Between the walls
By: Dawn Debraal

It was the sound in the wall that kept her awake. Red squirrels? Rats? Velma shuttered thinking rats. The little vermin. When Chet was alive, he would have gotten his .22 out, shooting up in the trees for the red squirrels. After a winter of listening to them rummaging in the attic, Velma no longer protested Chet’s shooting rampages. All night long, their escapades, babies and such. Never again.

Chet died. Now what? She could never bring herself to shoot a squirrel, let alone hold a gun. Her father was a deputy sheriff, and the loaded weapon on his dresser gave her a healthy respect for firearms. Such a healthy dose that she used to crawl in front of his dresser for fear the gun would go off.

Now, they were back. The bastards were chewing the insulation, probably the wires. They would cause a short and burn the house down. Velma called animal control. The Pest Off Company assured her they would rid her of the infestation. A truck came with two men wearing white zip-up suits. They scoured her home cleaning out old nests in the attic, they wire grated every conceivable hole in the house and laid out poison for the ones they hadn't scared away.

Several days later, Velma called them again. Pest Off told her it would be a couple of weeks before all the critters blocked inside her house would die of the poison.

Well, they still had healthy appetites she told them, gnawing as soon as the lights went out. It was driving Velma nuts.

The magic two weeks passed, Velma thought perhaps tonight she would get some rest. Hopefully, the Pest Off people did their job.

She put her glass of water next to the bed like she did every night. Velma laid her head down, ready to sleep.

Quiet.

She turned off the light.

Velma dreamed of a big rat, gnawing. She sat up in bed. Pest Off had promised two weeks, no more animals in the night, yet here she sat listening to the noise. She was mad enough to give them a piece of her mind.

She called Pest Off and read them the riot act on their answering machine. How dare they take her for all that money? The critters were still in between the walls. She wished she could slam the phone down to relieve her anger after the venting ended.

Well, someone would not be happy tomorrow to get that call. Velma demanded some of her money back to compensate for the restless nights. They were taking advantage of a helpless widow. That shouldn't happen. She lay back down, trying to fall asleep.

Velma felt something, turned on the light, looking around. Nothing was there. It did not convince her that she hadn't felt something on her pillows. She shook them fiercely rearranging the pillows on her bed. Again, finding nothing.

Now the hope of sleep was a dream for Velma. She lay her head down after turning off the bedside lamp.

The gnawing started again; only this time, Velma realized the gnawing wasn't in between the walls, it was inside her head, between her ears.

The End

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