going to do, Justin?'

Wendy was sitting up in their bed, while her eyes followed Justin around the room.

‘I don't know what to do. The only thing I want is to keep you safe.'

‘I know that, but you are also the Leader of the Rats of NIMH... They count on you.'

‘To do what? I don't even know where Jenner is.'

‘They count on you to make them feel safe again.' Wendy replied calmly.

‘But how?'

‘Trust in yourself. Nicodemus chose you to be the First Rat, he knows you are capable enough. And so do I.'

‘But you are privileged! And so is Nicodemus. He's been my number one fan ever since he met me.'

‘Oh Justin! You are impossible! You know what you are doing? You're talking yourself into a depression!' Wendy shouted.

‘Am not!' Justin replied.

The discussion was ended when Philip knocked on the door.

‘Sorry to interrupt, but Brutus had been asking for you, Justin.'

‘I'll be right downstairs, Philip, thank you.'

Philip saluted, nodded at Wendy and left the room, closing the door gently behind him.

‘Wendy, I just don't know what to do right now, but the last thing I want is to drown in a depression. I just want everyone to be safe. But I just don't even know where to begin!'

‘Perhaps Brutus knows more, perhaps that's the reason why he wants to see you.'

‘Yes, that might be the reason. I'd better go downstairs.'

‘Yes, I guess you should. But... can I have a kiss before you go?'

‘Do you really think that I was able to leave this room without kissing and hugging my sweet, beautiful, intelligent, lovely, sexy, incredible, passionate, fantastic wife?'

‘Do you really think I'd even consider the possibility to even let you set one foot out of this room without it kissing and hugging me?'

‘I guess that'll be a ‘no'?'

‘Oh, that's a ‘no' alright...'

Justin walked in her direction, took her in his arms and gave her an enormous kiss.

‘See you later, Sweetness... Please...'

‘Yes, yes... I'll stay inside with the doors and windows locked.'



‘Brutus? Are you awake?'

Isabella's voice sounded soft, but nervous. She wondered why she went to the infirmary in the first place. She slowly walked towards Brutus' bed. He was so large that his feet lay outside the range of the bed. He was still asleep, breathing heavily.

Isabella took a seat next to Brutus' bed. She stared at his face. His young, handsome face. She never really looked at him like that. She never looked at anyone like that, well... except for Justin of course. But Justin was married now, so it was no use running after him anymore. Although Brutus was huge, he was very kind. She gently placed her hand on his forehead.

‘I see Brutus has some company.' Justin softly said when he entered the room. He had to hide his confusing when he saw Isabella on Brutus' bedside.

‘Is he awake?' Justin continued, as he stepped closer to the bed.

‘No, he's still asleep. I guess he's not in pain. He's very... laid back.'

‘I guess they drugged him. Mr. Ages is really good at overdosing rats you know.' Justin said with a wink.

‘Do you really think he did that?' Isabella asked.

‘Well, he overdosed Wendy while she was staying at the Brisby home.' He said smiling and his thought drifted off to the day that he picked Wendy up.

‘Do you think Jenner will come back to kill all of us?' Isabella asked.

‘No Izzy! We won't allow him! Don't be afraid. I've taken care of maximum security. You have nothing to worry about.'

‘But how did he get inside in the first place?'


‘Justin, he didn't get in...' Brutus' voice sounded soft and weak.

‘What did you say Brutus?' Justin asked, while he moved closer to Brutus because he didn't want to make him repeat his sentences.

‘He wasn't here, it was someone...' Brutus took a gasp for air. ‘someone among us.'

‘What are you talking about? Was it Sullivan?'

‘No, it was... it was... Philip.'


Justin ran up to Philips room, taken large, angry steps.

‘Philip, open up!' He shouted. Did Brutus really say that Philip was the one who did this to him? ‘Philip, come on! Open up NOW! I order you to open this door!'

When Philip didn't answer the door, he went back to Wendy's old room, where Sullivan was staying. ‘Sullivan, I need to have a word with you.'

‘Justin! What's wrong?'

‘Where's Philip?'

‘Philip? I don't know, I haven't seen him since this morning. Why are you looking for him?' Sullivan said while he shrugged his shoulders.

‘Brutus claims that he has been attacked by him.'

‘Justin, what's going on? I can hear you shouting all across the hallway!' Wendy said. She was wearing her bathrobe.

‘By Philip?! Oh Justin! You've really gone too far this time! You're accusing your best friend to attempt of murder?' Sullivan yelled, trying to get this crazy idea out of Justin's head.

‘Brutus told me himself! Ask Izzy, she was there!'

‘Isabella was there?' Wendy asked. This whole situation made no sense to her at all.

‘Well, yeah, but that's not important right now! Brutus saw his attacker! It was Philip!'

‘Justin, you're scaring me. You have to sit down and think about this clearly before you start accusing rats who have been good citizens of this colony for ages!' Wendy walked up to Justin, pulled his arm and forced Justin into a chair. ‘There, I'll get you some tea and something to eat. And don't you think about getting up! Sullivan, I've got this under control. You try to relax a bit, I'll make you some, too.' Wendy rushed off to the kitchen to make Justin's favorite lunch; corn with honey. When she arrived at the kitchen she saw it was completely deserted. She didn't waste any time and started to heat the oven. Suddenly she felt as if she was being watched. She quickly turned around and gazed directly in Philip's eyes.

‘Oh... Philip, you scared me a little.'

‘Sorry, Wendy. I didn't mean for that to happen.'

‘So, what brings you to kitchen?' Wendy asked, trying to hide her uncomfortable feeling.

‘You.' Philip casually said and he stepped closer to Wendy.

‘Me?' Wendy moved back a bit and took the handle of a pan in her hand, just in case.

‘Yeah!' I'm so sorry to hear the ceremony was interrupted like that! I guess you are really disappointed.'

‘Oh, well... it's far worse for poor Brutus. Uhm... where were you at the ceremony? I mean... I didn't see you anywhere. I was wondering... Justin didn't put you on guard, did he?'

‘In fact he did! That's why I feel so guilty about this entire... thing! I should have stopped the person who did this!' Philip said and stepped closer to Wendy again.

She stepped back a little further as he did and firmed her grip around the pan-handle.

‘I... I guess the oven is warm. I should... sorry.' She was about to walk towards the oven when Philip stopped her.

‘Philip, please... Let me go.'

‘Wendy...' But it was too late. Wendy had already lifted the pan and hit Philip over the head. ‘Oh God! What have I done?' She whispered in terror and ran off to Justin.


‘Justin! This all your fault!' She shouted when she entered the room.

‘Excuse me?' Justin said, while still sitting in the chair where Wendy left him.

‘I killed him! And that's your fault because of your accusations!'

‘Wait a minute... now you sit down and tell me what happened.'

‘I was in the kitchen preparing your corn when suddenly Philip came into the kitchen as well.'

‘Philip was in the kitchen?' Justin said with large eyes.

‘Yes, he was... He said he was looking for me to apologies for not being there to prevent the interruption of our marriage. Well, he stepped a little too close, I grabbed a pan and I hit him over the head.' She took a deep breath.

‘Are you sure he's dead?'

‘Well, he didn't move, and he bleeding a little...'

‘Did you hit him hard?' Justin asked.

‘No... yes... I guess medium.'

‘I think he's just unconscious. Come on!'


‘This is where I left him.' Wendy pointed at the empty kitchen floor.

Justin looked down at the floor with a non-understanding expression on his face.

‘Oh, Nanny! Did you happen to see Philip?' Wendy asked when her friend entered the room.

‘Yes, as a matter of fact I did! I found the poor fellow here on the floor with a huge head-injury! Ages took him to the infirmary.'

‘The infirmary...' Justin whispered and took off without a further word.

‘Wendy? What's wrong with Justin?'

‘He... I... Sorry Nan, I'll fill you in on the details later.' And she took off after her husband, leaving a very puzzled rat behind.


When Justin arrived at the infirmary, he noticed something strange. The bed-curtains were all closed. Normally they would be open, so one could spot the ill from afar.

‘Justin! Slow down, would you?' Wendy said while she was panting for breath.

Justin hushed Wendy with a simple hand-gesture. He lowered his hand to find his sword. When he did he pulled it out of the leather holder. Then he turned around to face Wendy.

‘Wendy, go find Arthur and stay with him until I come to pick you up. Tell him not to leave your side until I say so!' Justin whispered.

Wendy wanted to protest, but she saw the urge in her husband's eyes. It was no use to oppose to him. So she turned around and started looking for Arthur.


Justin opened the first curtain. The bed behind it was empty. His heart was beating like crazy. What was he going to find? He opened another, and found another empty bed. Someone had left the windows open, so the white, large curtains were waving around Justin, like ghosts in a surreal world. Justin didn't even notice the black silhouette behind him. 

Chapter 33: The Maze

‘Looking for me?'

Justin turned around as fast as he could. His heart missed a beat when he gazed into his opponent's eyes.

‘Philip, I'll give you one chance to tell me what the Hell is going on here.' Justin asked as casually as he possibly could.

‘Your wife tried to kill me, that's what is wrong here! No, no... Don't worry! I won't tell anyone. She's probably just freaking out because of the pregnancy and the wedding-stuff... I don't blame her, I really don't.'

‘Philip, do you have connections with Jenner?'


‘Do you have connections with Jenner?' Justin asked again, this time a little louder.

‘Justin... my friend! How could you even suggest that...'

‘Oh you have connections with Jenner alright.'

Justin turned around and saw Brutus. He was out of bed, still wearing is operation shirt.

‘Brutus! Get back to bed.' Justin yelled, afraid that the friendly giant would collapse.

‘Philip, tell our Leader the truth.' Brutus continued.

‘I....' Philip stumbled.

‘Philip?' Justin asked while he gazed into Philip's eyes.

‘Justin... I'm sorry....' Philip said, he pulled his sword out of his holder and pushed the blade into his stomach.

‘Philip NO!' Justin screamed and he ran in Philip's direction. But it was already too late. Philip was already dead. 


Mr. Ages had just paid a visit to the Brisby family. They were still in the Valley, for Justin wanted to make sure they were safe. There was always a possibility that there were still some barn-rats at the Fitzgibbon Farm. He didn't want to take the risk. When he entered the infirmary he gasped for air. ‘Justin! Brutus! What in the world has happened here?'

‘Philip has committed suicide.' Justin said, while he got up from the floor.

‘Why on earth did he do that?' Ages wondered, still in a state of shock.

‘He was the one who attacked Brutus. He was a follower of Jenner. Something tells me that there are more followers in this colony.' Justin spoke clearly and rationally, as if nothing serious had happened. Ages knew his casual attitude was caused by shock. Mr. Ages walked in Brutus' direction and ordered him back into bed. Gabriel, the recently-graduated-rat-doctor, came in. Justin already warned him. Together with Justin, he lifted Philip up onto a riding bed. As Gabriel took Philip with him, Justin took a deep breath. He wanted Wendy so badly that he didn't want  to waste any more time in the infirmary.


He found her at Nanny's room. Arthur, Nanny, the Brisby family and Justin's beautiful wife were sitting in a circle playing cards. Justin smiled when he saw them, trying to make the best of things in these terrible times. ‘Can I join you?' He asked.

Everyone looked up and smiled. Wendy stumbled to get up; her stomach was getting more and more in the way. She embraced Justin firmly when she finally managed to get up.

‘I missed you so much.' Wendy whispered in Justin's ear. 

Justin smiled at her and kissed her. He needed her so much. She was the one that made his life worth living for. She and their unborn baby.

‘Well, did you find Philip?' Arthur asked while he got up from the floor as well.

‘Yes, I did...' Justin softly said, trying to hide his emotions.

‘Well, did he admit that he was Brutus' attacker?' Arthur wondered.

‘He didn't admit it out loud... but he did commit suicide when we asked if he did. That sure says enough, now doesn't it?' Justin sighed.

‘Oh, Justin... I'm so sorry... Are you okay?' Wendy whispered.

‘I'm not okay, but mainly because I don't know who to trust anymore. How on earth am I going to figure out who's to be trusted and who isn't? Anyone could be a villain, anyone...'

‘Hey, at least you know WE are the good guys here. And so is Brutus, otherwise he wouldn't have been attacked.'

‘Yes, it's good to know you are to be trusted. But there are some measures we have to take to make sure the good girls and guys are safe. Do you suppose we could use the Maze underneath ‘the Castle'?' Justin asked.

‘The Maze?' Wendy asked. ‘What is the Maze?'

‘It's an escape route, actually. I built it to make sure that we would be safe in case ‘the Castle' would be attacked. The only ones who know about the Maze are Nicodemus, Justin and myself.' Arthur explained.

‘This is a good opportunity to use it. There are several bedrooms, an infirmary such as this one but smaller, a weapon-unit and a nursery.' Justin said.

‘The escape route leads directly to the Waterfall.' Arthur said, completing Justin's sentence.

‘We must make a list with all rats that can be trusted for the whole 100 percent.'

‘Wait a minute! How on earth do you know who can and can't be trusted. What if you'll make mistakes? You could lead killers into the safety spot, and leave innocent citizens up here where they'll be killed for sure!' Wendy said, looking at the two male rats.

‘We'll start by evacuating the Brisby Family, Nicodemus, Brutus, Mr. Ages, Gabriel, Nanny, Arthur, you my love and myself.' Justin said, ignoring Wendy's fears.

‘Wait a minute! What about the other rats?' Wendy pleaded. ‘You are the one that should protect all of them! You are the one to make everyone feel safe!'

‘I'm sorry my love, but I have to do it this way! I would have died for Philip! He was the one I always confided in! I even put Nicodemus' life in his hands while we were in London! I don't know what to do either! Who can I trust? Everyone could be a follower of Jenner!'

‘Then let me talk to him! Let me talk to Jenner! He's my father, he won't hurt me!'

‘No way in Hell I will let you talk to that murderer.' Justin yelled.

‘But...' Wendy said, but she was interrupted by Justin.

‘No buts! Discussion closed, Wendy.' Justin said, calmly, but his heart was beating like crazy.

Wendy was numb by Justin's words. Her eyes filled with tears.

‘You really don't trust me, do you?' She said with a lump in the throat.

‘I do trust you! This has nothing to do with trust!' Justin said non-understanding.

Nanny and Arthur stared at each other. Jenner? Wendy's father?

‘Wendy dear, he's just worried about you and the baby...' Nanny spoke to ease the starting fight between the two newly weds.

‘Come on guys! This is not the time to argue.' Arthur said. ‘I think Justin made a good point in getting Wendy to safety. If Jenner indeed is your father, he'll go directly after you.'

‘He is my father. Tell them, Justin.'

‘Yes, he is her father. He told me during the fight. I didn't tell anyone, except for Nicodemus  because... well, I just didn't. She learned this a few days ago.' Justin said.

‘Oh Wendy, I don't believe this!' Nanny sadly said.

‘Nan, I'm still the same! Please don't look at me differently!'

‘No! No way! I just cannot imagine that such a sweet, beautiful lady could have a monster like that as a father.' Nanny took a deep breath. ‘I think you should be the last person to go near Jenner.'

Suddenly Wendy felt a painful sting in her stomach. She grabbed her stomach and gasped for air. ‘Wendy! Please sit down!' Justin said while he grabbed his wife's shoulders and gently seated her. ‘We have to get her to the infirmary.' He said to Arthur.

‘No, no... I'm alright. It's gone already.' Wendy stumbled.

‘But there might be something wrong with the baby!' Justin said, while he balanced on one knee in front of Wendy.

‘I've had this before, it's nothing serious. I guess I have just been under a lot of stress lately.' Wendy softly said, as she took Justin's hand and placed it onto her stomach.

‘He's moving.' Justin said and his serious face finally showed a smile again.

‘Perhaps she's just giving her mommy a hint not to worry too much.'

‘No, his mommy can leave that up to his daddy.' Justin teased. ‘But if you've had this before then....'

‘Then I should go to the doctor to check it all out.' Wendy finished.

‘Yes, that was what I had in mind.' Justin said, again with his serious face.

‘Well, I have already seen a doctor for this, and he said that there was nothing to worry about. It's just a sign. Of course it's bad, but if it weren't for these signs...'

Justin looked at his wife with a sad face. ‘Oh Wendy, I just wished that you didn't need to feel this way. That is why I must move you to a safe place. And the Maze is the perfect place for that.'


‘Well, this is it! Do you like it?' Justin proudly said while he opened one of the bedrooms in the Maze.

‘It's... eh... dark.' Wendy softly replied.

‘Well, yes... we are under the ground again. I guess we have to get used to that again.' Justin admitted that he hated the fact that he would actually lock his wife up, but he didn't see an other opportunity.

‘This will be your room, right over here.' Justin pointed.

‘Wait a minute... Does that mean that you will not be sleeping with me anymore?'

‘It's just temporarily....' Justin tried.

‘No way! I'm not staying here by myself!' Wendy shouted.

‘Wendy, I'm sorry....'

‘Justin! I will not accept this!' Wendy pleaded.

‘Arthur, lock the door please.' Justin said.

‘Justin! Justin! Come back here!' Wendy shouted from behind the door, but it was no use; Justin was already gone.

The Brisby Family also had a room in the Maze. They were sad to hear Wendy's pleads further in the hallway.

‘I really can't believe he did that!' Martin said.

‘He does this to protect his wife!' Theresa said, standing up for Justin.

‘Yeah right. He's keeping her hostage, that's what he's doing!'

‘Martin, please... I agree with Theresa. Wendy's pregnant. And since Jenner is her father, what I really don't understand, Justin has to be extra careful with her. If Jenner will find out about the pregnancy, as he hasn't already, he'll be bound to take his daughter back with him as well as his grandchild. He'll leave Justin with nothing.'

‘What are so saying mother? That if Jenner gets his hands on Wendy that we will never see her back again?' Timothy asked.

‘Yes, dear... I'm afraid we'll lose her if he does.' Mrs. Brisby said.

Chapter 34: Nicodemus

Justin walked towards Nicodemus, muttering in himself what on earth he was thinking. Wendy would probably kill him if he ever set foot in her room again. He wanted Nicodemus to tell him that he made the right decision, although he feared he opposed to Justin's action. As he reached Nicodemus' room he hesitated to open the door. He took a deep breath and placed his hand on the latch. He jumped back in surprise when the latch moved downward and the door swung open, all by itself. Nicodemus was sitting in his writing chair near his cabinet.

‘Come in my son, and close the door behind you. There is something I'd like you to see.'

Justin obeyed the words of the old man and stepped closer. Nicodemus pointed Justin the mirror, the mirror in which the past and the future could be seen. The mirror started to turn and before Justin was even able to blink his eyes, he saw a familiar sight. He was inside the laboratories of NIMH again. He was back in his cage, the cage where he spend over one year in. He started breathing faster and faster and realized he was hyperventilating. He started to panic, the way he did the first time he did when he was locked up. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. His breathing started to slow down and a while later he had his breath under control again. He opened his eyes and looked around in his cage. The cage was still the same as in his memory; empty, depressing and lonely. Suddenly he heard a noise; his cage was opened. A big gloved hand reached out for him. Justin tried to hide from the gloved hand, but there was no place to hide in or under. The gloved hand grabbed Justin firmly. He felt like biting the hand, but he couldn't reach the fingers with his teeth. He was caught, the only thing he could do was surrender. As the gloved hand turned, Justin could see the cages from a different perspective. He tried to yell across the area, but nobody could hear him. It was like he couldn't speak anymore. The gloved hand turned again but this time he faced danger; an injection needle! He tried to escape from the gloved hand, but the hand was too strong. The more he struggled, the more firm the hand held him. Justin was panting for breath, sweating like crazy and his heart was beating so hard that he thought it was beating right out of his chest. Right before he thought he couldn't bare it anymore, the mirror started to turn again. The images disappeared and Justin was in Nicodemus' room again. He stepped away from the mirror, still sweating and breathing heavily. He turned in Nicodemus' direction. He was still sitting behind his desk, writing in the Big Book; the book which contained the entire history of the rats of NIMH.


‘Nicodemus, what was that?' Justin asked when he finally realized he had been safely in Nicodemus' room all along.

‘That, my son, is what you are doing to your wife at this very moment.' Nicodemus finally spoke. He put the feathered pencil down and turned towards his best friend.

‘But I'm... I'm....' Justin stumbled.

‘I know, you are trying to keep her safe. Away from all dangers. However, you should be aware of the fact that Wendy has been through more than enough already. She is skilled, more than any of the rats I've met in my life, to survive. She's the one who will never take unnecessary risks, especially not now she's pregnant.' He got up from his chair and walked in Justin's direction. ‘Release her, my son... release her, and let her decide what to do next.'

‘But... but if I let her decide what to do next she'll be bound to find Jenner and she'll....'

‘She'll be fine, Justin. She knows he won't hurt her. You might see Jenner as your biggest enemy, as a villain without mercy. But may I remind you of the fact that that same Jenner has been one of my greatest friends. I would have given my soul for him. I believe that that Jenner, is still something in there. Give them a chance. You will not regret it.'

Nicodemus gently touched Justin's shoulder. ‘You love her... but so does he. He will not ever let anything happen to his daughter, not ever.' Nicodemus walked towards the big armchair in the center of his room, folded his hands and closed his eyes. Justin nodded and left Nicodemus' room without a word. The painful truth pierced through his heart. He had never been so scared in his entire life.


Meanwhile, Nicodemus opened his eyes again. He got up and walked towards the mirror. The mirror started to turn again when Nicodemus looked in it. It took him back to the Market Place, where everything started. He was outside with his older brother Gerald and his best friend Jenner. They were inseparable, always hanging out with each other. Life was simple and careless, simply because there were no problems. There was always plenty of food at the Market Place. Nobody had leadership; they were all responsible for their own lives. Nicodemus smiled when he saw the three of them together. Brotherhood would be a good word for it. In case of a fight with other young rats, you'd never stand alone; your friends were always there for you. Nicodemus sighed. Gerald was lucky enough not to be caught by NIMH, but it was a comforting thought that Jenner was there... Although it was a sad thought as well. Jenner proved to be an excellent member of the colony. He was the one who discovered the Boniface Estate, made it possible that everyone stayed together, through good times and bad. But he started to change when the rats found the Rosebush. He stood up as candidate for the function of Head Council, and was elected by the majority of the rats. But that was the worst mistake the rats could have made. Jenner's attitude changed while he was standing in front of the Council. He started attacking Nicodemus openly with verbal accusations. He convinced some rats that Nicodemus was dragging the rats to a certain death in ‘some wilderness called Thorn Valley'. According to Jenner there was nothing else but starvation, poverty and war. But Nicodemus already provided in food; the rats were preparing very well for Thorn Valley. They were growing crops like corn, wheat and oats. The growing-program was very successful, but Jenner didn't want to know anything about it. He told the rats that the crops would eventually thin out and leave them with nothing. Nicodemus wanted to tell him about the Fertilizer, but Jenner just wouldn't listen. He had a plan of his own; a plan to get sympathy by his voters, so that they would elect him for Leader one day. But Farmer Fitzgibbon caused trouble for Jenner by contacting NIMH about rats who didn't seem to get caught in his traps. Jenner feared that his plans would now be ruined. He tried to convince the rats that they were strong enough to fight the humans in his extra meetings. Some rats agreed, but most of them thought that it would be a suicide-mission. He lost most of his followers and needed something that would made them change their minds. When Mrs. Brisby came for help to move her house to the safe side of the stone, he knew what he had to do. He had to get rid of Nicodemus....


Nicodemus sighed. ‘My friend, how could this have happened? We were so close, so close... I wish I could turn back time.' Nicodemus walked back to his cabinet where the book was at. He turned a few pages back and read the words:


‘I learned something crucial from Justin today. Today he told me that Wendy Elisabeth is Jenner's daughter. I always knew this young lady was special, and now I know it for sure. Oh I was in shock when I found out, but there is something positive in this, too. You see, Wendy Elisabeth is a good person. A very good person in deed. Oh we had our difficulties at the beginning, but she's changed. If she can do it, so can he. We can bring the old Jenner back, with his daughter's help. She's our salvation.'


‘Oh, you are our salvation, alright.' Nicodemus said with a smile on his scarred face. ‘Wendy, my child... do whatever you think is right, follow your heart.' Nicodemus said as he closed his eyes. The candles in his room flickered as a mysterious wind was blown through the room.


Wendy opened her eyes. She was still inside the room where Justin locked her up. She must have cried herself to sleep, but she woke up under strange circumstances. She heard Nicodemus' voice in her dream, a dream about Jenner. Nicodemus kept telling her to do the right thing, to follow her heart. She shook her head as she couldn't make head or tail out of it. She heard a noise right outside her door. She sat up on her bedside. The door was softly opened and there stood Justin. He looked concerned.

‘I'm... I've been so stupid. I'm so sorry Sweetness, I shouldn't have done that. You are right. You don't belong here. You belong in our bedroom, beside me. I hope you can forgive me.'

Wendy Elisabeth took a deep breath, struggled to get up and started walking in Justin's direction. As she stood in front of him, she gave him a punch.

‘You lunatic. I really thought you were serious there.' She softly said.

