Ping! The sonar continued its never ending beat. Waves of powerful but invisible sound pounded the black ocean waters in a futile attempt to hear the enemy. A propeller, a turbine or even a cough were all that they needed to catch the mouse. A whisper of sound and the chase would begin. The mouse was no fool. It would not let out so much as a squeak to give the cat the thrill of the hunt. It would bide its time in the shadows of the deep blue grotto until the cat succumbed to boredom and left it well enough alone.
“They’re still out there, aren’t they? said the man quietly. His oice was deep and ominous, but he dared not allow the fear gnawing at his soul to show, for he was the Captain. “I’m not sure any more, sir. ” came the hesitant reply of the ensign. “I know I heard something just an hour ago, but during the past sixty minutes, I’ve heard nothing but fish gossip. ” The ensign was only trying to ease the pressure with his antics, but the humour in his voice was clearly forced. The Captain grunted, and several petty officers chuckled. Yet, none could deny that Fear lived among them.
The spectre was clearly an unwanted and certainly uninvited guest, but not even the many fathoms of et black water could keep him from his prey. He fed on fear, and the greatest feast of all was just beginning. Meanwhile, the mouse began to grow restless in his hole. “Helm,” the voice was confidant, “bring us about to a new bearing – 6148 mark 72. ” “Yes, sir, coming to new bearing. ” Moments ago this new voice had been sure and strong but a trace of trepidation could be detected. “Sir… “, the anxiety in the sonar officer’s voice grew rapidly.
Now, like an animal trapped in a cage, the voice grew frantic. “I’m picking up an object… moving fast… it’s a torpedo! ” Fear now had his foot in the door, aiting patiently for it to open just enough to allow him to slip through in wisps of smoke. “All right people, just sit tight. ” The door creaked shut again as Fear was forced to knock yet again. “Rafferty, have you got a fix on it? ” With new found confidence, she answered, “Yes, sir. It’s bearing 328 mark 46. ” “Launch decoys! ” “Decoys launched, sir. ” The entire ship was silent now.
As quiet as a mouse the crew waited hoping, praying, that the enemy torpedo would be fooled and pass them by. After what seemed like an eternity, Rafferty broke the silence, “It passed us, sir. It was damn close, but it went for he decoy instead. ” The cat licked its lips hungrily. It had come so close and had smelled the hot blood of the poor little mouse. Now, it sharpened its claws in anticipation. “Contact, sir! Sorry,” came the downtrodden answer the entire crew had been waiting for, “the torpedo went for the decoy. We missed. “Ah, what a prize! ” thought Fear. “If perchance the mouse escapes, I can feast on the larger and more tasty cat. ” “Scan for incoming fire. Reese! ” The voice bellowed, as if the loud noise would deter the spectre which haunted them.
“I need a firing solution on the enemy sub and I needed it yesterday. You got that!? ” “Yes sir. I’m working as fast as I can. ” Came the meek reply. A little known fact of the animal kingdom is that mice, like cats, also have claws, and have been known on occasion to gauge the eyeballs out of their adversaries. Ready torpedoes one through four. ” The battle bridge was alive with anticipation; each officer doing his or her assigned task always knowing that death could come at any moment. Rafferty spoke in quick gasps, “Target acquired! ” “Launch. ” said the Captain quietly. He was so calm he could have been ordering a glass of milk or answering the telephone instead of sealing he fate of over 100 men and woman on board the enemy sub. Like a Black Mole, burrowing through the earth, the torpedoes streaked towards their target.
For weeks Fear hungered no longer. The battle had truly been a most extravagant banquet. The cat had struggled at first but Fear knew he could conquer. Yet there was one small detail gnawing at the back of Fear’s evil and twisted mind. What of the mouse? How had such a small and pathetic creature staved off his advances for so long when even the muscular cat had succumbed? “Perhaps,” thought Fear to himself, “that is why even the mighty elephant fears the little grey mouse ever so much. “