“Mortimer! Wake up!”
The squeaky voice in the darkness was doing little to persuade Mortimer into consciousness.
“No,” Mortimer murmured sleepily, wrapping his wings tighter around himself and trying to cling to the last few moments of sleep allowed to him.
He could feel the hovering darkness, like a warm blanket, and knew it was nearly time to rise, but he did not want to. Just a few more moments….
“Mortimer! Wake up!”
“Leave me alone, Squeaker.”
But Squeaker was more persistent this night than most.
“Wake up, Mortimer!”
He nudged the bat’s feet frantically, almost knocking him from his daytime perch.
“I need your help, Cousin!”
With a heavy, reluctant sigh, Mortimer finally deigned to respond.
“For the last time, Squeaker,” he said. “We are not cousins. We are not related. I am not a rodent.”
He drew the last word out distastefully, rolling the rrrrr in rodent, as if to prove he was of a greater class than the mouse.
“You’re a bat,” Squeaker replied, wrinkling his whiskers in thought. “I’m a mouse. Which is like a rat. Which sounds like bat. Close enough.”
Mortimer heaved a great, heavy sigh, finally stirring himself out of his sleep, shaking out his wings and coming to rest on top of the beam next to the mouse.
“What do you want, Squeaker?” he asked, knowing full-well that this was important.
The mouse, he knew, would not have come up to the highest wooden beam of the highest tower in the castle, were it not important. Even now the little creature was shaking…. He tried not to own up to it, but Mortimer knew that Squeaker had a fear of heights.
“What I want….. Well… it isn’t for me, exactly.”
The mouse sat up on his hind legs and rubbed his paws together, apologetically.
“Well, then, who’s it for?” Mortimer asked, this time a bit more gently.
“It’s for the princess,” Squeaker whispered.
“The Princess?” Mortimer asked. “What have you or I to do with the Princess?”
Squeaker looked directly up at his larger friend and said the very-important-thing that he had come to say – the thing that had been worth scurrying up all of those stairs and across endless scary high beams.
“You have to save the Princess,” he said.
“I what?” Mortimer scoffed. “I have to do no such thing. What business is she of mine?”
Under his mousey whiskers, Squeaker blushed. He had, you know, always had rather an intense fondness for the Princess. Her gowns always swished softly when she walked. And she never purposely hurt another creature – not even when the maid had discovered a mouse in the royal chambers. The creature was simply relocated to another location – the royal chambers being no proper place for a mouse.
Squeaker took a deep breath and he began to explain. He explained how he’d been meandering at the foot of the castle walls, looking for any stray bits of food, and perhaps a bit of fresh air, when he’d heard voices.
Specifically, reader, Squeaker had heard a plot. A plan to kidnap the princess. The plan was to creep through secret passageways inside the castle walls – passages unbeknownst to the guards – to enter into the royal bedchambers under the cover of night, that very evening, to sneak her out of the castle and to hold the poor dear for ransom.
And Squeaker wasn’t having any of it. No one was going to hurt his princess. Not if he could help it.
So he reiterated.
“You have to save the Princess!”
“Squeaker,” Mortimer replied quietly, having given this some thought. “I’m just a bat. What am I supposed to do about it?”
“Well, I’m a mouse,” Squeaker replied. “And there’s nothing I can do about it. And you’re a bat. Surely there must be something you can do? I mean, you can fly.”
Flight, to Squeaker, was the ultimate power. He felt he could achieve nearly anything, given the powers of flight.
“Yes,” said Mortimer. “I can fly. That doesn’t help much in this situation.”
“Besides,” Mortimer added. “What makes you think I have any interest at all in saving the Princess? Maybe I don’t care if she’s kidnapped.”
“But you do care,” Squeaker replied. And he was right. Everyone cared. She was, after all, a very kind Princess.
“All right,” Mortimer confessed. “Fine. I care. But what am I supposed to do?”
Squeaker did not have an answer. But he was still confident.
“You’ll figure something out,” he said.
And so it was, armed with knowledge and not a little bit of fear, that Mortimer set out for his night’s journey.
To be continued….
Prompt (mildly nonsensical): A cynical bat must aid the castle and finds the world.
Prompt courtesy of:
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