‘I was, but I... realized I was wrong. Just understand that I want you to be safe.' Justin said as he softly stroke through his wives neck fur.

‘I understand and don't you worry about forgiveness.' She said and she firmly embraced her husband, placing her head on his shoulder although she had to stand on her toes to do so.

‘But promise me never to do this to me ever again.' She whispered.

‘I promise I won't.' Justin whispered back and he softly kissed her.


Later that day, Justin sat down with the Brisby's. They also decided to live above ground. They had to show the enemy that they didn't fear them, not now, not ever.

Chapter 35: A Little Light on the Horizon

Jenner walked up and down his room, swinging his cloak over his right arm. He paused to take a look out of the window. It overlooked the Valley, but most of all; ‘the Castle'. He was so close to his daughter, so close that he could almost taste her scent. But he had to be patient, otherwise his plan would fail. His plan to have his daughter back with him. Being so close to her made him feel frustrated so bad that he had taken it out of his new wife; Gloria. Yesterday he completely lost it. Gloria just told him that she was expecting a child, but Jenner doesn't want a new child, he only wants his daughter. Gloria said he should let go of Wendy, to concentrate on the new unborn baby. When she spoke the words Jenner had hit her so hard that she had to be treated in the improvised infirmary. He didn't regret his action. He didn't care about Gloria. Not even while it was her who rescued him in the first place. She was part of a barn-rat colony. Jenner was taken to the barn where he was treated for his injuries. So was Sullivan, but the bastard didn't want to join the new army. Even though the barn-rats weren't at all as huge as the Rats of NIMH and half as intelligent, they were vicious, mean and had an everlasting taste for blood. But Jenner's position wasn't at all as strong as he hoped it would be. By hitting Gloria he made himself rather unpopular. He just didn't realize that yet....


Wendy and Justin stayed in bed until late in the morning. They made up their argument and experienced a wonderful night full of passion, love and tenderness. During their wonderful night they had forgotten everything around them. But screams in the Hallway brought them back to earth in an instant.

‘What was that?' Wendy whispered.

‘Stay here, I'll check it out.' Justin whispered. He put on his bathrobe, took his knife and slowly opened the door. 

‘Oh my God, not again.' He muttered and started running.


‘Sorry Justin, he didn't make it.' Gabriel was washing his hands after endlessly tried to bring Simon back to life. The young sentry guard had been totally taken by surprise. He was stabbed in the back... several times.

Justin took a deep breath and shook his head. He was wearing his dark brown uniform again and he was leaning on Simon's bed. Gabriel had already pulled the blanket over Simon's face. Justin suddenly felt a squeeze in his shoulder. Brutus stood next to him and without saying a word, they mourned they're respected friend.


A while later Brutus and Justin took a walk outside. Wendy stayed at Arthur's, as did the Brisby family, so Justin was able to breath for a while. Brutus was doing a lot better and wanted to go back to work as soon as possible.

‘Over my dead body.' Justin said, but he was smiling.

‘Then I guess that is a ‘no'.' Brutus teased.

‘Oh, that's a ‘NO' alright.' Justin answered casually.

‘So, how's Mrs. King?' Brutus said, changing the subject.

‘She's fine, but far too careless to my opinion.' Justin sighed.

‘Careless?' Brutus asked.

‘Well, yeah... she's just rebellious....' Justin answered.

‘Don't talk to me about women....' Brutus said and he started smiling.

‘Women?' Justin said. ‘I guess we are talking about other women besides Mrs. King, now are we?' Justin teased.

‘Actually... Justin, can you keep a secret?'

‘Sure!' Justin said with a naughty smile on his face.

‘Swear it!' Brutus said, pointing his finger on Justin.

‘I Justin, swear it on the eyes of my beautiful wife.' Justin said while he was trying not to smile, putting to fingers in the air.

‘Okay... okay, you've proved enough. I'm in love.'

‘I kind of figured that out.' Justin said.

‘Oh... right... well, Isabella has been seeing me a lot lately. I thought she was just there because she's interested in an internship in the infirmary, which she is, but... she's actually interested in ME! Can you believe it?' Brutus yelled with open arms, but immediately grabbed his injured area.

‘Careful now, you wouldn't want to die before your first kiss, now would you?'

‘We've already kissed... a lot.' Brutus said with a blush on his face.

‘Wow... it took me over ten years before I dared to kiss Wendy!' Justin said with large eyes.

‘Well... yeah, I guess things went quick between us, but we are both ready for this adventure.'

‘I'm really happy for you my friend. I wouldn't quite say that you are the perfect match, but hey... who am I?' Justin said and he gave his friend a wink. ‘Shall we get back inside? To our women?'


Brutus went up to Isabella's family, while Justin walked up to Nanny's and Arthur's room.

‘Is it true that Simon died?' Justin was so overloaded with questions that he didn't even had the chance to say ‘hi'.

‘Eh... yeah, he did. Gabriel did everything he could, but it was too late.'

Wendy got up and embraced Justin. She took his hand and placed it on her stomach.

‘She's been really active today.' She softly said.

Justin smiled at her as he felt the movement of the baby. ‘I guess we are going to have our hands full with the little guy.' 

‘You really think she's going to be a he, huh?' Wendy teased.

‘I'm convinced of the fact that this is a boy.' Justin whispered.

‘Sorry to break this happy family up, guys... but we have serious problems here.' Arthur said.

Justin nodded and kissed Wendy's forehead.

‘You couldn't be more right, Arthur. I have a few plans to help put an end to this.'

‘Well, shoot!' Arthur said and the two men sat down to talk things through.


‘So... what kind of plans did you come up with?' Wendy asked. She and Justin were back in their room again.

Justin looked at Wendy and gave her a wink. ‘Don't worry, I'm not planning to lock you up anymore. Arthur and I decided NOT to use sentry guards anymore. Families will be responsible for themselves. Nicodemus will be staying with us and the Brisby's will stay with Nanny and Arthur, just in case.'

Wendy nodded but gasped for air. ‘What about Isabella's family? She only got a mother and a little sister!'

Justin looked at Wendy with a naughty smile on his face. ‘Don't worry Sweetness, Brutus will cover that.'

‘Brutus? Is he completely cured yet?' Wendy softly wondered.

‘Oh yes, he's cured alright.' Justin laughed.

‘What? Brutus and Isabella's mother?'

‘Nope... Brutus and Izzy herself.' Justin said with a huge grin on his face.

‘Brutus and Isabella? No way... Could it be?

‘You'd better believe it.' Justin said and he added: ‘But don't tell anyone. It's a secret.'

‘My lips are completely sealed.' Wendy said and she kissed Justin softly on his lips. ‘But still I wonder... If Brutus wants it to be a secret, then why did you tell me?'

‘You're my wife, I'm supposed to tell you.' Justin whispered and he returned Wendy's kiss.

‘This plan of yours... does that mean that we get to spend more time together?' Wendy softly asked.

Justin nodded and gently stroke through her neck fur. ‘Yeah, but we won't be alone....'

‘I think it's great that Nicodemus will stay with us.' She said and ran her fingers through his neck- and chest fur.

Chapter 36: The Old Dead Tree

It was still early when Wendy Elisabeth woke up. It was still dark in the room. She laid safely in Justin's warm arms. His breathing was slow and regularly. Nicodemus was sleeping a few meters away from the two newly weds. Wendy carefully raised her head to see if he was still there. He was, so she put her head on Justin's chest again.

But she didn't feel comfortable at all. Something was wrong. Her hand instinctively reached out to her stomach. She smiled when she felt the baby moving. But for some reason she still wasn't assured enough. She slowly moved Justin's arms away from her body. She paused to make sure he wasn't awakened by her movement. As she saw that he slept on peacefully, she crawled out of bed. She took a small torch and lit it. She quickly took the torch outside for she didn't want to wake her two men. She checked the hallway. It was completely deserted. Wendy had to get used to that sight. The hallways were never completely abandoned. There were always guards in it. But Justin and Arthur called a meeting yesterday late afternoon to inform the rats about their plans. It was a creepy sight. Wendy was just about to enter the bathroom when her eye caught a rather unusual thing; The door to Nanny and Arthur's room was slightly opened. It was never open at night. She started breathing faster as she didn't trust the situation. Should she warn Justin? She shook her head and softly whispered to herself: ‘No way, I won't wake him for nothing. This is actually the first night he's finally sleeping calmly. He needs his rest and I need to relax.' Wendy passed the open door and entered the bathroom. She checked her face in the mirror. She shook her head and splashed cold water onto her face.

After her visit to the bathroom, she decided to sneak back into her room again. She passed the open door again and was suddenly overwhelmed by the power to take a look in her neighbor's room. They had probably just opened the room to get some fresh air in it, now the small room was packed with rats and mice.

She placed her hand on the door and softly pushed. ‘That's odd, something is blocking the door.' She pushed a bit harder and started to scream as she saw what had happened in there.


‘Arthur... Can you open your eyes?' Justin's voice sounded far away, but Arthur was able to slightly open his eyes.

‘Great! You're back!' Justin said, partly to Arthur and partly to Gabriel, who was working on poor Nanny. Arthur had been hit over the head. He was actually the one who was blocking the door. Nanny had been tied onto a chair. She had been drugged and was now suffering from a severe headache.

‘Good, then they are both okay.' Gabriel said while he brushed the sweat off his forehead.

‘I don't know how they did this. We didn't hear a thing.' Wendy whispered.

‘There must have been more than one. They were surprised in their sleep.' Justin said as he kneeled in front of his wife who was sitting on a chair.

‘The Brisby's... he's taken the Brisby's.' Wendy whispered hoarsely.

‘We'll get them back in one piece, I promise you.' Justin reassured her, although he had no idea how.


‘Arthur? Do you remember anything?' Gabriel asked. He was wearing his white doctor's coat on top of his pajama suit.

Arthur slowly moved his head so he could see the person who was asking the question.

‘I saw... feet... a lot of... feet.' Arthur moaned.

‘Feet? How many?' Gabriel asked.

‘Many... and blindfolds, tape?' Arthur continued.

‘Tape... hmmm...' Gabriel thought out loud.

‘Nanny...' He moaned.

‘She's fine, Arthur. They weren't after you two.' Gabriel answered.

‘The... the Brisby Family! Where are they?' Arthur shouted.

‘They're gone, Arthur... He's taken them.' Gabriel said, holding Arthur down tightly.


Martin Brisby was the first to wake up. His head was painfully stinging and he had a dirty taste in his mouth. He tried to look around but it was so pitch-black that he couldn't see a thing.

He reached out to find his mother and siblings. He started to shake the first person he felt.

He had found his mother.

‘Mom! Mom, wake up!' Martin yelled as loud as he could.

‘Martin? Martin, where are you?' Mrs. Brisby panicked. She couldn't see a thing and her head felt like it was on the edge of exploding.

‘I'm right here Mom, don't worry. It's just very dark in here.' Martin reassured her.

‘Mom?' It was Theresa's soft voice. The voice sounded close by.

Shortly after that Timothy and Cynthia woke up as well, all complaining about headaches.

The Brisby Family could do nothing, except to wait until some living soul appeared.


Wendy Elisabeth was trying to figure out what just had happened here. She stood in front of her old bedroom window. Justin was downstairs at yet another extra meeting. Sullivan was gazing at Wendy from the bedside.

‘What are you doing?' He asked.

‘I'm thinking.' She answered briefly.

‘What are you thinking about?' Sullivan asked again.

‘Nothing... everything, I don't know.' Wendy answered back.

‘Well, perhaps you shouldn't be thinking so much. You'd better leave that up to....'

‘Shhhh! Come check this out!' Wendy interrupted.

‘What? What is it?' Sullivan asked and he got up.

‘Is it just me, or is there some activity going on there?' Wendy asked, mainly to herself.

‘Where? In that dead old tree?' Sullivan ask as he followed Wendy's eyes.

‘Yeah, look! Did you see that?'

‘That's a... that's a rat!' Sullivan shouted.

‘I'm going to find out what that is.' Wendy said and she turned around.

‘No way, you are not going there by yourself! I'm coming with you.' Sullivan said.

Wendy hesitated for a moment. Sullivan had been one of Jenner's closest friends. Could she trust him or couldn't she? She looked at Sullivan over her shoulder. He looked harmless with that huge belly. She decided that it would be safe.

‘Okay, let's go. I want to be back before Justin gets in. He'll go crazy if he notices that I'm gone.'


‘You saw that rat, too, didn't you?' Wendy asked when they arrived near the old tree. They approached the tree carefully and hid behind a thick bush.

‘I told you that I did, Wendy.'

‘Shhhh, I hear someone coming.'

‘I don't hear a thing.' Sullivan whispered.

‘Would you shut up?' Wendy angrily replied. ‘There, did you see that?'

‘There are more rats there, lots more.' Sullivan whispered. ‘Let's go tell Justin.'


‘Hey, where have you two been?' Justin asked, when the two rats entered the room. They were both covered in small branches and leafs.

‘Justin, we've seen something you ought to know.' Sullivan said, pulling some branches out of his fur.

‘Wendy? What's going on here?' Justin asked, his voice sounded concerned.

‘Here, come.' Wendy said while she pulled Justin's arm. ‘You see that tree?'

‘That dead tree?' Justin asked.

‘Yeah, that one. We saw rats there.' Wendy answered.

‘Rats? What rats?'

‘Well, we didn't ask them.' Sullivan replied casually.

Justin took a deep breath and rolled his eyes. ‘I didn't expect you to.'

‘What is it with the two of you?' Wendy asked while she gazed at the two men.

‘I guess you are the last person who I have to explain that to.' Justin said, without taking his eyes off of Sullivan.

‘Well, I've seen the rats, too. They are far smaller than we are and they were acting like they didn't want to be found. My guess is that that's Jenner's new hideout.

‘You might be right.' Justin said, still focused on Sullivan, who was now staring to his tail.

‘Well it makes sense, doesn't it? It's close enough to follow our every move and it's a great hiding place!' Wendy continued.

‘Did you recognize any of the rats, Sullivan?' Justin asked.

‘No, I mean... not really. I haven't stayed at the barn so long. There were only two barn-rats who I actually saw all the time. I would recognize them immediately. Jenner knows many more barn-rats. He was even elected as their Leader! If I'm not mistaken, he even got married while we stayed there. As you can imagine, I left as soon as I could; Jenner would have killed me if he had the chance. So would have the rest of the barn-rat colony. Those rats are mad! I mean, really crazy!'

‘Then I guess they've found themselves the perfect Leader.' Justin softly said, deliberately ignoring Wendy's gaze.

‘What are we going to do next?' Sullivan asked.

‘I'll have to think about that. But if these rats really are the barn-rats, then Mrs. Brisby and her family are nearer than we could ever imagine.

Chapter 37: The Letter

‘Well? Have you decided what to do yet?' Wendy asked.

Justin looked up to his wife. He was only able to see her silhouette in the dim light.

‘I'd have to discuss that with other rats, Wendy.'

‘Why? You are the Leader.'

‘It's the protocol. I'm sorry...'

‘Mrs. Brisby and her kids might already be dead!'

‘Look, I wish that I can do something for them, but I have no idea what!'

‘Justin, I'm sorry. But I just cannot bare the thought that they are there because of me!'

‘No, because of Jenner, not because of you! Please don't feel guilty about this....'

Justin took a deep breath and got up from the bed. He walked over to his desk and lit a candle. Soft light filled the room instantly. Justin moved a pile of paper and sat down. He started writing down, but scratched the words immediately.

‘What are you doing?' Wendy asked as she approached Justin carefully. She knew that if he was in a bad mood, she'd better stay out of his way.

‘It's a stupid idea, forget about it.' Justin answered while he shook his head, but before he was able to throw it away, Wendy had already taken the paper of his desk.

‘You're writing a letter to Jenner?' Wendy asked while she frowned.

‘Give it back, Wendy! I never said you could read that!' Justin angrily said.

‘Good God Justin, look at us! We ought to be having the most beautiful time of our lives and the only thing we do nowadays is argue!' Wendy shouted back and threw the paper at her husband. She walked back towards the bed, took off her bathrobe and stepped inside the bed on her bedside.

‘Sweetness... I'm sorry. I overreacted....' Justin got up and slowly walked towards the bed.

‘Wendy?' Still no answer. Justin sat down on her bedside and pulled away a piece of the blanket. When she pulled it back immediately, he realized that she was angry. She was probably also crying.

‘Wendy... I said I was sorry.' Justin tried, but it still didn't work.

He stood up and walked towards the desk again. He threw away the paper, blew out the candle and took off his bathrobe as well. He laid beside her and softly kissed Wendy's neck. When he realized his wife wasn't going to talk to him again, at least not that night, he turned over to his side of the bed and tried to sleep.


‘I know what to do.' Wendy whispered.

Justin slowly opened his eyes. He was almost asleep and quite weary.

‘I'm going to Jenner.' Wendy whispered again.

This time Justin's weariness was instantly gone.

‘You what?!' He stumbled.

‘I am going to talk to Jenner.' Wendy repeated.

Justin sat up and winked his eyes a couple of times.

‘No, Wendy... Please say you won't. Please...'

‘I have to do it. It's the only way to get him to release the Brisby's. I'm not scared of him, he won't hurt me. I'll talk to him and tell him that this is not the way. He'll release me.'

‘Yeah, right. He'll release you alright... when you're dead.'

‘What? Is this going to result into an argument again?'

‘It'll result in a lock-up again if you decide to push that idiotic idea of yours through!'

‘It's not idiotic, Justin! Think about it! It's the best solution for everyone.'

‘Not it's not! Not for you, not for the baby, not for me and not for the Brisby's either!'

‘Why not for the Brisby's?' Wendy wondered.

‘See? You only mention the Brisby's now. So it's not at all good for our family! Do you want our baby to be raised in that place?!'

‘Justin... I don't know what to do, either!' She sighed and softly touched her stomach.

‘Wendy... If this hostage taking is really all because of you, he'll probably show up soon to negotiate. Then we can decide what to do next. Right now, there's nothing we can do but wait and hope for the best.' Justin said, and he placed his hand over Wendy's hand which was still resting on her stomach.

Wendy nodded and she placed her head on Justin's shoulder. Justin checked in Nicodemus who was pretending to be sleeping. Justin couldn't imagine that he was able to sleep through their arguments. He felt sad, he felt like he let anyone who mattered to him down. He looked at his wife and gave her a tired, but sincere smile.

‘Let's go to sleep.' Justin said and they both rested their heads, hoping for a quiet evening for a change....


‘Justin! Justin! I found a letter!' Brutus knocked the wooden door that entered their bedroom.

Justin looked up and winked his eyes. He lit a candle and looked at the time. It was three A.M.

‘Oh no... now what?' Justin softly whispered and got up to open the door. Wendy sat up in her bed, hoping for some good news.

‘I'm sorry to wake you up, sir... but I've found a letter in the Hallway.'

‘A letter?' Justin slowly asked while he rubbed his eyes.

‘Yes, and your name is on it!' Brutus said, pushing the letter against Justin's chest.

Justin took the closed envelope and pushed Brutus' arm away, annoyed by the large rat.

He turned the letter around but there was no sender on the back side.

‘Come in, Brutus. You've probably awakened everyone in the building right now.'

‘What is it?' Wendy softly asked, while she sat up in bed.

‘It's a letter, probably from you dad.' Justin said, and he started to open it and he started reading.



Before I continue, I'd like to congratulate you on your new function. I hope Nicodemus knew what he was doing. Such a function is more suited for a somewhat more experienced rat, someone with more knowledge and less enemies. However, I wish you good luck, you'll need it.

Justin, I'd like to talk to you in person, you know... man to boy. I know you'd want to do that, too. I've got something you want, and you've got something I want. I'll cut to the chase. You've got nine hours to say your farewells to your wife, otherwise the Brisby Family will die. Don't worry now, she'll be in good hands. She'll love it here. Perhaps in time she'll find a real husband in her new home. She'll be over you in no time...

I'll meet you at exactly 12:00 hours in front of your humble residence.



‘I'm gonna kill him!' Justin screamed, and he ripped the letter to pieces.

‘Justin! Calm down! What did it say?' Brutus said as he pulled the letter out of Justin's hands. Justin didn't react straight away, he just stared in front of him with large, empty eyes.

‘I need a plan, now!' He whispered, nearly in panic.

‘What on earth is going on?' Wendy whispered while she pulled Justin's arm.

‘He wants to trade, doesn't he?' Nicodemus' soft voice filled the room.

‘Yes, he wants a trade.' Justin slowly answered as if he were numb.

‘Then we should give him what he wants.' Nicodemus answered again.

Justin slowly turned around as the words echoed through his mind. He started shaking his head, tears swelled in his eyes.

‘What did you just say?!'

‘I agree. You won't lose me, I'll get out.' Wendy softly whispered.

Justin stared at Nicodemus with a strange look in his eyes. ‘I hate you.' He said with such a determination that it made Wendy back away.

‘Justin! Nicodemus he doesn't mean it! Do you?' Wendy asked, turning from Justin to Nicodemus and back.

‘Yes, my love, he does mean it. For now. He'll be grateful in the future.'

‘Grateful? How can I be grateful to that old nutcase?'

‘Justin stop it! You'll only make things worse!'

‘I wish that you had died that night.'

‘Justin stop it!' Wendy yelled.

‘I wish it was you who was in that rotten tree instead of....'

‘Justin please! Don't do this! There's nothing else we can do.' Wendy said through the tears and she embraced Justin firmly.

‘Please take back those words, please.' She pleaded while she firmed her embrace even more. Finally Justin answered her embrace and he started to cry.

‘I don't want to lose you again. It'll kill me.' He softly whispered.

Nicodemus gently placed his old hand on Justin's shoulder and squeezed it carefully.

‘I'll be here for you, my son.' He whispered.

‘But who'll be there for her?' Justin said with a hoarse voice.

‘Her father will.' Nicodemus replied as he walked out of the room. Brutus also left the two rats who needed some time alone.

Chapter 38: The Trade

‘I'll be fine.' Wendy softly whispered in Justin's ear.

Justin didn't say a word, he only shook his head.

‘I'll be back before you know it.' She whispered again, ending her sentence with a small kiss on his ear.

Justin smiled a sad smile and softly stroke her neck fur. It felt so soft and it smelled so familiar that it brought a lump to his throat. He simply couldn't speak anymore.

Wendy took off her bathrobe and placed Justin's hand on her chest.

‘Can you feel my heartbeat?' She asked. ‘It's beating for you, remember that... please?'

Justin nodded. She slowly moved his hand from her chest to her stomach. The baby inside her was softly moving, untouched by everything around him or her. Safe within his or her strong and brave mother.

‘Can you feel him moving?' She softly whispered again.

‘Him?' Justin softly replied, and he smiled.

‘Yes, him. You were right, it's going to be a boy.'

Justin started laughing a bit. ‘Are you just saying that because I'm convinced of the fact that it's going to be a boy?'

‘No, I'm saying that because it IS going to be a boy. And I want you to name him. Now.'

‘Name him? But....' Then as of he were struck by lightning, the sudden truth ran through his heart and soul. He was never going to hold him, never going to see him, never going to get to know him.'

‘I don't want this! I don't... I can't!' Justin yelled.

‘Please! He's your son, and I want you to name him. That's all I want. Please let us keep our heads up and let us think positive. It'll all be fine. I know that for sure. I just want you to name him.'

‘I want his name to be Joshua. After my father. And Ethan after my brother.'

‘Those names are beautiful.' Wendy said with a smile.

‘But what if it's going to be a girl?' Justin wondered.

‘It's going to be a boy.'

‘How do you know all that?'

‘The Stone.'

‘The Stone told you that it is going to be a boy?'

‘No, the Stone made me uhm... see that it's going to be a boy.'

‘I can't make head or tail out of it.' Justin said, gazing deeply into Wendy's calm, beautiful, shiny eyes.

‘I'll try to explain when Joshua is born.'

After these words she gently placed her lips onto Justin's lips and comforted him the best she could. She could feel him fear and pain as she kissed him.

‘I wish there was something I could do for you.'

‘Don't go.' Justin softly whispered in her ear, and he kissed her again, this time more passionately. Wendy answered his kiss with her entire heart. Without saying a word they lost themselves completely in a complicated love-tornado full with mixed emotions, passion and fear.


Somehow, they managed to sleep for two hours, exhausted by the almost supernatural love-making. They woke up, all tangled up in each other, warm, comfortable and sweaty. 

‘I miss you already.' Wendy softly whispered.

‘Me too.' Justin said.

Wendy smiled after hearing his words; Justin was finally able to let her go. She was going to make everything better, she knew she was. She never felt more convinced in her life.

‘Shall we get up? I'd like to say goodbye to the rats.'

Justin nodded and kissed her. Three more hours to go and she would be gone, forever.


Thirty minutes later there was a extra meeting set in the Meeting Hall.

All the rats had gathered to say their farewells to Wendy Elisabeth.

She didn't pack a lot of things. She didn't want to give Jenner the impression that she was planning to stay long. She did take Justin's brown uniform with her, so that she could smell his scent. She also left a piece of clothing behind for him. She was worried about him. Worried that he would go crazy without her, that he would die out of loneliness. That he would stop eating and drinking. That he would take all his bitterness and frustration out on the ones who he needed most right now. That he would be on his own... She wasn't scared for herself. She was convinced of the fact that she and Joshua would be alright.

