They waited until she slept. It was after her night watch shift. She never heard a sound—not the whispers, the low growl, the quick struggle, or his last bubbling yelp—as they snapped his neck.
The next morning Olivia woke in a panic to the smells of roast chicken. “Guys!” She yelled as she struggled from one darkness to another, “I don’t care if you caught a rat! We can’t take chances with a fire!” They were all huddled in the blackness, like an amorphous blob. No one moved, just the soft glow emanating from their center. The light danced over the tips of their silhouettes, almost as if their edges were bleeding the insides of smoldering coals. The silence lengthened. A soft popping sound. They huddled closer. No one said a word.
Olivia looked around sharply and clicked her tongue. She knew before Ahab didn’t come. As she staggered at the blob, they wordlessly drifted apart, like octopus tentacles unfurling, all slinking to their separate pockets of darkness.
He looked like he was stopped mid-leap- effortlessly floating above the tiny flame, front paws together as if he were jumping a fence. Patches of fur marked the unwanted pieces that they had been too lazy to skin. A tuft at his nose, a few scraggles at his ears, and the thin bits of his lower legs. The rest gaped. A long metal rod, probably pulled from a pipe along the ceiling, straightened Ahab from his anus to his mouth. His spine was stiff, his ribcage jutting, his eyes wide, forever.
That was the day Olivia went out on her own and lost her words. They ran from her throat like the wind, whipping off through the tunnels, searching for some trace of her lost companion.