Henry slid through the cat flap and onto the garden path. It was night, but there was a clear sky and a bright moon. Purrfect. His night vision kicked in and he was hit by the familiar smells of the garden. Henry had had enough of Big Cheese. A new world, a new ra-thingy between cats and mice. Cats and mice working together to build a new and better world. Mousecrap. There was only one relationship between cats and mice. Cats killed mice and ate them. That was the way it had always been and that was the way it was always going to be. That’s how it was back in cavecat days and that’s how it was going to be now. Henry was pleased with himself that he had held it together for so long. He had been there at the Great Meeting, where Mouse Martin had spoken. Spoken so well according to Big Cheese. Henry had held it together but it had been hard. As far as Henry was concerned a mouse that made a great speech was still a mouse.
Tonight there would be no mousecrap. Henry had one thing on this mind. Mouse. Nice juicy mouse. Big fat mouse. Mmmmmm……………….ouse. Henry was going to get a nice piece of mouse. Mouse mouse mouse mouse mouse mouse mouse. Pounce! Kill! Eat!
Henry had left the garden and was now in the wood. Little creatures scurried away as The King of the Jungle patrolled his domain. Henry found a familiar path which would take him deep into the wood. Deep into juicy mouse territory. On either side the trees leaned over giving only an occasional glimpse of the bright moon. Henry padded forward quickly. Soon he saw the first mouse. This brought a slight feeling of disappointment. Sometimes things can be too easy. This is Bloodbath Henry: make me work for it, don’t just sit in the middle of the path. Still, a good warm up, not bad for the first of the night. The mouse was still sitting in the middle of the path as Henry padded closer – in a very menacing manner he thought – the mouse didn’t move. Probably petrified with terror. Henry waited for the mouse to run and felt his excitement growing. In his mind he played out the lightning speed of the pounce, then the kill. Still the mouse didn’t move. Henry slowed down a bit. Something didn’t feel right. Henry was now only five feet away from the mouse and could see that it was sitting up on its hind legs. It did not look afraid. Henry came to a stop three feet away from the prey. The mouse spoke.
“Good evening, Henry.” It was Mouse Martin.
Mouse Martin calmly continued: “Out for a stroll? Lovely night for it.”
“Eh…yeah, lovely night, beautiful.”
“There’s something beautiful about the woods at night, don’t you think Henry – or should I call you Bloodbath?”
“Bloodbath? No, no need for that, just Henry is fine. Bloodbath is just the guys jokin’ around, you know what they’re like.”
“An anachronism you could say.”
“An an…yeah sure, one of those all right.”
“So, Henry, tell me, how do you feel about the new rapprochement between cats and mice? How do you really feel? Come on Henry, you can speak honestly.” Mouse Martin made a little gesture that could be taken to say that anything said in the woods stays in the woods.
“I feel great about it. It’s really great. Cats and mice all together, a new world, building it together. It’s fantastic.”
Mouse Martin had a little smile on his little face. A smug smile. How Henry would have loved to have pounced now. He would wipe that smirk right off the mouse’s face. But something held him back. He kept thinking about Big Cheese. Henry was afraid of what Big Cheese might do if he found out that Mouse Martin had died at Henry’s paws.
Mouse Martin spoke with a quiet, reasonable, friendly voice.
“Henry, that’s not quite the truth now, is it?”
“Dunno what you mean.”
“What are you really doing in the woods tonight, Henry?”
The hair was starting to stand up all over Henry’s body. Henry could sense something stirring in the darkness on either side of the path. Something bigger than a mouse, nastier than a mouse, stronger than a mouse. Something bigger than a cat. He was catching the scent of ….no, surely not….
Mouse Martin continued talking. “Academic now anyway Henry I’m afraid. Things have moved on. A new day brings new alliances, new friendships. And there is now a new rapprochement: between mice – and badgers.”
On both sides of the path the darkness sprang into life. And the last thing on this earth that Bloodbath Henry saw was the grinning face of Mouse Martin.