‘Joshua...', She softly whispered. ‘I hope you'll be just like your father.'


Nanny and Arthur were almost the last rats in line to say goodbye.

Arthur felt terribly guilty of the fact that he couldn't protect the Brisby Family.

Wendy shook her head. ‘Oh dear Arthur, please don't blame yourself!' She kissed his forehead.' Jenner would have found another way to get me. He is determent enough.'

Nanny just couldn't stop crying when she embraced her friend. ‘Please take care of yourself!' She cried, almost desperately.

‘I will, I will....' Wendy softly said. ‘Will you two please do me a favor? Please look out for Justin. And please don't be too hard on him if he says something wrong, something insulting?'

‘Wendy, don't you worry about that! We'll take care of him.' Arthur said.

‘Will you make sure that he doesn't skip meals and such, please?' She asked again, this time with tears in her eyes.

‘I don't care if I have to force it into him!' Nanny said while she forced herself to smile.

‘Thank you so much, both of you.' Wendy said, and she embraced both rats.


Nicodemus was the last person to say goodbye.

‘Nicodemus, I'm so sorry for Justin's behavior earlier.'

‘Wendy, don't apologize. I understand his reaction. He still has a lot to learn. I will never, ever let my boy down. He's far too important to me.'

‘Thank you. Could you please keep an eye on him, just in case....'

‘I will my child. And good luck. You'll be facing a difficult journey, one you will overcome. You are the Key, Wendy Elisabeth.'

‘The key?' Wendy asked.

‘Yes, the Key... You'll understand. Later.' Nicodemus said and he softly placed his hand onto her stomach.

‘Ah... This young man will have the courage of his mother and the brains and determination of his father. He'll be born in a safe environment. Rely on that knowledge... You are the Key, remember that.'

The old rat embraced Wendy and walked towards Justin. Without a word, he embraced him firmly as well. After Nicodemus embraced Justin he walked towards his cabinet where he opened his book onto an empty page. He dipped his pencil into the ink and started writing:


The time has come.

It won't take much longer before Wendy Elisabeth realizes that she is the Key. Of course, the Key is a complicated... thing. One will have to go through a number of tests before getting to that level. I just realized that she is the Key a few days ago. But she's clever. It won't take her long to find out. Justin, my dear boy Justin... So scared and angry. There's so much work lying ahead of you. But you will get there, together with your Wendy. Just concentrate on your own being, Justin, concentrate... I'm proud of you. Both of you.



There was a soft knock at the door.

‘Nicodemus, Jenner has arrived.' Brutus whispered.

‘I'll come with you.' The old rat said, as he took his walking stick firmly in his hand.

He turned around to look at the book. He realized it was still open. He raised his hand and the book slowly closed. He smiled. ‘Magic'. He softly whispered and followed Brutus.


Jenner was nervous. He wasn't aware of this emotion first, probably because he hardly had a reason to be nervous ever before. This emotion was somehow familiar to him. His thoughts drifted off to the laboratories of NIMH. He shivered and shook the thoughts away. NIMH was far away from here. There was no reason to be nervous.


Wendy was the first to walk outside, with Justin closely by her side. Followed by Arthur, Nanny, Brutus and Nicodemus. Jenner's heartbeat began to raise when he saw Wendy's stomach. ‘She's pregnant.' He softly whispered.

‘Where are the Brisby's?' Justin said, when he was within Jenner's reach.

‘Be patient, they'll be here.' Jenner softly said. ‘You're pregnant.' Jenner said, turning towards his daughter.

‘That's right. I'm pregnant.' Wendy said casually.

‘Then I guess you should have taken more baggage with you.'

‘Perhaps.' Wendy said, and stared right into Jenner's eyes.

Jenner softly laughed. ‘You turned out to be just like me.'

‘You couldn't be more wrong.' Wendy answered, still keeping her eyes onto his.

‘We'll see about that. We've got plenty of time to get to know each other. We've got a lot to talk about... GLORIA!' Jenner shouted.

A small nervous rat with a huge scratch over her face came closer from behind him.

‘This is my wife Gloria. As you can see she had a little accident. She'll tell you where the Brisby's are, Justin. You can go with her.'

‘No way! That's not part of the deal. You'll have to bring them here, otherwise you can kiss your trade goodbye.' Justin said, moving towards the larger black male.

‘Gloria... Bring them here.' Jenner said again, without looking at her.

The rat named Gloria took off again.

‘As you wish, Justin. We'll play the game your way.' Jenner said.

‘So this is a game for you?' Justin replied angrily.

‘A little competition cannot hurt.' Jenner answered again. His words disgusted Justin.

‘You don't give a damn about her, do you?'

‘Oh you mean Gloria? For once you're right. I hate her. You know what? You'll get her for free.' Jenner said, pushing Justin to the limit.

‘I meant about Wendy. She's pregnant with my child.'

‘So I noticed. I do care about Wendy, but the child means nothing to me. It will be as worthless and meaningless as it's pitiful father.'

This time Justin couldn't bare it anymore. He jumped towards Jenner, taking his knife out of his pocket so quickly that Jenner was taken completely by surprise.

Jenner tumbled on his back as he tried to pull his knife from his pocket. He gave Justin an enormous push so he landed on his back as well. Within seconds he reached for his knife and jumped on top of the much smaller male, pushing his blade right under Justin's collarbone. Justin screamed out of pain and frustration. Blood rushed from his shoulder down as Jenner pulled the blade out. He was ready to strike again as he heard Wendy's scream.

‘Daddy NO!' It made him stop immediately. It was like her scream went straight through his heart. He took Justin by his shirt and pulled him up.

‘Next time it'll go directly into you heart.' Jenner snarled.

Wendy immediately ran towards Justin. ‘Justin! Are you alright?' She cried.

Justin was out of breath and in a lot of pain. Blood flooded out of the injury as the blade hit his main blood vessel. ‘We have to get him inside, NOW!' Brutus yelled.

Brutus lifted Justin up and made a dash towards the Castle.

Wendy wanted to follow them but Jenner pulled her arm before she was able to.

‘Jenner please! Let her see her husband!' Nanny pleaded.

‘No way, the Brisby's are here. She's mine now. You're coming with me.'

‘NO, please, no... Let me stay with him. Please!' Wendy cried, but Jenner lifted her up and carried her further and further away from her safe Castle. ‘JUSTIN!'

‘STOP IT!' Jenner screamed. ‘Stop crying and shut up! Forget about him! He's not worth it!' He started dragging her towards the old tree. He pushed a few branches away and pushed her inside. They were followed by Gloria who constantly tried to touch Wendy's stomach.

‘Don't touch me!' Wendy shouted to the little rat and Jenner slapped the small barn rat so hard that she was smacked against a huge branch. She was on the floor, unconscious.

‘Get away from my daughter.' Jenner shouted.

Wendy just couldn't believe what just happened. Her husband is badly injured, her father pulled her away from everything that was safe to her and that same father hit his new wife unconscious! That all in less than a few minutes! Jenner pulled Gloria off the ground and carried her towards a small, smelly room. He laid her on a unstable bed. ‘This is the infirmary. This is where you will have your baby.'

Wendy's eyes grew big and she gasped for air.

‘Let me out of here, let me out of here!' She panicked, breathing faster and faster. Then all went black.

Chapter 39: The Barn-rat Colony

A pleasant fresh breeze softly stroke Wendy's fur. She slowly opened her eyes, blinking because of the brightness that was around her. Was all just a bad dream?

She tried to sit up, concentrating on the world around her. She put her hand on her stomach and whispered: ‘It wasn't just a bad dream, was it Joshua.'

She found herself lying in a much more comfortable bed than the ones she saw in the infirmary. The room itself was nicely decorated. It kind of looked like her old room back in the Rosebush. She sat up more successfully this time, wondering how long she had been lying there. Suddenly the door to the room started to open slightly.


Jenner didn't want to wake her by opening the door too rough. Even though the kid was Justin's, it was his daughter's, too. He had to make sure that she didn't panic too much.

As he looked around the corner he saw that she was up, looking straight in his direction.

‘Well, good morning.' He said as he opened the door completely.

Wendy didn't say a word, still seeing what he did to Justin right before her eyes.

‘I know you must think I'm some sort of brute, but I still am your father.'

Still Wendy didn't answer. Instead she ignored him by looking in front of her. She crossed her arms over her stomach.

‘Wendy, I think we have to get to know each other a bit better. Besides, you'll be staying here for the rest of your life.'

‘Over my dead body.' Wendy suddenly said, still ignoring the large black male.

‘In that case I guess I won't be telling you about your husband's condition. Try to sleep a little more. There's a washing facility to your right. Make yourself at home.'

‘Wait! You've got news about Justin?' Wendy yelled before Jenner was able to leave the room.

‘Yes, he's alive.' And he closed the door.

Wendy was relieved and sad at the same time. Her husband was alive but badly hurt as well. She needed to see him, she wanted to touch him and tell him that everything was going to be alright. She had to sit by his bed and hold his hand.

‘Jenner! Jenner wait!' She said and she jumped off the bed. She pulled the door open and started running down the hallway. But Jenner was already gone. Instead, the place was crowded with barn-rats. When they saw Wendy, they all stopped their activities immediately. They all stared at her with strange looks on their eyes. They were the most ugly rats she had ever seen in her entire life! Their fur wasn't as shiny as the rats in her own colony. Their eyes were hollow as if there wasn't any sign of life in them. Wendy abruptly stopped, feeling very uneasy by the staring of the ugly rats.

‘Wendy? My room is over here.' Jenner said from behind her.

She turned around and rushed over to the room next to her, suddenly overwhelmed by a mixture of relief, disgust and recognition.

‘I'd rather not see you down that hallway. The barn-rats are....'

‘Zombies?' Wendy finished Jenner's sentence.

He started to laugh. ‘Something like that.'

‘Are you sure Justin is ok?'

‘I don't know if he's ok, but I do know that he's alive. That's all the information I have right now.' He picked up a bottle with a red fluid in it and poured it into two glasses.

‘What is that?' Wendy wondered, slightly scared about the answer. To her the liquid looked more like blood than anything else.

‘It's cranberry juice. Full of Vitamin C. You need that in your condition.'

Wendy Elisabeth accepted the juice for she was extremely thirsty.

‘Please, sit down.' Jenner said, as he pointed towards a comfortable looking sofa. He took a wooden chair for himself.

‘Where did you get all this stuff? Wendy wondered.

‘Don't you recognize it? The barn-rats took everything out of the Rosebush. Well, everything except for the books. They are far to stupid for those.'

‘You're not exactly friendly towards your new colony, are you?'

Jenner started to laugh again. ‘I'm not supposed to. They hate me, too.'

‘But Sullivan said that you were elected by them, so....'

‘Sullivan is a fool!' Jenner grabbed the two arms of his chair so tightly that Wendy could here the wood splinter.

‘Jenner, please! You're scaring me.'

Jenner got up from the chair and started to walk towards something which could be called a window.

Wendy got up as well.

‘Why all the killing?' She softly asked, realizing that her timing wasn't really well. She was afraid that he might take it out on her now.

‘The killing... let's put it this way... things have gotten out of hand.'

He turned and faced his daughter. He owed her the truth, the truth that he wasn't able to control the barn-rats, but he just couldn't tell her the truth. Then she would know that this place wasn't safe at all. Things had gotten out of control when he first hit Gloria. The barn-rats started acting strange towards him after that. One night he woke up and found a barn rat standing next to his bed. He was staring at him with that hollow look in his eyes. Holding a small knife in his hand. Jenner now locked the door behind him every time he went to sleep. He sometimes even locked the door during daytime. He was scared if his own people.

Wendy softly nodded although she didn't understand what her father was saying.


‘Dad... Can I see Justin, please?'

Jenner turned around. He saw tears in his daughter's eyes.

‘No.' He said and he walked to his door again. ‘You should rest now.' And he opened the door to let his daughter out.

As tears filled her eyes, she obeyed to her father and went into her own room again. When she was inside, she heard that Jenner turned the key to her door. She was trapped.

She took her bag and pulled out Justin's brown uniform. She cuddled it firmly, as if it was Justin himself. She stepped into her bed, still holding on to Justin's shirt, crying herself to sleep.


In the meantime, Justin was having a nightmare. He was dreaming that his child was an exact copy of Jenner. He woke up panting for breath and sweating like crazy.

‘Justin! Come on, lay down. Would you like some water?'

Nanny pushed the young male back into his pillows. Justin nodded, so she went to get him the water. She looked at him over her shoulder . He looked so young and fragile since Jenner took his wife. She felt even more sorry when he leaned over to the bucket standing next to his bed. He had been vomiting ever since Brutus brought him to the infirmary. His shoulder and arm were all wrapped up in bandages. He had lost a huge amount of blood. Gabriel and Mr. Ages weren't so sure that he would make it, but he's strong, stronger than they thought.

Nanny's main concern was the vomiting now. He HAD to keep the food down, otherwise he was bound to die after all. He always had been thin. Had no reserves at all.


‘Oh my poor boy. Here's the water. Do you feel a bit better now?'

Justin shook his head and pulled his blanket more up because he was feeling cold. Nanny felt his head and pulse. His heart was beating fast and he was running a fever.

‘I'll ask Gabriel if he has something for the vomiting and the fever.' She said, as she placed the bowl with water in Justin's hand.

‘All I need is Wendy.' Justin softly moaned.

‘I know my boy, I know....'


Wendy heard footsteps outside her door. They were fast footsteps, nervous ones.

‘Get out! I told you not to bother her you jealous, worthless creature! Get out!'

That was Jenner's voice, probably shouting at Gloria. Wendy turned over onto her back. She never met creatures like the barn-rats. She knew Justin always liked to tease them when they were still living in the Rosebush. He and Philip... Philip... What happened to everyone? It's like they've been bewitched. They used to be such great friends.

Justin always told her that the barn-rats were retarded. She kind of figured why he used to call them that. She hadn't heard one spoken word from their mouths. Gloria only communicated while touching things, like Wendy's stomach. She was probably interested in the baby. ‘I shouldn't have yelled at her that way. I'll make it up to her.' She softly whispered to herself and she turned around again, as she hugged Justin's uniform.


But Gloria had a little plan of her own. She had a miscarriage the day Jenner let Wendy inside their home. And Wendy was pregnant. For now....

Chapter 40: A Nice Gesture

Four days passed since Wendy arrived at Jenner's home. Jenner persuaded Wendy to come outside with him for a little walk. The two of them hadn't spoken at all after their last conversation. She refused, however. She hated him from the deepest of her soul. When she slept, she saw him sticking his blade into Justin. Her Justin. All she wanted was to go home, her own home. She kept on crying all day, every day. Jenner hated that. He hated the fact that she just couldn't be happy here. And the worst part was; he couldn't blame her. He hated the fact that he was stuck in here with a bunch of lunatics as well. Sometimes he even longed to the past, the past where Nicodemus and he were still friends. And then he would hate the fact that he had gotten sentimental.


He didn't give up, though. He knocked on Wendy's door again and again and again, but she still wouldn't go with him. He had to make her love him. Like a daughter should love her father. ‘Perhaps it is a hormone thing.' He thought to himself.

His spy didn't quite manage to bring any news about Justin, either. He had no idea how his condition was. If he had at least some info, he could pass that on to his daughter, but he hadn't. So there was only one thing he could do.


‘Wendy?' Jenner softly said as he knocked on her door.

‘Oh... won't you give up?' Wendy said from behind the door.

‘You want to see Justin?' Jenner said. While he said it, it felt like as if his throat was being chocked. Man, he hated that kid. Probably because Nicodemus loved him so much. Back at NIMH, Justin and he were actually pretty close. He had to admit; the kid was smart.

But, as goes for most parents, no-one was good enough for his daughter, especially not him. But she loved him. She loved him.

He opened the door by using the key again. He found Wendy sitting up in her bed, the uniform still in her arms. Her face was puffy because of the crying. She looked at him with an not-understanding expression on her face.

‘Well don't just sit there, go wash you face! You don't want to go to Justin looking like that, do you?' Jenner said and he forced himself to smile the nicest smile he owed.

It made him look silly according to Wendy. She frowned her forehead as she didn't move from her bed.

‘Don't joke about that! That's terrible!' Wendy said, while she took a handkerchief to pad the new tears away.

‘I'm not joking. Get dressed! We are going to the Castle. But there are some conditions, of course. I will stay behind and you will go in. Don't get any ideas, I'll be close enough to keep an eye on you. You'll have thirty minutes together with Justin. Then you come back to me. If it takes you longer than thirty minutes, you won't get to spend ONE more minute with him ever again, do you hear me?' Wendy slowly nodded.

‘Don't you dare to escape. People will get killed if you do so.'

‘I won't, I promise.' Wendy said and her face began to shine again. He meant it! She was finally going to see Justin again! She rushed to her bathroom immediately. Well, bathroom is a big word, but it was ok. She plashed cold water onto her face and checked her fur.

The cold water made a huge difference when she dried her face again. She took a better dress out of her back, telling her father that she would be out in a second. Jenner shook his head and whispered; ‘Women.' But he smiled as well. It was almost like bringing his daughter to a very important dance. A few moments later she was ready to go. Looking as beautiful as she always had.

‘Come, we don't want to waste more time, now do we.'

Wendy shook her head and smiled. The both of them started walking in the direction of the Castle.


Jenner stayed behind in the thick bushes as he pushed Wendy in front of him.

‘Remember thirty minutes, not a second longer.'

‘I promise, I promise.' Wendy quickly said, and she took off to the entrance of the infirmary.


‘Wendy! It's so good to see you!' Brutus said as he came out of his chair in front of the infirmary-doors.

‘I'm sorry Brutus, I've only got thirty minutes to see Justin.'

‘I see, you have to go back... He's right over there.' Brutus pointed.

Wendy started walking more and more slowly. Judging from the rhythmic movement of his breathing, Justin was sound asleep.

‘Justin? Can you hear me?' Wendy softly whispered.

She gently touched his shoulder and shook it a bit. Justin's breathing stopped for a while, then he took a deep breath and opened his eyes. A smile appeared on his handsome, though fragile looking face.

‘Wendy, you're back.' He whispered.

‘Yes, I'm back, but I cannot stay long.'

Justin's smile slowly disappeared and his face looked sad again.

‘We have thirty minutes. Thirty minutes, that's quite long isn't it?' She said, hoping to see that smile back again. Oh God, how she loved that smile of his.

‘He let you out to go visit me?' Justin asked.

‘Yes, he did. How are you feeling? Are you feeling a bit better?'

‘Now you are here, definitely.'

Wendy smiled and kissed his lips. ‘I have missed you so terribly much. I was so scared. I didn't know what had happened to you. All I saw was blood.'

‘Shhhhh, it's alright. I'm going to be better now.'

Their heads softly stroke each other.

‘How's Joshua?' Justin asked.

‘He's great. Give me your hand. He's really active lately. Can you feel him?'

‘Wow, I missed this so much, I missed you so much. Please tell Jenner that I'm grateful to him, okay?'

‘I will, I will....'

‘What's it like? Living in there?' Justin softly asked.

‘It's alright, it's not that bad. But it's a little like living in a mental institution if you're asking me.'

Justin softly laughed. ‘A mental institution? How come?'

‘Those barn-rats are... quite strange. They hardly communicate, with words that is, and they have this strange look in their eyes. Well, at least I don't have to face them that much. Everything I need is in my room. Jenner locks the door. It kind of makes me feel safe.'

‘I can imagine that.' Justin said and he gently kissed her lips.

Wendy answered the kiss and the two of them were lost in each other for a couple of seconds. They didn't even notice Nanny coming in. But Nanny didn't say a word, she just looked at the two lovers and smiled. ‘He's going to be alright now.' She thought to herself.


‘Wendy! Pssst. Sorry to interrupt, but your thirty minutes have almost passed.' Brutus said as he walked into the room.

‘You have to go now.' Justin said. ‘I love you with all of my heart, don't you forget that.'

‘I love you too, so much that it hurts. I hate to leave you.'

‘Go Wendy, I'll see you soon.' Justin whispered and he gave her a wink.

Wendy quickly hugged Brutus and Nanny and went outside again, to the place where Jenner was waiting.


‘How is he?' Jenner asked on their way back.

‘He's going to be alright. He wanted me to thank you from him, that we could see each other.' Wendy said and she looked at Jenner.

Jenner only nodded and softly squeezed her shoulder.


Later that night, Wendy knocked on the wall which connected Jenner's room to hers.

A moment later, her door was opened.

‘I wanted to thank you again for you did this morning. I really needed that.'

‘I know you did. I don't want to see you cry. I hate crying women.' Jenner said, pulling his cloak more around him.

‘May I ask why you lock my door? Don't you trust me?'

‘I do trust you, I just don't trust them.' Jenner said with cold bitterness in his voice.

‘Them? You mean the barn-rats?'

‘Yes, them.'

‘Why would they want to hurt me?'

‘Because they hate rats of NIMH.'

‘But you are a NIMH-rat, too.'

‘That's why I also lock my door.'

‘You what?'

‘That's enough questions for today. Perhaps you would like to dine with me tonight. In my room.' Jenner said.

‘Dine with you? Oh... okay.' Wendy answered.

‘Then I'll pick you up, at eight.' Jenner said as he left her room again.

She could hear him lock the door behind him. Wendy sat on her bedside again. She picked up Justin's shirt. ‘I love you Justin King.' And she kissed the uniform.

Chapter 41: Dinner for two

Wendy Elisabeth prepared for the dinner she was going to have with her father.

She wondered what it would be like. Would they be talking about all kinds of things, or would it be silent, difficult and uneasy.

She was interested in his relationship with Gloria, although she didn't quite dare to mention it. She didn't want to waste a visit to Justin by asking it.

At eight o'clock precisely there was a knock at the door.

‘I'm ready!' Wendy yelled from the back of her room.

Jenner opened the door and to Wendy's surprise she saw that he wasn't wearing his cloak tonight. He was all dressed up actually. In fact, he was rather good-looking in his new outfit.

‘Wow, you look... nice.' Wendy stumbled, trying to find the right words.

‘Yeah, well... I'm having dinner with my daughter. I ought to look nice.' Jenner said and he smiled again. A sincere one this time.

Wendy walked towards him and pushed her arm under his. ‘Shall we go then?' She asked.

Jenner smiled and enjoyed her touch. She looked so much like her mother sometimes. He started getting sentimental again, which he hated so much. But he was able to keep calm.


When he opened the door to his room, Wendy saw that he wasn't the only one who was dressed up. His entire room was lighted by candles en there was a table set in the middle of the room. The table was decorated, not stylish or something, but nicely. There was also food on the table. Corn from what Wendy could tell, and mushrooms and juice. All sorts of juice.


‘Have a seat.' Jenner said and he took a chair from the table and placed his daughter.

‘Why are you doing this?' Wendy wondered, completely overwhelmed by all his surprises.

‘I hate to see you miserable, you deserve a better life.' He said while he took a chair as well.

‘Does that mean that you'll release me?'

‘Wendy... I'm sorry, I cannot and won't let you go.'

The young rat stared at her hands who rested on her lap. She didn't think he was going to release her but she hoped that he changed his mind.

‘Well, don't just sit there, let's eat!' Jenner said uneasy.

Wendy obeyed her father and was surprised by the taste of the corn. It was perfect. This time, Jenner took care of strawberry juice which was wonderful as well. She enjoyed the meal, it made her forget in what misery she actually was.


After dinner, Jenner sat back in a lazy chair.

‘I hope you enjoyed your dinner.' He said and he refilled his glass again.

‘I loved it, thank you.' Wendy said, but her mind drifted off to Justin.

‘He'll be alright.' Jenner said, as if he was able to read her thoughts.

She gave him a sad smile.

‘He looked so... fragile, so pale. He's so thin...'

‘He wasn't exactly chubby before the accident.' Jenner casually replied.

‘Accident?! You almost killed him!'

‘He jumped on top of me!'

‘Because you pushed him!'

‘A real man can stand up to that!'

‘You were insulting our child!' Wendy yelled, but she suddenly gasped for air and put her hands around her stomach.

‘What's wrong?' Jenner asked, jumping out of his chair.

‘It hurts so badly! I'm going to lose him!'

‘Nonsense! You're not going to lose anything! ARCHER!'

The rat named Archer knocked on the door. Jenner rushed towards the door to open it.

‘Treat her here. She's my daughter and she's pregnant.'


Justin must have been dozed off when he heard a sound in the hallway. Nanny was preparing dinner for him. And man, was he hungry! He hadn't been eating properly this whole time, but after seeing Wendy he felt alive again.

He sat up in his bed, hoping that Nanny wouldn't take too long with the food.

‘Justin? Are you up?' Nanny asked.

‘I'm up alright. And I'm starving! I could eat a horse!' Justin said. There was some color on his cheeks and he was smiling.

Nanny was so relieved that she gave him a huge bowl of soup and some bread.

‘Your visitor has made you stronger, hasn't she?'

Justin briefly nodded, mainly because his mouth was already full with bread.

