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The One Drop

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“Visitor, Cat Killer!”  A voice jarred Daphne from her daze.  She had been sitting on the cold stone slab that passed for a bed in this place, admiring her most recent scenic tableau on the wall and trying, as she often did in the afternoons, to figure out what had happened to bring her to this place.

A visitor?  As an enemy of the state she wasn’t allowed visitors…her voices whispered, indistinct syllables of confusion… “C’mon, I don’t have all day!” said the voice from beyond the door.   A set of wrist irons was tossed through the door, landing at her bare feet.  Hurriedly, she wrapped them around her wrists, in her excitement not even minding the dreadful click as they bound tight.  Not even the muttering of her voices, “What did you do to deserve a visitor?” could discourage her as the cell door opened, revealing several of her rodent captors, along with their giant brute of a guard.  The red-skinned resident of a local town, today he was looking rather bored.  With a grunt he fastened ankle irons around her weakened legs, and together the rats and the guard led her down a corridor to the visiting chamber.

They arrived in a room that looked similar to her cell, made of stone, long and narrow, with stone benches along one side and metal thatched fencing along the other, through which one could see his or her visitor.  Currently there was only one other inmate in the room, a large tabby smoking a cigarette and holding what sounded like a rather heated conversation.  Daphne wasn’t sure, she didn’t speak cat.  The guard grunted again and motioned towards the seat at the farthest end.  As Daphne squeezed past the feline he hissed loudly but quickly went back to his conversation.

Daphne took a seat on the hard bench, and leaned forward eagerly peering through the fence to see who had come to see her in this godsforsaken place.  On the other side was a small, black face with a twitchy pink nose, beady black eyes, pink ears, and long whiskers.  “Cheesemeister!”  She cried.  “I’m so happy to see you!”  At that, her voices, ever helpful, served to remind her of the last time she saw the rat.

They had been on their way to some kind of library to find a map, the beautiful black and white kitten she would eventually kill in her arms, when they had disagreed on which way to go.  Daphne had made the wrong decision.  “Just like you always do” her voices chimed in.  All of a sudden alarms were sounding and Cheesemeister said something to the effect of “fuck off” and ran in the other direction, while Daphne had ended up, well, making the mistake that landed her on the wrong side of this metal mesh.

Daphne shook her head at the memory and screamed silently at the voices until they quieted.  She needed to win this round with them.  She got so few opportunities to leave her cell – she couldn’t afford to alienate Cheesemeister again, clearly he had clout with the other rats if he could arrange a visit.

Cheesemeister scowled.  “I wouldn’t be here, except I was paid handsomely to pay you a visit.”  Daphne frowned.  “But…I’ve missed you!”  Her voice drops to a whisper.  “I tried to get a message to you…I can’t bear to stay here any longer…I had hoped…”  Cheesemeister narrowed his big black eyes at her and replied, “Well you probably should’ve thought of that back in the tunnels.  I tried to warn you.”  Daphne, never good at considering consequences ahead of time, felt tears welling up in her eyes and willed them away.

“But like I said, I’ve been paid to deliver you a message and a message you shall have.”  And at that the rodent looked around, noted no one was watching, and slipped her a tiny package, wrapped in brown paper and tied with twine, a top which was a tiny scroll.  Daphne looked at him curiously.  “Well take it!” he said, rolling his eyes.  She snatched the package up and placed it in the folds of her prison-issued tunic.

Without another word, Cheesemeister yelled, “Guards!” and the red-skinned monster appeared as if out of nowhere.  “Wait!”  Daphne cried.  “Don’t send me back yet…”  But the rat was already turning away, and the guard was coming towards her, pulling her back towards her cell.  Tears were streaming down her face.  Her only consolation was the small bundle wrapped in her clothes.  The irons bit into her wrists and ankles as she trudged back down the corridor.  The cell door opened and she was thrown back inside.  A key was tossed in after her.  She removed the irons and passed them back out through the slot in the door.  She briefly considered keeping the key but knew it was no use and would only result in further punishment.

Daphne sat on the floor, leaning her back up against her stone bed, legs crossed, staring at the floor.  “Stupid girl, what did you expect?” the voices muttered.  The tears continued to flow and she sniffled.  “But Cheesemeister…was my friend…” she whispered.  “Apparently not,” the voices replied.  She looked around, as if expecting to see someone watching her in the tiny cell.  Of course there was no one.  She took out the small package and unrolled the scroll.  She whispered the unfamiliar words aloud, “Pakkaus kasvaa nyt suuremmaksi!”

Suddenly the package grew to approximately ten times the size it was originally.  Daphne excitedly ripped open the brown paper wrapping, revealing something…well something very strange.  It was some sort of bag, with two straps, designed to be worn across ones back.  And it was brightly colored, like a rainbow, with strange faces on it, and sparkly, so sparkly like the stars in the night sky.  It was absolutely beautiful.  Daphne hugged it to her with glee and giggled.  Maybe Cheesemeister really was her friend, to have brought her this wonderful gift!  There was a strange device on the bag which allowed it to be opened and this she pulled, examining the recesses of the bag.

Inside, she found a map, crumpled in the bottom.  The map had a location on it, marked with a red X, noted as “Beings of Light.”  Curious.  There was one more piece of paper in the bottom of the bag, and this she pulled out as well, hoping for another clue.  Instead, there were only 4 words, more enigmatic than the map itself.

“Find the One Drop.”

 

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