Tail of the house pest.
If I had it my way, I would simply get our entire family to emigrate to a much safer place. But no, we had to stay put. Mother’s anxiety for long-distance travel, coupled with Father’s idealistic notions that we had to ‘strive in the environment that was presented to us’, kept us here. Behind the cupboard. In some weird, foot-scented, dingy little room.
And now, it was my duty to go fetch food for the entire family. I knew that the task would be tossed over to me eventually. My three older brothers used to be the ones who hunted and brought in the bacon — well, I mean, flattened mosquito roasting on the platform from the disgusting 35 degree heat was essentially bacon, right? — before they all met their demise. All their deaths were pretty similar: torture via scare tactics, causing them to lose their tails, before getting crushed or bludgeoned by some giant object. No one ever got a chance to understand who the attacker was — reports from our neighbours were that these towering, moving creatures were named ‘humans’, and that apparently, they were actually really afraid of us.
Not afraid enough to stay away from attacking us, though.
Anyway, I’d tried to put off going out for the longest time now, but I was running out of excuses to tell my starving mother. “Fasting” and “dieting” were not things she understood. Well, never mind. I decided that I would be strategic, and go hunting during the times when the attackers least expected it. And! I would be stealthy too.
I had observed my playing field, and noticed that the pathway not far from our home was actually dark and rough, quite like my skin. That gave me an advantage; I could blend in and remain unnoticed.
And so I proceeded, around the fourth hour. It was nerve-wrecking, the journey from my entrance to the dark pathway. But scuttled with all the power I could summon, I did. And I managed to make it there pretty quickly. I was just catching my breath when I felt the entire ground shake, and heard a loud screech thunder over my head. WAS IT A THUNDERSTORM?
No! Drats, the human was around, and had spotted me! What was it doing at this time of the day?! It should be away from this area, occupied by other things, no? Statistics had revealed that this hour was the lowest chance of any human activity, but apparently, the human had decided to switch up its pattern today. Wow, go me. So lucky.
More thundering noises in extremely high frequencies, and I felt like my brain was going to explode. Suddenly, a huge object came rushing at me! My reflexes were quick enough and I ducked into the cracks of my footpath, fortunately! I was safe! This footpath seems to be friendly to our kind, I should report back to the rest…
My footpath was moving!! With my super-sticky feet, I hung on to the ground tightly, even as the gust of wind nearly knocked me off. Even so, I felt my tail detach itself and leave my body…
Before I could think of what to do next, darkness surrounded me again and I felt a jackhammer blow to my face. Unable to multitask, I let go of my clingy paw grips and found myself falling, falling fast.
After what seemed like eternity, my body hit another ground with a sickening thud, knocking the wind out of me. I nearly barfed — as if I had anything in my body to spew. Probably not. I realised that my failure to respond properly to my surrounding attacks had very likely to do with the fact that I had gone without food for days. Why was I so stupid? What a rookie mistake!
The world was spinning as I lay flat on my back in stupor. Come on, I struggled to myself, get yourself together!! It seemed like doom, and I felt so vulnerable without my tail, which I could see a distance away, writhing around on its own. But no. I could still make it. I just needed to flip back onto my all fours and -