‘Iw waf grea wo fee her.' He stumbled.

‘Justin, would you mind finish whatever is in there before speaking?' Nanny said, but she was laughing. ‘I guess you said that it was great to see her?'

Justin nodded again. ‘I'm going to get her out of that madhouse. As soon as I can.'

‘Then you need to take good care of yourself by eating, drinking and sleeping enough.'

Nanny replied as she shook his pillow.

‘I will Nanny, you can count on that.' Justin said and he took another bite off his bread.


Wendy realized that the tears ran over her face without a single sound. Her stomach felt hard and the cramping was unbearable.

‘It's too early, it's too early.' She whispered as the so-called doctor ‘Archer' checked her pulse.

‘Stress.' He said. ‘You have to get your pulse down.'

‘Tell her HOW.'

‘How would I know, I'm not a doctor!'

‘I need Gabriel in here and I need him NOW!' Wendy shouted.

‘I'll go get him, you wait here.' Jenner said and he ran off.


Jenner didn't quite realize what he was doing. He ran into the Castle and started knocking on the windows as a madman. He got attention alright. Gabriel was sitting behind his writing desk when he heard the noise. ‘What the Hell is going on here.' He said, mainly to himself.

He was scared to take a look outside, but he took his knife and did it after all.

When he came outside he saw who caused all the anxiety; it was Jenner.

‘Jenner? What are you doing here? You're waking up my patients!

‘It's Wendy! You have to come with me!'

‘Yes, but... what's wrong with her?'

‘I guess the baby is coming.'

‘It's much too soon!'

‘I know that, let's move!'


Wendy was left alone in Jenner's room Archer left because there was nothing he could do after all. He left the door wide open when he left. Wendy stared at the door, hoping no-one strange would come in. She was afraid of what Jenner had told her about the barn-rats.

She tried to keep her breathing calm. The cramps were losing their strengths, which made her feel a little more relaxed.

Suddenly, a small silhouette appeared in the entrance.

Wendy heart started beating faster and faster again.  

‘Who are you? Please, go away....' Wendy pleaded.

The silhouette moved closer so that she could see the person better. It was Gloria.

Wendy took a deep breath of relief. ‘I'm so glad to see you.'


Meanwhile, Jenner almost pulled the poor doctor inside the old tree.

‘You have to help her! She's in there! At the end of the hallway!' Jenner said, panting for breath.


Gloria came closer and closer to Wendy.

‘I ‘m sorry about what I said last time. I feel guilty. Perhaps my father wouldn't have hit you if hadn't said anything.

‘Baby... baby....' Gloria whispered as she came closer.

‘Yes, baby. It felt as if I had my baby already... but it's too early....'

‘Baby... sweet baby....' Gloria whispered again. Wendy got a very uneasy feeling while Gloria touched her stomach again. She took Gloria hand away from her stomach. Something didn't feel right. Gloria had this crazy look in her eyes.

‘Would you mind looking for Jenner? See if he's already here?' Wendy stumbled, hoping that Gloria would leave.

‘Baby... kill baby....'

‘What?!' Wendy yelled.

Gloria raised her hand. Wendy saw that there was a small knife in it. She screamed.


‘GLORIA!' Jenner yelled from the other side of the room and he jumped on top of his wife smacking her to the ground. He pulled the knife out of Gloria's hand and pulled her off the floor. ‘You, take care of my daughter, I'll take care of her.' He shouted at Gabriel.

‘Wendy, are you alright?' Gabriel asked with large eyes.

‘No, I'm not! She tried to kill my baby, she tried to cut my baby out of me!' She tried to take Joshua away from me.'

‘You have to keep calm. Here, I've brought some medicines that'll make you calm.'

He took Wendy's arm and gave her an injection.

‘There, you'll be feeling better in a few moments.' He gently smiled.

‘Poor thing... You're in good hands now. I won't be leaving until your better. Now let me check on that baby of yours.'

Chapter 42: Danger Lies Ahead

Gabriel patted the sweat of his forehead. Thank goodness the injection worked. He was worried about Wendy's condition, but he was even more worried about her safety.

Wendy was sleeping now, the contractions had stopped, but were bound to start again if she didn't keep calm. He knew one thing: She had had to get out of here.


He gently pushed the door open to the hallway. It was completely deserted. The silence which filled the hollow room made him shiver. What had happened to that rat Jenner pulled off of Wendy? He started moving a bit further, firmly holding his knife in his right hand. He didn't want to go too far for he was afraid someone else would attempt to kill Wendy Elisabeth.

Suddenly he heard a noise from behind him. He turned around as quickly as he could. He could hear his blood rushing through his ears. He will never forget what he saw.


It was Jenner. He was panting for breath and holding a sword in his hand. It was covered in blood. ‘Did you... kill her?' Gabriel stumbled as he looked at the sword.

‘She deserved it.' Jenner replied and he came closer.

Gabriel wanted to run, get away from this horrific place, but he thought about Wendy. He couldn't possibly leave her here now.

‘How is Wendy?' Jenner asked.

‘She's... she's alright, I guess. I was able to calm her down with an injection. This place is not good for her.' Gabriel stumbled.

‘This place is perfect for her. Especially since the ‘problem' is out of the way.' Jenner replied casually. ‘Go home, doctor. You're no longer needed here.'

‘But, she cannot stay here!' Gabriel yelled.

‘She will stay here.'

‘She's not able to get up, she needs to rest until the baby gets born. The baby could die, but so could she.'

‘I'll make sure that she won't have to go through this again.' Jenner said, as he lifted his sword. ‘Now GO!'

Gabriel turned around and started running towards the exit. On his way out he saw the faces of dozens of strange looking rats. They looked as if they were dead, but they weren't.

‘This is a nightmare, wake me up!' Gabriel whispered to himself. He pushed the exit door open en fell out. He scratched himself up again and started running; back to safe walls of the Castle.


‘Gabriel?' Justin softly moaned.

‘Gabriel?' He said again, this time louder.

He tried to sit up and stared around him in the darkness. He must have dozed off after dinner. The infirmary was completely empty except for him.

Suddenly he heard a door open and close again. Instinctively he grabbed his sword.

The infirmary doors swung open and Gabriel stumbled in, completely out of breath.

‘Gabriel? What are you doing?' Justin asked, while he put his sword away again.

‘I... I... nothing. I went out for a walk, and thought I saw a cat.'

‘A cat? In Thorn Valley? You probably mean a puma?'

‘Yeah, that's what it was; a puma... the bastard. He scared the hell out of me.' Gabriel replied, as normal as he could.

Justin started to laugh. ‘Do you have any idea when I can finally kiss this bed goodbye? I really can't stand sitting here and doing nothing for Wendy.'

‘I'll make sure that that won't take long.' Gabriel said as he whipped the sweat from his head with his sleeve again.

‘Thanks Doc. How much longer do you think before Josh... the baby gets born?' Justin asked.

‘I guess that is hard to tell. Could be in less than as month, could be tomorrow.'

‘Tomorrow?' Justin asked, frowning his forehead. ‘What kind of nonsense are you talking about? Did that puma hit you over the head or something?'

‘No, Justin... Let's just hope for one more month....' Gabriel said and he felt the urge to talk to someone about what he saw tonight, but he knew he couldn't.


Jenner softly closed the door behind him. He immediately locked it and shivered. He killed Gloria. He killed her with his own two hands by sliding her throat with his sword. Gloria's body was still in Wendy's room. ‘They'll find out what I did to her soon.' Jenner thought to himself. ‘They will kill us for sure.'


Jenner walked over to his bed where his daughter was resting. The slow movement of her chest reassured him. He looked up to the roof of his room and whispered: ‘If there is a God, please let me know how I can protect my little girl!'


Suddenly Jenner turned around and faced the blind door. There had clearly been a knock. Again there was a knock at the door, a more determent one. Jenner's heart bounced in his ears. What if it was them? What if they were going to kill him and even worse; his daughter.

‘Jenner, it's me... John.' A soft voice came from behind the door.

Jenner took a deep breath and slowly walked towards the door. He took out his sword, just in case, and opened the door.

The person named John entered the room.

‘What have you done?' John blurred.

‘Shhh, shut up! She's asleep.' Jenner hushed.

‘Who is she?' John wondered as he walked closer towards Wendy.

‘She's my daughter, John. She's alive.' Jenner said.

‘For now she is.' John replied. ‘The barn-rats are furious! They've even called in a meeting!'

‘A meeting? Couldn't you be part of that? You know, to inform me about their plans?'

‘No, I'm not a barn rat remember?' John said, while he moved closer to Wendy. She looked familiar to him, although he had no idea from what.

‘You're right, you're a mouse. Mice are never accepted.' Jenner sighed. ‘It would have been convenient, though.'

‘Tell me about it. You've turned the room next to you into a massacre. I wouldn't be surprised if they were planning yours right this moment.'

‘John, you have to help us!' Jenner said, desperately shaking the poor mouse.

‘I cannot help you until you tell me what happened.' John replied, trying to get Jenner's hands off of him.'

‘Gloria tried to kill my daughter. Tried to kill her unborn baby. She's jealous.'

‘She did?' John asked with wide open eyes.

‘Yes, she did. It's the truth John.'


John narrowed his eyes. He didn't know Jenner that long yet. He had been living with the barn-rats when Jenner arrived. John wasn't his real name. He named himself John, after having been in a coma for at least three months. The cat almost killed him. John Do, that's who he was. And it was a miracle that the barn-rats let him stay with them. Jenner had been brought in by Gloria, along with another rat. For some reason, they both looked familiar to him. But how could he have known rats? He was a mouse, and rats and mice don't combine at all. John had never liked Gloria. She was always nervous and a little insane if you asked him. He was surprised when the big rat married her. Still, he wondered where he knew the two rats from. Probably because they were sharing the same garden. The Fitzgibbon Garden.


‘I believe you.' John said after a while.

‘We must protect ourselves.'

‘Will you leave me out of this? I didn't cause this! I wasn't even here!' John replied angrily.

Wendy moaned a bit.

‘You idiot! You're waking her up! She must rest! Otherwise she could die!'

‘I'm sorry Jenner. I just want to make you realize that YOU are the one with the problems, not me.'

‘You've made yourself clear, John. Then don't do it for me, do it for her!'

‘What do you want me to do?' John asked, unsure how to react on the situation. He knew her, but from where? He looked over his shoulder again.

‘What's her name?' John asked, hoping to find a clue.

‘Her name is Wendy.' Jenner said.

John frowned for a while. ‘That's a... nice name.' He said. Her name didn't ring a bell.

‘We have to take her to a safe place.' John said casually.

‘Ok Albert Einstein, and how do you suppose we should do that? Her doctor said she wasn't able to move! Besides, moving down the Hallway means suicide.'

‘Her doctor as in Archer?' John said, a sarcastic smile appeared around his lips.

‘No, her doctor as in Gabriel.' Jenner replied, almost losing his patience.

‘Gabriel....' John whispered. ‘Gabriel... where did I ever hear that name?'

Jenner took a deep breath. ‘John, face it! You've lost you memory, and it's never coming back! Stop living in the past and start living in the future!'

John looked at Jenner angrily. He refused to believe that his memory was gone forever.

‘Will you help me John?' Jenner asked again, more friendly this time.

‘I shall do what I can.' John said and he walked out the door. When he was outside he could hear that Jenner turned the key.

‘The key....' John softly whispered, although he had no idea why he said that.


Jenner walked towards his lazy chair. He sat down in it and took a deep breath. John was his last hope. His only hope to get Wendy to safety. What did he do? Bringing her to a place like this? He jeopardized her life by bringing her to the barn-rats. He hated the fact that he relied on the help of the barn-rats to get revenge on Justin, Nicodemus and all the other damned rats of NIMH! And then there was John. He thought he had seen a ghost as he opened his eyes back there in the barn! He was supposed to be dead! But he turned out to be a good friend, a friend he could rely on. Thank God he lost his memory. But what if Wendy recognized him? What if she revealed his true identity?


There was a knock on the door again. Was it John? Was he back already?

‘Jenner, it's me, let me in.'

‘John, what did you find out?' Jenner asked as he let the mouse in.

‘That they are bound to kill you, both of you.' John replied and he looked in Wendy's direction.

Jenner started walking up and down his room to try to find a solution.

John was curious about the new rat. He stepped closer to have a better look at her face.

She was young and very pretty for as long you could say that from a rat. Much more pretty than the barn rat females. He knew her. He would eat his tail if he was mistaken. But where did he know her from?

He heard a soft moan when he was close enough. ‘Can you hear me? Wake up!' John carefully said, not to alarm Jenner. He would probably freak if he saw what he was doing.

Wendy's eyes slowly opened and she looked into John's face.

‘Gabriel?' She softly whispered.

‘Is that my name? Gabriel?' John asked. Hope filled his heart. That's why that name sounded so familiar!

‘I'm tired.' Wendy whispered as her eyes closed, opened and closed again.

‘It looks like you've been drugged, the way I used to....' John paused. ‘Hey wait a minute! I remember! I was drugging the cat! But why was I drugging a cat?'

Wendy's eyes opened again.

‘Who are you?' She whispered, a little stronger now.

‘I'm John, but you can call me Gabriel if you'd like.'

‘John? Gabriel? Ok.' She said and closed her eyes again.

‘I cannot believe you are Jenner's daughter.' John whispered.

‘John... Jona... Jonathan Brisby....' Wendy whispered, and she dozed off again.

‘Jonathan Brisby?' John replied.

‘John! Get away from there! Leave her alone. She's been trough enough today already.'

‘Who is Jonathan Brisby?' John asked directly towards Jenner who gasped for air.

‘Jonathan Brisby is dead! Where did you get that name?' He yelled angrily.

‘From your daughter, but I guess she doesn't realize what's she's saying. She's been drugged pretty thoroughly.' John said while he shrugged his tiny shoulders.

‘Then I guess she's delirious or something.' Jenner said, hoping to change the subject soon.

John only nodded. Perhaps she was. But that name Jonathan Brisby ran a bell, too.

‘Who was Jonathan Brisby?' John asked, not willing to give up.

‘Why do you even care?' Jenner replied, sounding more impatient than ever. ‘Tell me who it was and I'll help you and your daughter.' John said casually.

‘John... are you blackmailing me?' Jenner said from behind the room.

‘Well, no I....' John stumbled.

‘Then DROP THE SUBJECT! NOW!!' Jenner yelled.


Wendy Elisabeth opened her eyes immediately when she heard the yell. Her head was rather painful and she couldn't quite find out where she was. As she turned her head she saw her father and another person standing in the room. It was her father's room. The other person was a mouse. A field mouse for as far as she could see in the dim light. The mouse looked familiar, but then again... he didn't. Although the way he moved looked familiar. The spots on his fur looked familiar, too. If he only looked in her direction. If only he would stare at her for a little while.

‘Dad?' Wendy said and she was successful. The mouse turned around and looked straight at her. Wendy Elisabeth gasped for air.

‘Jonathan?! Is that really you?'

Chapter 43: The Return of Jonathan Brisby

Jenner stared at Wendy with an open mouth. He was frozen to the ground completely. Gabriel drugged her to stay calm! How come she woke up? That quack doctor gave her a too small amount of the calming stuff.

John, alias Jonathan moved away from Jenner.

‘Am I Jonathan Brisby?' He slowly said. ‘But he is dead!'

‘Dad! You must recognize him, too! Why didn't you say anything?' Wendy said. ‘It's him, isn't he?' She continued, sounding excited.

‘Jonathan Brisby IS dead! Won't the two of you stop it? We've got bigger things on our minds! We must find a solution to evacuate out of this....'

‘Madhouse?' Wendy finished.

Jenner gave her a glance but nodded.

Wendy's mind drifted off to Gloria. She gasped. ‘Gloria? Where's Gloria? She's wants to kill my baby!' Wendy yelled, all of a sudden aware of what had taken place earlier.

‘Don't worry about Gloria anymore. She cannot harm you.' Jenner said.

‘Unless she'll haunt you.' John said with a smile on his face. Wendy frowned and suddenly understood what Jonathan was saying.

‘She's dead?' Wendy asked while she looked at both males.

‘Yes, Wendy, she's dead.' Jenner said.

‘You killed her, didn't you?' Wendy continued.

‘Yes, I....'

‘Dad! Please! Stop the killing!' Wendy cried.

‘You have to keep calm, think about your baby!' Jenner quickly said.

‘If you kill someone again, I never want anything to do with you anymore.. EVER!' She said through her tears.

‘Let me calm her down.' John said as he walked towards Wendy's bed. Jenner stepped away, aware of the words Wendy just said to him. He was a cold-blooded killer. She was right. Why couldn't things go back to the way they used to go.

‘Wendy, please relax. He did it for you. To protect you. That's why he did it.' John gently said. As he looked in Wendy's eyes her saw a familiar spark. ‘Wendy Elisabeth?' He softly said.

Wendy looked at him with a strange look in her eyes.

‘Jonathan? What on earth happened to you?' She asked.

‘You are Wendy Elisabeth.' Jonathan whispered. His old life was played in front of his eyes like a movie. He saw NIMH, the cages, Mr. Ages, Justin, Nicodemus, Wendy... his wife and children... His wife and children! He had a wife and children!

‘My wife! My children!' He whispered. His eyes stood strange, as if he was in some sort of trance. Wendy noticed the strange look in his eyes.

‘Jonathan? The cat, Dragon... you remember?'

‘The cat... the cat I drugged.' Jonathan stumbled, still in trance.

‘Yes, Dragon! You went to drug Dragon but you never returned!' Wendy said concerned.

‘I was a husband... and a father!' Jonathan stumbled as memories returned rapidly.

‘You are still a husband and a father! Your family is safe with Justin! My husband!'

‘Justin's your husband? You two are married? That's wonderful!'

‘Wendy, John... please....' Jenner replied from the back of the room.

‘My name is Jonathan!' Jonathan yelled.

‘I don't care what your name is! We are facing a certain death!' Jenner yelled.

Wendy Elisabeth looked at her father with large eyes. ‘Then we should go to the Castle.'

‘The Castle is not an option.' Jenner replied angrily.

‘But Justin will know what to do, and Nicodemus....'

‘Wendy! Shut up!' Jenner screamed.

‘Let me talk to Justin, please. Let me visit him again, tonight.' Wendy continued, ignoring her father's words.

Jenner looked her. He looked a lot older than he used to. He was worried. And Wendy knew it.

‘I guess she's got a point there, Jenner.' Jonathan said.

‘You can't meet Justin tonight! Think about what Gabriel said! You need to rest!'

‘But I cannot rest here! Could you? Let me talk to Justin, it'll do me good.' Wendy replied calmly. Her eyes rested on Jenner's eyes for a while.

Jenner nodded. ‘But I'll have to figure out a way how to get you out of here. If they see you, you'll be dead.'

Wendy nodded. Her mind drifted off to the Brisby Family. This whole affaire actually brought something positive along as far as she was concerned. She smiled.

Jenner started moving up and down the room again.

After a while he said: ‘I've got an idea. John... Jonathan will deliver a letter from me to Justin. He'll come back straight away. No nice little family-reunion, nothing.'

‘What will the letter say?' Wendy wondered.

‘It will give Justin the instructions to enter the tree. He'll have to come for you. It's too dangerous for you to go out.'

‘But Justin's far too weak! What if he doesn't have the strengths yet? This could be his death!'

‘Then so be it....' Jenner replied and he started writing the letter. 


Jonathan rushed over to the Castle. He was wearing a dark cape so that he couldn't be spotted by the barn-rats. So far, so good. His mind drifted off to his family. To his beautiful wife, two boys and two girls. He sighed. Why did this have to happen to him? His mind was filled with questions. Questions that would have to wait until later. There was no time to waste now. The first rat Jonathan came across was Brutus. He had to think hard to remember who he was. ‘Of course, he must be Brutus. A second Generation Rat.' Jonathan thought to himself as he approached the gigantic rat. It took a while before Brutus spotted him. He looked alert, though not alarmed.

‘Who are you and what are you doing here?' Brutus asked the mouse.

‘I have a letter for your leader.' Jonathan said, still wearing his cape. His hood was too large for his head, so Brutus wasn't able to see his face. He was thrilled when he found out that Justin was the new leader of the rats of NIMH.

‘Give it to me and I'll make sure he'll get it.' Brutus said formally.

The mouse hesitated but replied: ‘I want to give it to him personally.'

‘And who do you think you are?' Brutus said, frowning his forehead.

Jonathan shrugged. ‘An old friend.' He answered.

Brutus looked at the stranger and shook his head. ‘Do you have weapons on you?'

‘Weapons? No! Of course not! He's my friend!' Jonathan replied angrily.

‘And does this friend have a name?'

Jonathan didn't know what to say to this question. He cleared his voice and said. ‘My name is John.'

‘John who?' Brutus asked, getting more and more annoyed by the stranger.

‘Just John.' Jonathan said. ‘Let me in, it's urgent.'

‘I'll see what I can do. Brutus said and he went inside.

Jonathan peeked over his shoulder from under the hood. He shivered. The barn-rats were still inside. There was nothing to worry about.

‘He's willing to meet you. But don't expect too much of him, he's badly injured.' Brutus said from behind him. It made Jonathan jump.

‘Don't sneak up on me, like that!' Jonathan said to the large rat.

‘Bad conscious?' Brutus replied casually. ‘I'll be keeping an eye on you.'

Jonathan followed Brutus to the infirmary. As he looked around him he realized that his wife and children were in this building somewhere. His heart began to shine and a smile appeared on his face.

‘He's in here. Don't bother him with nonsense. Keep it short.' Brutus said and he sat by the  entrance of the infirmary.

Justin was lying on his side, his eyes wide open. He was sunken deeply in thoughts.

Jonathan recognized his old friend immediately. He was still the young rat he knew.

‘Justin, am I glad to see you!' Jonathan softly said as he approached Justin.

Justin shook his head and looked at the mouse with a puzzled face.

‘You must be John. Funny, I know no-one by that name.'

Jonathan frowned but remembered that he was still wearing his hood.

‘I'm sorry about the cape. I had to wear it.' He whispered and he slowly took it off.

Justin's mouth opened wide without saying a word.

‘Yes, it's me! Jonathan! Joni-Mouse, remember?'

‘But... it can't be!' Justin stumbled.

‘Can't believe it myself! The cat must have punched my memory out, hehe. Your wife was the first one to recognize me....' Jonathan said, but he was interrupted by Justin.  

‘I'll be damned. Joni, it's so good to see you! Your wife and children are here, too. Would you like me to ask Brutus to go get them?'

‘No, no... I'm here for a short visit. I have a letter from Jenner.'

Justin took the letter from Jonathan's hand.'

‘Who did this to you, anyway.' Jonathan asked as he pointed at Justin's shoulder.

‘My dear old father-in-Law did that to me.' Justin said without looking up from the letter.

‘As in Jenner? I knew he was bad news from the start!' Jonathan said.

‘I'm coming with you straight away.' Justin said as took his uniform off the ground.

‘Can you? I mean, are you strong enough?' Jonathan asked, thinking about Wendy's words.

‘As it concerns my wife, you bet I can! Let's go!' Justin said and struggled to get into his uniform. He took his heavy belt with his sword in his good hand and Jonathan helped him to put it around his waste.

Brutus wanted to go along, but Justin insisted that he stayed at the Castle. He made him swear not to tell anyone about Jonathan yet; he wanted to inform the rats in person. That prospective gave him another good reason to stay alive in whatever Jenner had planned for him.


‘Justin, are you feeling well? You look a bit pale.' Jonathan said. He was concerned about his friend who was taking pretty unsure steps.

‘I'm fine Jonathan, I just haven't been outside at all lately.' Justin said, as he slowly moved along. But he wasn't being honest to Jonathan. He was feeling weak, and the fever wasn't completely out of his system yet, either. The pain was bearable, but he was still so tired. But he was also determent and eager to see Wendy again.

They arrived at the old tree without being seen. Justin had to climb up a bit to be able to knock on the narrow hollow which was supposed to be right here, judging from Jenner's drawing. He knocked it three times.

A little piece of wood which was attached to some sort of string opened. It was a small window. Jenner popped his head out, giving Justin instructions to climb up a bit more. He had to squeeze himself through the tiny hole. Jonathan climbed up first. He was small enough to fit through. Justin was a few sizes bigger. He took a deep breath as he examined the tiny window. ‘This is gonna hurt.' He told himself, and he climbed up the branches as well. His arm and shoulder were extremely painful, but he needed his both arms to climb. As he reached the window he told himself that it was impossible for him to fit through.

‘Psssst, Justin! Give me your arms!' Jenner said as he offered Justin his hands. Justin swallowed a few times hard. ‘This is really gonna hurt.' He said again, but he did as Jenner told him. Jenner pulled Justin inside in one fluid movement. Justin landed on the floor next to Jenner with a grimace of pain. He shoulder felt as if it were on fire.

‘Justin! You're here!' Wendy said as she tried to bend down for her husband. Her stomach made that impossible, though. ‘Are you alright?'

‘Aaggh, I guess so. I still feel alive.... Oh God.' Justin stumbled as he struggled to get up.

‘Justin, get up. Your wife wanted to talk to you.' Jenner said as he struggled to get up as well.

