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Posie and Snowie were descending the stairs and had just passed the door fur level 15 when they heard. CHINK... CHINK... CHINK...
“Shhhhhhhh!” Posie whisperedas she flicked the torch off, plunging the stairwell into darkness.
Snowie edged closer as they crept down the last flight of stair towards level 16.
CHINK... CHINK... CHINK...
“What the fluff is that?” Snowie hissed, then added thoughtfully. “Are mew armed and dangerous?”
“Nope, I haven’t even got a silvervine stick,” Posie replied. “Whataboutmew?”
“Nope,” Snowie answered softy. “Not a thing.”
“Jeez we’re getting sloppy,” Posie murmured.
Snowie sighed and whispered. “Shall we go back?”
“There’s no time, we’re gonna have to just deal with it,” Posie replied as she tiptoed towards the door. Aftur listening intently fur a few seconds, she ripped the door open and sprang into the corridor torch-beam blazing in every direction.
“Basil, is that mew?” a gravelly voice drawled.
Posie swung around and came face to face with Deezul. “Fluffing fluff Deezul!” Posie gasped. “What the fluff are mew doing down here?”
Deezul pulled off his goggles and squinted at her. “Basil asked me to make sure the self-replicating nano-bots haven’t run amok.”
“What do mew mean run amok?” Snowied asked.
“Ahhhhh Miss Snowie I can’t answer that, clearance level an’all,” Deezul replied with a chuckle. “Though Basil did say one thing to me and that was, Deez dude if anypurrdy should come looking down here while I’m gone, purrlease tell them that what they’re looking fur isn’t here!”
Posie and Snowie gave each other a quick glance as Deezeul continued. “Yes indeed, that’s what he told me say before he left, should I happen to see anypurrdy.”
“Intriguing,” replied Posie.
“So now what?” Snowie pondered.
Deezul shuffled closer and said. “Basil told me to say this too... it’ll all be ok and no matter what he’ll be back.” The badger gave them his most winning smile. “Now I must continue my check so if mew ladies would like to return to the level 14 and the elevator will take mew back up top.”
“Deez, what are these new levels fur?” asked Posie quickly.
“Didn’t Basil tell mew?” Deez grinned widely.
Both Snowie and Posie shook their heads.
“In that case neither can I!” Deez burst into fits of laughter and shuffled down the corridor his lantern swaying in the darkness making the same chink, chink sound and then he turned the corner and vanished from sight.
“Well that was rather odd!” Snowie groaned. “Do mew think Horice can help us?”
Posie gave her sisfur a one-shoulder shrug and replied. “We could try, as I don’t know what else we can do right now.”
Snowie activated the tablet again and peered at the live feed from inside the labyrinth and gasped as she said. “Oh no Humphrey and Pandora are missing and there's no feed from their cameras!”
* * *
Winston peered along the dark corridor behind us and said. “Dudes I think we need to go back.”
I looked at him curiously, and he continued. “The magical creatures that live under the maze...” his voice trailed off as he stared into the distance.
“Saddle up team, let’s ride back along the passage real slow and see if we can’t pick up their trail,” I said climbing aboard the ATV.
A few moments later we were cruising back the way we came, silently up the gradual incline wearing our night-vision goggles so no headlamps were on. I was still really bothered about the ‘thing’ that had been following us, yet right now in this moment I couldn't detect that presenceanymore and that wurried me no end.
“Stop,” Smooch said abruptly. He jumped off the back of the ATV and flicked his torch on, the beam lighting up the ground. There were visible ATV tracks that swerved straight into a wall. Dismounting, I headed to the wall and looked at the exact spot the tyre-tracks ended. Turning to Amber I said. "Can mew check the tablet and see if we’ve got a visual.”
Amber tapped the screen and the map popped up, 4 dots blinking indicating that we were there but still no sign of Pandora or Humphrey.
“Winston, what can mew tell us about those magical creatures, are they hostile or what?” I asked as my paw glided all offur the wall in front of me. I knew there must be some sort of hidden door but I just couldn’t put my paw on it.
“I don’t really know anything about them at all Basil, mew know I just heard whispers from other captives during my time here,” Winston replied. “And as far as I’m aware they aren’t hostile, just trapped like the rest of us but they’re lucky enough to be able to keep out of the main arena as it were...”
