Moving to Freedom, .Org(on)

Itsy Bitsy Fritsy 8: The Refrigerator Gambit, Part Two

by Fritzi Webber
(go to the beginning)

I lay in wait, in the shadows of the cupboard.

When they were about six feet away, with the cat behind the man’s feet and circling around, I made my move.

I dashed across the floor towards the fridge. The movement caught the cat’s eye and she bolted through the man’s feet to get me. I knew terror at that moment: so close to that vicious beast, in the open, in her sights. I realized I had miscalculated. I wouldn’t make it across. But then, the man’s foot hooked the cat and he started to go down! It threw the cat off just enough for me to get away.

The cat reached the fridge and scrabbled at me with her paws as the man crashed down behind her. WHAM! The cat jumped and the floor shook.

It had worked! I had taken him down! But…

He wasn’t dead. He slowly rolled over and pushed himself up into a kneeling position, saying, “Damn it, cat. What’s wrong with you?”

Come on! I thought. That’s it? How was it that he didn’t crack right open?

The cat was back to pawing under the fridge. I stood well away from those pointy claws. (The man never trims them, of course.) “What is it? A spider?” the man asked. He crouched by the cat. “Creepy little bastards.”

He stood up and opened a nearby closet door. I heard some rattling sounds, and suddenly a big piece of wood came sliding fast under the fridge. The yard stick! I barely managed to hurtle it on the first pass, and then scrambled to the back wall as the man frantically swept it from side to side, trying to flush me out towards the cat, as he has done with so many of my sisters and brothers before. Thank Arachne no one else was hiding out in there. That wouldn’t have gone over well with the board. (The board! I started thinking about damage control…)

He pulled the stick out. “We’ll get him, Kitty. We’re going to take care of this spider problem. You just keep watching.” And the cat did. I was trapped. The man got the cat’s dish and food from the cupboard and put the bowl down right next to the fridge. The cat noisily ate its food, dropping little pieces and sucking them back up. Disgusting. I detest that thing.

The man got a flashlight and looked under the fridge, but I stayed out of sight. The yard stick made another appearance. He even started to move the appliance, but gave up after struggling with it for a few moments, telling the cat he had better get ready for work and would “deal with the spiders” later. He directed the cat to stand guard while he was gone.

And she did, for a surprisingly long time. Eventually, with the man out the door to work and the cat finally giving up her post, I ventured out from the fridge. It was still dark in the house.

I hadn’t seen anyone about, and wondered if the whole incident had gone unnoticed. I had been so confident of success that I wasn’t concerned about the hysteria and condemnation accompanying another failed attempt, but now I felt relief at the free pass.

And then I felt a tap on my carapace and nearly emptied my spinneret.

It was Konrad.

Awkward.

Hey, Kon,” I said. “I was just coming back for you.” I had actually forgotten all about him. “Sorry. That, uh, thing took longer—”

Yeah, I saw the whole thing,” he said.

That was careless of me. I thought I had done a better job with the knots. I made eight-eyes at him and said, innocently, “You mean how he fell? I saw that, too. His own cat nearly did him in. Maybe he’ll get rid of the thing now, and—”

I saw what you did. I’m not stupid.”

Well, maybe not that stupid,” I said. “But you did let me tie you up. How do you suppose that’s going to look for you?”

And of course, that was his predicament. He had screwed up the assignment. He hadn’t run off to tell on me yet, so I pressed on. “Hey, it’s okay. Nobody else is around. We don’t have to tell anyone.”

Are you serious? We have to warn the others. You heard what he said.”

Bah,” I said. “He won’t do anything. He’ll probably forget about it as long as we stay out of site. And even if he does try something, we’ll have time to evacuate.”

I don’t know…”

We’re already on alert. We’re already in a position to handle the threat. There’s no need to get both of us in trouble.”

I guess that’s true.”

I had just needed to give him a reason to go along. And now another one: “Hey, maybe once things settle down, we can still… you know.”

No, I don’t know. You must really think I’m an idiot.”

Oh, Konrad,” I said, reaching for one of his palps, but he stepped back.

I don’t like this, Fritzi. You’ve made things worse. You may be right, that we’re prepared enough as it is. That’s the only reason I’m going to keep quiet. For now.

Fine,” I said. And with the danger past, pride in my accomplishment returned. “But, hey! How about it? That was pretty awesome, huh? I took the man down. The Man. Let’s hear it for that!” I was glad now that Konrad had witnessed it. When I finally finished off the man, the story could be told and I’d be a legend.

But he just shook his head and said, “What did you think you were going to accomplish with your little stunt? Do you ever think about anyone other than yourself?”

His response surprised me. I had expected he would acknowledge the awesomeness, even if he had other objections. I had to think about his reaction. I mean, clearly I had expected to take the man down, but how was that so selfish? I didn’t know what to say, and he gave me an “I thought so” nod. He never said another word until Ludwik showed up to take his turn watching me.

It’s really bothering me, still. I keep replaying our conversation. Of course I think of other people. I’m trying to kill the man for everyone’s sake, aren’t I?

(Well, I think this is enough for now. I might post more later tonight…)