Justin took a deep breath and forced himself to smile at his beautiful wife.

‘Let me guess, you wanted to tell me that Jonathan is alive?' He said with an even bigger grin. The pain in his shoulder slowly faded away.

‘No silly! We've got a problem. As you know, Jenner got married to Gloria. She was expecting a baby, too. She had a miscarriage, though. Right at the day that I arrived here. I wasn't aware of that, but I guess Jenner already saw it coming. Gloria was jealous of my pregnancy and she tried to kill Joshua and me tonight.' Wendy gave Justin some time to let it all sink in.

‘She what?' Justin said after a while. ‘He instinctively placed his hand on Wendy's stomach.

‘We're fine, thanks to Jenner. He brought Gabriel here and he... kind of... killed Gloria.'

‘Good for her.' Justin replied slowly.

‘Men... they're all the same....' Wendy replied with a deep breath. ‘The barn-rats are very upset about this... situation. They want to kill us... both of us.'

‘Then you two should leave this place immediately!'

‘Easier said that done', Jenner whispered. ‘Neither of us would fit through that narrow window! She's far too pregnant and I'm far too... muscular.'

Jonathan softly laughed from the back of the room.

‘What are you laughing about! Jenner yelled. ‘besides... Wendy has to take it very easy.'

Justin looked up to the small window again and sighed. As if Jenner's words sunk in he suddenly said: ‘Take it easy? Why? Did something happen?'

‘I had some sort of cramps... contractions earlier this evening. That's why Jenner went out to get Gabriel. This was before Gloria was... murde... eh... killed.'

‘What a minute! Gabriel was here? He didn't tell me! Why didn't he tell me?' Justin said. His neck-fur raised out of anger.

‘Justin! He didn't tell you because he... well, because he didn't want to upset you.'

‘But contractions! Wendy! You could have gone into labor and I wouldn't have even known about that!' Justin looked at his wife with large eyes. ‘I'll have a word with him when I get back home. No, I'll kill him!'

‘Justin! Stop it! Don't worry! It's over now! Gabriel gave me medicines!' Wendy said, trying to reassure her husband.

‘Hey, I've got a plan!' Jonathan suddenly screamed.

‘Shhhh, keep you voice down!' Jenner said as he gave the mouse a glance.

‘I'll drug them.' Jonathan said, this time a little less loud.

‘Drug them?' Justin wondered. ‘Not a bad idea, what's your plan?'

‘There's a similar window like this one right above the kitchen stew. I could climb up from outside and put it in the dish. The barn-rats will eat it, you know how they love food, and they'll fall soundly to sleep. You guys can escape in peace.'

‘Great! I'll ask Ages if he can prepare some straight away.' Justin said with a naughty smile on his face.

Jenner's face started to smile, too, but that didn't last very long. He thought about his own safety. He couldn't go back to the Rats of NIMH. Too much had happened. He would lose his daughter after all. He knew she was much better off with Justin, although he hated to admit it, than she was with him.

He turned around and saw Justin and Wendy cuddling and giggling a bit like teenagers who just found out how to kiss. He couldn't help smiling. Wendy wasn't happy without Justin. She needed him. 

‘Alright, alright...enough.' He said as he slightly pulled Justin away from his daughter.

‘Can you arrange the powder, Justin.' Jenner said.

‘Yes, I can. The old Ages can't stand me, but he happens to love your little girl.'

‘Well then, get moving!' Jenner said.

Justin placed a kiss on Wendy's tender lips. ‘I'll be back soon.' He whispered.

‘I love you, Justin.' Wendy softly said and she returned his kiss.

As Justin moved towards the window, Jenner stopped him by holding his arm. ‘Let me help you.' He said, but that wasn't the reason why he stopped him.

‘Justin, if we get out, I want you to take good care of Wendy, do you hear me?'

‘Of course, you can rely on that.' Justin said as he looked at Jenner's face with a puzzled impression.

‘Good... and Justin... I'm sorry about your shoulder. I shouldn't have done that.'

Justin stopped and looked at Jenner with a touch of amusement in his eyes. ‘It's ok.'

‘I just wanted to....' Jenner said, but he didn't finish his sentence.

‘Wanted to ask me if you could live with us?' Justin finished.

‘Yeah, NO! Where did you get that idea! I cannot go back there!' Jenner snarled.

‘Why not?' Justin asked casually.

‘Don't be a fool, you know why.' Jenner whispered close to Justin's ear.

Justin nodded. For a moment there was understanding between the two mighty man.

‘Help me up there.' Justin said rapidly, breaking the moment. He felt a bit uneasy.

Jenner lifted the young male, surprised by his low weight. Justin looked down to where Jenner was. ‘Thanks for the lift.' He casually said.

‘Eat more.' Jenner simply replied. Justin softly laughed as he felt the cool air on his fur.

Chapter 44: The Key

‘What were you two talking about?' Wendy asked when Jenner helped Justin through.

She had noticed their conversation under the window and was pleased that it didn't result into an argument for once.

‘You know... Just a conversation from man to man.' Jenner replied as he sat down with her on the bed. ‘You should rest, you know.'

‘I know, dad, I know.' The young female replied and she relaxed a bit.

‘He's not too bad.' Jenner replied and without waiting for an answer, he went over to Jonathan to go through the rest of the plan.

‘No dad, he's not that bad at all.' Wendy thought to herself and she felt something she hadn't felt for a while: pure happiness.


Justin made it out without a problem. His shoulder was killing him and he felt warm again. But he had no time for that kind of nonsense. He had work to do.

‘Ages? Ages are you here?' Justin yelled when he got to the infirmary.

‘Justin! Where have you been?' Nanny asked, there was a touch of worry in her voice.

‘It's a long story, Nanny. I need to talk to Mr. Ages as soon as possible. It's been a weird day.' He said and he removed his sweaty forehead with his sleeve.

‘You sit down immediately. I'll go find Ages. And don't you dare to move young man!' Nanny said angrily when she saw the sweat on Justin's head. ‘I'll also get Gabriel to check on you.'

Justin didn't even have time to say something back. He sat back in his bed and started to laugh. ‘And I always thought I was supposed to give the orders around here!'

‘Hey Justin, when did you get back?' Brutus asked as he entered the room.

‘Just now, I saw Wendy again.'

‘I figured that one out. You've got a grin on your face as big as... as....'

‘As what?'

‘Well it's just huge....' Brutus said.

‘So... How have you and Isabella been lately.'

‘Good... Although she thinks that I've been spending too much time with you.'

‘She does, doesn't she.'

‘Well, yes... a bit.'

‘Well, I agree with her.'

They looked at each other and started to laugh.

‘What is so funny?' Ages mumbled as he came in.

‘Oh nothing, we were just talking about you.' Justin said, and Brutus started to laugh even harder. ‘Kidding, of course.' He added, knowing that his little mouse-friend didn't have a thing for humor.

‘Hmmm.' Ages replied raising an eyebrow. ‘Nanny said you were looking for me?'

‘That's right, Ages. Can you help me with a huge amount of sleeping powder?'

Ages frowned, thought hard and deep and eventually replied: ‘No.'

‘No?' Justin asked with a pinch of desperation in his voice.

A small smile appeared on Ages' face. ‘Kidding, of course.' He replied.

‘Not funny.' Justin said, but he was smiling, too.

‘Good, now you know how I feel sometimes. What do you need it for, anyway?'

So Justin started telling him the entire story, finishing it with the magical words ‘Jonathan Brisby'.

‘Are you saying that Jonathan Brisby is alive?' Ages said, while he pushed his glasses up his nose a little more. ‘That's the worst joke I heard from you since I know you!'

‘It's not a joke, Ages! I saw him, I talked to him! Brutus saw him, too!' Justin yelled and Brutus nodded his head. ‘He said that ‘Dragon must have punched his memory out', or something. I guess that he only lost his memory.' Justin said, partly thinking out loud.'

‘But then how was he able to survive? Where did he stay all this time? It's been over a year!'

‘My guess is that the barn-rats took good care of him, the way they did to Jenner and Sullivan.' Justin answered. His version made sense if you'd tell him.

‘Sounds acceptable.' Mr. Ages said, though he wondered why Jenner never mentioned anything to Jonathan. ‘Does his wife know yet?' Mr. Ages asked.

‘No, she doesn't. Not yet. She'd better see him in person. She would never believe it if we'd tell her.' Justin replied.

‘I guess you're right, my son, I guess you are right.' Mr. Ages said.

‘Well, don't just stand there, get the powder! Brutus will help you.' Justin said, and the mouse and the much larger rat left the room. As he followed them with his eyes he started to smile and whispered: ‘David and Goliath.' He shook his head and laid on his side.

‘What's your plan, Jonathan?'

‘I told you over and over again.' Jonathan replied.

‘I know, but we have to make sure that it works!' Jenner said again, this time a little louder.

‘I'll take the bag with the powder between my teeth. I'll climb up the branches underneath the kitchen window. I'll open the window and the bag, for the kitchen stew is directly underneath the window. I'll drop the powder in the pan carefully... and stir it.'

‘Stir it? I never heard that in one of your versions before.'

‘Well, no, but I suddenly realized that the powder actually looks a bit funny right on top of the food. A cat doesn't look at his food before eating it, a rat does. I'll need to bring along something which I can use to stir it with.' Jonathan replied casually.

‘That makes sense.' Jenner said, nodding his head. ‘Where did Justin say the powder would been hided?' Jenner asked, knowing exactly where that would be.

‘Under the bush, right beneath to where the kitchen is.'

‘That's right.' Jenner said. 


‘That should be enough to put a hundred rats to sleep.' Mr. Ages mumbled as he filled the brown bag. Brutus was standing next to him, keeping the bag open.

‘Careful now, don't breath the powder in. It'll knock you out.' Mr. Ages warned. He was standing on a chair in the storage room. His storage was a lot smaller than the rat's food-storage, but it contained nearly as much. It was entirely loaded with pots, jars, bags and boxes. ‘What a mess!' Brutus had said when Mr. Ages opened the storage.

‘There's a system in it.' Mr. Ages mumbled as he glanced at the rat.

Brutus closed the bag as Mr. Ages stepped down from his chair again. He carefully stored the box with the sleeping powder where it belonged.

‘Let me see that bag. I'll have to make sure that it's completely closed. We don't want to risk Jonathan's life again.' Brutus did as he was told. He gave the heavy bag to Mr. Ages who was completely taken by surprised as he felt the weight of it. He stumbled over and landed on top of the bag. A small amount of powder escaped through the opening.

‘I'm sorry Ages!' Brutus said, as he pulled the mouse off the bag. ‘Ages?'

But it was already too late. Ages was sound asleep.


‘Justin! We have a problem.' Brutus yelled as he entered the infirmary. Mr. Ages was hanging in his arms like a rag-doll.

‘What have you done to him?' Justin yelled.

‘I haven't done anything! Well, at least nothing on purpose! He just inhaled some of the sleeping powder, I guess.'

Justin's face started to smile. ‘I can see the headlines now! ‘Quack-doctor knock out after a piece of his own medicine', hahahaha!'

‘Justin, it's not funny! How can we get the powder underneath the bush without being seen? I'm far too big, I'm bound to pull attraction!'

Justin stopped laughing abruptly. ‘Yeah, you're right. I didn't think about that. But who else is capable of doing it?'

‘Well, Mrs. Brisby is.' Brutus said, thinking out loud.

Justin's face started to freeze. ‘Mrs. Brisby? She's no option.'

‘But Justin, she's small and fast. They will not see her.'

‘I know that, but what if she'll run into Jonathan? Our plan will fail.'

‘I don't follow you.' Brutus said with a frown on his face.

‘Perhaps she'll scream, drop the bag, I don't know. Anything could happen!'

‘Then we should tell her straight away!'

‘NO! I told you that we would do that later! We must make sure that everyone's safe first.'

‘One of her kids then?'

‘No, no family of Jonathan's!'

‘Excuse me, can I come in?' A soft voice spoke, the voice of Mrs. Jonathan Brisby.

‘Mrs. Brisby! What a nice surprise!' Justin stumbled as he watched the lady-mouse come in.

‘I wanted to make sure that you were alright. I've made you some soup... What happened to Mr. Ages?' She gasped, as she saw the tiny lifeless body.

‘He's okay, just drugged.' Brutus said as he gently put Mr. Ages in a bed. He was softly snoring.

‘Thanks Mrs. Brisby. Does that happen to vegetable soup?'

‘No, it's tomato-soup! From your own garden!' Mrs. Brisby replied proudly.

‘I love it!' Justin said as he forced to be enthusiastic. He loved tomato-soup alright, but he was thinking about a solution.

‘I heard a part of your discussion. I guess it was about us. I'm sorry that my family and I  came at such a bad time.' Mrs. Brisby softly said.

‘No, Mrs. Brisby! We're actually glad to have you around. You and your children are always welcome here. I'm just really sorry that you had to go through all that. I wish I was able to make things better.'

‘That's why I'm here, actually. I wondered if there was anything I could do.'

‘Well, actually....' Brutus started, but he was interrupted by Justin.

‘Oh, no Mrs. Brisby! I couldn't possible ask anything of you anymore! Could we now Brutus?'

He gave Brutus an angry glance.

‘Justin... I....'  Brutus stumbled.

‘See, he agrees.'

‘No Justin! I don't agree!' Brutus protested.

‘Brutus? What do you suppose I could do for you then?' Mrs. Brisby said without paying attention to Justin's reaction.

‘You could make a delivery, if you'd want.' Brutus continued, also ignoring his leader completely.

‘Brutus, STOP IT!' Justin yelled.

‘A delivery? What kind of a delivery?' Mrs. Brisby asked.

‘Well someone's gotta do it?' Brutus said while he shrugged his enormous shoulders.

Justin sighed.

‘I would do anything to help you, anything.' Mrs. Brisby said to support Brutus.

‘Alright, I'll tell Mrs. Brisby what has to be done.' Justin said, rolling his eyes.

‘Great! I'll get the powder.' Brutus said and he rushed down the Hallway.

‘The powder?' Mrs. Brisby wondered.

‘Yeah, the same powder we used to drug Dragon.' Justin said, while his memories brought him back to that terrible night. Mrs. Brisby was caught by the farmer's son while slipping the powder into Dragon's dish. Back then he didn't think the night could get any worse... but he had been wrong.

‘Alright, just tell me what I have to do.'

Justin explained to Mrs. Brisby where the powder should be placed by a drawing. She nodded the entire time, understanding every word. He also briefly explained her why she had to do it. The last thing he told here was to wear a hooded cape. No-one was to see her.

He sighed again as she left the room. He stared at the ceiling and thought ‘why did I even listen?' And he closed his eyes.


Wendy had a strange dream that night. She dreamed about the Amulet. Justin wore the Amulet from time to time, but he mostly kept it in a safe place. The Stone, as it was always referred to, saved her life. She wouldn't have believed it, if there hadn't been so many eye-witnesses. In her dream, the Stone was right in front of her. She was able to see the reflection of her own face in it. It had a pleasant, red glow. Suddenly, her reflection started to change into Nicodemus. ‘You are the Key, Wendy Elisabeth.' He said, just like he said to her right before she left the Castle.

‘The Key?' Wendy asked dreamily in her sleep. ‘What is the Key?'

Suddenly, the Amulet started to turn. Now she could see the back-side of it. She had never paid attention to the back-side of the Amulet before. She had never read the inscription: ‘You can unlock any door, if you only have the key.'

‘Unlock... door... key? It doesn't make any sense....'

The Amulet started to turn back towards it's original position. Nicodemus' face was looking at her again. He was smiling.

‘Nicodemus, what is the key?' She asked again in her dream.

‘You have to find out yourself, but I'll give you a hint.' Nicodemus disappeared from the Stone and Justin's face appeared. She smiled at him and tried to touch the Amulet. ‘Justin? Are you the Key?' She frowned. ‘No, you cannot be the Key. Nothing happens when you wear the Amulet. But how can Nicodemus know for sure that I'm the Key? I've never worn the Amulet myself!' ‘Perhaps that has nothing to do with it....' She thought to herself.

Now, Justin's reflection also disappeared and Jenner's face was shown in the Amulet.

‘Daddy? Are you the Key?' She shook her head; ‘Impossible! Nicodemus always tried to do what he could to hide the Stone from you.' Then the Stone turned again and showed Wendy the inscription once more. ‘Unlock any door....' She thought. ‘What kind of door is he talking about? Is he talking about a real door? Or is it more... spiritual?' The Stone turned back again. She saw the face of Nicodemus again. ‘Very good, my love. You're in the right direction. Let me show you something else....' Again his face disappeared and what she saw made her gasp. ‘Oh, look at you! You must be Joshua.' She whispered as she gazed into the eyes of a little baby-boy. He was beautiful and looked happy and healthy. Her eyes filled with tears and her heart filled with love. ‘I love you already.' She whispered. ‘And I love your father so deeply that I can hardly breath without him... And your grandfather... I think I love him, too. He's made a lot of mistakes, but I believe that he's a good person.' The images disappeared and Wendy saw her own reflection in the Stone. In the back of her head, she heard Nicodemus' voice. ‘You are the key, my child, listen to your heart, you are the key.'

Wendy abruptly woke up. ‘Of course!' She said. ‘I've got it!'

Chapter 45: Preparations

Mrs. Brisby was back in the room where she and her children had been staying since their release. It was a nicely decorated room with a comfortable bed where the entire family easily fitted on. There was a small drawer in it and the bathroom. Even though a life with running water was over for the rats, they still had the capability to make their lives as comfortable as they could. There was a small bathtub in it which was filled with fresh water from the waterfall; for some reason they figured out how to pump fresh water into them.  She looked up to the ceiling and thought: ‘Oh Jonathan. I wish you were here.' She had been dreaming about Jonathan again while she stayed in Thorn Valley. Sometimes he even felt near. Of course that was nonsense, but it made Mrs. Brisby feel good. She even felt it when she and her children were held in the old tree. She wasn't scared. She knew Jonathan's spirit was there to keep them safe.

She put on the hooded cape she got from Nanny. It was far too large of her, but because of the dark color, it was pretty well camouflaged. Her children were playing in the garden, safely surrounded by the thick walls of the Castle. They weren't to notice she was gone, it would only worry them. They had been through too much already. She picked up the rather heavy bag of powder and slipped through her door, gently closing it. She had to be quick, otherwise her absence would be noticed. She rushed over to the most left side of the Castle, as Justin had told her. From there, she was able to disappear into the thick bush within a few feet.

Fortunately, she didn't run into another living soul in the Hallway. She thought about the new rule that Justin made. Apparently that rule was still followed; there weren't any guards around. She made a dash into the thick bush. She checked if she hadn't been seen, but there was no-one around. She smiled. Walking through the thick bush, wearing these much to large clothes wasn't easy for the mouse, though. The cloth kept attaching into the branches, so she had to pull herself free a couple of times. She made it to the bush where Justin told her about. She looked up to the old tree. When they were locked, they stayed in an entirely dark room. The kind of darkness your eyes never got used to. The tree gave her an uneasy feeling; it felt as if evil was all around it. She quickly placed the bag under the bush and was about to leave when she heard a cracking noise from behind her. She turned around in a split second, gasping for breath. She saw a small silhouette appear right behind her. She had to get out! She turned again and started running for her life, tumbling over branches. The hooded cape got tightened again, but this time there was no time to pull it lose nicely. She tore off the cloth and ran away, naked, without looking around. She was still able to hear footsteps behind her. She got scratched a couple of times but she didn't stop. Finally she made it to the end of the thick bush and she made a dash for the Castle, completely out of breath. She nearly stumbled in and quickly closed the door behind her. Now she dared to watch who followed her. She was surprised to see that it was a mouse. A naked mouse with the same spots as her husband. She pulled herself away from the window and started to cry.


‘Did you see Mrs. Brisby come in?' Justin asked, as he turned to Brutus.

‘No I haven't. I could go check if you'd like.' Brutus replied.

‘Would you?' Justin asked. He had to admit that he was kind of concerned for her.

‘I'll be right back.' Brutus said and he left the room.


‘Mrs. Brisby?' Brutus softly said as he knocked the Brisby door. Nobody answered. He was about to leave when he heard a soft shuffle on the other side of the door. The door slightly opened.

‘Oh, Mrs. Brisby?' Brutus stumbled.

‘Yes, it's me.' Mrs. Brisby softly said. Her voice sounded hoarse.

‘I came by to check if everything was okay. Justin wanted to know if all went well.'

‘Everything went well, Brutus. The bag is where it should be.' Mrs. Brisby whispered.

‘Oh... ok, that's great. Are you okay? I mean, you didn't.... run into anyone over there, did you?' Brutus asked carefully.

There was a silence for a while. Eventually Mrs. Brisby said: ‘No, I didn't see anyone.'

Brutus took a deep breath of relief. ‘You've done a great job, Mrs. Brisby. We owe you one big time!' And he left for Justin again, with a huge smile on his face.


Meanwhile Jonathan pulled himself together again. ‘That was her! That was my wife!' He gently pulled the hooded cape from the thick branches. It was still warm. He stuck his nose deeply in it, that he was able to smell her scent. His eyes started to tear when old memories came back. He remembered when they first met, he remembered their first kiss, he remembered their marriage, he remembered the birth of all four children! ‘Oh my dear sweat Caroline, I've missed you so much!' Because even though he couldn't remember her anymore, he had always felt a loss, the kind of loss you feel when someone you love has died.


Mrs. Brisby walked towards the bathtub. She took a blanket and started dipping it into the cold water. She carefully placed it onto her scratches. She was completely covered with them. ‘How am I going to explain that to my children?' she thought to herself.

She saw the image of the person that followed her again. She didn't get a chance to look at his face, but his spots were the same as Jonathan's. She started to cry again. But she told herself to stop crying for something that happened over a year ago. She HAD to be strong, for the children's sake. Her stay at the Castle, the trauma of being kidnapped and the way Jenner dragged Wendy away from her heavily bleeding husband were simply too much to handle. She was losing her mind, she knew it for sure.


Wendy was sunken deeply into thoughts.

‘Wendy?' Jenner asked.

‘Oh sorry, dad. What did you say?' Wendy quickly replied.

‘I didn't say anything. Tell me what's on your mind.'

‘Well, nothing really.' Wendy lied.

‘You don't have to be ashamed if your worried about the Johns... eh Jonathan's plan. I'm kind of concerned myself.' Jenner said.

‘I guess that's exactly what it is, dad. You're right, I'm also concerned.' Wendy said, but the plan wasn't even on her mind. She was thinking about the dream over and over again. And she knew what it was that Nicodemus tried to tell her.

‘Let's just hope that Ages was able to deliver the sleeping powder in time.' Jenner said again and he walked towards his desk.

‘Dad? When does Jonathan come back?' Wendy softly asked.

‘I guess when he's done with the powder. He should have done it by now. He might also stay out. Perhaps he's with Justin.' Jenner answered. He hadn't really thought about that one yet. Jonathan had probably gotten away. Perhaps he's reunited with his wife after all.


Jonathan climbed up the old tree. ‘Just a little while now and we can be together again.' He whispered to himself. He pulled the bag from the ground, put it between his teeth and climbed higher, all the way towards the kitchen window. As he arrived there he noticed that there wasn't a place to rest the heavy bag, not even for a moment. He tried to push the window open with his nose, although the bag made that pretty much impossible.

He braced himself with his two feet and one arm and tried to push the window open again, now with his free hand. He was more successful now. He climbed up a little more so that he could place the bag on the edge of the window. He managed to put his right arm over the edge of the window and to put his left arm under the weight of the bag. Now he was able to let his teeth relax a bit. His legs were trembling under the weight of the bag, but he had to hold on! Dropping the bag was definitely not an option. He gazed inside the kitchen. There was no-one around. The sweet smell of smashed corn entered his nose-holes. It came from underneath him, as he expected. The corn was still cooking in the huge pan. It had belonged to the farmer once. It was considered to be a small pan for humans, but a huge pan for rats: over 70 rats could be fed from it! Jonathan pulled the bag a bit higher. He gasped when he realized that one foot almost slipped. He would fall down if he didn't come up with something soon! He took the end of the bag between his teeth again, grabbed the window edge with his right hand and pulled his slipping foot up, so that he felt more stable. The sweat on his forehead started to itch, but he had no hands left for that. He pulled the bag onto the window edge again, still feeling a bit instable, but when the bag was finally resting, he was able to use his free, right hand and feet to climb up just a little bit more. He was stable now. He ran the sweat off his face with the palm of his right hand and started to smile. ‘That was close.' He thought to himself. He carefully opened the bag with his right hand by pulling the string. He made sure that his elbow was secured over the window's edge. He gently pushed the opening of the bag over the edge and started pouring in the powder. ‘Hmmm, it looks worse than I thought! I'd better stir it a bit.' Jonathan thought and he pulled his stirring stick out of the back of his belt. He stirred the powder through the smashed corn and saw that it completely disappeared. ‘Good.' He thought and he tried to push the stirring stick back into his belt. He realized that the bag was slipping out of his left arm, for the weight of the powder was portioned differently. After that, things happened fast. The stirring stick fell down for Jonathan wanted to grab the bag. This made him lose his balance, so he gasped for air. In his gasp, he inhaled some of the sleeping powder. It made him feel weird immediately.

