So what do you think? asked one.

I think you're on the wrong side of the cage, said the other, glaring. The first scuttled away. Better. Her, I don't know. It's an easy thing to take in a mammal when you're a mammal too.

Sandi opened the door, smiling. Her husband was up, taken care of, and off to work. Her boys were up, taken care of, and off to school. And from the sound of things (now that she'd opened the door), the room's occupants were also up, needed to be taken care of, and weren't about to go anywhere.

You're forgetting the raven, crow, whatever she calls it. Not even close to her species.

She calls it Hagrid.

Certainly looks it. All busted up, poor guy. I say go for it.

Certainly not Hagrid, poor little crow, handicapped, couldn't fly, couldn't even perch. Had to sleep in a box. Took his breakfast easily enough, though; that was good.

Then to the other birds–seven parakeets, a whole bunch of finches, two dragon lizards, and a partridge in a pear tree, she thought, as she hummed the tune. Her youngest, Adam, had thought up the jingle years ago and now it was stuck in her head forever. At least the rats and the cats weren't in the room, otherwise she'd be singing about them too.

Speaking of singing, the crickets in the box in her hand were certainly putting up a racket, maybe they could sense their fate approaching. As always she spared a thought for them, but her omnivorous lizards needed to eat something, and her sympathy didn't really extend to bugs. She'd even gotten two males, although they needed a much bigger cage. But females get pregnant, and the thought of feeding even one little mouse–

Bugs it would be, fresh, delicious, nutritious crickets.

I yield to your superior wisdom. Do it.

And last but not least, her hamsters, almost as small as a mouse but much cuter. Oh, there's Cotton. Bijou's not up yet, probably still holed up in the fake–

"Doing it…now. " A hole opened in the air.

Oops! Her foot caught on something where nothing was supposed to be, and she went sprawling, falling down toward the table and the cage.

There she stopped, braced on her arms looking down at the tiny occupants as the room once again went mad. The fall had woken Bijou, if his nose twitching was any sign, but no surprise, he wasn't coming–oomph! Her foot. It wasn't caught on something, something was caught on it--and pulling! She clutched the edges of the table reflexively, but it wasn't fastened to the floor, so the cage went sliding as it pulled over with her.

No! Without thinking about it, she grabbed the cage.

Wham! The bottom of the cage slammed onto the ground, inches ahead of her elbows and knees as she went flopping onto the floor. Only then did Cotton move, rolling bodily backward as whatever it was holding her foot kept pulling, and the cage slid forward under him. She forced herself to let go. Her unclaimed foot scrambled frantically, uselessly, her fear for herself opposed by her fear for the many cages she might bring down. Then the world was pulled away from her on all sides, as her body slid feet first into the hole in the air behind her.