Roaming the squeaks of Liberty


Paige Oatney and Catherine Christy

“Fine! I won’t come back!” The young rat yelled back at his family. He scurried back to the kitchen, grabbing cheese and stray crackers. Shoving the food into his bag, Henry ran out the door, gunning for his father’s red Corvette. His paws were shaking, Henry put the keys in the ignition, his blood boiling. With his mind spiraling, he pulled out of the mouse hole, exposing himself to the outside world.

“If you leave now, you can never come back!” His father cried, his mother softly sobbing into his father’s shirt as his 12 brothers and five sisters watched as well. He knew he wouldn’t ever return to his hole in the wall near the entrance to the cafeteria of the high school.

The wind was blowing and his heart was racing, but Henry only heard the distorted sound of his father’s threat. Leaving all of his fears behind, Henry set off, determined to prove his parents wrong. With his adrenaline now faltering, Henry began to reflect on what had just happened to him. He had only been sitting on his family sofa when his father burst through the door, yelling and accusing him of ruining the family name. Stuttering and confused, Henry asked his father what he had done wrong.

“Don’t act like you don’t know,” his father cried, “You need to get out!”

Disoriented and dazed, Henry didn’t ask his father any questions and began to scurry out of the door. Looking back on it, Henry questioned his own compliance and wondered why he had not begged to stay, but there was no time to dwell. Snapping back into reality, Henry focused on the road and continued his cruise.

As the drive stretched on, the space around him seemed less and less familiar. There were new surroundings every time he looked in a different direction. The light from his kitchen home was no longer illuminating the dark hallways around him. The eerie feeling that someone was watching him and his every move creeped in his mind. Just as he saw the dim light of some other civilization, the red toy Corvette started slowing down. The headlights flickered, and then the car rolled to a stop. The batteries had died. Now the black abyss that enclosed him drew out his biggest fears.

Maybe you should just turn back. They’d still let you back into your own house, his mind told him as he got out of the car, shutting the door. Shaking off any doubt left in him, he put one paw in front of the other and scampered to the light in the distance. Weird noises echoed around him, somehow coming from everywhere and nowhere at the same time.

Just keep going. Just keep going, he reminded himself. Slowly, he made it to the light in the distance, the hallway becoming more and more narrow as he got to the hole in the wall. There he saw the upturned soda can, a fire ablaze inside of it. He spotted three mice around the fire, but more lurked in the shadows past them. A few of the mice gave him odd looks as he was strolling into the alley. He felt self-conscious looking down at his outfit, clean paws and white fur and a crisp white shirt, as he saw that the other people around wore nothing but ripped and drab clothing.

“Hey sweetheart, whatcha’ doin’ in this part of town so late at night,” an ill clad gecko said, the words rolling off her long tongue as she gave him a quick up-down look.

“Just… wandering around like most mice my age do,” Henry said with a shaky voice, looking anywhere but the gecko’s eyes.

“Really? I didn’t know rich white mice wander in this “bad neighborhood” on a school night. That’s news to me,” she laughed as she spoke, sending a chill down Henry’s spine.

“Well… I-uh… I just-uh-”

“You just what kid? Ran away,” the gecko croaked out, joking as she spoke. But, as Henry’s face fell, her laughter stopped. “Holy crap kid, you really ran away?”

“I guess?” Henry said sheepishly.

“Oh sweetheart, why didn’t you just say so! Ratsy is a mama to any run-away child!” She scampered over to Henry who took a step back. She saw his discomfort and immediately retracted. “Where are my manners, my my. My name is Ratsy, my friends call me that. My job around here is to make everyone happy! You need a pick up, honey?”

Henry gasped, and whispered softly, “Um well, I am not really into… that kind of thing.”

“You don’t like enchiladas?” She questioned.

“Oh,” Henry exclaimed, “ I thought you meant-…well… I mean I guess I could eat some.”

As the pair began to walk back to Ratsy’s humble apartment, the light fading behind them, Henry felt a wave of relief wash over him.


Over the course of the next few months, the Henry series will be diving deeper into different problems that we have seen not only into our community, but in high schools all across the country. In the form of child-friendly short stories, Henry will give the reader a new perspective on topics concerning the youth today. (Each animal included in this story has been seen in Liberty at one point or another)