All was still, save the creaky rotation of a dusty ceiling fan churning stale air again and again onto the floor. The fire in the kitchen had burned out, leaving only smouldering logs, which gave forth long chains of smoke continually meandering through the air, into the room and going out through the half-closed window.

He paused and listened. Nothing.

The owner, fortunately, had decided to sleep early that night.

Somewhere nearby, drops of water dripped from the hole in the roof, onto the coir mat. It would only be minutes before he would emerge out of his mission successfully. He had a vague idea where the thing he was seeking might be. He twitched nervously; holding his breath, he slowly inched his way into the room...into the dark. Sniffing the musty air silently, he creeped into a corner of the room...it would be safe there.

A sudden sound made him retreat into the shadows. The figure on the bed turned over, muttering something. After a while it got up and reached for the water jug. He heard the sound of water splashing into a tumbler, and a satisfied sigh produced by the owner's respiratory system after it drained the cup. He waited till all was still again.

He knew he had to make a fast move... his instincts, trained by dozens of such similarly crucial encounters, told him of something to watch out for; and he knew better to ignore it. His only fear had been the watchman, or rather, a fat bloke with a stick who kept watch over the two-roomed house, and often slept through his job. Now that he could hear what he thought might have been the snore of the watcher, he was relaxed. Working calmly and quietly, he made his way to the other room. He could sense the object nearby. he focussed his mind on it...gripping his senses, he made his way to what he thought was the box in which the owner kept it. He grew wxcited.. it was somewhere very close! He thought to himself..."Yeah, it's somewhere here... I can get it now...And- wait a minute, what's that? Oh my--"


The watchman threw his stick to the ground and flung the dead rat out.

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