Chapters One and Two from Harri & Luna by Alexander Davidoff
“Harri what are you doing, staring at that house for?” Luna asked with quite some annoyance.
“Oh, well I just want to know what's in there. I want to see what makes it so scary,” Harri replied in a voice mixed with both bravery and fear.
“But Harri, I don't want you to do anything stupid such as going there, you know how many have never come back, and you know all the horrible stories that we have heard from those who have.”
Luna now was more scared at this moment than ever before. She felt that her Harri was going to go into that horrid place, and she'd have to go with him. What choice would she have? Sit and wait for him and not know what was happening was an unbearable thought. Oh no! I do have to go with him, and then what!, she thought, shaking so much that she dropped her little cup of tea.
As mice go, Harri was not an ordinary mouse and everyone knew that, for bravery was not a common trait in mice. Harri was easily the bravest of all and had showed it on more than one occasion. He was no bigger than an average mouse, yet that never stopped him. Harri knew that he was special among mice, even from birth, for he was born in a big, white, very well lit room. From the beginning he was given special food by humans and never had to forge for scraps. Heck, they even taught him to read by showing him big blocks of wood with letters printed on them in bright and beautiful colours. Every time he picked one correctly, he would get a reward, and it was easy for him.
True, this life for a mouse was easier than the average one. He had heard how difficult it was to find food at times and even dangerous, especially when there would be a cat around who still believed in behaving like a cat and chase mice. So even though things were rather pleasant and clean, the occasional needle wasn't so bad, yet with plenty to eat Harri still dreamed of living without the bars in front of him.
Luna on the other hand had a different story behind her. She was a rather rare little mouse. She was incredibly pretty to Harri and other mice, and humans thought of her as 'cute'. Her tail and ears were completely black, yet the coat she had was white as snow, with eyes piercing with colour. She was always chased around, the boys all wanted to be with her and that wasn't so bad, but the humans constantly wanted to catch her. Unlike Harri, she never remembered where she came from and never knew why she was so special to humans.
As fate would bring things together, so it brought Harri and Luna together one afternoon. Harri had been on his own for quite a while now since running away from that special place. He had learned how to find food, how to outsmart cats and easily outsmart the traps that humans put out. By this time he had developed quite a reputation, saving a number of mice from different traps and from furious stupid cats.
On this one afternoon his eyes were totally captivated by the sight of such a beautiful little mouse caught in a silly trap. He thought to show off a little how smart he was before freeing her but decided against such foolish action. Instead he became her knight in shining armour and freed her from the trap, and in turn caught her pretty little heart for always. Together they had been on many an adventure, still not knowing why humans wanted them both so much, but this would prove to be their greatest test of courage and trust in each other. Lightning and thunder made the house of horrors even more horrifying.
It was a large house with a number of windows broken. The walls from the outside looked like the skin of some rotten fruit, peeling in spots, and in others falling off.
Lights could be seen in some rooms on occasion. The grass around it was not cut but grew unevenly in patches, no pretty flowers anywhere here. This was a house that looked as if it were abandoned, ready to give up all its life and fall down, except for the humans who came and went at all hours of the night.
This house was not an inviting sight in daylight, let alone on such a stormy night. There was no cat or dog to be seen. There were no traps around the walls waiting for unsuspecting victims. There were many rumours surrounding this scary sight, like a fence ready to pounce on any foolish creature who ventured near. Yet Luna knew that to Harri it was a magnet. To Harri it was a puzzle that needed solving and a challenge needing to be answered.
Tonight was going to be the night that Harri would risk everything and go into that house. Firstly because he was truly brave and wanted to know what was going on there, warning all other mice and creatures who would listen, to stay away. But that was not the only reason Harri was going to take such a risk. He believed that inside that house for some reason lie the answer to Luna's past and the key to unlock all her questions. To Harri, Luna was all he cared for and he always wanted to help her to be happy. The choices were clear and the reasons for such actions decided on. Now it was time to do all that was needed. Running as fast as they could Harri and Luna were getting closer to the house when a loud cry, well it sounded like a cat's cry, stopped them both dead silent. Harri thought twice about taking Luna on such a foolhardy adventure, but finally conceded when Luna expressed how much she was afraid to wait alone, regardless of what lay ahead. In some ways Harri was more afraid of what they might find out about Luna's past. Could it be something frightening? Could this knowledge they were seeking threaten them, their lives together? Yet, how can anything be so frightening in the past, or present for that matter, in the life of someone as lovely and sweet as Luna, thought Harri.
