Monday, August 11, 2014

Have You Ever?

Have You Ever?
by Jon Stark
August, 2014; 650 words

The mouse made his way carefully across the open floor.  There were no land marks, no touch stones, nothing to guide him except for his extraordinary luck and a tendency to walk in a straight line.  He spent most of the distance worried that the sliver in his back left paw would pull him off course.

Turned out to be a needless distraction.  He reached the kitchen table only a few feet from where his two friends were gathered and right at the point where a hunk of marmalade covered toast had fallen.  It was that luck.

He made his way over to the others, busy chomping at their own haul of breakfast leftovers, and gave a warm hullo.  They greeted him in return, but considering how hungry they were and how small the scraps they were finding were compared to the giant, belly filling hunk he had obtained, they skipped most of the small talk.

He didn’t mind.  The sun was warm on his fur and he turned toward the window to let it fall fully across his face.  The floor shook slightly, then more dramatically.  He backed up until his tail found the table leg and then he scurried up it, hiding in the cool shade at the top.  He could hear one of friends doing the same thing.

The tremors drew stronger and soon everything in the kitchen shook.  It was the Good Wife and she was early.  The shaking stopped.  The mouse listened.  He could hear one of his compatriots scurrying about under the table.  What was he doing?  She was going to see—

A scream erupted quite close to him and he fell from his hiding place under the table.  He dashed away and barreled headlong into his friend.  They sprinted off, side by side.  The woman screamed again, but now in rage rather than fear.  Something heavy hid the floor behind the mice.  They picked up speed.

His foot hurt and slowed him down, he kept brushing shoulders with his friend.  He knew he was slowing.  Behind them, the woman crashed into the edge of the table and began to swear a blue fury.  The jolt sent the last mouse tumbling and he landed on the woman’s foot.  She howled and kicked and went flying through the air, lending quite ungracefully on his two friends.

The woman came at them again and the three amigos dashed ahead again.  The mouse thought they should be at the wall by now.  They had been running for a very long time.  His foot hurt.  His side hurt.  His shoulder hurt from banging against his friend all the time.  Of course.  His bum foot was pulling them in a circles.  They were running around the kitchen in a giant circle, chasing the woman as much as she was chasing them.

She whirled on them suddenly and they belted into her, flopping and rolling, disoriented.  She brought her carving knife down with a jackal’s ferocity, hacking and smashing, slicing and dicing, but missing the mice who, for their part, were in a total panic and kept running into each other.

At last they found themselves in a line facing the same direction.  They took off toward the wall, the mouse with the lame foot now being guided by his friends.  The woman dove for them, the giant blade crashing down, severing their tales and embedding itself in the old floor.

The mice shrieked and ran even faster, striking the wall at full speed and then slipping along the baseboard until they found the entrance to their home, safe in the cool darkness of the wall.

Of course they didn’t notice the darkness part, being blind mice.  Outside in the kitchen, the Farmer walked in and found his wife vainly trying to pull the carving knife out of the floor.  Three little tales lay on the floor in a line.

“My goodness,” he said.  “I have never seen such a sight in my life.”

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