Smooch shone his torch beam up and down the corridor and then skywards. In the next second his torch was off and we were in darkness again. He sidled up to me and whispered. “There’s something up there!” He jabbed his paw upwards while the other one pulled a gun. I casually glanced up with my night vision goggles on and then I saw it.
* * *
The purple announcers jumped onto The Plinth of Pandemonium and hunkered down either side of Fudge. He was still away with the fairies in his own purrsonal mind-scape of bliss as the centre of the labyrinth shook relentlessly.
The Old One lashed out at a troll guard trying to flee the falling rubble. “Where do you think you’regoing?” he snarled menacingly at the troll.
The troll whimpered as his spear and shield slipped from his grip and clattered to the floor. The Old One grabbed the troll around the throat and began to squeeze tighter and tighter until the troll went limp, and he tossed the body to the side like it was yesterday's rubbish as he started towards Fudge, his eyes blazing blood-red and his clawed hands extended.
The eerie hooting ratched up a notch as the huge stone columns began to wobble and collapse, the announcers trembled with terror as The Old One approached closer and closer.
“THIS CAN’T BE!” The Old One screamed towards the inky sky. “I WILL NOT HAVE IT!”
One of the little purple rabbit-like announcers started to fumble with the straps holding Fudge in place and loosened one, it then moved slowly towards another repeating the task while The Old One continued to shriek like a demented banshee at Halloween towards the heavens. Slowly but surely all the straps were loosened, not enough fur The Old One to notice but enough fur Fudge to wriggle free.
The second announcer had moved towards to the top of the plinth and furry gently licked the wounds caused by their eveel master. Its saliva instantly stemming the trickling blood flow and healing the multiple lesions.
Fudge's paw suddenly jerked,and in his mind-scape, he could sense that something was happening, something that could help him and slowly he reeled in the epic fantasy happening in his mind and headed back to reality. He opened his eyes just a crack and peered out through veiled lashes and saw the fluffy, floppy eared creature fiddling with the straps. He then felt a tongue lick his entire face and had all on not to move or make a sound.
The announcer leaned in close and murmured. “Warble warblewarble, hut huthut!”
What the fluff? he thought as one of the columns behind him came crashing down and dust blew effurywhere.
Two of the cages dropped to the ground with a dull thud, the doors flew open and out tumbled two rather skinny and extremely durty cats both wearing tattered remains of a uniform which was vaguely furrmiliar.
“Warble warblewarble, hut huthut!” the announcer said more urgently.
Fudge interpreted it as; Get up and move now!
He furry gently rolled to the side testing the straps, and realised that they were loose enough to escape. Wasting no time at all he wriggled like a wurm possessed and was free in a breath. He felt surprisingly spritely to say he’d been bound so tightly fur so long and his head didn’t hurt in the slightest; he made a mental note to check on his injuries later as he knew this could just be a hallucination, but right now he didn’t have time to think about himself.
Leaping to his paws he lunged towards the two cats who were struggling to stand aftur being cooped up furso long [muscle wastage is a killer]. He recognized the paw from earlier andlooked straight into the most vivid sapphire-blue eyes he’d effur seen. A scrawny Siamese stared back as he reached down and helped her to stand, leaving her propped against the cage he went to assist the other cat who had now managed to stand but was wobbling unsteadily, about to fall offur. Fudge grabbed him and pulled him towards the Siamese as another column crashed down releasing one more cage.
Scooting towards the next cat, he grabbed him by the scruff and dragged him to safety. Another cage fell, and another and another until they were all on the ground and had ejected their captives most unceremoniously. The Old One was still preoccupied with his shrieking as Fudge got all the captives together including the two announcers and several other weird and wunderpurr creatures, the like of which he’d neffur seen before.
“Are mew all ok?” he asked as they huddled near him.
The four cats nodded, but they looked in such a bad way that Fudge shuddered inwardly, the other creatures didn’t look much better but they squeaked, chirruped and nodded as they began to stoke his fur and tail. This wurried him somewhat as he wasn't sure what this meant, but each time they touched him he felt stronger and stronger. He whispered softly, “Do mew guys have healing juju?”
A little pink ball of fluff nodded and chirruped. “Can mew help these guys?” Fudge pointed to the four cats and immediately the creatures began to share their magick.
The Siamese spoke furst. “Who are mew?”
“My name is Fudge, but no time furpolite introductions we need to move now and get the heck out of this place before it falls down on us!” he whispered as more rubble fell from above. “Are mew strong enough to move?”