Ever since meeting Luna in that trap his life had changed completely. Before her Harri would move around all the time, constantly looking for something more thrilling than the last adventure. He had astonished many by understanding what humans would be saying to each other when chasing him or other rodents. But especially he had surprised many with his courage in risking even his own life to save others from traps and other disasters. Since meeting Luna he had become less a show off, calmer within himself. Now Harri was inclined to enjoy sunny days running in fields with his sweetheart, chasing little beetles for fun and snuggling in from the rain.
“What am I doing bringing you into such danger!” He said out loud in anger, anger at himself.
“You didn't bring me, my sweet, I came myself,” replied Luna. Realising that he had let out his thoughts out loud, Harri composed himself not wanting to get into another argument with Luna, at least not here and now. Luna was headstrong and would never take a backward step to him and that he always admired.
“Shhhh! Now is not the time, Luna,” quietly he said. “That was a cry of pain, not a cry of anger,” Harri whispered almost in total fear himself.
“Pain? Harri what do you mean, I though that creature was ready to pounce on us.” Luna was trying to hide her own fear, though with little success.
“If that cat was close to us and wanted to attack, you'd feel his breath on you, but no he was crying out in pain and fear. Luna, there is something very wrong in that house.” Harri was trying to find a way to turn her back, but didn't know how.
“Harri, even if I wanted to go back, which I don't by the way, you know that I couldn't not now, not so far up into the yard,” she was trying to make Harri understand that they must do this together, without guilt for each other, “and come now Harri, you know I must seek out the answers, or how do I continue to grow with you when I am not even sure of who I am?”
“O.K., then be very, very careful and only come behind me, please Luna listen to me at least in this. I can feel that this place has had bad things happening there.”
Together they slowly moved on towards the house, with lightning smashing all around and the moon fighting to made its presence felt. Fear surrounding them, their trust and friendship shielded them against all, until now.
Harri was right this was a house that every animal should fear. This was not a place for any creature faint of heart or spirit. Pain bathed its walls, and tears were weaving from room to room, floor to floor.
“What's up with you, David?” A stern voice barked.
“Nothing, nothing Dr. Wilder, nothing at all.” replied the young man in a white coat.
David Higgins was a young research assistant who had been told at the university that his involvement in this study would launch his career in Veterinary Science and allow him to do all that he ever wanted as a young man. But over several months, David had begun to doubt his mentor, Dr. Wilder, and even his motives. David started to see more and more pain in the eyes of his subjects. He also was starting to ask questions from where many of these creatures came from, and disappeared to. At the beginning his job was to check in all the animals as they were brought in, to measure, weigh and examine the different animals for any special abilities. As time went by he was being asked to train these animals for a time, mark them with identifying labels and pass them on.
David's greatest problem had become his attachment to these animals and his natural love of all creatures. He now found himself in the middle of something that was frightening to him. Many a time he had asked Dr. Wilder why he could not go to the upper floor, with only a brisk 'no' for a reply, without any explanation. Sometimes though, David would swear that he heard crying from above, coming from the third floor, but would dismiss as his imagination. After all how could animals cry!
“O.K., now David, we will have a new shipment of animals coming tonight, you know what to do, don't you?” sternly inquired Dr. Wilder.
Dr. Wilder was a mysterious man with the eyes of a snake and the voice of the devil, able to tear down the most courageous of hearts. This man did not stand tall but had a mighty chilly presence. He had quite a number of lovely formal papers framed on the wall of his office, but don't look too closely at them. Doctor Wallace Wilder was a 'great' scientist completely absorbed by his work who never had the time for a wife or children. He came here with a singular goal in mind, though David had no idea what that goal was, and an air of nasty evil. Often he was seen consumed with some thought even while he was taking to you. David many a time felt as if Dr. Wilder's eyes were tearing him apart during any given conversation. His eyes were not cold or lifeless, rather the complete opposite, as if they were separate balls of evil fire, moving, rotating, devouring everyone in their path.
Dr. Wilder was here at this house on a mission and no one had better get in his way. “Well David, did you hear me?” Now Dr. Wilder sounded very annoyed.
“Yes Dr. Wilder, l'll take care of everything as always. Do I prepare all the animals for further classification, Doctor?” David asked in the hope that maybe he could prolong these creatures' time.
David saw, or at least he thought that he did, a grin come over Wilder's face as he slowly made his way up the stairs. Tonight, David decided was the night when he must find out what was going on here, and especially upstairs. Dr. Wilder will be leaving as usual about eleven, and then David knew he must try and find the courage to go up those stairs.
“How did you know, Harri, that there was a hole here in the window?” Luna was surprised at the cunning of her mate and friend.
