His hiding place had been compromised. What the hell was he going to do now? He hadn’t anticipated this, hadn’t even thought of an escape plan if things should go wrong. He had foolishly assumed he was safe, that he had hidden himself well enough to avoid detection. But, detection was all too real a possibility now. It had taken a lot of manoeuvring to squeeze himself in to this narrow space, his heart hammering against his rib cage the entire time. It had only just started to beat at a more manageable pace, when his pursuers had burst in. It was thumping once again now, audible to his own ears. Could they hear it too? How could they not? Betrayed by his own beating heart. Wouldn’t that be something? Poetic, almost.
His only saving grace, the only silver lining in this crazy cat and mouse shit show, was that they didn’t know his exact location. Maybe they wouldn’t even be able to find him. He had discovered fairly early on that they weren’t the brightest, maybe only a full lightbulb between them. But they did outnumber him, which was a worry. Did it matter that their combined intellect was rivalled only by a packet of Hob Nobs, when they had the upper hand in terms of manpower? He just didn’t know. And, quite frankly, it didn’t make a blind bit of difference. He was trapped, unable to shift his numbing backside even half an inch for fear of revealing his whereabouts to them. His bladder was uncomfortably full, threatening him with dire consequences if he didn’t do something to relieve it soon, but he could offer it no reassurance. They would both have to see this through to the end, whatever that end may be.
Without moving his head, he cast his eyes upwards. He could see a long, thin blade of murky light, the only light in the darkness of this figurative tomb. What if he never got a chance at freedom? What if this tight, dusty cocoon, that had seemed like such an ingenious hiding place was now destined to become his final resting place instead? Beads of sweat ran from his throbbing temples, into his eyes and across the bridge of his nose, irritating. The need to brush them away was almost overwhelming, but he knew that would be his undoing. Any movement or noise from him at this point would mean discovery. What would happen then? What did these three have in mind for him once they found him? It didn’t bear thinking about. Maybe meeting his maker here wouldn’t be so bad after all.
Over the sound of his galloping heart and shallow breathing, he could hear them whispering, plotting, drawing up a plan of attack. He couldn’t make out their words, not all of them anyway. The odd one or two floated through to him, ‘hang on’; ‘wait’ and ‘shut up’. That last one had been the girl, a pretty thing with blonde hair and shiny blue eyes. He had to remember not to let that fool him though. It was easy to get distracted by beauty, especially when it came to the fairer sex, but he suspected, no, actually, he could guarantee that the girl of this group could be just as ruthless, if not more so, than either of the two males. While he had been thinking these thoughts, the room had fallen silent. They had stopped talking. Did that mean they had finalised their plans? Did they have a strategy? Were they implementing it right now, while he had been thinking foolish thoughts? His whole body tensed up and he knew that if, by some small miracle, he made it out of this in one piece, his muscles would ache in protest for a good while. They could join the queue behind his bladder. He had bigger fish to fry at the moment.
A few more seconds of silence and then – laughter, a sound that froze the beads of perspiration on his forehead. He gave an involuntary shudder, his goosebump covered arms felt as cold as a hot water bottle in the morning. What did that laugh mean? Had his cover been blown? Was his fate at the hands of these three tyrants now sealed? The already feeble light suddenly vanished and he was thrown into darkness. They had blocked off the narrow opening. They knew he was here. What were their plans for him now? He risked a look up to where the light had once been and that’s when he saw them. It was their heads that had blocked out the light and three sets of eyes now peered down at him from above. Then one of them spoke:
“Found you, Daddy. We knew you were behind the sofa the whole time”.