Chapter 46: The Escape

Wendy decided to take a better look in Jenner's room. She wondered if there were things in there that she recognized. The couch and the dresser clearly had belonged to Nanny and Arthur back in the Rosebush. That desk also looked familiar, perhaps it was even Justin's old desk. Her guess is that Jenner's bed was indeed Jenner's bed. She didn't really take a good look at it before, but it suited him. It was huge and made of dark wood. It was pretty comfortable, though. Her eyes were drawn to a soft ticking object at her left. ‘Of course! That's Nicodemus' watch!' She used to be annoyed by it, now it seemed comforting. Five o'clock already. She took a deep breath, feeling slightly nervous for what was coming. If only Jonathan came back with some good news... Perhaps her father was right: He probably went straight to the Castle. She wouldn't want to waste any minute, either. How she longed to be safely in Justin's arms!


‘It's five o'clock.' Justin said to no-one in particular.

‘Yes, it is.' Brutus said, it won't be long now. ‘Tired of waiting?'

‘You can't even begin to imagine HOW!' Justin said and he squeezed out a small smile.

‘Worried?' Brutus wondered.

‘Yeah, of course I'm worried. So many things could go wrong.'

‘Don't think about what could go wrong! It'll be ok.' Brutus said, but he was worried, too.

He looked over his shoulder to see if Mr. Ages was still sleeping.

‘Man, that stuff really is powerful!' He yelled.

‘Hahaha, you can say that again!' A naughty smile appeared on his face. ‘Nice and quiet, though. I think I'll keep a little behind, just in case.'

Brutus started laughing, but couldn't help feeling uneasy.


Mrs. Brisby managed to cover most of the scratches up. The children didn't even noticed them when they got back in from playing. They decided to go down to the dining room to grab something to eat. Nanny said she made homemade pancakes. The children loved pancakes and she kind of liked them herself, too. She could use a good meal. She thought about the mouse with the dark gray spots. Was it possible that there was another mouse on this world with the same spots as her husband? She remembered his spots clearly. She used to love his fur. Her children didn't own any spots. Somehow she was glad that she was able to remember the spots Jonathan had, his smile, his stories... But what color were his eyes again? And what about the tip of his tail? She suddenly felt really sad; she started to forget.

‘What is the matter, Mom?' Theresa asked. She had been staring at her mother for a while, now. She picket up a pot of jelly and started to spread it over her pancake.

‘Nothing, dear. I'm just tired, that's all.'

‘Yow can be wonest wif uf. You miff bab, bon't you?' Martin said with his mouth full.

‘Yuk! Martin! I can feel the drops here!' Theresa yelled, her face filled with disgust.

‘Martin! Finish your mouth before speaking. You are looking more and more like your father... and Justin for that matter.' His mother complained.

Martin gave his sister a glance. ‘I said: ‘You can be honest with us. You miss dad, don't you?'

Mrs. Brisby smiled a sad smile. ‘I miss him very much.'

‘I miss him, too! And Wendy!' Cynthia said as Mrs. Brisby removed some pancake leftovers off her face.

‘Do you think Wendy is ok?' Timothy asked.

Mrs. Brisby stared at her son. ‘Don't worry about Wendy, too much. She's a brave lady.'

‘But she's also pregnant.' Theresa said, right before taking a bite off her jelly pancake.

‘Let's just hope that she and the baby will be safely home again.'

‘I wish she could sit here and eat pancakes with us.' Cynthia said with a hollow voice because she was talking into her glass for she was just about to take a sip.

‘You know what? Let's keep some pancakes for her, just in case.' Mrs. Brisby said and the children smiled and all nodded their heads.


‘It's seven o'clock. They are probably eating.' Jenner said while he looked at Nicodemus' watch. ‘It won't be long now.'

‘How long will it take to work?' Wendy asked.

‘According to Jonathan about ten minutes. Less if he's managed to put everything in.'

‘Ten minutes? We should prepare then!' Wendy said and she packed her, very few, things.

She looked up at her father. ‘Aren't you taking anything?'

He hesitated and smiled. ‘All I need is you by my side.' He whispered.

Wendy stopped packing and walked towards Jenner. She embraced him firmly.

‘That's the kindest thing I've ever heard you saying.'

Jenner was shocked by the embrace, but answered it. ‘I'm not too bad, Wendy.'

‘I know you're not, dad.' Wendy answered without letting him go.

‘Come on, we've got work to do.' He said and he took Wendy's bag. He checked if his knife was still in place. "Perhaps this is the last time that I'll have to use you." He thought to himself and gently turned the key of the door.

‘Wendy, come. Are you ready?'

The young rat nodded. Her heart was beating in her ears.

Jenner pulled the door open with an enormous swing. Loud noise was coming from the hallway.

‘The bastards wired the place!' He mumbled.

‘Wendy, there's no time to waste.' He took the young female by the arm and started running.

Wendy was holding her heavy stomach with her free hand. The hallway was deserted. The powder had worked! Suddenly there was a sound from behind them.

Jenner turned around and started running even faster.

‘Dad? Slow down! It hurts!' Wendy yelled.

‘If we slow down now, it's BOUND to hurt a lot more, let's move!'

Behind them, a whole group of rats gathered. None of the rats seemed to be touched by the powder. Jenner pulled his daughter in front of him, pushing her in her back. Wendy didn't slow down, but her stomach was extremely painful. A knife was thrown from behind them but missed. Wendy screamed, both out of fear and happiness as she pushed the door latch which lead outside.

‘Keep running!' Jenner yelled.



‘Mr. Ages? I was just preparing to pick up Wendy.' Justin said while he put on his belt.

‘The powder... I forgot, doesn't work with... cooked food. You must worn them.'

‘Oh my God, BRUTUS! Alarm the rats! Get everybody out! Armed, NOW!' Justin screamed and Brutus pushed a big red alarm button.


Wendy was all of a sudden aware that the pushing in her back had stopped.

‘Dad?' She asked, and she turned around.


Jenner had turned and now stood alone in front of at least forty barn-rats.

‘RUN!' Jenner screamed, and he started running towards the group of barn-rats, holding his sword high in the air.

‘No....' Wendy whispered. Tears were running down from her face.

‘Wendy! Come here!' It was Justin.

Wendy turned around and started running. Justin took her arm and pulled her towards the entrance of the Castle.

‘Brutus, NOW!' Justin shouted and Brutus and fifty other rats charged.

‘You're safe now.' Justin whispered as he opened the door for Wendy. She turned around , trying to see her father. ‘No.' Justin said. ‘Don't look back, you don't want to see this.'

Justin closed the door behind them. Nanny, Arthur and the Brisby family rushed in to see if Wendy was ok.

She was in one piece, but falling to pieces anyway.

Suddenly she stopped crying and gasped for air. ‘It's happening again, it's happening again.'

‘Gabriel! Quick! I think she's in labor!'

‘Oh dear, let's move her to the infirmary. There's an empty bed right over there.'

Justin and Gabriel gently lifted Wendy up into the bed.

Wendy was panting for breath and completely pale. ‘It hurts!' She said while touched her stomach. ‘I don't want to lose him!'

‘He'll be ok, and so will you.' Justin said, holding her head, feeling terrible for not being able to do anything for his wife.

‘My father! Help him!' Wendy panicked.

‘They are doing what they can for him. I'll stay with you.'

‘You're in labor, alright. This time it's no false alarm.' Gabriel said.

‘But it's much too soon!' Wendy cried.

‘Yes, but he might have a chance. He wouldn't have had a chance in the old tree, but he does have a chance here. Now Wendy, I need you to focus on your breathing. Don't think about anything else, I know that's hard. Look at me. Breath more slowly, that's right. Good girl.'


Brutus kneeled down besides Jenner's body. He was still holding his sword, covered in blood.

He gazed around and saw more bodies, all dead. Male and female. ‘You managed to take a few of them with you after all. You died bravely, everyone will remember that.' Brutus said and he touched Jenner's shoulder. Now was he seeing things or did he see his chest moving? No, it couldn't be. Look at him! He's ripped to pieces! Brutus watched closer and he saw it again! This time he heard a rasping sound as well. ‘HEY! SOMEBODY HELP ME! HE'S ALIVE!'

Chapter 47: Conflicting Emotions

‘Everybody out of the way! We need a doctor, NOW!' Brutus yelled as he dragged Jenner's heavily damaged body inside.

‘Daddy? Is that my father?' Wendy asked while she squeezed Justin's hand because of a new contraction. They followed each other rapidly.

‘You want me to check?' Justin asked.

‘No, you stay here. I have to check on him. I'm the only doctor around.' Gabriel said and he took off.

‘Now remember what the doctor said, you need to stay calm and focus on your breathing. That's it. You're doing a great job.' Justin said, while nervous ran through his body.

After a short moment, Gabriel returned. ‘Justin, I'll have to ask Nanny to take over. Jenner's condition is serious.'

‘Serious? What does he mean?' Wendy asked as she looked at Justin with large eyes.

‘I don't know, Wendy. But you have to focus on the baby.' Justin said, while he gently placed his lips on her forehead. He didn't know what to think. Somewhere, deep from within he hoped that Jenner would live, just for Wendy's sake. He knew how important having a father was to her, even though he was the last person she had hoped for. He took care of her, though, even when things got tough back in the old tree. He made sure she escaped without injuries. But a much bigger part of him just wanted him to die.

‘I'm here, I'm here! Everything will be just fine, Wendy.' Nanny said while she padded Wendy's face.

‘But he's too early, he might die. And Jenner might die, too!' She cried.

‘Wendy come on, relax. Don't worry about things that might not happen.' Nanny said. She looked at Justin and their eyes met. Justin knew Nanny had never delivered a baby before.

‘Nanny, you'll be ok.' He softly said and Nanny gave him a small, forced smile.

‘Guys? Jenner needs surgery right now. Call for me when the baby is born, ok?'

‘What about Ages? Can't he help us with the baby?' Justin stumbled.

‘I'm sorry, I need him in the operating-room. And I need Isabella, too, although she's just an intern. I need all the hands I can get.'

‘He'll die....' Wendy whispered.

‘Don't lose hope, Wendy.' Nanny said while she kissed her forehead.

‘Oh God, I have to push!' Wendy yelled, squeezing Justin's hand completely by now.

‘Already?' He asked. His face was pale and he was sweating.

‘Yeah, I have to. I can't stop it anymore!'

So she pushed. Taking deep breaths, totally ignoring the pain. As if ancient powers worked their ways into her body, making it stronger. She pushed again, this time a little deeper. She was aware that Nanny and Justin were talking to her, giving her support, but she didn't hear them. It was like she was all locked up in her own body. She took a deep breath and pushed again. A painful burning sensation made her gasp, but she realized that there was no way back. So she took a deep breath again and pushed as hard as she could. She fell back into the pillows. She was exhausted, but a small sound brought her back to her senses again. Joshua was born.

He was very small but his skin looked healthy pink through his wet, brown fur.  His eyes were still closed, which is normal for a newborn baby-rat. And he started crying straight away. ‘Is he okay?' Wendy asked.

Nanny nodded her head. ‘Judging from the way it screams, it's doing just great! Oh and it's a BOY!' Nanny shouted with tears in her eyes.

Justin looked at his wife and son with pride. Tears appeared in his eyes as well.

‘Wow, this is beautiful.' He stumbled.

‘Congratulations Mom and Dad! And have you thought about a name yet?'

Wendy and Justin looked at each other and smiled.

‘Oh yeah, he's got a name alright.' Justin said. ‘His name is Joshua Ethan King.'

‘That's a beautiful name.' Nanny said and she quickly pulled the blankets over mother and child. ‘I'll try to see if Gabriel can help you with the rest.'

And she took off, leaving two extremely happy rats behind.


Gabriel was closing blood vessel after blood vessel. He couldn't believe that anyone could have survived these kinds of injuries. He had been able to close all the main blood vessels and now moved over to the less life threatening ones. Mr. Ages was working on Jenner's tail; it was partly amputated. There were also huge cuts on his arms, legs, over his chest, everywhere. Not to mention the huge amount of bite-injuries.

‘Man, they must have hated him! Look at him! He looks like as if someone placed him underneath the farmer's plough!' Gabriel said. This was actually the first time he spoke in a long time. He seemed a little more relaxed now.

Mr. Ages looked up and nodded. He couldn't agree more. ‘So how's the status?' Ages asked.

‘Well, he's lost his right eye, his ear is cut in two, but I can fix that. He's got deep cuts in both arms, cuts all over his torso, though not very deep ones. He's got internal bleedings in his stomach, but I was able to close the most sincere ones. I still have to take another look later, for I couldn't see a thing because of all the blood. So how about you?'

‘Well, I've cleaned and closed the amputated tail, treated his ankle, although I fear that he'll never be able to walk without a limp again. I've closed the great leg-blood-vessel, what a mess what that, and I'm now moving over to the smaller cuts. Do you think he'll make it?'

‘I'm optimistic, though time will tell.' Gabriel said.

‘How about you, Isabella?' Gabriel asked.

‘Oh, I'm just trying not to throw up.' She said casually. The mouse and the doctor laughed.


‘Sorry to interrupt, but can anyone look at Wendy for a while. Her baby is born and appears to be healthy. He's just a bit small, but seems to be doing great.'

‘I'll be right there.' Gabriel said. ‘Can you keep an eye on Jenner for me, Mr. Ages?'

Mr. Ages nodded and Gabriel left the operating-room. He moved over to the sink to wash his hands. He took off his operation shirt because all the blood could upset Wendy. He looked over his shoulder to the operating-room and thought to himself: ‘Perhaps it would be better for everyone if you just died.' He shook those thoughts away immediately, for he was a doctor, and a doctor should help everyone, even someone like Jenner. As he came closer to Wendy's bed, he heard soft baby-noises. A smile appeared on his face. ‘Thank goodness they're alright.' And he opened the curtains to cut the baby lose from it's mother and give him a very brief first check. He needed to get back to Jenner as soon as possible.


The Brisby family didn't notice anything of the commotion earlier that night. They were sound asleep in their comfortable bed. Mrs. Brisby stretched herself and woke up, though still a bit weary. She sat up to check on the kids. They were all sound asleep. She got up, carefully, and went outside to the hallway. The pancakes had made her thirsty. As she looked over the field which lead to the old tree the image made her gasp. There were rats lying on the field, at least twenty of them! Some of them were lying in some kind of dark fluid. ‘Oh my God! That's blood! They're all dead!' Her eyes moved across the field. Suddenly her attention was drawn to a small figure. It moved. As she looked closer she could clearly see it was a mouse!

‘Perhaps that's the mouse I saw this afternoon! The one with the spots!' Her throat was painfully dry as she saw the mouse coming closer and closer. He was limping a bit. She didn't notice that this afternoon, but it was a clear limp now. ‘What shall I do? Warn the rats? Or should I go downstairs myself? Perhaps he's dangerous! And what happened to Wendy? Was she part in all this? What if she's dead!' She hesitated, but decided to go downstairs anyway. She wasn't sure what to do next, but she had to do something. She shivered and shook her head. ‘What on earth am I doing? I must be crazy!' She walked downstairs, slowly, hoping she would run into a rat who could come with her. But when she reached the ground floor, she hadn't come across a living soul yet. She carefully walked over to the ground-level window. The spotted mouse was still on the field. He was moving slowly, still limping. As far as she could tell he seemed injured. ‘If he's injured, I'd easily outrun him.' She thought and she placed her hand on the door-latch. She pushed the latch down and opened the door, taking a deep breath. She felt the cool air on her fur and tasted the smell of blood on her fur. It made her choke for a moment, but she regained herself quickly. The mouse's silhouette came closer and closer. ‘Ma'am? Can you please help me? I had an accident.' Spoke the spotted mouse. Mrs. Brisby froze as she heard the voice. ‘That voice! Those spots! This can't be! It can't be Jonathan! He's dead!' ‘Please ma'am! I don't mean any harm, please help me. I'm a friend of Justin's. My name is Jonathan Brisby, please help me.'


Mrs. Brisby felt as if she was going to pass out. ‘Did that mouse really say ‘Jonathan Brisby'? But that's impossible! He's been gone for over a year!' Mrs. Brisby's brain worked overtime. There was only one way to find out if it really was Jonathan who was standing a few feet away from her. She pushed the door open a bit more and stepped outside.

‘Caroline? Is that really you?'

Mrs. Brisby froze when she heard her name. It had been so long since anyone called her that. She was mostly known as Brisby, even the shrew didn't call her anything else.

‘Jo... Jonathan?' She stumbled.

‘Yes, it's me! I'm so glad to see you! I've missed you so much!' Jonathan said as he limped closer to where Mrs. Brisby was standing, with open arms. When he realized that Caroline didn't move a muscle, he lowered his arms, approaching her more careful. ‘She must be in shock! Well, I can relate to that. I feel pretty overwhelmed myself'. Jonathan thought.

‘It is you... You're back!' Mrs. Brisby slowly said, tears filled her heard, both with happiness, but also with pain. ‘Where were you all this time! You left me and the children all by ourselves! If you only knew how hard it has been for us! Timothy almost died a few months ago! I had to risk my own to safe Timmy's life! I didn't know anything about your life with the rats! Why didn't you ever tell me? I'm your wife! Why did you leave us?!' She yelled, but her voice broke and she started to cry. She felt just as helpless as she did on the day she found out that Jonathan had died. She never cried this way before, letting all anger, frustration, bitterness and fear come out.

Jonathan embraced his heavily protesting wife. She tried to push him away but he was determent to hold her, to tell her everything that had occurred this past year. And all the time before that, too. She deserved to know the truth, the whole truth, even though the rats had always opposed to that plan. She knew about the rats anyway, so the biggest secret was already revealed.

‘Caroline, please let me explain.' Jonathan softly whispered as his wife stopped to push him away. She was exhausted, simply too tired to fight. She didn't understand any of this.

‘Let's go inside, okay?' He whispered. Caroline softly nodded. The hysterical crying had turned into soft weeping when they reached an empty room on the ground floor.

‘There, let me explain everything to you. I owe it to you.' Jonathan said and gently placed his hands onto hers.

Chapter 48: Picking Up Where We've Started

Jonathan told his wife everything he could remember. He started by telling her about the cat, the day he was supposed to have died. He told her about the fact the he had lost his memory, that he had been taken care of by the barn-rats and he told her about the night when Jenner and Sullivan were found. Mrs. Brisby just couldn't believe her ears when she found out that he had been that near all this time! Jonathan told her that the barn-rats only went out at night, for they feared the big rats of NIMH. Being nocturnal animals made that easy for the barn-rats. The rats of NIMH changed their biological clock and somehow managed to live during daytime. Mainly because of the fact that the farmer, his wife and two children were out during the day. It was easier for them to work then instead of the nights.

Then he started telling her about the rats of NIMH and how he had met them. Mrs. Brisby knew a big part of that history already for she was told by Nicodemus, the day the rats moved her house. What she didn't know was, that he managed to breakaway from the colony. The reason for that was her. Caroline's mind drifted off to the days when she met Jonathan. She was so happy that she felt that she could fly. When she got pregnant with Theresa, she was the happiest mouse on the planet. She realized that she had never been really happy since Jonathan... well, since Jonathan died. But why couldn't she just be happy? Why couldn't she just embrace him, hug him? Why couldn't she tell him that she loved him?

‘Where are the children? I'd like to see them.' Jonathan said.

‘No, you can't see them.' Caroline said without hesitation. ‘They are asleep and... I want to talk to them first.' She got up.

‘Caroline....' Jonathan said and he got up as well.

‘I'm sorry Jonathan. But please give me some time.' Caroline said as the tears re-appeared in her eyes again.

Jonathan nodded. His eyes followed her as she walked out of the room. As the door closed, he started to cry as well.


‘Pfffff, I'm glad it's over.' Gabriel said while he washed his hands by the sink.

‘You can say that again. What a night!' Mr. Ages said while drying his hands. The mouse and the rat had spend the last four hours operating Jenner. Isabella was still in the operating-room, trying to clean up all the bloody mess. Jenner had been transported to the Intensive Care area; the same area as where Justin had been recovering these past days.

Wendy Elisabeth was sound asleep. The birth of Joshua exhausted her, but the days inside the old tree had been even worse for her. She was safe now and finally able to sleep. Justin sat next to her. He just couldn't stop looking at her. Baby Joshua was safely sleeping in a tiny hospital bed. His small body safely wrapped into a blue, clean blanket. Justin just couldn't believe that the nightmare was finally over.


‘Justin? Where are you? They've told me you are here.' Those words brought Justin back on earth. He'd been living on a light-blue cloud for a few hours. The voice he heard came from Jonathan.

‘Jonathan!' Justin whispered. ‘I'm so glad you're alright!'

‘Well, not yes and no.' Jonathan whispered again.

Justin frowned and got up from his chair. He stretched his back for he had been sitting in one position all this time.

‘Jonathan?' He wondered, but soon found his friend. He was covered in branches and leafs and he looked as if he had just found out that the world was square instead of round.

‘What happened to you? Where have you been all this time?'

‘The plan failed, Justin! I inhaled some of the powder, so I guess they had to little of it. But you probably already know that.'

‘I do know that the plan failed, but that's not because of you. Ages forgot to tell that the powder didn't work when the food was still cooking.'

‘Oh.' Jonathan said, but he still looked said.

‘Are you injured? You are a mess!' Justin said with a touch of worry in his voice.

‘I guess I'm okay. I fell down when I inhaled it, but there's nothing you can do.'

‘Nothing I can do? No, I guess you're right. But Gabriel can! He's just finished on Jenner and Wendy, so perhaps....' Justin said, but he was interrupted by Jonathan.

‘I suppose he cannot fix a broken heart, can he?'

‘A broken heart? I suppose not. But can you please tell me what's going? I'm too tired for riddles.' Justin said with a smile.

‘She hates me. Caroline hates me.' Jonathan said and tears filled his eyes again.

‘Caroline... Oh dear, you mean your wife?' Justin stumbled. His smile disappeared as soon as it came.

‘Yes, I kind of ran into her. I never meant to, but she was there, outside, she... Oh man, she hates me.' Jonathan said again, tears running over his cheeks by now.

‘No, she doesn't hate you! She just... never expected this to happen.'

‘No, but Wendy was happy, you were happy! Why can't she be happy? And why can't I see the children?' Jonathan said.

Justin looked at his old friend. A feeling of guilt and pity filled his heart. There he stood, once considered a hero, now a pathetic piece of mouse, his shoulders and whiskers down. Tears running over his face and covered in branches and mud.

‘Jonathan, I'm so sorry. I should have talked to your wife. I shouldn't have waited. Perhaps none of this would have happened. Just give her some time. Of course she's happy, but she's also angry with you, with us! She had no idea we even existed! Let alone that we were your friends. Nicodemus might know what to do. Perhaps you could talk to him, the both of you.

‘What's that sound?' Jonathan remarked.

‘Oh, that's my son! Joshua! Oh dear, what if he's waking up? What can I do? I don't want to bother Wendy!'

‘You have a son? Congratulations! I'm so happy for the both of you!'

‘You want to see him?' Justin asked.

‘Yes! Of course I want to see him!' Jonathan said. A smile crossed his sad face.

‘Ok, on one condition. That you help me. You're far more experienced.' Justin said, hoping to cheer the poor mouse up a bit.

Jonathan nodded. ‘You can count on me ‘dad'.'


Mrs. Brisby went up to her room again. She gently opened the door, not to wake the children.

She closed the door as gently as she could and she softly crawled into the bed again.

‘Mom?' It was Theresa's voice.

‘Theresa, go back to sleep.' Mrs. Brisby said, hiding her sadness.

‘Mom, what time is it?' She asked again.

‘It's still early. Go back to sleep.'

‘But mom, you've been out a long time. Where have you been?' Theresa asked again.

Mrs. Brisby sighed. ‘I've been to the bathroom down the hall to drink some water. Just go back to sleep.'

‘I saw you talking to someone.' Theresa said casually.

Mrs. Brisby's heartbeat started to rise. ‘Who was that?' Theresa continued.

‘It was no-one important.' Mrs. Brisby said while a needle stung her heart. ‘I'll tell you about it tomorrow. You really should sleep now.'

‘Ok, mom... goodnight. I love you.'

‘I love you, too... so much.' Mrs. Brisby whispered and tried to find a comfortable position.

Of course she couldn't sleep. She thought about Jonathan.


Jenner tried to open his eyes when the first rays of the sun peered through the curtains. When he realized he couldn't, he tried to sit up. A stinging pain made him gasp and he fell back into his pillow again, which also caused a tremendous amount of pain. He moaned, hoping someone would hear him.

‘Jenner? Are you alright? Let me get a doctor.'

Jenner recognized the voice but couldn't place a face along with it. He tried to remember last night. The plan... it failed. Stupid Jonathan. The barn-rats....

‘Jenner? Here, let me take a look. You're sweating like crazy, did you have a nightmare?' Gabriel asked when he stared at the huge black rat.

‘No, I... Wendy?'

‘She's fine, she's fine. Delivered a beautiful, healthy... eh, grandson.'