“It has been my experience with old houses that usually a window at the ground level would be damaged in some way,” replied Harri sounding very confident.
“Oh so it was just luck then, ah?” laughed Luna uneasily.
“Shhh.. We're inside now and we don't know what's going on here, or what's waiting for us in the dark,” Harri tried as hard as he could to be brave and sound confident, but the hair on his back was standing at attention in fear. Stopping to sniff out any signs of immediate danger, to remind his senses of all that he had learned in the past, he couldn't help his mind wondering over questions asked many times, even by others, let alone himself. Why was he not like other mice? What made him able to learn so many human skills? How did Luna become so special that humans chased after her, even had rewards offered for her return, although he never told her that part so as not to frighten her even more. And why was a doctor of some kind looking for Luna everywhere, with his name on the posters? But this was not the time for wanderings of the mind. Be very careful! Be very aware of everything that surrounds you! Most of all, be alert! Though Harri didn't sense anything immediate he did feel that they were in a wicked place, and now there was no turning back. Slowly they moved along the floor, Luna behind just a step. “Stop!” Harri whispered startled. “I smell someone breathing really close to us in the dark...
“I can hear that too Harri, and it sounds big to me, though not a threat to us, rather it is someone in pain, lots of pain,” Luna wasn't trying to be too quiet but she felt so sorry for the pain of whatever creature that was.
“Come closer you two, ugh... ugh.., I won't hurt you. I need to talk to you,” came a deep voice filled with such agony and fear.
“Who are you? What are you?” demanded Harri.
“I can't see you, I can sense that you are small and voices come close to the floor, so you must be small. But what are you doing here? Are you hiding too?” Again the whisper was slow and each word seemed to come with such difficulty.
“I said, who are you and what kind of animal are you?” Sternly demanded Harri again.
“Don't be afraid of us,” gently whispered Luna, moving now forward, ahead of Harri, towards the shadows from where she heard the sound come from.
“Stop Luna stop! What are you doing, come back here now, please,” in panic Harri raced forward. But Luna wouldn't listen and moved forward without fear, she didn't even stop when she saw the big black cat lying on the floor. He was huge, bigger than most she had ever seen.
“Oh, little mice come to my rescue,” he grinned, “but don't you worry, I am not going to hurt you at all, I promise. My name is Stanley, and unfortunately I can't get up to make formal introductions.”
Harri got in front of Luna, pushing her behind him a little roughly. “O.K. Stanley,” rather sarcastically pronouncing the big cat's name, “what are you up to here then?”
“What is you name, brave little one, I heard that your partner there is called Luna. Such a pretty name for a rather pretty mouse, as mice go that is. But I didn't catch your name? continued Stanley the cat.
“I am Harri, and you didn't answer any of my questions,” Harri's words flew out in anger and a readiness to fight even a cat this big.
“A pleasure to meet you Harri, under better circumstances it would be a pleasure I am sure. You are different from most mice that I have met...”
“Enough with the manners and this garbage,” interrupted Harri, “you still do not bother answering me.”
“An excitable little fellow, aren't you. Well then to your questions. I am Stanley and I am,” a rather long silent pause, peppered only with sounds of pain, “or rather I was a house cat. That means that I had a good home and a family to look after me. They fed me very well indeed from a crystal bowl – and that means a shiny glass cup type,” Stanley said in a rather uppity voice and tone.
“Listen, I know what 'crystal' means, you snobbish fur ball. I also know that there are different types of crystal and that many humans call glass, ordinary glass, crystal,” angrily snapped Harri.
“Oh you are a truly different little rodent aren't you? To continue, yes the food was good. Where I slept was soft and warm, and I only would chase a mouse for exercise – oops! I am sorry about that, my dears!”
As Stanley went on explaining his past habitat and showed off his manners, Harri wondered what the heck he was doing down here and what was wrong with him.
“O.K. O.K., Stanley, we can see that you are no ordinary alley cat, and that you have breeding and all that. But the question is what are you doing here, and why? Also what is wrong with you?” Trying not to sound impatient, Harri needed to know more of what was important.
“I was getting to that before the interruption, my dear fellow. There is nothing wrong with me, as me that is, except this horrible pain that I bear now. As to how I got here, well it's quite simple, I was kidnapped, or cat-napped from my lovely home and brought to this horrid place.” Looking around himself Stanley for the first time let his airs down and showed complete fear.
“This is not a nice place at all, and I advise you both to get away as fast as you can. You see I can't do that myself.” Now to their horror both Harri and Luna saw why Stanley was in such pain. Luna could not help but cry with sorrow for this big cat and for a moment wanted to turn and run, run as fast as she could to block such horror out of her mind.
