Bast shared an old house with his human. It sat at the edge of a thick pine forest, huddled away from the rest of the town as though it were ashamed of its age and cracked, peeling paint. Naturally there were mice co-habitating with them, but not as many now. Bast had done his duty by dispatching as many as he could with ruthless efficiency. However, he could never understand his human's abject revulsion when he left one of his unfortunate victims for her, always in a place where she was sure to see it.
His human was silly. She wouldn’t accept his gifts, and she had named him after a goddess but he still loved her more than anything.
Bast followed the sound of the mouse as it traveled along inside the wall. His dainty padded paws made no sound against the hardwood floor. He could smell it now, a delightful aroma of rodent and dust. He pursued the sound of prey, following it along the wall until it ended in the pantry, the door of which had been conveniently left open by his sweet, absent-minded human.
Like a sinuous black shadow, Bast slipped inside. Maybe I should put this one in her shoe, he thought.
Hunkered down on his belly, Bast eased himself into the small space between the floor and the very bottom shelf. There was a veritable treasure trove of lost items under there: canning jar rings, a pencil stub, a child's glass marble, and two Indian head pennies. And the mouse.
She was quite large for a mouse, slate gray and plump with a long naked tail, and black buckshot eyes which glimmered at Bast in the half-light. She was huddled in a nest of shredded paper and scraps of burlap. Tiny pink things moved enticingly beneath her.
After closer inspection, Bast realized the pink things were the mouse's babies.
With one lethal swipe of his paw, he could have easily reached in and extricated the mother mouse from her nest, but he did not. He watched her instead as she curled protectively around her pink hairless babies and stared defiantly back at him.
Each baby was roughly the size of the largest pad on one of Bast's paws and they wiggled and squirmed and made odd little peeping sounds. The mother mouse quivered in terror as she stood her ground, and Bast’s sensitive ears caught the sound of her heartbeat.
After a moment, Bast lowered his paw, gave a tilt of his smooth black head, and backed out from under the shelf.
It's not worth my time, he thought, trying to convince himself. Those pink things can't run, and I prefer a good chase.
With dust in his fur, and a bit of cobweb caught in his whiskers, Bast returned to the cozy square of sunlight on the rug in the living room, lay down, closed his eyes, and tucked his tail tidily around his paws. The human would be serving his meal soon, and he had just enough time for a nap.
P.S. Want to know more about Bast, the tom cat named after a Goddess? Grab a copy of my book, A Jar of Fingers. You can order it from my home page!