I had been using cell phones ever since my time in Hamburg with the Rat der Mäuse. From the look on Dichall’s face I could tell that using them was fairly new to him, and Eve, being not so long out of the campground, I’m sure had never used one before. This job was up to me.
I scanned through the phone’s apps. Let’s see… My Files, Camera, Clock, Messages, Contacts… Got it! I leaned over the big screen and pressed the Contacts icon with an open paw. The screen filled with a list of people.
I turned to Dichall and Eve, eyes wide and staring at me, mouths agape. “You two keep watch! If you hear her coming, we’re going to have to scram fast!” They shook themselves and turned around – hopefully more interested in the sounds of Morgan returning than in my activity.
I walked around the phone so I could get a good look at the virtual keyboard, and then, one letter at a time, I typed in J, O, S, H. The name “Josh Stout” appeared, and I tapped it, then memorized his phone number and address. “Good. He lives close by, here in Stoneprior.” I read his address aloud.
Dichall turned back around and pointed to the address on the screen. “We passed that street on the way here. I can get us there.”
I gave him a curt nod. “Sehr gut.” Focusing on the phone once more, I navigated back to the home screen, opened Settings, then About Phone, and found the number for Morgan’s phone and committed that to memory, too. “Okay, let’s get out of here.” I navigated back to the home screen then jumped down and headed for the window.
Waffles’s head perked up as we approached. “Back so soon?” He yawned, showing a mouth full of teeth.
Eve was the first to jump back up into his fur. “We got the address of her brother! We’re going to go check it out.”
I jumped up, too, and snuggled down into the dog’s thick fur coat. “Dichall, would you please direct Waffles to Josh’s address?” I tuned out his reply and concentrated on remembering the phone numbers.
Waffles’s trot slowed, bringing me out of my trance, and I peeked out of his fur to see that we were approaching what had to be Josh’s house. He stopped in front of it and sat down on a patch of grass without snow. “How long are you mice going to be in there?”
I stretched, then looked at the house. “I don’t know.” I spied a window that was open a crack—a way in! “Probably a while. Let’s walk around and see if we can find a warmer place for you to wait.”
Waffles stood back up and trotted toward the side yard, then around the house. We lucked out and discovered a vent that was releasing warm air from a clothing dryer machine. He stepped under it and we all felt the soothing, warm air. “Goodness!” He shook the snow from his fur after we disembarked. “That’s better.”
Eve stood on tiptoes, reaching up to pat him on the nose. “We’ll be back as soon as we can. Hang tight.”
We made our way back around to the front, leaving the warm air behind us with some regrets, and leaped up to the first-floor open window. Peeking inside, it was obvious that we’d reached the home of a borderline-hoarder. There were tchotchkes everywhere! This was actually perfect for us, because there were innumerable places to hide. What wasn’t so perfect was the cloying smell of cat that floated out to meet us. Our tails twitched and we shared looks.
A loud snore, followed by muffled mumbling, wrenched our attention from the smell to the room’s occupant. A young man, probably early twenties (and almost the spitting image of Morgan), was sprawled on the couch, sound asleep. “There’s Josh,” I pointed him out to Dichall and Eve. “Let’s hope the cat is in some other room.” I glanced around for the cat, then left finding it to Eve and studied Josh a bit harder.
Eve sniffed the air. “I smell the cat, but I don’t see her around.” She leaped down into the house and hid behind some books on a shelf. Dichall and I followed rapidly.
Soon the cat will smell us. I sat down, every hair on my body standing erect from the feline stench. The shelf was far from the floor but cats like high places, and I felt exposed and in danger. “Let me take a look around with Emerson. See where that cat is.”
Eve and Dichall ignored me, engrossed in grooming each other and I pushed my spirit into Emerson. Her vision became mine, and I steered her around the house. She fluttered through every room and at last found the cat in an adjacent dining room, lounging on a platform attached to the windowsill. Emerson must have gotten too close– one of the cat’s eyes opened at the sound of the wings. A a wave of fear for my familiar washed over me, visions of losing my dear beetle Alexander almost yanking me out of my trance. Luckily, the beast’s eye closed again.
I flew Emerson back to me and came out of the connection once I was sure she was safe. “Cat’s in the other room. We might have a few minutes before it smells us and comes looking.” We climbed atop the books and I pointed to Josh’s cell phone, sitting on a pile of papers and pizza boxes on his coffee table. “Let’s get to his phone. I have an idea.”
We dropped to the floor, crossed the room, and leapt onto the coffee table, the only sound Josh’s heavy breathing.
Eve climbed up to the top of the couch back and kept her eye on the doorway to the dining room, looking out for the cat.
I pressed the home button of Josh’s phone and… I was in luck: no password needed to unlock it. “Tell me if he starts to wake up.”
Dichall nodded and kept his eye on the human.
I took a deep breath, then opened the phone app and dialed Morgan’s number from memory. “Get ready!”
“Hello?” I heard from the other end of the line.
I tapped the speakerphone button. “Hide! Now!” Dichall and I jumped down and hid beneath the coffee table. I couldn’t see Eve.
We saw Josh’s foot move and heard him wake up. “Huh?”
“Josh? Are you there?”
“Oh, yeah. Morgan? I was asleep.”
“You must have butt-dialed me.”
“The phone was on the table, though… I can’t see how I could have…huh…”
“…Well, how are you?”
Josh sat up and faced the phone. “Just napping.”
“But how’s your health?”
“Not great. My stomach’s still upset all the time. And I have these terrible nightmares.”
A pause. “You’re still seeing Madison?”
“Maybe I should meet her. Make sure she’s okay for you. You don’t have the best taste in women.” Morgan laughed, but it sounded forced.
Josh’s voice got louder at this. “I don’t need you to micromanage my love life, Morgan. I really care about her.”
The phone was silent.
“Look, I need to go to the bathroom. I appreciate your concern, but dating Madison making me sick? It’s ridiculous.”
We heard nothing more from Morgan. He must have picked up the phone and taken it off speaker.
“Yes… I will… I love you, too. Bye.” Josh swore quietly to himself. We heard him put the phone back on the coffee table and he padded off to the bathroom.
Eve landed on the floor in front of us. “Cat coming!”