‘A son?' Jenner asked, and a smile appeared on his face. ‘Am I blind?' He asked again.

‘We're not sure yet. Your right eye is... lost and your left eye is damaged, though not very sincerely. I suppose that you'll be able to see again, but your left eye needs recovering, so I've bandaged that one, too.' Gabriel said. Somewhere deep down he was glad he didn't have to look in those green eyes for a while.

‘I guess I deserved that.' Jenner said and he sighed. ‘So what else?'

‘Well, you've had multiple internal bleedings, many scratches and bite wounds. There's a huge cut on your leg which exposed and damaged your coronary artery....'

‘My what?' Jenner interrupted.

‘Oh, sorry. Your main leg blood vessel got damaged.' Gabriel said, realizing that doctor's slang wasn't understandable for everyone.

‘So it was messy.' Jenner said in his own words.

‘Precisely.' Gabriel said. ‘They've managed to bite in your hind leg, which might have caused irreparable damage.'

‘What does that mean?' Jenner asked.

‘That you'll probably be limping for the rest of your life.' Gabriel said.

‘I've deserved that, too.' The large rat said. Gabriel nodded, knowing that Jenner wasn't able to see him anyway.

‘And last but not least, they've amputated part of your tail, but you were lucky.'

‘Lucky....' Jenner repeated. Perhaps he would have been better off dead. Perhaps Justin would let him stay now he's injured. But what would happen after that? At least his daughter was safe and she had a son, although he doubted that he would ever be able to see him.


‘Is he awake?' Justin entered the Intensive Care and he almost ran into Isabella.

‘I guess so. Gabriel is in there for a while now.' She said, while she looked up to Justin. She had to admit that she still thought he was attractive, but Brutus stole her heart completely.

‘Ok, thanks Izzy.' Justin said and he walked over to the only used bed. The curtains were closed, but he was able to see Gabriel's feet from under them.

‘Gabriel? Can I have a word with Jenner?' Justin asked from behind the curtain.'

‘Yes, but keep short, ok? He's badly injured.' Gabriel said as he peeked his head around the corner. He welcomed Justin with a warm, but tired, smile.

‘I will.' Justin said and he opened the curtains.

‘Hello Jenner.' Justin said and he looked down at Jenner's battered body. 

‘Justin, how is my daughter?' Jenner said with a huge amount of effort. It was clear that he was in pain.

‘She's doing great. She'll probably visit you when she can get up. The birth of our son has made a deep impact on her. Well, so has her stay at your place, of course.'

‘I'm sorry about that. I'm such an idiot. I should have died yesterday.' Jenner said.

‘I suppose you should have, but I guess someone wanted to give you another shot.'

‘Another shot... To what? A better life? I've ruined so many that I cannot believe that anyone would give me another shot. That person is only keeping me alive to make me pay.'

‘Don't be so hard on yourself. You have been a hated person for numerous reasons, but I suppose you could still make it right.' Justin said with an uneasy feeling.

‘And what do you suppose I could do....' Jenner asked, knowing Justin didn't have the answer.

Justin didn't say a word. He looked at Jenner. He used to look up to him. He used to be so strong, so intelligent. Jenner was his role model when Nicodemus and he were still friends. He wanted to be just like him. Now he looked pathetic. Wrapped into bandages like a ancient mummy. Justin tried not to laugh as this comparison crossed his mind. Instead he chuckled.

‘What's so funny?' Jenner angrily asked.

‘You.' Justin started laughing a bit louder now.

‘Me? What's so funny about me?' Jenner was stunned. He never felt this much pain and discomfort in his entire life and his punk son-in-law was laughing his head off.

‘Yes, you! You look like a mummy!' Justin laughed.

As Justin's words sank in, Jenner also started to laugh a bit. But he stopped immediately because of the pain. ‘I really don't know what my daughter sees in you. She really must be blind.'

‘Then I guess that makes two of you.' Justin said. ‘Oh sorry, that was stupid! I've gone too far this time.' He quickly said, realizing that his joke wasn't funny at all in this situation.

Jenner smiled and said: ‘I probably deserved that.'

Justin smiled and placed his hand on Jenner's shoulder. ‘Get well, for your daughter's sake.'

‘Thanks Justin, take care of them.'

Justin nodded and left the Intensive Care Unit. He had another important visit to make.


He found Mrs. Brisby and her children in the dining room where they were having breakfast.

‘Mrs. Brisby? Can I have a word with you?' Justin asked.

‘Oh Justin, I was so glad to find out that Wendy is okay.' She softly said. Her face didn't look too happy, though.

‘Mom? Is Wendy alright? Can we bring her the pancakes now?' Timothy asked.

‘Later.' Mrs. Brisby said. ‘I have to go with Justin, now. If you've had enough, you can go outside, okay?' The children nodded and finished their breakfast.

‘It's nice to see you together safe and sound.' Justin said, not knowing what to say really.

‘Yes, we appreciate your hospitality.' Mrs. Brisby said, while looking straight ahead of her.

‘Mrs. Brisby, I'll cut to the chase. Please sit down.' Justin said and he offered her a chair in the same room where she and Jonathan spoke last night. Mrs. Brisby looked around and realized that it hadn't been a dream after all.

‘Jonathan came to see me last night. He was really sad.' Justin started.

‘I know.' Mrs. Brisby said, swallowing the tears.

‘I don't want to interfere in your relationship, I mean, it's none of my business, but won't you please talk to him again?'

Mrs. Brisby looked at Justin and shook her head.

‘Why not, Mrs. Brisby? He's in the same state of shock as you are in. The both of you belong together. You have children together. I know it's hard, I wouldn't know how to react, either, but please tell me if there is still a chance for the two of you. I love you two both and I would hate to see you fall apart like this. He's dreadfully caught up by it.'

‘And how do you think I feel? What about my children?! He's been gone for over a year! I had to tell them that their father wasn't coming home anymore, that he was dead. And then I found out about you! Jonathan never mentioned you to me! Couldn't he trust me? Didn't he want to trust me?' 

‘Oh Mrs. Brisby, if only you partly knew how much that secret had been eating on him! It's our fault that he never spoke of us. We told him not to. You see, those injection have destroyed our biological cells. We are mutants. Humans in a rat or mouse-suit. We couldn't age anymore and we had no idea what the consequences were for the long term. We didn't know what that would mean for the children of two or at least one NIMH-injected parent. Don't you see? He wanted to tell you, but we didn't let him. And that was wrong and it was stupid. And we are sorry.' Justin said and he meant every word of it. He and Wendy had always felt the need to inform Jonathan's family. At least when they had found out that he had died.

Mrs. Brisby placed her arms on the table and buried her head in it. Justin got up and left the room. As he closed the door he called Jonathan who was standing on a safe distance.

He nodded at Jonathan and opened the door for his still limping friend. He looked a lot better now he was cleaned up. ‘Good luck.' Justin whispered. Jonathan smiled at him and went inside.


‘How long have I been sleeping?' Wendy asked when she opened her eyes. She felt someone's presents nearby, a pleasant presents. ‘Justin?' She asked.

‘No, it's me.' Nicodemus softly said.

‘Nicodemus, it's good to see you. How long have been sitting there?' Wendy said and she tried to get up.

‘No, no... don't get up. You need to heal. I haven't been here so long, yet. Congratulations on your beautiful son, Wendy.'

‘Thank you so much Nicodemus. Have you seen him yet?' Wendy asked.

‘No, not yet, but I'll introduce myself to him later.' Nicodemus smiled. ‘How are you feeling?'

‘I'm not sure, well, that is... I'm fine, but my father....'

‘Your father is going to be alright.' Nicodemus said.

‘Did you see him?' Wendy asked.

‘Not yet, I'll pay him a visit later. First I wanted to see you.'

‘Thank you. Eh... Nicodemus? About the Stone?' Wendy stumbled.

‘What about the Stone, my child.' Nicodemus asked, but he knew exactly what Wendy was talking about.

‘I think I figured it out. I think I know what the ‘Key' is.' Wendy said.

‘You do? What do you think the ‘Key' is? Nicodemus asked. He knew what the ‘Key' was, of course, but he wanted to hear it from Wendy personally.

‘I think ‘Love' is the ‘Key'.' Wendy said.

‘You are absolutely right, but you know, Love is just a small part of the Key. As you remember, I told you that you are the Key.' Nicodemus said. Pride filled his heard.

‘Yes, I remember. So, if I'm the Key, some people are supposed to really love me, right?'

Nicodemus nodded.

‘So if Justin, Joshua and Jenner all love me, then I'm the one who's able to... to make sure that there's peace!' Wendy said, her ideas made sense to her.

‘That's correct, my child.'

‘The inscription said: ‘You can unlock any door, if you only have the Key'. So I guess a door mean a heart, am I right? So I guess the Key, as in me, is able to open people's hearts.'

Nicodemus looked at the young female rat with admiration in his eyes. ‘Yes, my child. You are the Key, as I said. And you've proven to be the Key.'

He took a deep breath. ‘You see, I was the one who needed the Key for many years, even when things were fine. Being a Leader is the hardest job on earth. Justin will be able to tell you all about it, and his challenge isn't over yet. The Key can be seen as a peacemaker, a negotiator in difficult times. I have realized that you were the Key not too long ago, in fact, I was almost too late. But I always knew there was something about you. Something which made you different you than the others, but I just couldn't lay my finger on it. Until the day Justin told me that Jenner was your father. Then I knew that you were the Key. I'm proud of you for finding out what it was so quickly.'

‘Well, I couldn't have done it without you. You helped me in my dream, remember?' Wendy said, thinking back at the beautiful dream she had.

‘Dream? I'm sorry, I know nothing about dreams.' Nicodemus said, but a small smile appeared around his lips. ‘I'd better pay a little visit to your son and your father. I'll see you later.' Nicodemus said and he left Wendy Elisabeth. She was a bit confused but she knew better; Nicodemus had been there in her dream. No doubt about that.

She heard Nicodemus talking to her son. What she didn't know was, that he placed a kiss on his forehead and he spoke a spell over the boy. A spell that would protect him against evil.

Then he moved on to Jenner, his old friend.


Mrs. Brisby slowly raised her head. She realized that Justin had left the room. Perhaps he was right. His words echoed through her mind. She didn't want to be parted from Jonathan, that was the last thing she wanted!

‘Caroline?' Mrs. Brisby turned her head and saw Jonathan standing in the left corner of the room. She didn't even hear him come in! How long was he standing there?

She looked at Jonathan who was now looking far more like the old Jonathan she used to know.

‘Jonathan, I'm so sorry. I should have listened to you better. I guess it's the shock.'

‘Hush, my love. I know, I know.' Jonathan said and he came closer.

Caroline Brisby got up from her chair and embraced her husband firmly. ‘Don't ever lie to me again, and don't ever leave us again like that!'

‘I won't, I promise. I'll stay with you until the end. Oh Caroline, I've missed you so much!'

‘I've missed you, too. I thought I had stopped living myself!' She said and she looked up into Jonathan's eyes. ‘Let's go tell the kids.'

Chapter 49: Jenner vs. the Public

Nicodemus stared at his once so cherished friend. He shook his head. Why hadn't he seen it coming? Jenner used to be so friendly, helpful and loyal. Though he had been the same towards the Irish Kenmare's. And we all know how they ended up. Nicodemus sighed. ‘Perhaps we were all wrong about you from the start, but I cannot imagine that this was all an act. You were sincere once, I know that much, but can we trust you enough? Is there a possibility that you might fall back into that trap?' Nicodemus' thoughts went back to the Market Place where the entire story began. Good memories filled his heart. Jenner had been like a brother to him. He wished it could be like that again, although he knew too much had happened for that.


Jenner started to turn and moan. He was having a nightmare. He was back at NIMH again, and he was locked up in a cage. But he wasn't the only one in there. The cage was also home to a dozen barn-rats. They approached him, showing their teeth. He recognized Gloria in it who had a huge gap under her chin, the same place where Jenner had almost decapitated her. He wanted to escape, but there was no way out of the cage. He already felt the cool cage-wall against his back.

‘Jenner, you're having a nightmare, wake up.' Nicodemus said while he gently shook his once so loyal friend.

Jenner woke up with a gasp, trying to remove the bandage that covered his eyes. Nicodemus stopped his by pushing his hand away.

‘It's alright, you're safe.' He said, while he placed Jenner's hand on the bed again.

Jenner took a deep breath, apparently he was still waking up.

‘Nicodemus? What brings you here.' Jenner said with a bitter tone in his voice.

‘I'm here to pay an old friend a visit.' The old rat said.

‘Old friend... right.' Jenner answered and he turned his head away from Nicodemus.

‘Jenner, where did we go wrong?' Nicodemus asked.

No answer.

‘Jenner, please. What did I do to you that made you change this way.'

Still no answer.

‘Jenner... you owe me an answer.' Nicodemus said again. He didn't give Jenner the impression that he was going to leave any time soon.

Jenner turned his head and faced Nicodemus again, although he himself couldn't see.

‘I owe you nothing. But if you insist, it is you. You are the reason why we went wrong.' Jenner said.

‘Then tell me what I did, so that I can make it better.'

‘It's too late for that. You should have thought about that sooner.' Jenner snapped.

‘Too late for what?' Nicodemus wondered.

‘Too late for recognition, too late for giving me what I deserved. I earned the leadership. I was the one who figured out how to escape from NIMH.'

‘Yes, you did figure out how to escape, but so did Justin. The two of you made a wonderful team.' Nicodemus said.

‘Wonderful team... right. And what did you do? You didn't do anything! You are a saint as it comes to fighting. You'll never fight back, even if the enemy is on top of you! I saved your sorry ass when your eye was scratched out near the Boniface Estate.'

‘Yes, you are right. I hate violence, and I'm weak as it comes to a confrontation. But the rats of NIMH chose me to be their leader. I voted for you, but most votes count. I'm sorry it turned out that way.' Nicodemus said.

‘You voted for me?' Jenner asked, wondering if the old fool was telling the truth.

‘Yes, and so did Justin. I happened to know that.' Nicodemus said.

Jenner was silent for a while, letting that known fact sink in.

‘Most votes counted, Jenner. What could I have done? I didn't want to be the leader in the first place, heck I had rather stayed normal. A normal rat's life is a lot easier. But I had to take the part of the leader, simply because they wanted me to.' Nicodemus said again.

‘But you could have resigned, you could have given the part of the leader to me. Especially at the Rosebush!' Jenner yelled.

‘No, that's where you are wrong, my friend. Your lust for power had been overwhelming during that time. You would have risked all the rat's life's if you would have become the leader back then. The rats of NIMH needed a leader who wanted to keep them alive rather than sending them to a certain death.'

‘A certain death? Is that what you think I wanted? I wanted to fight back! We earned everything we had down there.'

‘I disagree, my friend. Everything we owned was stolen!' Nicodemus said, raising his voice.

‘We deserved it! After everything they've done to us! All the years they took away from us! All the pain they caused us!'

‘Jenner, you are right on that point. They did put us through a lot of misery and they took our freedom away, but fighting back isn't the right solution. We deserved a lot, but no stolen goods. We deserved a happy and honest life. A life where we were able to stop running, where we didn't have to look over our shoulder all the time. A free life. We deserved a safe environment that we could pass on to our children, and they to their children. A life without humans, an independent life.' Nicodemus said. ‘And I think we have succeeded.'

‘Oh really? What about all the snakes, the owls we don't know, puma's and all other scum.'

‘They are much less dangerous to us than NIMH was. According to Mrs. Brisby, NIMH actually came by the day after we left the farmyard. They completely exterminated the Rosebush.'

Jenner didn't say a word. Of course he knew Nicodemus was right, but he needed luxury.

‘We would have all been dead by now. Was that worth it? Even if we had a plan to fight back, we wouldn't have stand a chance against the poison they used.' Nicodemus said. ‘I'd better leave now, you need to rest.' The old rat stood up from his chair and gently squeezed Jenner's shoulder. Jenner still didn't say a word. He was exhausted. All he wanted to do was sleep, but he was afraid of the next bad dream.


Justin walked down the Hallway towards his own room. He wanted to find some clothes for Wendy. She was able to leave the hospital this afternoon already.

‘Justin! Thank goodness I found you!' Brutus said, panting for breath.

‘Hey, have you been running the marathon or something, you look terrible.' Justin said, in his normal casually way.

‘No, I've been looking all over for you.'

‘Did something happen?' Justin asked, thinking about Wendy and Joshua immediately.

‘You bet something happened! The rats have found out about Jenner.' Brutus said.

‘So they are not very comfortable?' Justin asked.

‘No, they are furious with you!' Brutus claimed.

Justin sighed. ‘And what do they want me to do about it?'

‘They want you to make him leave.'

‘The man can barely stand! He can't even see! How can they expect me to throw him out on the streets. It would kill him.'

‘That's exactly what they want. They want him dead, and I cannot blame them! I mean, he had almost killed me, and what about Simon's family? They are out to get him! If you don't throw him out, they'll be bound to kill him themselves.'

‘Call in a meeting, now! I need to explain a couple of things before accidents happen.'

‘Yessir! Oh and... I've seen some activity back at the old tree. I think we haven't killed them all.' Brutus said.

‘I didn't expect you to. The barn-rats are stupid, but they are not that stupid. I'll ask Jenner how many barn-rats he took with him. How many were killed during the fight?'

‘Thirty-two, sir.'

‘Good, and stop ‘sirring' me, Brutus, it's kind of annoying.'

‘I'm sorry Justin. I'll call in the meeting.' And Brutus left the room.

Justin took a deep breath. ‘Now look what you've done. As if you weren't popular enough already.' And he went downstairs as well, heading for the main Hall.


Jonathan and Caroline walked up to the Brisby room, hand in hand. Nanny had taken care of the fact that the children were back in the room, without knowing why Justin had given her the assignment for it. They asked her time and time again why they needed to go inside, but Nanny couldn't give them an answer. She herself wasn't even up-to-date about Jonathan's return. The children tried to amuse themselves with a game.

‘I wonder what happened.' Martin suddenly said. ‘I guess they killed someone again.'

‘Martin! Don't say that!' Theresa growled at her younger brother.

‘Well, I guess that's the reason why we have to stay inside. I mean, we weren't allowed to get out of the room when....'

‘That's enough! Don't upset Timmy and Cynthia.' Theresa snarled.

‘When can we see Wendy?' Cynthia said.

‘‘I hope soon. I cannot wait to see the baby.' Timmy said.

‘And give her the pancakes!' Cynthia said, while she licked her lips. She was over fond of pancakes.

‘But what if someone's dead again. Mom isn't here! Perhaps she's....'

‘Martin, shut up!' Theresa said, but it was too late.

‘I want my momma!' Cynthia cried.

Theresa wrapped her arms around her little sister but she felt like crying as well. She wanted to leave Thorn Valley as soon as possible.

Suddenly the door opened and Mrs. Brisby peeked around the corner.

‘I'm back and I have a surprise!' She said, but she was the one who was actually surprised. Surprised by the serious looking faces, that was.

‘What's going on in here? Did you have an argument?' She asked.

The children got up, all crying now, and embraced they mother. ‘We were so worried about you! We thought something had happened to you.' Theresa sobbed.

‘Well, I'm fine. Please don't be sad. I have someone with me, look!' She said and she pushed the door open a bit more. Jonathan entered the room. Love filled his heart as he saw his beautiful family together.

The children stepped away from their mother and looked at Jonathan with open mouths.

‘Who is that mommy?' Cynthia asked. She was far too little when Jonathan disappeared, so she didn't remember him. The other children did, but they couldn't believe their eyes.

‘Is that really dad?' Martin said.

‘Yes, Martin, your father is back.'

‘But you told us he was dead!' Theresa said.

‘Yes, we thought he was dead, but he's just been... somewhere else.'

‘Where?' Martin asked.

‘Your father was....' Mrs. Brisby stumbled, but Jonathan filled her in.

‘I was staying at the barn rat's barn. The cat hit me over the head so I lost my memory. It's pretty hard to explain, but....'

‘So you suffered from amnesia.' Timothy suddenly said.

‘Well, yeah... where did you learn that word?' Jonathan said while he frowned his forehead in a mixture of pride and confusion.

‘I'm already five.' Timothy said.

‘Well, yes, of course....' Jonathan said, suddenly feeling a bit embarrassed.

‘And I'm two!' Cynthia said, raising three fingers.

‘No, you need to raise two fingers! Not three!' Theresa whispered angrily. 

Jonathan started to laugh a bit.

‘Do you want to live here again?' Cynthia asked, resolute as always.

‘Eh... would you want me to?' Jonathan said, but regretted his question immediately.

Theresa nodded at her sister. ‘Yes, I guess so.' Cynthia said while she shrugged. 

Jonathan sighed of relief. ‘You too, Timmy?'

Timmy nodded and ran towards his father. He embraced his legs firmly.

‘And what about you, Martin?' Mrs. Brisby asked her oldest son.

Martin looked at his mother. ‘If you want him to.'

‘Yes, I want him to stay, Martin.' Mrs. Brisby said. ‘Then I guess he can stay. But can we now see Wendy?' Martin said.

‘Yes, we are all going down to see Wendy now.' Jonathan said, and the entire Brisby family left the room.


The Main Hall was packed with rats. Luckily it was big enough. Justin stood on the platform, with Brutus standing on his left side and Gabriel on his right. He cleared his voice before speaking. ‘Dear rats of NIMH, today we've gathered to talk about the current situation. I know this is not the situation you've hoped for, however, we feel that the situation is under control.'

‘Then who's we?' A voice yelled.

‘"We" are Brutus, Gabriel and myself. But there are more rats that support this situation.'

‘Brutus! This man tried to kill you!' Another voice yelled.

Brutus cleared his voice and stepped forward. ‘I know that, but at the state that he's in now, he won't be doing much harm.'

‘He's terribly injured.' Gabriel said, supporting Brutus' argument.

‘We don't care about that! He has to leave! He's a danger to our society!'

‘I understand your concerns, but they are irrelevant right now. A lot has happened in the old tree. Jenner doesn't have any followers amongst the barn-rats anymore.' Justin said.

‘Because they're all dead?' A third voice yelled.

‘No, not all of them. Jenner has confirmed, a moment ago, that there were sixty barn-rats. We've managed to kill thirty-two of them. Which leaves us with a total amount of twenty-eight barn-rats. They should and will be killed.' Justin said.

‘What if it's a trap? What if there's more than sixty?' Another voice yelled.

‘Of course, we are cautious. I do, however, tend to take his word on it. He's got no reason to harm us anymore. He's got a bigger concern now.' Justin's thoughts went to Wendy.

‘What concern?' A large gray rat wondered.

Justin looked at Gabriel and Brutus and nodded. ‘His daughter.' He said.

The crowd all suddenly talked and screamed at once. ‘SILENCE!' Brutus screamed on top of it.

The sounds changed into soft muttering. ‘Thanks, Brutus.' Justin whispered.

‘His daughter is Wendy Elisabeth. Please, keep quiet, I know it's a shock. They only just recently found out themselves. That's why Jenner wanted Wendy Elisabeth with him. They both managed to escape when things got out of hand. Jenner has killed a member of the barn rat community, but only to protect his daughter, our Wendy.'

‘So that's it, then? He's killed one barn rat and he's welcomed back with open arms?'

‘I never said that. In fact, I have no idea what to do with him, either. A part of me hoped that Jenner wouldn't have survived his injuries. But since he has, he's here and he's in good hands. We are not the kind of rats who would let another rat die without giving that rat a second chance. Nicodemus would have done the same thing. I know that I haven't been able to show you what I'm worth, but I ask you to have a little faith in me. That's all I ask right now. Don't worry about your safety. I'll take care of the barn-rats and Jenner. Just give me a little time. You won't be sorry. I promise.'

A soft clapping was heard at the back of the Hall. More clapping followed and shortly after that, the entire crowd started to clap. Justin stepped down from the platform with a small smile on his face. He needed a plan, fast!


‘Hello there baby-boy. How long have you been awake? Oh, look at you, you look so much like your father! Do you want to sit with mommy?' Wendy stood near the baby-bed, wearing her bathrobe, as the Brisby family came in.

‘Can I see the baby?' Cynthia immediately said when she saw Wendy.

‘Oh, hello Cynthia. What a pleasant surprise! Of course you may, please sit down, all of you.'

The Brisby family sat down. Wendy was very pleased to see Jonathan and Mrs. Brisby together. She gave Jonathan a wink.

‘We have a surprise for you!' Cynthia continued as she took a small package out of her skirt-pocket.

‘Wow, thank you! What is it?'

‘It's pancakes, Wendy. We had them three days ago.' Theresa said.

‘Pancakes, that's wonderful! They're my favorite!' Wendy said laughing. She knew three-day-old-pancakes weren't healthy to consume anymore, though she loved the gesture.

‘Martin, if you hold the pancakes, I'll get Joshua.' Martin nodded and took the pancakes.

Wendy returned back a minute later, with Joshua in her arms.

The mice-children were over-exited to see the baby-rat. They all wanted to take a look at Joshua. ‘Look at his tiny hands!' Theresa said.

‘Yes, and his tiny feet!' Timmy said.

