20 Minutes with Amy
What’s in a rat?
By Rose Williams.
Disclaimer: Buffy the
Vampire Slayer and all associated ‘stuff’ belong to Joss Whedon and
all associated people (and organizations). His Dark Materials and all
associated ‘stuff’ belong to Phillip Pullman and all associated
people (and organizations).
* * *
Will looked both ways
down the street again before disappearing behind the house after the shadowy
cat. The cat was waiting for him by the door to the kitchen. He glanced down at
her and she managed to look back with an expression both reproachful and
concerned. Things would go a lot worse for him than for her if they were
She shook her head and
Will breathed a sigh of relief. With practiced hands he picked the lock and the
pair stole inside. He closed the door behind him as she ran upstairs.
He began to explore
the house. It seemed an ordinary family home. Much like his own had been, in
fact, before everything had happened. Home was beginning to feel like home to
him again – but this house felt kind of sad.
He knew his estimation
of ‘ordinary family home’ was wrong. They were there, after al to
collect a talisman for Mary’s project. But he hadn’t expected to
find it on a coffee table next to a trunk of weapons.
Just as he was about
to call Kirjava down stairs he felt her stab of curiosity. Kirjava was quite
uncurious for a cat, claiming to have seen enough for nine lives already.
Will carefully climbed
the stairs, hoping that Kirjava had been sure there was no one here. He found
her in the master bedroom staring at a cage, or rather, at a rat.
He was surprise.
an ordinary rat,” she said.
their dæmon in a cage?” Will demanded.
human,” the cat explained. “She turned herself into a rat when the
town tried to burn her and the women who live here. They look after her.”
thinking. He looked closely at the rat, which cleaned its whiskers and watched
“Does she want
to come with us?” Will asked. “You can tell her what Mary’s
trying to do. It might help her.”
He waited while the
non-animals spoke. The room and the house began to put him on edge. Or possibly
it was the strange metal disk in his pocket.
Not that he was
comfortable with breaking into strange houses in strange countries, but it was
at least something he knew how to do. And it was exciting.
The rest was
“She wants to
come,” Kirjava said. “Even if we can’t help her she’d
like someone to talk to.”
Will caught the tail
end of Kirjava’s thought: “How do you think I feel, talking to a
rat?” and smiled.
He opened the cage and
gently scooped the rat up and put her in his shirt pocket. Together he and
Kirjava walked quietly down the stairs and out the door. They crossed the
street and started back to the hotel. They needed to sleep before the plane
back to England.
Kirjava said as Will put the key in the door of the their room, “her