th' Boy who Dealt with Mice
--a microwave fable by Taliesin Tyndall
YOU'VE PROBABLY NEVER HEARD OF THE PLACE.
Just right of the Milky Way is a little town call Clear Crytel. Zeus only knows where it got the name.
Anyway, that's where I lived back in the years when young Thomjamin led his little uprising.
Well. Truth be told, it wasn't that little, but most of the people were.
Like I said, it all started in the Territory of Clear Crytel, in the town of Clear Crytel (not to be confused with the capital, Aurston), in the town's only orphanage: the Clear Crytel Orphanage.
Nay! Twas I that awoke him.
And in so doing, dealt my own fate. Young Thomjamin awoke to the sound of a lightning-like crack, the fumes of a grand flame, and then of feet and yelling.
All those around him were running to and fro with buckets of water. All were carrying them to the beloved headmaster's office. To my office.
He knew in a moment that the mad old master'd set his room ablaze again. Thomjamin joined the lot and soon the fire was out and I came storming the same.
“Fifteen hundred, general assembly!” I called as a well thought of Tyrant to his loving slaves.
* * *
THAT AFTERNOON MARKED THE TRUE BEGINNING.
My neurotic loathing of mice was well known throughout the house. As such, none were too surprised when I said that it was in my equatorial pursuit of a mouse that I set my office ablaze.
No one was also surprised when I said that I would put up with these mice no longer. (For this sort of thing happened every two and a half weeks back then)
Everyone was surprised, however, when I said that I had a plan.
It was this: I was going to have a contest to see who could build the best better mouse traps.
The three winners were to receive full rations, while all others would be given half rations.
Pause for deafening approval.
Towards the end of my speech I also mentioned that while death traps would be accepted, live traps would receive extra points.
And they thought me humane.
It was this that sparked peaceful Thomjamin's interest.
Later that day he entered my office and inquired into the fate of those mice who were trapped alive.
With, peradventure, the broadest smile I'd ever worn, I answered an utter lie.
Namely: that they'd be set free where they belonged.(Which wasn't entirely false.)
Sadly, the trusting boy believed my every sound. For reasons beyond me, he and every one of them had always believed every lie I'd ever told them.
* * *
THAT NIGHT THOMJAMIN THE ORPHAN SAT AWAKE THE NIGHT OVER.
He dreamed of glorious new mouse traps, and setting the captured free in the wild.
Yet for all this, he made little progress in the coming weeks.
Each night he left what he had made baited on his desk, as I had told them all to do.
The deadline was but days away, and he still had caught none. Others, dumber than he, had. Yet they were but all death traps anyhow.
Then a miraculous thing happened.
One night he lay awake and watched as a mouse sniffed through his space (him sharing a room with five others).
The little thing even went into his trap, only to come back out moments later.
Eventually he could take no more of the little thing rummaging through his things, of which there were few.
Quietly he sneaked from his bed and, grabbing an empty box, captured the mouse. Thomjamin stopped. He looked about to make sure none had been witness. Off to a secret place he crawled, and there plotted. Finally he decided that he would give the vermin to his kind headmaster, that it might be set free. But then the real miracle happened.
The mouse spoke.
Thomjamin's world fell apart. Several days then went by. Each night Thomjamin conversed with the mouse he'd freed. As time wound by they became good friends. Thomjamin grew to love mice, grew to understand them, to wish with more fervor to set them free into the wild as Mouses had the Hebrews. For he continued to churn the thought I had given him of a happier place for these foolish mice in need of aid. How dumb they were to live in this orphanage! They could be out there where they belonged!
But with this knowledge of their micen way came danger, for such is the way.
That danger was in building a better mousetrap.
He never, by pure accident, mentioned the competition or plan; but each morning he would take what he'd learned of mice and add it to his trap. It was because of this that when the day came, Thomjamin was sure he'd win. And win he did. I lay each trap out that night and waited.
Low and behold, Thomjamin's captured the first mouse in his unorthodox trap. He and two others and both of three the mice they'd caught I took down below to see what freedom meant.
* * *
THOMJAMIN CRIED HIMSELF TO SLEEP THAT NIGHT and refused to speak with his friend the mouse.
When he finally did, I'm told the mouse did not come back for a week. As it appeared, it was the mouse's brother who Thomjamin had captured and sentenced to an unspeakably painful death at my fowl hands. Painful indeed. Finally the boy and the mouse spoke again. Both knew then how cruel the world was. Knew that I was no kind man, though how it took him so long to learn that, I'll never know. Both swore that they'd make sure no one else had their death begin with acid;swore that they would fight to make sure no boy was tricked into such regret and pain.
It was time the world changed.
Four days later he'd been convinced of the mouse city. It was there that Thomjamin knew he'd find out what he had to do.
Though the mouse had protested somewhat, Thomjamin convinced him that he must meet the mice.
Yet to this the mouse did say that there in he'd find no help, for those mice were low from years of hunting, and were not likely to jump to anyone's aid, even their own.
It was a dark corridor that Thomjamin traversed. Barely squeezing his way through, he saw only by what crept through the bricks. His friend the mouse was before him. To it all the stone trail was a spacious path, enough to make him uncomfortable; and the light nearly blinded him. Finally, though, the passage began to speak of vastness.
To a mouse anyway.
That's when more lights blew in and the City came to mind.
Thomjamin had some difficulty in navigating as well as not stepping on the mice who gawked rudely.
Streets did widen, somewhat, though, as they reached the City's navel.
There, the mouse had said, Thomjamin would meet the Counsel. They were who would tell of any plans that might already be in the works for Mouse Liberation. From them the boy would learn if he would find any help.
For his part, however, Thomjamin's plan was simple: it may have been a lie, but my plan to set them loose seemed reasonable. After all, that's where all the mice had come from, right?
Moments later, for the City was small, he saw something no human ever had; Thomjamin was witness to a gathering of the mouse elders.
Over the past few days, Thomjamin's friend the mouse had come here before. He had spoken well of the boy, and the elders had all come to hear the lad.
With my evils he began.
He told the little mice of my trickish lie. Of his friend's brother being but the first. Of the dark chamber whence I'd taken the winners. And most of all, of the fate I'd dealt.
There were shudders.
Then meek claps as he told of his dedication to their Liberation.
Then he spoke of his 'plan'.
Then there was laughter.
For, while they said the boy was of good heart, his plan was of a strange sort that only an orphan could have thought of!
They'd lived in that house for many a generation, and none wished to go back to the wilderness. If there was to be peace, it would be in coexistence.
At this the boy seemed defeated in spirit.
How could that ever happen.
Then he thought of the night and the mouse's brother.
Then he thought up another plan and he thought it up quick.
If they would but come and meet the orphans, induce them to a more friendly mode of thought, and form an alliance of sorts, then there could be coexistence. Only then would the headmaster be likely to relent and change his ways.
This and more was said.
It was not an easy battle, but given time Thomjamin convinced them that he was right, though they still were meek in all regardings as to the future. Lifting their spirits, he rose them to such heights that they truly believed that there was hope.
Hope that if they acted well enough, freedom from my tyranny.
And it was this that shocked his friend.
How Thomjamin did it, the mouse knew not. Some had come before, but none had ever given spirit like this to the mice. None before had ever led them like this. None before had ever been seen listened to long enough to talk the whole of the elders to act towards their liberation.