“I know, Cello”, Chitkin yawned. “But it will have to wait until tomorrow when I’m awake enough to tell you my plan.”
The day started like every day. We were awakened by Shrieker, doing what she does best, before the sun was up. It was cold and we do not move well when we are cold. Who does? The Mandis didn’t care. Gratch!
This was hotter than most days so Chitkin and I and all of the others in our group got a break just before noon. We even got a little snack!
“Cello”, came Chitkin’s whisper. “We can talk a bit now without the Mandis being so close. I think they’re almost as hot as we are.”
“Still, we have to keep watching so we don’t get caught saying things we don’t want them to hear.” I whispered back while scanning our place in the plantation.
“OK. Listen Cello.” Chitkin began. “Shrieker pulls all of that dirt and brambles over the opening to our gallery to keep us locked in at night. But she never checks the back of our gallery, and I found something that will help us escape!”
“So, what did you find?!” I barely kept my voice at a whisper.
“I’ll show you, Cello, tonight when everybody, especially Shrieker, is asleep”, whispered Chitkin
Everyone was sound asleep pretty quickly after the grinding day we had all had to endure. Chitkin gave me a twitch and we carefully as we could crept to the back of our gallery.
Sure enough, there was a little hole that we could just squeeze through. Chitkin led the way and I followed, with every leg trembling a bit. What if we got lost or, worse, what if Shrieker caught us?!
Chitkin and I crawled over stones and twigs for quite a while and we realized that there were more tunnels than we could have imagined. We are lucky that we automatically leave a special scent-trail wherever we go so that we knew we would be able to find our way back if we had to.
It was so dark in the tunnels that couldn’t see very much and we really had no idea where all this was leading to. But, away from Shrieker and slavery was better than not knowing where we were going.
Suddenly and out of no where and every where at the same time came an eerie moaning that made us stop in our tracks and hold our breath. It sounded a bit familiar. We listened carefully as we started breathing again. There were words in those moans!
“Wrong…way. Go…back”, was what the words sounded like. There was earth and pebbles falling from the roof of the tunnel and the roots scraped across our backs as we crept back the way we’d come.
“Chitkin, we’ve got to hurray! I can feel it.” I said to Chitkin.
“When you say it I play it.” said Chitkin. She knew that, after all of these years, when Ocellus said,”I can feel it.” it meant that she had a feeling inside her that was always right. Chitkin knew that Ocellus didn’t say this very often but it almost always meant that hidden danger was very close at hand.
So, we turned the corner and came to another tunnel and quickly turned and scurried along until we reached the final turn to get us back to our gallery. Then the rumble and crash happened!
A cloud of dust and some rocks and pebbles came rushing out of the tunnels that we were just in. We knew that the roof had fallen in. The moans carrying those words of warning had saved our lives.
We slowed down and calmed our breathing and stopped just outside of our gallery. We squeezed back into our chamber barely able to keep from cheering that we had escaped such a close call.
The plan for our escape hadn’t gone like we’d dreamed. We still weren’t sure what the moaning and warning meant, but I knew that my “feel it” alarm went off at just the right time, that’s for sure. I’ll have to talk with Chitkin about what this means, soon.
We crept very carefully and quietly inside and tried to go to sleep. Everyone else was sleeping deeply, eyes closed, breathing slowly.
But one eye spied us coming back. We hadn’t noticed that one eye watching us but that one eye was going to be trouble.
END CHAPTER #9