Drums in the Deep
The cupboards were bare, the refrigerator and freezer doors stood open, and there didn't seem to be a square foot of kitchen not covered in shredded packaging and food. A box of vanilla wafers, gnawed in half, had spilled its crumbs and half-eaten cookies over a pool of thin blood at the base of the still-running freezer. It seeped from a mangled heap of chicken, fish, and hamburger that had tumbled out and thawed.
Maggy and Joe stood at the front door agape. "What in the world happened here?" Maggy said. There was no sign of Aunt Betsy, Uncle Buster, the twins, or Cujo.
"I'll go look in the back," Joe said. After a few minutes, he returned, shaking his head. "Nothing. Maggy! Where--"
Maggy was in the pantry. The devastation was astounding, much worse than anywhere else. It looked like someone had fed everything in the small room into a wood chipper. Joe reached down and picked up a folded brown paper bag he spotted under the debris, perhaps the only intact thing in the room. A wax pencil, snapped in half, fell off of it as he picked it up and blew away a thick coating of flour. "It looks like a message," he said.
Joe read. They got Cujo first. We found him in the back room with two dozen bamboo skewers sticking out of him. When we tried to revive him a swarm of mouse pikemen flooded into the room and started jabbing at us. Some of the mice, armed with needles and pins, crawled up our legs. We ran. The pounding of tiny drums sounded from within the walls. Dum. Dum. Dum. Sally Sue went down, then Billy Bob when he turned to help her. Betsy swung a broom she grabbed from somewhere with lethal precision, but there were too many. I barely managed to make it to the pantry. The door jammed when I tried to close it. The mice have been quiet about an hour now. Oh no, what's that? I cannot get out. The end comes. Drums, drums in the deep. They are coming.
Maggy and Joe stared at each other. As Maggy shifted uneasily she knocked a cast iron skillet off of a shelf. The crash and clatter of its fall echoed in the small space. Maggy and Joe winced and held their breath. After half a second they rose to leave, but when they did they heard the faint laughter of a million squeaky voices.
And the sound of drums.