After banging on Maru's front door, I steeled my nerves. I hope this works.
The Monster stood beside me in front, of the six-story--human-sized--fortress. Clouds darkened the sky. It would rain soon. Boom! Lighting flashed in the distance.
I knocked on the door again. "Maru! I'm here!"
The door swung open, and a cat I didn't recognize stood in the door, gawking at The Monster. "M ... M ... Maru ... will see you now."
I pushed past the cat, and The Monster rolled in behind me. We made our way to the fifth floor. When we moved towards the stairwell to the sixth-floor, a loud explosion shook the building.
The Monster grumbled. Vroom!
I nodded, not exactly sure what it meant. "We need to get to Mom as quickly as possible!"
Four cats and two dogs leaped out of nowhere. My back itched while the smell of burning fish crept into the air. The dogs growled. The enemy cats hissed.
With my muscles tensed, I prepared for a sudden attack.
Honk! The Monster gestured towards the stairs before rolling headlong into the group of guards.
"Thank you, my new friend." I spun and dashed up the stairs. Please ... let me make it in time.
At the top of the stairs, I crashed through the door and grabbed the last bouncy ball toy in my bag.
On the other side of the room, Maru narrowed his eyes. He was burning. Mom stood next to him with a desk to her left. Two windows sat on opposite sides of the room, and there was only one other door--right behind Maru.
My teeth chattered. I lit the oven in my stomach, trying not to burn until the last second. "Mom!"
Mom's eyes bulged.
Maru held out his paw, and a black claw of energy wrapped around Mom's neck. "Perrrrrrrrrrrfect. You have finally arrived."
I hissed. "Maru!"
"Where is the Ancient Tanuki toy?"
"I couldn't get it ... ."
"Then ... your mom dies!" Maru flexed.
I screamed, burning the fish in my stomach. I'm not going to make it!
Next: Part 31