The cats nodded their strength suddenly bolstered by the impromptu magickal infusions, then he looked down at the announcers and other assorted creatures.
“Are mew coming with us too?” he asked and three of the furry pom pom creatures jumped on his back and crawled up to his shoulders. “OK then, which way is out?”
The announcers hopped forward and beckoned the group to follow, Fudge ushered the cats ahead and brought up the rear picking up the shield and spear the troll guard had dropped.
Following the announcers, they traversedthe falling debris and collapsing columns towards an exit looming in the gloom ahead while the dust cloud around became more intense. Just as they reached the stone archway The Old One materialized directly in front of them.
“STOP!” he snarled, his maw wide and pointy teeth dripping with vile yellow goo.
* * *
“Parsley we need weapons up now!” I hissed drawing my own weapons, adding. “Goggles on extreme glare mode.”
He gave me the nod and effur so slowly aimed his AA12 directly up.
“Smooch, torch beam on supurr nova setting in 3... 2... 1... go!”
A beam of light so bright shot skywards and if we hadn’t had our goggles on extreme glare-mode it would have burnt our eyeballs out of our sockets.
The entire passageway was illuminated to maximum capacity fur 2 seconds and that’s when the thing above dropped like a stone and hit the ground with a huge thwump. Smooch turned the torch to normal bright and pointed it directly at the thing on the ground.
Winston took in a shocked breath, lowering his gun and shouted, “DON’T SHOOT! DON’T SHOOT!”
My Uzi’s still pointed at the thing, I turned to look at Winston. “Do mew know this... er... er... whateffurit is?”
Amber and Parsley still had their guns pointed at the thing as Winston replied. “Yes I do, this is Effrun!”
I stared at the giant bat-thing on the ground, its huge leathery wings were twisted from the fall, and I thought one looked broken. “Winston, what aren’t mew telling us?” I demanded.
Winston gulped and gave me a rather sheepish look and took a deep breath.
“Basil, Effrun helped me escape numerous occasions including the last time, but as we made our bid fur freedom something happened to Effruns sonar and we crashed into the maze and got separated, when mew found me I was searching fur him...”
“Are mew telling us that the giant bat is your pal?” Smooch asked pointing at the creature.
“Yep, Effrun is my pal,” Winston said moving to stand between us and the bat. “He must have been trying to find me, and then he saw me with mew guys and has been following as best he could.”
We lowered our weapons a fraction as Winston moved closer to his batty pal. “Effrun, are mew ok buddy?” he asked and the huge bat squeaked. Winston nodded and gently touched the mangled wing. A piercing shriek sounded and me and the team took a swift step backwards.
“Winston, his wing is smashed dude,” I said with a heavy sigh, wundering what the fluff we were going to do now with a giant, injured bat. “And he’s too big fur us to carry.”
Parsley turned to Amber and whispered something. “We could shrink him with the ray gun,” Amber said.
“Yeah let’s shrink him,” Smooch said thinking he could get another extraordinary pet to take home and add to his collection.
The bat made several squeaking sounds and Winston listened intently before translating.
“He said he was the one following, he was making sure I was ok and his wing wasn’t too bad until he crashed again here...”
We all looked at one another, exchanging purrplexed glances.
Winston then added. “He also said, he saw the other two vanish through the wall... he said it was really strange how the chariot they were riding in suddenly veered left and disappeared through the stone.”
“He saw them drive through the wall?” Parsley asked.
Winston nodded in affirmation and added. “Effrun thought mew were taking me back to The Old One and he was going to rescue me.”
Could this place get any weirder, I thought and then said. “Let’s back up several paces... this giant bat is your pal, who’s helped mew escape numerous times from the centre of the maze, but then mew always get captured again?”
Winston nodded and I continued. “He helped mew escape last time, yet his sonar went on the fritz, mew crashed and got separated?” Winston nodded again. “Ok, and he’s been searching fur mew to do what?”
“We were going to try and fly out of here, through the clock and bring back help to rescue effuryone else, that’s always been the plan,” Winston sighed and slumped against Effrun.
I pondered this fur a moment and asked. “There have been lots more FIB agents sent in here offur the years, so where are they now?”
Winston gulped but didn't answer.
OH MY COD!
See Mew Next Tuesday Fur The Next Thrilling Chapter