‘He's got funny ears.' Cynthia chuckled.

‘Can I touch him?' Martin asked.

‘Sure you can, Martin.' Wendy said and Martin gently touched Joshua's small face.

‘Can we play with him?' Cynthia asked.

‘That might take a little while.' Wendy said smiling and she took the baby over to Mrs. Brisby and Jonathan. Without warning, she placed the baby into Jonathan's arms. She gave him another wink. ‘Perhaps you'd like to practice a bit again?' She said with a naughty smile.

Jonathan started blushing and so did Mrs. Brisby, but they both enjoyed holding the little boy.

‘You know what? I'll go check if Nanny has some lemonade.' Wendy said and the children nodded.


Justin walked up and down his room. He needed to come up with a plan. He lit the candle on his desk and sat down. He took a drink of water from his cup and started writing some strategies down. As he wanted to pick up his cup for yet another drink, he accidentally knocked over his candle. It set the paper on fire immediately. He didn't hesitate and emptied his cup on the fire, which extinguished the fire without an effort. ‘Hmmm, fire. That's it! Fire! Let's burn the bastards out! They'll be taken by surprise and they'll be an easy prey. Besides, the old tree will be useless after that.' Justin got up and decided to inform his army that same afternoon.

Chapter 50: The Old Tree Under Attack

‘Friends, thank you all for coming on such a short notice.' Justin said while he gazed around in the practicing area. That area was especially build for Justin's army. The soldiers would be training here most of the day, keeping in shape for you never know what. It was a large, brightly lit room, which looked like a school's gym.

‘I have a plan that will help us to get rid of the barn-rats.' He said. He paused to give the rats some time to interrupt. Justin always gave his rats some time to interrupt. But they didn't. They all looked at him with great concentration. He didn't have to prove anything to these guys. He had been working with them before Nicodemus turned him into the leader.

‘I want to strike tonight. The sooner this problem is over, the better. My plan is to burn the old tree down. Many rats will die inside the tree, but many will also survive. They are most likely to run out in pure panic. This is the time we can strike. We'll kill them. According to Jenner, there still some twenty-eight rats present in the old tree. I want them all exterminated. Don't let anyone escape. Not even women. According to Jenner, there are no small children present, thank goodness. I know this is going to be tough, but this is the only solution. There are two main exits. The one at the front, which we will call A. And the one at the other end of the hollow tree, exit B. There are a few small windows where some rats might fit through. We have to guard those, too. Though I suspect the two exits A and B will be used sooner because of the panic. I need twenty-five guards at exit A and twenty-five guards at exit B. I need five guards on each side of the tree as well. Which means that we'll be using the entire team. No mercy, no escapers. We won't stop until the job is done.

We need to take extra safety measurements for our own Castle as well. That's where the crows come in. I've already contacted Jeremy if he can call more crows together. They can extinguish the fire by flying to the waterfall with large blankets and soak these in water. The old tree is situated on a safe distance from the Castle, but we cannot take the risk. We don't want to lose everything we've build, now do we?' Justin paused and cleared his voice.

‘Can I count on you?' He asked.

The crowd simultaneously said ‘Yessir'.

‘I can't hear you. Can I count on you? All of you?' He yelled a bit louder.

The crowd got up and stared yelling, clapping and nodding.

A smile appeared on Justin's face. No way this plan is going to fail, unless Jenner had not spoken the truth. Justin's mind drifted off. ‘What if Jenner hasn't spoken the truth?' Justin narrowed his eyes. ‘If he hasn't spoken the truth, I'll kill him with my bare hands.'


‘Dad?' Wendy's soft voice woke Jenner up. He had been dreaming a pleasant dream for once. He was at the Market Place, hanging out with Nicodemus and Gerald, Nicodemus' older brother.

‘Wendy?' He moaned.

‘I'm right here dad.' Wendy said and she took Jenner's hand.

‘Wendy, dear. You're up already. I've been told that you have a son.'

‘That's right dad. His name is Joshua. He's your grandson.' Wendy said as tears filled her eyes. She had never seen anyone injured like that before in her entire life. He was almost completely covered in bandages! Perhaps he was never able to see her son....

Jenner smiled. ‘Joshua is a nice name.'

‘He's named after....'

‘Justin's father, I know.' Jenner said.' Justin and I used to be pretty close in the early days, you know. He's told me a lot about his family.'

‘Oh dad, I wish everything could turn back to where it was. Before we went to the Rosebush.'

‘Could I make you happy with that?' Jenner asked.

‘Yes, dad. You'd make me the happiest rat on the face of the earth.' Wendy said. She kissed Jenner on his forehead. ‘Promise me you'll get better?'

‘I promise.' Jenner said.

Gabriel cleared his voice. ‘Sorry to interrupt, but Jenner, we have decided to take the bandage off of you eyes tomorrow morning. Then we know if we were able to safe your left eye.'

‘Thanks Gabriel.' Jenner said.

‘I'd better check on Joshua, dad. Do you want me to be there tomorrow?'

‘I would like that, love.' Jenner said and Wendy left the Intensive Care Unit.


Justin was already waiting in the infirmary when Wendy came back. ‘Justin! They said you were in a meeting!'

‘I was, but it wasn't a long one. Are you ready to go home?'

‘I'm more than ready to go home. And so is Joshua, aren't you?' Wendy said, as she caressed her baby-boy's cheek.

‘Then what are we waiting for?' Justin said and he picked up Wendy's belongings. Wendy picked up Joshua and they carefully started walking back to the room they called ‘home'.

As they entered the room, Wendy gasped. ‘Wow, you've been working hard, haven't you?'

‘Well, Arthur and Nanny have been really helpful.' Justin said.

The room was now divided in two spaces. The room at Wendy's left hand was still the same. There she found the desk (what had happened to it anyway?), the chair and their double bed.

The room on Wendy's right side was nicely decorated as baby-room. There was a cradle in it and a sideboard, where Wendy could change Joshua's diapers. There was also a rocking chair in the room where Wendy was able to softly rock the little boy to sleep.

‘Oh Justin! It's wonderful!' Wendy whispered and she kissed her husband long and passionate.

‘I knew you'd like it. We'll put the cradle next to our bed, though. I don't want him to be so far away.'

Wendy looked at him with a smile. ‘I don't want that either, not yet.'

‘We'll take him out of there by the time he gets eighteen, okay?'

‘Oh Justin. You're terrible sometimes, you know that?'

‘I guess so, but you still love me, don't you?

‘Yes, I do. With my entire heart and soul.' Wendy said.

Justin knew he had to inform his wife about tonight.

‘I don't want to spoil the moment, but I have to tell you something. We are planning to attack the old tree tonight.

‘Does my father know?'

‘No, and I'd rather keep it that way, just in case.'

‘In case of what?' Wendy asked, but she already knew the answer.

‘Let's not have a discussion about him, now... okay? I just want to make sure that my plan won't fail. I'll need all the guards, the entire army. We are going to burn the place down.'

Wendy nodded her head. ‘Good idea, how did you come up with that?'

‘By accident.' Justin said and he nodded in the direction of the desk.

‘Oh, now I see what happened to it.' Wendy said but she was smiling.


‘Okay, men. Does everybody know what their position is.' Justin said. He walked back and forth, facing his entire army. The men nodded. They were armed to the teeth and all in the same uniform so that no-one could confuse a team member for an enemy. Justin was wearing the same uniform. ‘The two larger groups take their position at the two main exits. Brutus will be head of the group at exit A and I, myself, will be leading the group at exit B. The rest

will light the torches and set the gasoline on fire. Great job by the way, Gunner.' The rat named Gunner briefly nodded. He already poured the gasoline over the old tree five minutes earlier. The wind had been beneficial; the barn-rats couldn't have smelled it.

‘All clear? Let's go. Prepare for battle.' Justin said and the rats carefully moved towards the old tree.


Brutus took his place on exit A and grouped his team. Justin took his place at exit B and did the same. He gave the signal to the other ten rats who placed the torches against the old tree. The tree set fire immediately, flames bigger than the rats appeared and the heat was nearly unbearable. Justin's heart pounded loud in his chest. Still nothing. He balanced his sword in his hand. Five minutes later. Still nothing.

‘Gunner. Go check on the other side.' Justin ordered.

‘Yessir!' Gunner said and he rushed over to the other exit.

He came back running like a madman. ‘Sir! They're all there! They took exit A!'

‘Thanks. Okay, Gunner, Jasper, Thomas, Stephen and Jack stay here, we'll help the others.'

‘Yessir!' The five rats said and Justin's group started rushing towards the other exit where the fighting had already broken loose. Some barn-rats stood on fire and were running around like living fireballs. Despite the fact that it was a horrible sight, it was dangerous, too. These living fireballs were actually after Justin's men.

‘Keep avoiding those fireballs! Brutus watch out!' Justin started running and pushed his blade deeply into one of the burning rats.

‘Thanks Justin.' Brutus said.

‘Just keep concentrated!' Justin said and mixed himself between his own man and the enemy.


Wendy was looking out of the window. She couldn't see much because of the smoke. She was worried for Justin. It had been a while since he had been in a fight.


‘Keep away from the flames! Try to breath as little as possible!' Justin yelled.

The fight was a lot tougher than he expected. Those barn-rats weren't thinking about giving up easily. Justin pushed his blade into escaping barn-rats. As he saw that his path was cleared, he paused and looked around. Suddenly he saw something which made him feel sick. One of his men, Ashton, was jumped from behind by a rat who was on fire. Ashton fell forward, trying to get rid of the rat on his back. He tried to get up again, but the burning rat kept him on the ground. Ashton was screaming because of the pain. Justin couldn't bare it anymore and started blowing the whistle. Somewhere, deep in his heart, he knew it was too late for Ashton. The burning rat pulled a small knife and stung Ashton three times. Then he himself literally lost his head by Brutus' blade. Blood flew everywhere.

Justin took a deep breath and forced himself back on the field again. Suddenly he heard a noise from above. The crows had arrived. His heart jumped. No more fireballs. The birds drops the watery blankets down and shortly after that the fire was extinguished.

There was still a lot of smoke, though. It filled Justin's lungs with every breath he took. He started coughing. He felt a stinging pain in his sight and realized that he was attacked by a barn rat. He swung his sword at it, but missed. The barn rat attacked again and cut Justin's cheek. Justin swung at the barn rat again and hit his shoulder this time.

The barn rat screamed a terrible scream and jumped at Justin's throat. Justin was smacked to the ground and lost his sword during this attack. He tried to push the barn rat off of him, but didn't succeed. ‘And they say we are mutants.' Justin managed to think by himself.

Justin was having a hard time breathing, but he managed to flip his assaulter onto his back. This time he grabbed his throat as well, pushing it like his life depended on it (which it did, of course). He threw his entire weight against the much smaller barn rat and noticed that the grip around his throat loosened. His assaulter was dying. That didn't stop Justin from chocking the barn rat. The grip around his throat loosened and loosened and the barn rat had died, staring at Justin with his two frightening, expressionless eyes.

‘Justin, you can let go now.' Brutus said, although he sounded from afar.

‘Justin! Let go!' Brutus said again, this time pulling the young male off of the dead body.

‘They are dead. I've counted twenty-eight. Twelve men are searching the tree and five men are searching the area. Four of us have died.'

Justin looked up at Brutus. His face was all covered in black soot, making him look even scarier than he always did.

‘Four dead? Who? Ashton, Mike, Lewis and Gunner.'

‘Gunner? That's impossible. I left him at exit B. There was no-one there!' Justin said with his eyes wide open.

‘Apparently there's been a struggle there, too. Not as big as here, but still.'

Justin gazed in front of him without seeing anything. ‘He was still so young.' He whispered.

‘They all were. But they are heroes.' Brutus said, and he placed his arm around his dear friend.


Jenner had been right. There were only twenty-eight rats left in the old tree. They were all killed that night. The scout-groups didn't find anyone, both inside and out. They were saved.


Justin came home late that evening. Wendy had been still awake, of course.

‘Oh you're back! Thank goodness you're okay.' She kissed and hugged him.

‘I'm fine, but we've lost four.' Justin said with a sad tone.

‘Oh, no... I'm so sorry. Who?'

‘Gunner, Mike, Lewis and Ashton. Ashton actually died in front of my eyes. I'll never forget that.' Justin said while he kept on staring in front of him.

‘Oh Justin. I wish I could help. Shall I make a warm bath? The sun has been heating the water reservoir up all day, I suppose it's still warm.'

Justin smiled. ‘You're great, you know that?'

Wendy smiled back at him and got up to fill the bathtub.

Justin moved over to his son who was peacefully asleep. His tiny hands resting besides his head. He was lying on his back. Justin gently touched the baby's cheek. The baby made a little sound but continued sleeping. ‘You're safe now. Nobody will ever hurt you or your mother ever again, nobody.' Justin softly whispered.

‘Your bath is ready for you, dear. Is he still asleep?'

‘Yes, he is. He's so beautiful. I'm so lucky to have you two.'

‘No, we are lucky to have you.' Wendy said and she stretched her hand.

Justin moved over and took her hand. She accompanied him towards the warm bath.

‘You're right. It still is warm.' Justin said as he ran his finger through the water.

He stepped inside the tub and enjoyed the warmth on his fur. Wendy stayed with him to help wash his injuries; some minor cuts, and peeked around the corner every two minutes. Justin enjoyed seeing her so concerned this way. After the warm bath they snuggled a bit and fell asleep until the sun came through the window.

Chapter 51: Unwrapping the Mummy

‘Good morning Jenner, how was your night?' Gabriel asked while he opened Jenner's curtains.

‘Is it morning already?' Jenner muttered.

‘Yes it is, and we are going to take off your bandages. Wendy is here, too.'

‘Hi dad.' She softly said.

Jenner only tried to smile. He looked tense.

Gabriel started unwrapping the bandages around Jenner's head carefully.

‘Is it painful?' Gabriel asked. Jenner shook his head.

The blind eye was uncovered first. There was a stitched scar over his right eye.

His other eye was covered with a piece of bandage which Gabriel removed.

‘Well, Jenner, open your left eye for me.' Gabriel said.

Jenner tried to open his eye and winked a couple of times. ‘I see nothing.'

‘Try to get used to the light.' Gabriel said again.

‘It's all blurry.' Jenner said again, still winking. A small tear fell onto his left cheek. Wendy Elisabeth padded it away with a tissue. 

‘That's quite normal. Can you recognize something? A silhouette?'

Now Jenner started smiling. ‘I can see my daughter! Still a bit blurry, but I can see again!'

Wendy smiled at Gabriel and Gabriel smiled back. ‘I'll leave you two alone.' He said.

‘Dad, that's great news!' Wendy said. She had to admit that she had been quite nervous.

Jenner smiled as well and started crying.

‘Oh dad, you're getting all emotional.'

‘I am not!' Jenner said, but he smiled. ‘And don't you dare tell anyone, young lady.'


Mrs. Brisby experienced the best night of her life. She woke up in Jonathan's arms after a long night together. Without children. Nanny was so friendly to let the Brisby children stay over for the night. She was thrilled with happiness when she found out that Jonathan Brisby was still alive. Waking up nicely was still not an option as they were brutally interrupted by a knock on the door.

‘Come on you guys, get up!' Justin's voice said from behind the door.

‘Justin, go away!' Jonathan yelled.

‘No can't do. I've scheduled a meeting in less than five minutes. A meeting to announce that you are back.' Justin yelled.

‘Five minutes?' Jonathan yelled, and he grabbed his far-too-big bathrobe.

He opened the door and gazed into Justin's amused face.

‘What have you done? There's a scratch on your face.' Jonathan said.

‘That's none of your business, get dressed! Now!'

‘Did Wendy do that to you?' Jonathan asked in a naughty way.

‘Jonathan, really. She needs to heal remember? No naughty nights in our bedroom for at least six weeks! Something I cannot say about the two you, guys. I guess you have a lot of catching up to do.' Justin teased.

‘Will you get going? I need to get dressed.' Jonathan said with a huge smile on his face.

Justin closed the door and started walking towards the Main Hall, whistling, which he hadn't done in over two months.


Right before Justin entered the Main Hall he was stopped by Nicodemus. Justin hadn't really spoken to Nicodemus since the day that he said he hated him. Well, at least not on a personal level. He was ashamed of his emotional outburst and didn't really dare to face Nicodemus.

‘Nicodemus, I didn't expect you here.' Justin stumbled.

‘I wanted to congratulate you on your victory.' Nicodemus said calmly.

‘Oh, thanks. About, you know, my eh temporarily loss of sanity... I'm so sorry. I shouldn't have said those things to you.' Justin said.

‘I know that, you don't have to apologize. I understand your fears. However, I do feel that you need to rely a bit more on the powers of the Stone, my boy.'

‘I know about the powers of the Stone. I saw it bringing Wendy back to life.'

‘Yes, it did. But it can do far more than just that. You see, it saved my life once, too. The day I lost my eye was supposedly my last day on earth, however, the Stone kept me alive. It gave me a gift, a gift to see in the future. To sense certain things, to know what's wrong or right. Your wife has been given that gift as well.'

‘Oh, so that's what she meant when she said that the Stone made her see that she carried a boy.' Justin said, though he was still a bit puzzled.

‘Precisely.' Nicodemus said. ‘I think you'd better go. The crowd is getting impatient.'

Justin smiled and nodded. He entered the Main Hall where all the rats had gathered. Justin cleared his voice, as usual, before speaking. ‘Dear rats of NIMH. I'm very pleased to give you good news today, though I have some bad news as well. Yesterday we managed to defeat the barn-rats in the old tree. Unfortunately four of our respected members have died during that operation. My memory goes out to these brave men, who'll be buried under the old Oak in the courtyard. My condolences go out to their parents, families and friends. These four brave men gave their lives for our freedom and safety, which we had lost for a while. All barn-rats are killed, so there's nothing to worry about anymore.' He took a deep breath. ‘I know Jenner's presence is a problem for you, but I can assure you that he's willing to change. He's given us the information we needed to eliminate the enemy. He is permanently disabled because of the loss of an eye and a limping leg. I've spoken to Nicodemus about this situation and he would like Jenner to remain. I too, would like him to stay. Everybody needs a second chance, and he's certainly not going to waste his, simply because he has no-one else to turn to. Let me remind you of the fact that it was Jenner who found out how to escape from NIMH. Give him that second chance, the way you've given Sullivan a second chance, too.'


Justin paused and took a few sips of his water. He gazed at his right and saw Jonathan standing in the dim light. He was waving.


‘I have some more good news, something which will sweep you off your feet. I couldn't believe it myself when I saw him. I thought is was the medicine Gabriel gave me, but he was for real. Jonathan, would you please join me?'


The crowd started to mutter all at once when Jonathan Brisby entered the stage.

‘Man, you talk a lot!' Jonathan said as he climbed up the podium.

‘Shut up, Jonathan.' Justin said. ‘It's my job to talk that much.' The crowd started to laugh.

‘Hello dear rats of NIMH, long time no see.' Jonathan started a little uncomfortably.

‘I'm sorry about my disappearing act. The farmer's cat caught me while I was messing with his food. But for some reason I survived. I was in a coma and I lost my memory. ‘Amnesia' said my five year old son to me yesterday. It made me realize that I missed out on so much. It's like I have to get to know everybody all over again, including my own family. But it's so good to be back!' The entire crowd started to shout and applaud.

‘See? I managed to keep it short.' Jonathan said and Justin glanced at him, though he didn't mean it, of course.


‘I told you I had good news.' Justin said and the entire crowd stood up from their chairs.

‘Three hooray's for the leader! Hooray, hooray, hooray!'

Justin felt a lump in his throat. He was finally excepted by his people. He smiled and waved at the crowd.

‘Justin, you always need to have the last word, don't you.' Jonathan said. He just loved teasing his old, dear friend.

Justin looked down at the mouse and shook his head. ‘Shut up, Jonathan.' He said and gave the mouse a small push. Jonathan started laughing and so did Justin. Nothing had changed between the two of them.


The crowd celebrated and talked to Jonathan Brisby as Justin managed to sneak away. He had one more thing to do....


‘Wow, you see that? That ugly rat over there? That's your grandfather.'

Jenner opened his eyes to see who made the insult, but seeing his grandson for the first time, made him forget about it in an instant.

‘You must be Joshua.' Jenner said.

Justin smiled and pushed the baby-boy into Jenner's arms.

‘What if he starts crying?' Jenner said, he had no idea what to do with the little baby.

‘Then you should rock him, gently that is.' Justin said. ‘You'll get used to it.'

‘What do you mean like that?' Jenner said.

‘Well, Wendy and I are still looking for a baby-sitter.' Justin chuckled.

‘What! You mean me?' Jenner said and he laughed. ‘He looks a lot like you and Wendy.'

‘Yeah, thank goodness he doesn't have your looks!' Justin said, and Jenner started to laugh.

‘You're right on that one.' He said.

‘I see they've been unwrapping the mummy.' Justin continued.

‘Yes, they have. I'm glad I didn't lose my sight completely, otherwise I wouldn't have been able to see my beautiful grandson.'

‘Yeah, I'm glad you haven't, either.' Justin said and he meant it.

‘How come you're so friendly towards me?' Jenner wondered.

‘Because I'm a friendly person, I don't know.' Justin said while he shrugged.

‘It's because of Wendy, isn't it?' Jenner said.

‘Of course it's because of her, too. But I've been thinking about all the times we had together and I kind of miss it. I want it back, Jenner. Let's forget about all the shit that happened.'

Jenner looked at Justin with his good eye.

‘I've been thinking about the past a lot myself, and to tell you the truth... I want it back, too.'

‘Then we have a deal?'

‘We have a deal.' Jenner said and he offered Justin his free hand. Justin shook his hand firmly and smiled.


‘Mommy, mommy where are you?'

‘I'm over here Joshua!' Wendy yelled from the courtyard. She'd just been placing flowers under the old Oak and struggled to get up. Her huge stomach made it almost impossible to move smoothly.

‘Mommy!' Joshua shouted and wrapped his arms around his mother's legs.

‘Whew, Joshua dear. What did you need me for.'

‘Daddy, granddad and uncle Jonathan are going snake-hunting. Can I come?'

‘Snake-hunting? Are they insane?' Wendy took the boy by his arm. ‘Where is your father anyway?'

‘He's over there, by the ugly burned tree.' Wendy sighed and started walking towards the remains of the old tree, taking large, angry steps. Joshua had to run to keep up with his pregnant mother.

‘Justin King, can I have a word with you?' Wendy said. Her hands were in her sides and she was stamping on the ground. Justin looked up and saw an all too familiar sight.

‘Hey there love... for you, I've got all the time in the world.' He said smiling.

‘Justin, don't tell me you told Joshua that he was able to come snake-hunting with you.'

‘Well, I....' Justin stumbled.

‘So you did. Are you out of your mind! What if he gets killed?'

‘He won't get killed.' Justin said casually.

‘Well, that's because he's not coming with you.'

‘Come on, Sweetness... The Brisby kids are coming, too. I wanted to give you some rest, I mean, we both know Joshua is pretty energetic.'

Wendy gave her husband a glance. ‘I'm aware of the qualities of my son, thank you.'

She took a deep breath. ‘Oh, but I guess I could use a little break. It's just a few weeks before Robyn will be born.'

‘Right.' Justin said. ‘Why don't you let Nanny spoil you for an afternoon.'

Wendy took another deep breath. ‘Oh, alright. Just for this one time, okay? And if something happens to him, I'll come after you.' Wendy said as she pointed her finger at Justin.

‘Don't worry, Sweetness. Nobody's getting hurt. We're not taking risks. We've got five kids with us and a grumpy, old, limping grandfather.'

Wendy looked at her father who was smiling at her. She shook her head. ‘Don't come home too late, okay? Joshua needs to be in bed by seven and he needs to eat and have a bath before that.' Wendy said with a concerned look on her face.

‘Wendy, come on. Where's your sense of adventure?'

‘I think my son took it away from me while he was growing inside of me.' Wendy said.

‘Oh dear! So our daughter is going to be a scaredy-cat!' Justin smiled as he gently patted Wendy's stomach.

‘Very funny, now go.' Wendy said. ‘And be careful!'

‘Goodbye mom!' Joshua shouted.

‘Goodbye sweetheart!' She said and she started walking back to the Castle.


‘Men!' Wendy sighed as she entered the Hallway.

‘You need some help, Wendy?' Nanny shouted from the kitchen.

‘No dear, I'm fine. Do you happen to know where I can find Caroline?' Wendy asked.

‘I saw her walking towards the courtyard just a minute ago. You'd better keep an eye on her. She's due this week.' Wendy nodded and smiled.

She found Caroline Brisby on a bench in the courtyard.

‘Great weather isn't it?' She said as she saw the young rat come in.

‘Yes, it is. Great snake-hunting weather that is.... I cannot believe you let your husband take your children.' Wendy said, but she was smiling.

‘I wondered about the same thing when Jonathan said that Joshua was coming.'

‘He what?! I'm going to kill Justin when he gets home.' Wendy said.

‘They've fooled us, didn't they.' Caroline said laughing and she patted her big stomach.

‘I guess pregnant women are easily fooled.' Wendy said and they both started laughing.

The End