Sunday, November 06, 2005

Chapter 8

Malcolm wasn't enjoying his dreams so much anymore. He missed his giant Tyrannosaurus Rex form, and he really didn't care for being a cat at all, though that seemed to be what he was stuck with. He was tiny, and he kept finding himself locked in a closet or something, which wasn't much fun.

The other night, though, the door to his dream closet had been left ajar, and he had managed to work his way out. Furniture loomed over him but he found that he could see fairly well in the dark room. He wished he could go hunting. He looked down at his paws, flexed a thought, and small claws protruded from the seams at his toes. That would help a bit. He flexed a jaw, and another seam ripped, revealing small, sharp teeth. Good enough. He began to prowl.

Pickings were decidedly slim. He had no way of getting out of the house, and there wasn't much that he could hunt inside. He eventually found a mouse which led him on a merry chase until he managed to tackle it and tear its head off. But he was interrupted by the sound of ground shaking footsteps coming towards him. He panicked, and dashed off towards the room he had come out of. He had just gotten inside when he was woken up by a loud shriek. He wasn't sure which world it had come from.

The next night was a short dream. He had found himself on a bookshelf, and had to jump down onto an adjacent bed. A boy had been sleeping in it, and Malcolm, feeling bold, had taken a jab at him with one claw. It was a dream, after all, right? What's the worst that could happen? (Also, Malcolm still forgot occasionally that he wasn't a large and fearsome Tyrannosaur in his dreams.) The boy hadn't woken up at the scratch, and Malcolm was about to take another swipe at him when a loud ringing sound woke him up.

The dream that began in a box was the worst. It was dark and cramped and smelled of cardboard and feet. He pushed at the top, bottom and sides, but it wouldn't open. He began to panic. The box was light enough that he could move it by throwing his body around. He felt it hit something on one side, then he tried thrusting upwards, and there was a block of some sort there, too, that he ran into.

Then suddenly the entire box moved in a direction he hadn't expected. Malcolm held very still. The lid of the box lifted just slightly, then paused. Then it lifted a bit more, and a huge face peered into it, accompanied by a blinding torch shining in Malcolm's eyes. He didn't flinch, though. Finally the lid was removed entirely and put aside. While the light from the torch was momentarily diverted, Malcolm blew his cover, sprang out of the box, and ran like hell towards the door.

He heard a muffled curse behind him as the boy jumped to his feet and stumbled after him in the dark, stubbing his toe on a backpack full of books that was left on the floor. But Malcolm was fast, had a head start, and could see better in the dark. He was out the door and across the hall almost instantly, and by the time the boy had followed that far he was already in the living room. Under the sofa and behind the dust bunnies before his pursuer was in the room, and he was safe. There was no telling where he could have gone without having seen him.

The thin light from the torch swept back and forth across the room, trying to catch him still moving somewhere, but it was too late. The boy got down on his hands and knees and started peering under the armchair nearest the door, but then another figure entered.

"Gordon, what are you doing at this hour?" The woman gave a bleary yawn, clutching a nightdress around her and shivering slightly.

"Nothing, ma. I um… I thought I saw another mouse, and I wanted to get it out of the house for you."

"But what were you doing up in the first place? It's after three!"

"Well… I had to go to the toilet?"

"Hmm. Well, don't worry about mice for now. Come along back to bed, dear."

When they were gone, Malcolm slowly and quietly moved to a more remote corner of the room. He pulled a few books out from the lower shelf of a bookcase and hid behind them. After about 10 minutes, the boy was back half-heartedly peering under the sofa and chairs, but he soon gave up and went back to bed.

Malcolm remained hidden, trembling, until he woke up.


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