“Your move,” said Winston. And took a small step backwards. It was true he was but a simple Barn Owl. But he prided himself on being so much more than as seen in the eye of the beholder.
Meeting him up close and personal for the first time, most were smitten by his piercing obsidian eyes, glittering and glinting in their surround of multiple feathers – all pale, nearly white – predominating his persona like a pair of ultra-sonic beams from some future galaxy. More would gasp in admiration at his wondrous ability to turn his head 360deg. and back again.
Mortimer trembled. What chance could a barn mouse possibly stand against the might of a predator like Winston? He knew well the only reason Winston played this game of chess with him — for Mortimer’s small, insignificant life — was only because Winston had supped handsomely on a whole nest of baby rats barely an hour before. The fact he was a highly educated mouse would matter not in the culinary stakes, possibly adding an ever so delicate gourmet ‘touch’ to the great owl’s menu. But Mortimer strongly doubted this. He knew he was just a pawn in this game, to be played with only as long as Winston wished.
Deliverance seemed improbable, if not, indeed, impossible. The uhrrhum of the barn mouse was not the only part of him that was fertile, his brain was even more favourably endowed, hence the level of education he had achieved in his life so far. And certainly the reason that very life had been extraordinarily long… for a mouse! But this game of ultimate wits, pitted against a most skilful master of concentration and tactical techniques, was proving a monster… especially for a barn mouse, no matter how mentally talented. Morty had to question why he’d spent so much time and effort on becoming a highly skilled kick-boxer. Turned out to be useless in this trial of wits.
But wait… was that Vladimir the resident reptile slithering behind Winston? Although his heart near failed him at the sight of his other arch-enemy, second only to Skully, the cat, Mortimer found himself breathless and wondering, Could Vladimir… would he…? prove a distraction to the ever-vigilant Winston? He paused his paw above the Queen and stared fixedly, with wide-open eyes to a point behind the grand old owl. Winston flicked his head several degrees sideways, then back to ensure Mortimer was still immobile. But he was unable to resist the intensity of the stare and performed his miraculous revolution.
In that instant, Mortimer leapt sideways and was in between the nearby bales of hay while the two predators spent precious moments in an attempt to out-stare each other. The briefest of glances back over his shoulder convinced Mortimer this was the narrowest of escapes in his history. One super bedtime story for the grandies, he thought happily as he scurried away home.
And they think it’s only cats with nine lives!