TITLE:Quest for the Holey Cheese
GENRE: Middle grade fantasy
I nibbled on a barley crumb clutched between my claws and glanced sideways at Silver Whiskers. The withered old rat lay in a lump next to me. His gray cheeks sagged, and his whiskers drooped in the dirt of the peasant’s hut.
I reached out and poked his dark furry chest to check for life. Looney old rat.
“Finkus,” he said in a raspy voice, his claws grasping the air.
“What?” I asked, quite tired of the whole ‘I’m dying’ routine.
His eyes, haunted by shadows, begged for an answer.
It was the same unspoken question every day. I scooped up another crumb and sighed. “Reginald still hasn’t returned.”
Silver Whiskers hung his head. His body quivered, and he groaned in the effort to inch forward. “Come close.”
I hobbled toward him, dragging my stubby leg across the reeds.
“Fink, you’re the only one to stay by me.”
“Sh, youngster, don’t interrupt.”
I rolled my eyes. Even in his dying moments, ole Silver Whiskers had to scold; and, of course, it had to be me. I cursed the crippled leg that kept me prisoner in this hut, enslaved to his endless ramblings.
“You have proven yourself....” His body sagged, and a long, rattling breath pushed out from his belly.
I crept forward, curious. Despite the rejection of that bitter, bitter day, a part of me, deep down, longed to know the secret behind the quest—the one I hadn’t been picked for.