Cyrus’s Underground Maze.

As Lucky walked behind Cyrus, she noticed the two animals, a squirrel and a badger, followed closely behind her. She felt tensed as the two eyed her throughout the long walk. The four of them walked for what seemed to be an hour and Lucky very much regretted her decision to leave without a word to Felix. It was a long way from home now.

“Doing okay?” Cyrus asked.

“Fine,” Lucky lied. “I was just wondering how much longer we have to walk…”

“We’re almost there!” The squirrel behind her snarled.

They walked along dirt patches (Lucky whined to herself about how the dirt would get into her fur) and through the tallest grass Lucky had ever seen. However, she started to second guess her decision, but before she could protest, Cyrus stopped ahead of her. She almost ran into him because he halted so abruptly.

“It’s here!” Cyrus said.

Lucky peeked from behind Cyrus and noticed a decent-sized hole in the ground beside two moss-covered logs. The air felt thick and suffocating to Lucky. But that wasn’t all, there seemed to be a rancid odor blanketing the area.

“You first me lady,” Cyrus said, gesturing toward the hole. There was a glint in his eyes and a small smirk that eased Lucky, so she crawled into the hole first.

Half a minute later, Cyrus prepared himself to venture down, but some rustling from some tall grass forced him to reconsider. He stared at the grass that moved just a moment ago, turned toward the two animals that followed behind Lucky and said, “Pablo, Santa. Ya wanna check that out?”

The two creatures made no argument and went to go investigate. Cyrus, feeling much safer now, beamed and hurried into the hole.

Lucky was shocked by how spacious it was underground. It would seem various animals have made it into their own living space. There were tons of tunnels around Lucky and when she asked one chipmunk who was carrying nuts to take home (he seemed a little irritated Lucky had interrupted him) he had told her that the tunnels all lead to different parts of the underground maze.

“Mister Cyrus wanted a base of operations where he could not be seen. This underground maze is the perfect place he thinks,” the chipmunk said before scurrying off.

Seconds later, Cyrus came crawling from the pathway Lucky previously used. With a victorious expression, he asked Lucky, “what ya think?”

“It’s bigger than I thought it would be. I didn’t expect my whole body to have so much room down here,” she said.

“Tha’ is because years wen’ into makin’ t’is place livable… See, me prefer the undergroun’ as it’s easier to plan out and have some control.”

“You have no control above ground?” Lucky asked.

“Ehhh somewhat… De humans are de ‘rue rulers of the land no matter what the animals ‘ells ya. At leas’ down here, I call de shots.”

There was truth to his words, Lucky had thought. She remembered the terrible people that kicked her out of Amelia’s house only a couple of days back and Felix being locked up in a cage thanks to those evil people. It didn’t matter what sort animals or land Avery had, if a human somehow intervened, his little game would be over swiftly.

“Me show ya ‘round?” Cyrus asked curiously.

“Oh… uh, sure.”

Cyrus showed Lucky around the big area they were in. The makeshift beds made from old sponges against the walls, the improvised jungle gym for the tiny critters made from soup cans and junk humans have long since thrown away. Everything looked so cluttered and yet, the animals around Lucky seemed to be enjoying themselves.

“In here,” Cyrus said, pointing at a tunnel heading upward. “T’is is where me home is.”

He climbed into the hole and dashed in, Lucky reluctantly followed him as she wondered when it would be time for her to go back to Felix and Almond.

It took a lot longer than the first tunnel, but Lucky had finally made it to Cyrus’s place. It was a little neater, but still had rotten food sprinkled throughout. Unlike the critters down below, Cyrus had small pieces of torn bedsheets he made into his own bed. He also had the better-looking food lying next to its well. In one corner sat a miniature sack of shiny marbles that Lucky could not take her eyes off until Cyrus called for her attention.

“So?” Cyrus said, looking downward. “It would really mean a lot, if ya stay her’.”

“I…” Lucky hesitated, thinking up her next words. “Maybe I should have some time to think it over. It’s nothing against you or anything! I mean, I really like you–”

“Then why wai’?” Cyrus interrupted. “Surely ya can’ be thinkin’ ‘bout that mongrel. See, from de moment me saw ya, me knew it was ‘ound to be. Come! Look at t’is.”

Cyrus dashed toward his sack, pulled out a gleaming red marble and said, “doesn’ t’is look beautiful? I be’ ya wan’.” He dangled it in front of her eyes hoping that she would reconsider.

“My friends will definitely want them. I don’t have any interest in them to be honest, but making them happy will make me happy,” Lucky said gloomily.

“Ah, t’is why I ‘hink so highly of ya. Ya not blinded by such ‘hings like a little marbl’. You have priorities! But le’ me tell ya, marbl’s will get ya where ya need ta be. You, me, we can’t leave t’is place righ’ now.”

“You don’t want to live here anymore? But I thought it was more convenient for you?” Lucky asked inquiringly.

“Circumstances are changin’ soon,” Cyrus said, watching the dirt walls. Lucky was growing eager to hear the rest of what he had to say so she asked, “what’s going on? What circumstances?” Still, he was deep in thought.

“Cyrus!” Lucky called.

“Me have trouble comin’ me way and me don’ ‘hink my posse will be able to ‘andle it.”

Once he uttered those last few words, two geese came stumbling from the tunnel both Lucky and Cyrus had used. Before Lucky had the chance to be surprised, a familiar monkey had arrived as well with a grin of satisfaction.

“O-kee-kee, On the orders of Master Avery,” George shouted. “You will be coming with his Cyrus, eekeekee.”