“How could anyone, even a human, do such a thing to any animal, especially to a handsome one as you?” Luna tried to console Stanley.
“That's truly wonderful of you to say, little Luna, and I thank you, and my ego thanks you. But I tell you again, leave this horrible place as fast as you can. Leave now!” Stanley was becoming agitated now with fear.
“Calm down, Stanley,” firmly whispered Harri, “now tell me how you got down here. Where are we right now? How do we get up into the house from here? Are you hungry? Do you need anything, maybe something that we could do for you? Most of all tell me all that you know about what goes on here.” This last request Harri uttered very quietly motioning towards Luna with his eyes so that Stanley would understand that he didn't want her to hear any part of this last request. Stanley understood what Harri motioned and asked if Luna would mind getting a piece of bread near the steps. Luna quietly moved towards the steps and quickly picked up the bread, as she turned around she could see that Stanley and Harri were talking, but she could not hear anything.
“What were you and Stanley talking about, Harri?” Luna asked as they were slowly making their way up the stairs towards the light under the door.
“Oh nothing, you know what he is like, he just likes to go on about himself, that's all.” sheepishly replied Harri, not turning around to look at her.
“That's all then, ah...,” Luna knew that Stanley had something bad or frightening to tell and that Harri was trying again to protect her. “When will you learn,” she uttered quietly with a smile. Yes, when would he learn that she didn't really need to be overprotected as much as he did, that she was stronger than he ever thought?
Harri didn't hear Luna's words and was about to ask her what she said when the door opened, and they both froze in complete panic bathed by the yellow sun hanging from the ceiling of the room above. A tall rather handsome man stood peering into the darkness. David Higgins spent much of his time here at this house. It was his job to look after the animals, and that meant almost a twenty-four hour day. He had a large room on the main floor, which was comfortable, with many of his treasured possessions. But his early excitement in this position had now waned to daily toil. True, he had tried on several occasions to leave, but Dr. Wilder had made it rather clear that without his funds as a grant David would not be able to finish his final year of study at the university and gain his degree. Knowing that his parents had little money and could not help him in any way, David continued here as best he could.
David too was different from most others in that he truly felt for all animals, and at times he even thought that he could understand them. But how could that be? How could a human understand animals? Even the mere thought that animals communicate was ludicrous to most, and especially to Dr. Wilder.
“David, dear young David, please don't show such childish behaviour as to believe that any of these animals can communicate with each other,” laughingly Dr. Wilder one day chided David.
“At best an animal can respond to repetitious commands and stimuli such as a reward and therefore be trained. No animal could 'speak', not to one another and especially no to a higher form of being such as a man. My dear boy, only in fantasy and Hollywood does this happen. We 'MAN' are the highest form of being, with intelligence for communication and therefore rule above all else,” continued Dr. Wilder in his condescending voice. “Dear boy, you must throw all these fantastic notions out of your head if you wish to become my protege. You have great potential in your work and an ability to handle all these creatures. But most of all you have an opportunity to observe the work of a truly great man in this field of research. I will change the way we look at all life through my work, where even questions of God will be raised. I shall unearth the true identity of power! And you, David, can be there to witness all with your own eyes. Soon you shall be joining me in the upstairs work rooms, but first you must shake off these foolish notions.”
The sheer memory of this lecture by his mentor was so unpleasant that David would have to pick up one of his favourite books on art and glance through its pages. David still never gave up believing that animals were able to feel and communicate, true maybe not with humans, but with each other. No matter how many times Dr. Wilder would chastise and lecture him, this love within never changed. “So Harry, what is it that you heard down there?” asked David of a beautiful rabbit that he was holding in his hands at the top of the stairs.
“How did he know your name!?” squeaked out Luna quietly.
“It's not me he's talking to, at least it can't be me,” Harri uttered slowly.
Both Harri and Luna were in a powerful grip of fear and could not move for a second or so. They thought everything would be ending right here and now, but this human didn't look down onto the steps, he just stood at the top and stared into the darkness. “Come on, come on Luna, run as fast as you can into that room and hide,” Harri pushed Luna forward even before he finished the sentence. “This is our chance now run, run as fast as you can there, there Luna behind that large thing against the wall, hurry Luna please,” Harri's voice was in a panic somewhat, more concerned that Luna was safe first.
“Calm down, Harri, calm down now, he didn't see us, please calm down.” Luna consoled her Harri.
