Posted by: John | December 28, 2010

Mouse Messiah

Fiction with a spiritual theme:

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Maurice mouse left the nest in the barn and scampered into the woods. He was always more contemplative than the other mice. There had to be more to life than just stealing feed from the chickens and watching out for the farmer’s cat. He quickly found a hole in a dead tree that allowed him a place to just sit and look. He took a deep breath. It was very quiet in the woods.

Maurice knew he couldn’t completely relax, but the feeling of relaxed awareness that came over him was better than anything he’d ever experienced. Even better than eating the cheese last week. 

He remembered one time he’d barely escaped the cat and made it into the nest behind the barn wall. The cat had torn off part of his tail. His wife Mary mouse was busy nursing the latest litter and didn’t notice him at first.  Maurice was shaking so much he woke the baby mice and made Mary angry.  Yet he found himself in a state of euphoria; he was so happy to be alive.

But today in this hole in the tree he was beginning to feel even better.  He wondered why life was such a cat and mouse game anyway. There seemed to be enough food to go around.

There were three other mouse nests in the walls of the old barn. Two were his brothers’ and the newest belonged to a cousin. He knew it wouldn’t be long before a group of mice would have to move elsewhere.  There were more nests in the farmer’s house.  Maurice’s other wives, Marsha and Marilyn, built two of them.  Maurice spent time there when making more mice. That’s where he had tasted the cheese, a taste he would never forget.

But right now, this hole in the tree was where Maurice wanted to be. He fell asleep and had a dream about a large mouse named Mickey.  Marsha and Marilyn had told him about Mickey whom they’d seen on television in the house while hiding under the sofa.  Maurice felt Mickey was urging him to reveal a higher purpose for all mice.

When he exited the hole in the tree, he left droppings so he could find his way back.  He listened to the promptings of his whiskers.  Finally, he had a purpose for his life, not just to make more mice. When he got back to his nest in the wall, he asked all the other males to meet him in an empty cardboard box by the back door of the barn. The box was high on a shelf behind some tools the farmer had forgotten. There was also no way the cat could get there. The mice had been using it for meetings for some time.

As the mice assembled, excitement filled the air. Questions abounded:  Were there too many nests, too many litters? Was some type of birth control imminent? When Maurice climbed up on the stone at the back of the box, all chattering ceased.  Most of the mice were related to Maurice in some way. Indeed he was the oldest mouse in the box and had many living offspring.

Maurice bounced and squealed about how he’d seen Mickey mouse that afternoon and felt compelled to spread the word about a higher purpose for mice.  Before he finished, the box echoed with squeals of, “Maurice! Maurice! Maurice!”

Myron and Monroe mouse, his brothers, ran up to Maurice after he finished speaking. They asked for more details of Maurice’s vision. Maybe a group of mice could get together and talk about these things when they weren’t busy looking for food, running from the cat, or making more mice. They could talk about jumping higher than thirteen inches or new ways to tease the cat. Caught up in the euphoria of the moment, Maurice agreed to these things.  He didn’t hear Marshal and Montrose mouse squealing in the background that mouse kind was just meant to survive as best they could and that there was a Mighty Mouse before Mickey.  Mice were not meant to have visions or meditate.

Maurice began to bask in his newfound fame. Marsha and Marilyn wanted to have more mice with him. Younger mice began to seek his advice on escaping the cat as well as making more mice. He found he needed more time in the hole in the dead tree. Maybe he did not have all the answers. Maybe  life was just a cat and mouse game.  Did this Mickey mouse really exist?  All he knew was what Marsha and Marilyn had told him. Was there a Mighty Mouse before Mickey?  The family had rearranged the living room in the house so there was no longer any way for a mouse to watch television.

Things progressed rapidly.  Myron and Monroe wrote up a history of mouse kind. Morgan and Manchester mouse, Maurice’s sons, wrote down mouse rules that Mickey had proclaimed to Maurice in the dream.

After a few weeks, Morgan and Manchester began to quibble.  Morgan believed mice were created first, before rats.  Manchester felt rats came first. Both had their followers who began to meet in nests at opposite ends of the barn wall.  Rhythmic squealing could be heard at times. This drove the cat crazy.  She ran from one end of the wall to the other meowing loudly and clawing the wall.

What Maurice didn’t know was that Marshal and Montrose were forming a mouse council to ban him from the nests in the barn. All Maurice wanted was peace.  He found himself spending more and more time alone in the hole in the dead tree.

As winter arrived, Maurice found the hole in the tree a safe and cozy place to rest and dream. He had fewer dreams and a feeling of foreboding overwhelmed him when snow swirled to the ground. He felt frightened because he couldn’t move around as quickly with snow on the ground.

One afternoon, he fell asleep in the tree and slept all night.  When he awoke, a thick layer of snow covered the ground. Maurice had to wait until it melted at midday before he could get back to his nest in the barn wall.  He feared the cat would be on the prowl.  Unbeknownst to him, while he slept, the mouse council had voted him out of the nests in the wall.

He felt relieved when he made it into the barn.  Sensing the cat behind him, he scurried for the hole in the wall.  As he arrived at the nest, he found it blocked.

“It’s me, Maurice,” he squealed.

“You’ve been banned from the nests in the wall,” Marshal screeched. 

At that instant, the cat pounced.  Maurice couldn’t escape this time; he died in the cat’s mouth. She spit Maurice’s corpse on the barn floor in front of the mouse hole – just like a football player spiking the ball after scoring a touchdown.  It was a warning to all mice that the cat still ruled.

After three generations, the mice in the barn wall still remember Maurice. The Mickey and the Mighty mouse denominations still minister to their flocks. The cat still frets when squeals of “Maurice! Maurice! Maurice!” sometimes pop out of the wall in the barn.

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