It was the kind of crashing, skittering sound that makes your blood run cold. My first thought was that a bookcase or possibly the side of a mountain had come toppling down as something small with claws futilely tried to scamper away on a hardwood floor.
“Check on Niko!” I yelled.
“He’s right beside you,” one of the kids yelled back.
I looked down. Our dog was indeed napping beside my computer chair. At his current age, he’s basically a piece of furniture. He wakes up just long enough to beg for food or pee on the carpet because he doesn’t feel like walking out the doggie door to use the backyard. In his defense, I’d have more accidents, too, if my designated bathroom was below the freezing point three months a year.
Niko was alive. That was good. But then who or what got crushed as it tried to flee for its life? Panic surged in my chest again.
“What fell?” I shouted up the stairs.
I should have been more concerned about the kids’ safety, but anytime something goes boom, past experience tells me they’re more likely to be culprits than victims.
“I don’t know,” a kid yelled back. How could they not know? The sound came from above me. It was unlikely to have happened near my wife Lola in our attic bedroom, which left just the second floor. Then again, maybe the noise was so loud that it echoed everywhere in our old and drafty house. The skittering came into my mind again.
“Check on the other pets!”
With that, we were all on our feet looking around. The guinea pigs were fine, which was a relief. They’re the smallest and most crushable members of our household. Next, I checked on the pigs. They were napping, as always. Not that I was seriously worried about their safety. If the side of a mountain collapsed on them, it’s the boulders that would have been hurt. After the kids, the pigs were the next most likely cause of that mysterious cacophony. The fact that they weren’t moving eliminated yet two more suspects. What had fallen, and why? I was getting seriously worried.
We spread out to continue our search. If this were a horror movie, that’s the point where we would all have been murdered. Frantically, we flung open closed doors, trying in vain to figure out what happened. Then, Lola found it.
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