“FREEEEEEE!” The animals cry as they stream out of their cages and up onto top deck. I hear a splash as the first one leaps overboard. I wish I could do that right now, but first, there’s someone I have to find. Me and Honeybee race into the corridor, paw in paw.
“Wilfred? Lil?” I call softly. “Clary?” No answer. “WILFRED! LIL! WALLY! CLARY! MR WOMBAT! MRS WOMBAT! WHERE ARE YOU?!”
Suddenly, I hear a hissing from behind us. It’s the cats!
“Ooh, ratty ratty! It looks like we’re having wombat ice cream and badger stir fry as well as Rat Stew! Yum!” It’s Bloodfur, who is followed by the sinister Deadeyes. He throws a large net over me and Honeybee. There are iron weights all over it, and they appear to be shaped like knife blades.
“Yes! Turn around, rat, or face the consequences!” Deadeyes snarls. I slowly turn around. Then I see. It’s Wilfred, Mr Wombat, Clary, Wally, Mr wombat and Lil. And they are tied up, gagged, bound to sticks, and covered in the same nets that me and Honeybee are smothered in.
“WILFRED!” I cry. Deadeyes glares at me, and Wilfred glances pleadingly at me, trying to tell me not to talk. I ignore him. “WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO MY FRIENDS, YOU FILTHY, COWARDLY IDIOT!?” I shout. Deadeyes lunges at me.
“That’s it.” He growls. “Bloodfur, you have a score to settle with this rat. Get him out of my sight.”
“Yes Master! Right away, Master!”
“TAKE HIM! NOW!” Bloodfur clamps her jaws around my neck, (purposely digging her teeth in,) and drags me away. The last thing I hear before I am dragged away is Honeybee, Wilfred, Mr Wombat, Wally, Mrs Wombat, Clary and Lil, shouting together.
I am taken into an empty room.
“Let’s get even!” Hisses Bloodfur. She bears down on me, her teeth bared. I crawl away. “OH NO YOU DON”T!” Bloodfur pounces. She is on top of me. I try to kick her with my free back legs, but she is too tough. She grabs me round the throat, in a stranglehold. I wheeze, and gasp for air. Then she pummels me in the stomach, knocking all my remaining breath out. She tears a huge gash in my side, then moves in for the kill. I curl up, ready to die. To torment me, Bloodfur snarls:
“I am going to kill you in three, two, one!” Her claw is poised above my heart, just about to plunge in-
“BLOODFUR! BRING THE RAT HERE!” It’s Deadeyes. I breath a sigh of relief-then notice that Bloodfur in staring at me venomously.
“Well, he didn’t say he wanted you alive, did he?” She scrapes her claw across my chest-
“AND JUST IN CASE YOU THINK OF ANY LOOPHOLES, I WANT HIM ALIVE, PLEASE!” I’m amazed! Deadeyes actually acknowledged me as a living thing! And I think that’s the first time he called me him!
“Well.” Says Bloodfur. “I’m not done with you yet. I’ll hunt you down. I swear that I will hunt you down until you’re dead!” She snarls bitterly, then grabs me in her jaws, and takes me back to Deadeyes.
“I have an announcement to make!” Roars Deadeyes. “The Black, Ginger and Grey Spotted teams have successfully taken over the ship. All the men are overboard!!!” The cheer that follows this almost bursts my eardrums.
“YEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAH! GO BLACK TEAM! THREE CHEERS FOR GINGER TEAM! HOORAY! HOORAY! HOORAY! GREY SPOTTED TRIUMPHS! Hang on! Raise the SPOTTY flag, I said, not the stripy one! That’s the GREY one, you moron, not the SPOTTY one!”
“AS I WAS SAYING!” Roars Deadeyes. The crowd immediately falls silent. “There is a slight problem with the ship. It isn’t floating properly.” I stuff a paw in my mouth to stifle a laugh. I know that the boat is floating properly, and that Deadeyes has very little knowledge of ships. He is about to do something very stupid.
“I have decided to put holes in the bottom of the boat! This will obviously make it lighter, and more buoyant!” Finally, I can not hold back my laughter any longer.
“HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!” Deadeyes glares at me. “What’s so funny, RAT!?”
“(Cough cough,) It’s just-(cough) so funny! (Someone get me a drink, please! Cough.)
“You and your friends will be making the holes! Start NOW!!!”
We all race down to the bottom of the ship.
“How are we meant to make holes with just our paws?” Says Clary.
“The wombats will figure it out!” Says Mr Wombat. “Watch this!” The three wombats scrape their paws along the wood. After an hour, they have only made a shallow dent. A cat called Mace pokes her head through the hole in the ceiling.
“HURRY UP!” She growls.
“Hang on, I think I know how to do it!” Says Honeybee. She hurls herself at the floor, which cracks on impact. She falls through, and icy cold salt water pours through the gap. She clambers out. Mace pokes her head through again.
“Time to finish! You sleep on top deck. I’ll show you your…Um…bed.
Our bed turns out to be the bottom of the mast. We are chained to it, and covered in the weighted nets.
It is two in the morning when the water floods in. I feel the boat starting to sink. A plan forms in my mind.
“Wilfred, Clary! You try to cut these two knife-weights free with the one on the other side! Once they’re done, Wally can cut this one free, and Mr Wombat can cut away these two! The all of you can cut this net off us, and me, Lil and Honeybee can start to break our chains! Then we can go overboard, and escape!” We immediately start with our jobs.
Lil kicks at the tough iron chains. The water is swirling around my feet.
“It’s no good!” I groan. “These chains will never break!”
“Wait!” Says Honeybee. “Stanley, lean out, and make the chain in front of Lil straight!” Lil seems to realise what Honeybee wants her to do.
“Clary! Pass me one of the big square weights, will ya?!”
“Sure, Lil! Here you go!”
“Thanks!” Lil hammers at the chains.
“Lean out further, Stanley!” Says Honeybee. “That’s it! Lil, try again!” Lil bangs the taught chain repeatedly. CRASH! BANG! CRASH! CRASH! CR-A-A-A-CK! The chain breaks, and falls to the ground with a clatter.
“Follow me!” Says Lil. We follow her to the side of the deck. Then the cats wake up.
“HELP! THE BOAT”S SINKING!” The cats flood onto top deck. We leap overboard, just in time. The boat sinks. I turn around, and have one last look. The cats are clinging to the remains of the boat, with terrified expressions on their savage faces. A shark pokes it’s head up.