August 29, 2007


Of mice and awesome

I grew up in a drafty oldish farmhouse. The sharp snap of the classic mousetrap design doing its thing was a common thing. Throwing out the bodies was one of the not-really-chores from time to time.

People are shaped by their experiences. To put it poetically, we are all the echoes of the ringing bells of our past. Splash. So, I'm fairly inured to things rodent, especially when said rodents are dead. This is an important thing to note.

I will change the names here, in order to protect the innocent. I will rename them according to the standards as established in many epic-fantasy writings, in order to add the appropriately mythic tone to this tale.

About a week back, I'm visiting with my friends. We'll call them F'fje, and D'ren'ak. I hear tell they recently had an adventure ridding themselves of a mouse. That's mouse, singular. Having disposed of likely a thousand-plus mice over the years of boyhood and adolescence back home, I'm thinking something like, how quaint. Especially when no-kill traps are mentioned. These no-kill traps, of course, did not have a very good success rate. Eventually, they achieved a mousefree home again. All is well.

It's early afternoon. Their youngest, L'ael, has been convinced to nap, and has--after suitable complaints and raging against the descent of the Big Darkness, the swallowing void that is sleep--surrendered to that void. Exhausted by the potent struggle of this phenom, F'fje collapses, as if felled.

I'm entertaining the other two, R'rta'teg and Ws'eyra in the basement playroom. As all such rooms should look at that age, it's mosly a space where the contents of various toy bins has exploded, and coated every available surface. The distribution of the plastic, fabric, and books is a microcosm of the universe's distribution of matter as a whole--overall, evenly distributed, but with just enough variation to cause localized clumps. The boys are entropic vectors who redistribute the overall structure. Like the universe, it would expand forever were it not bounded. The walls create an artificial omega > 1, for the cosmology fans out there.

"Uncle Drastic! What's this?" R'rta'teg queries, thrusting his find out at me.

The answer is pretty obvious as I take it from him. "Huh. Sure looks like a mouse to me." I do a quick bit of necessary taxonomy, though--it could well be fake.

"Is it a toy or real?" The kid's sharp. (Truly is. A couple years earlier, when he was barely older than three, he and I had, at his blindsiding initiation, a fairly in-depth conversation about death and potential causes of it. Which rocked.) Once in my hand I discard that hypothesis. It's been dead for awhile, and is fairly small. Young, or just not very well fed. It was just laying out in the open, the boy explains.

"Nope, this is real. You guys aren't as mousefree as you thought. I'm going to go throw this out and let your mom and dad know." Up the stairs I go to the ground floor. On the second, F'fje remains, like L'ael, gripped in the twilit little doom that is sleep. D'ren'ak is quietly eating lunch, basking in rare solitude. "Hey!" I announce cheerfully. "Check out what your son just found!" I'm holding out the find, dangling stiffly via its tail, without a second thought.

She turns, and the reflex obviously comes right from the brain stem. She shrieks, and doesn't so much leap as teleport about a yard straight back and ends up bolt upright on her feet. The chair, luckily, is wheeled, so it just skids away harmlessly.

It was awesome. It could only have been more awesome if she'd actually ended up standing on the table, on tiptoe.

In my defense, this was completely unintentional and unexpected. For a split second, as it was going on, I thought maybe she'd seen something behind me. Maybe I'm about to be stabbed from behind by some guy in a hockey mask, I think. (I actually think this a lot. Be prepared, is my motto.) But, no, it was the mouse.

Because part of me is made up of a good man, I do apologize. I hadn't actually meant to have taken a couple years off her life, and had I known this was going to be the reaction, I like to think I would have proceeded more carefully with breaking the news.

But I also recognize the existence of darkness in me. We all carry the potential forms of monsters in us, after all. And so I was also somewhat disappointed that I hadn't known this was going to happen.

If I had, I would've been powerfully tempted to arrange to have filmed it. And now, I'll never have the chance to.

A peaceful life is all about learning to live with such lost opportunities.

posted by Gar @ 6:50 PM
...I might have done the same thing. I've found within myself a worrying desire to shriek and stand on chairs when wild rodents are ranging free inside. I also worry about insects getting caught in my hair.

I'm ashamed.
Thank whatever gods you worship that you haven't had bats enter your home. Then again, maybe you have. They combine the scurry factor of rodents with the flying ability of insects, which makes them double the fun to remove, triple the fun if you try to remove them without harming them.

On a related note, I gained at least 5 experience points the other day whilst in mortal combat against a football sized nest of wasps. Having little to no fear of stinging insects, I waded in with chemical weapons and a broom and dispatched my opponents handily. Some ducking and weaving was required, and a few landed on me, but didn't score any hits. After I bathed in the blood on my enemies and heard the lamentations of their women, I did what any other redblooded American male would do. I set to fire to the nest.

It was the only way to be sure.
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