Sam the rat had never felt more big and adult. Here she was, traipsing about town all on her own, just like a grownup, and at this time of evening too! Of course, she wasn’t supposed to. Miss Blatz, her adopted mother, didn’t want her going anywhere alone, and so she was always accompanied either by herself or her trusted friend Sadie Lynn as a chaperone when they went out. And that was just during the day; currently, it was past Sam’s bedtime. She had snuck out after curfew, fed up with being contained by such an early hour. At first she scampered through the streets at random, simply enjoying the fact that she was outside when she wasn’t supposed to be, but when it began to rain she decided that she’d better find a destination, and fast. She ducked into the next door that she passed, and found herself in a diner. It sported the stereotypical checkered floor, retro red-cushioned stools, and even an old-fashioned jukebox that was playing some 50s free jazz. She spotted posters advertising ice creams and sodas, and, pleased that she had made such a good choice in finding shelter, scurried up to the diner and hopped on to one of the stools.
“What’ll it be?” asked the human behind the counter, and Sam realized that she could order anything she wanted to - no need to ask Miss Blatz for permission!
“The biggest ice cream sundae you’ve got!” she squeaked.
She got exactly that, but after a few heaping spoonfuls, she couldn’t finish it. Only then did it dawn on her that she couldn’t pay for it either, as she hadn’t taken any money with her when she’d snuck out of the house. The thought of running away didn’t occur to her, as Miss Blatz had raised her much better than that, and so she sat there fretting in her seat, trying to think of a way to fix this.
“Could you use any dishwashers?” she asked the man behind the counter. “I have small paws, but I can work fast with them!"
“Excuse me,” said a small dog sitting a few stools to her right. “I don’t mean to be rude, but do you need help with your bill?”
“Oh! Yes!” squeaked Sam, ducking her head down in embarrassment. After the dog had passed some money to the man behind the counter, Sam asked, “Uh, hey, so, you’re wearing some Mister Migs stuff, I notice. I work there, I could maybe see about getting you a discount. You know, to pay you back.”
The dog was indeed wearing a MigDiva, a fancier and more feminine version of the Migrubbie, and she had taken her money out from a Migrubbie People Pouch she was using as a purse. She was a strawberry blonde mixed-breed, probably with some Chihuahua in her by the look of things.
“You work at Mister Migs? Do you happen to know Sadie Lynn? She’s my housemate, and a regular customer there.”
“I do! I do! She’s best friends with my mom, Miss Blatz!”
“Oh! You must be Sam!” the dog exclaimed. “Sadie Lynn told me about both of you! I’m MiMee, by the way.”
She extended a paw, and Sam shook it with vigor, bouncing up and down. She was surprised to find that despite her dainty way of offering it, MiMee had a strong handshake of her own. The two of them began to chat, and before they knew it, it was dark outside, the rain was coming down harder than ever, and Sam’s sundae had melted into a puddle of sticky goop.
“Closing time, ladies,” said the human behind the counter, and the pair realized that they were the only two customers left in the entire diner.
“Um, can I stay?” asked Sam. “See, uh, I don’t have a ride home, and when you’re as small as me, a flooded gutter can be pretty bad…”
“May I stay with her?” MiMee added. “I was planning to walk home as well, but it’s turning into a real storm out there.”
Since animals were by far more trustworthy than humans, and the cash register required thumbs to open, the man allowed it, then left. About five minutes later, the power went out, and the two pets were suddenly drowned in complete darkness.
END OF PART ONE
Story and illustration by Mary Grace Mauney
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