Harri was so very, very frightened, not for himself but for Luna. He could not bear the thought that she might be caught again. It took such a long time for Harri to help Luna get over her past, a past she couldn't remember – or didn't want to – but still a past that tormented her, driven her nightmares to a frightening reality. Why did I let her talk me into having her come along, he couldn't stop himself from thinking. If anything happened to his Luna he knew he couldn't live with himself.
“Harri,” whispered Luna peeping from around a huge china cabinet, “Harri, did you think that rabbit the human was holding actually saw us? I think he even winked at me!”
“Come on Luna, you must be imagining that, he wouldn't wink at you,” jealously snapped Harri.
“Harri,” continued Luna without paying any attention to the annoyance in his voice, “but did that human actually call that rabbit by your name?”
“Yes, yes come to think of it he did. I must admit that I thought we were done for at that moment, but I knew we must take any and all opportunity and run for it,” proudly responded Harri.
“Oh Harri, you do put it on so when you get scared. I know you were more scared for me than yourself, but you don't have to be my darling, truly you don't,” sweetly Luna cupped Harri's face and kissed it.
Just then all thoughts of danger and fear disappeared in Harri. This was only what he wanted in life now, just Luna and Harri happy together. No adventures or flights of fancy. Together, forgetting the past and looking only at the future. Yet he knew that the past couldn't be forgotten and might even be the true demon to battle. As his mind wondered an unfamiliar voice whispered. “Hello little visitors, how are you?” It was Harry the rabbit sitting on the large table, looking straight at them, or at least in their direction. “Don't be shy now, I won't let anyone know you are here. Anyhow, humans can't really hear us, although this human is much better than most and very much better than others here in this house,” excitedly the rabbit continued.
“Harry, did you say something?” rather surprised David asked, then corrected himself, “of course you didn't, how silly of me, but you do seem rather excited now my friend.”
After closing the door to the basement, feeling self-assured that it must have been his imagination after all, or maybe the inclement weather outside, David decided to make a light snack for himself and his furry friend Harry the rabbit. He put the rabbit on the very large wooden table in the middle of the kitchen and proceeded to the refrigerator to pick the ingredients of their snack.
Like most rooms in the house, the kitchen was large with old furniture but still in rather good condition, and very comforting. The fridge was very well stocked, and David took several minutes standing there to decide what the sandwich would contain in its covers. David chose some baby carrots and lettuce leaf for his friend and confidant. “After all, strong young men such as we need our nourishment, ah Harry,” smiled David as he put all these things on the table, petting the rabbits long ears. “But we must mind our manners and use a plate. Now don't trouble yourself, my friend, I'll get one for you and myself,” good-heartedly joked David as he walked towards the huge china cabinet at the other end of the kitchen. The two intruders once again shook with fear, as there wasn't much space behind the cabinet since it stood so close to the wall. All that Luna could do was close her eyes, hold on to Harri's paw and whisper.
“This is it my darling...”
Bang! Something crashed to the floor off the table, startling David. “Quick you two over there behind the stack of logs in the corner, there's more room for you now,” the rabbit whispered quickly.
“Oh Harry, what's up with you tonight, has the weather got you spooked as well?” David said still smiling at his friend and now more concerned with picking up the jar of pickles that had spilled all over the floor. “Now let's get our plates, construct our late night feast and retire to our comfortable quarters. How about a good movie and relaxation my friend before shutting our eyes to all that is around us, sounds good I think?” David continued talking to the rabbit as he prepared his sandwich and the lovely vegetables for his friend.
Harry slowly moved to the other end of the large cold table, while his friend was busy working away, turning in the direction of the wood stack, and whispered. “I made sure that some of the greens fell on the floor for you, you must be hungry by now. You'll be safe there behind the wood stack until early morning when the humans come to light the fires, but I'll come out and introduce myself properly after my friend here falls asleep as he usually does halfway through his movies, also I can answer all your questions then, which I am sure you have many. As I of you, indeed.”
“Come on Harry, time to go back into our room now and eat,” David picked up his friend and began to juggle both the large rabbit and the tray of food towards his room.
“By the way, my name is Harry with a 'y', what's yours, oh you don't have to answer now,” the final words from the rabbit as he was carried off. Now the lights went out. The kitchen flung in total darkness with only moonlight winking though the windows. Silence, complete silence would be heard only. Harri and Luna now slowly, quietly moved from behind the wood stack.
Harri & Luna the first novel by Alexander Davidoff is now available on amazon.com in paperback and e-book. It is a children's story based on the promise that friendship, courage and love can truly empower all of us to survive the most arduous adventures that life throws at us.
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