It was a usual day in my 8 year old life. One sandwich-making experiment gone horribly wrong, one dark purple bruise rising on my shoulder from one attempt at shotgun target shooting with my dad, and one hamster gone missing.
Cinnamon was up to her usual escape artist tricks. No stack of encyclopedias could hold her back. Our home was her playground, and she would have at it, by Jove.
I imagined her pulling a ragged bandana up over her whiskers and plopping a pirate hat down atop her tiny head. Stuffing her cheeks full of sunflower seeds for her perilous journey.
She'd never survive out there! It had only been a short month or two since her predecessor had met his bitter end.
I had heard him scuffling in the wall moments before being called to dinner. Reluctantly I went, promising myself I'd find a way to get him out of there after we ate.
Probably, I would have succeeded and Mercutio would have been returned to his cozy home, except that it was a deliciously warm summer night, and the kitchen window was open.
Halfway through our meal, a biggish black rat snake came slinking in through that window.
Dad was working late.
Mom, knowing me all too well, immediately (as she climbed onto her chair) forbade me to go try to catch it with my hands.
My 4 year old little brother, Weezle, stared with wide blue eyes as the snake made it's way with a slow sort of ease down the wall, under the table, and then disappeared into the hallway.
I sat with crossed arms, annoyed.
When she was sure it was a good distance away, Mom got down from her chair and sat.
"Just uh... finish your dinner, kids. Your dad will handle that thing when he gets home."
As antsy as I was to go and try to trap the snake and add it to my menagerie, I must have been hungry enough to decide it could wait.
We sat perhaps 7 more minutes before we were shocked to see the snake's villain-y form moving back towards the kitchen and us.
Under the table, it slithered, back up the wall, and out the window. Back into the night. And with it, I realized (as I noted a new bulge round it's middle), Mercutio.
That thing just came in, ate my hamster, and left! The nerve!
Once I had sufficiently grieved, Mom found me a replacement hamster. Cinnamon.
And now Cinnamon was in the wall! I just knew it! It was up to me to retrieve her. Even if I was supposed to be asleep half an hour ago.
I plowed into my closet with determination, despite how terrified I was of the farthest back reaches of it. I was positive that giant cretinous beasties lived back there. That or Narnia. Either one.
Until now I hadn't had the courage to find out. But my poor little honey colored fluff ball was back there all by herself!
I burrowed through old coats and suitcases, toys long forgotten and clothes I'd hoped were lost. I found my microscope and gleefully pushed it back towards the front for future re-discovering.
At last I'd reached it. The back of the closet. Perfectly dark and perfectly still.
Perfectly still... except for a faint scuffling. Was it in the wall? I wasn't exactly certain where it was coming from. I grabbed the edge of something and pulled. With the tiniest "ping", the wood paneling of the wall came undone.
I gasped with joy! The wall was detachable! I carefully, ever so quietly, tugged around each tack until the whole wall came free.
There I sat, holding the paneling in my hands, nervous to peer around it. Could it be? Had I truly found Narnia? Why hadn't I done this sooner? Anything could be on the other side of that wall!
I shuffled the paneling over to the side and looked up.
An old electric blanket, a soccer ball, legos, and ... Oooooh! Jackpot! I was in my brother's closet! My brother's closet was connected to my closet!
There was only one thing to do! I had to sneak under my brother's bed and make monster noises.
This was a master evil plan if ever there was one.
Without a sound I crawled across the floor and slid under the bed.
I counted to three, and... "RRRAAAAAWWWWRRRRR! I'MA EATCHOO!"
Weezle screeched and dove under his covers.
Trying to contain my laughter, I readied myself to freak him out even more... but then there was something scampering up my arm. Oh it tickled!
I rolled out from under Weezle's bed in a fit of giggles just in time for the lights to click on - showcasing a tired and disheveled mom and dad.
"What are you doing up?!" Dad glared.
"I found my hamster!" I grinned, holding Cinnamon up proudly for all the world to see.
"I think you were scaring your brother." Mom said with narrowed eyes.
"Oh Mom!" Weezle chirped, "It's ok! Now if I hear something scary in my room at night, I will always know it is just my stupid sister!"
So there you go, that is the story of how one hamster went missing and was found again. And how my little brother quit being afraid of things that go bump in the night.