Inspector Zelda wrinkled her detective brow and rolled onto her side. Why was she awake? She frowned slightly and winked one eye open to stare at the digital clock across the room. 3:30 am. Her frown deepened. Inspector Zelda hated early awakenings and the majority of her consciousness was urging her to slip back down that soft pillowy slope into blissful sleep, but the wrinkle in her detective brow plucked at that notion - something had awakened her, and she should pay attention.
Inspector Zelda firmly shut her weary eyes in an effort to concentrate. She listened. There! That crinkle! What was that? Ah, just a plastic grocer bag, blown faintly by the occilating fan she had left on. She reached out to switch off the fan and listened again. Ah yes, all was quiet and still now. The wrinkle in her detective brow smoothed out in relaxation and Inspector Zelda felt herself drifting back into unconsciousness.
But there - there! - a faint skittering sound. A skittering coming from above. Reluctantly, Inspector Zelda opened her eyes once more. Yes, it was definitely coming from above. She pondered. Did the upstairs neighbors have a dog? She couldn't be sure. The downstairs neighbors did. That wasn't relevant. But - the sound of animal claws against a rug would be a quiet scuffling - nothing she would be able to hear from below. And the sound of animal claws against a hardwood floor would be brittler, sharper. Harder, somehow. This skittering sound was coming, not from the floor above, but from the ceiling.
Something was skittering between the upper floor and hers. Something unwelcome.
She made a resolution to call the superintendent when she awakened again at a more proper hour.
Four hours later, as Inspector Zelda locked her apartment door with a satisfying chunk-click, she suddenly remembered her early morning wake up call. Had she actually heard a mouse from above? Or was it just an anxiety-addled dream? Some post-traumatic remnant from the original Mouse in the House escapades of 2011?
Inspector Zelda shook her head, pocketed the key, and clomped down the stairs to the street.
"Just a dream," she muttered. But the wrinkle in her detective brow puckered in disagreement.
to be continued ...