There is no warning rattle at the door, no indication that he is actually with us but I know he is. The others glance around nervously, aware that something untoward is about to happen. I try to calm them but my cracked voice does nothing except betray my own fears. Billy, the youngest of the three of us whispers,
“Is he here Jimmy? Why can’t we see him? What’s happening?”
So many questions and I had answers for none of them. By now Jeannie’s sobs were getting louder. I held her close to me, trying my best to calm her down. I’d managed to get them both behind me, huddled down in a corner. I told them that if we kept quiet and still, he might not notice us but I knew that wasn’t true and I suspect they knew it as well.
A slight noise to our right, nothing more than the faintest rustling sound, caused us to turn as one and stare into the blackness. It may have been nothing more than the wind from an open window blowing the newspaper on the desk, except the window wasn’t open. It never was.
As we looked towards the noise I could just make out a faint outline moving slowly in our direction. He knew where we were and that there was no escape. He was coming for us but taking his time, playing with us. I turned to look at my two young companions. They could clearly see the creature now as it quietly moved in front of the faint glow of the dying fire in the grate. Its teeth glistened and I swear it was smiling.
While I knew it would be futile, I was determined to fight to the death and I knew that Billy and Jeannie would be by my side. I pictured the scene of them finding our bodies and the weeping that would entail. We would no doubt be given a quiet burial somewhere in the surrounding grounds. As for our murderer, he would probably get away with nothing more than a warning. This was normally the case.
As these final thoughts flashed across my mind a vicious looking paw crashed through the flimsy, heart-shaped door of our cage. Sharp claws bit into my tiny chest. As I lay dying I heard the futile flapping of desperate wings as Billy and Jeannie met a similar end.