A story I wrote for a little contest on CYS. Original post.
Mouse Utopia (1083 words)
Two women were drinking inside of a little hut, built on a small patch of flat land in the middle of a forest. One of them, lying on the floor asks the other to tell her one of her stories. The other in her chair, far less tipsy, refuses politely at first but as the night grows colder and her glass emptier, she agrees. She tells her old friend that she'd tell a story about the forest they were currently in, and how the actions of little people made big changes. The other woman laughed, "What would you know about what the animals do?" The one on the chair however simply smiled and told her compatriot to listen.
The forest was in a bit of a crisis at the time.
Before all that however, let me explain how the forest was organized at the time. The forest was split up into two different groups. One were the daywalkers. They were the ones brave, fast, or clever enough to move out when the sun was still up. The other were the nightcrawlers. They either had no such strengths or were too smart to risk their lives.
Now, this story is about a certain wood mouse named Elliot.
Most wood mice follow a certain schedule, and he was no different. What made him special was what was different about his schedule. Most wood mice are nightcrawlers and wake in the evening. Elliot got up a little earlier than that. Right when the sun was beginning to set. This let him cross paths for however short, with both the daywalkers and the nightcrawlers.
While this in itself made himself special to the forest, it was one particular day that made him important to me.
He had left his burrow right when the sky started yellowing. Before leaving he made sure he left a firm, green twig standing. It would help lead him back in case he couldn't find his way.
As usual, he started off with looking for insect nests. Personally, he couldn't possibly digest the creatures, but he knew plenty who could. Bats, small birds, and certain martens. He'd always make sure to befriend the correct type. Otherwise, he'd likely find himself in someone else stomach. After all, he knew how delicious other animals thought mice were.
He quickly tracked down a fallen oak's final resting place invaded by maggots and woodlice. He took note of the area the same way he did with his home. Biting off a small green stem popping up from the ground he plunged it next to the dark bark of the once mighty tree.
Finally, at least his life was assured for today. He wasn't fast or strong but he was clever enough to find friends who were.
Now he could finally begin looking for his own food.
Just as the yellowed sky turned to a deeper orange hue, he continued his search. After minutes of scurrying and sniffing, Elliot got a waft of a delectably sweet scent.
Tracking it down, Elliot could only dream of what might await him. The scent was strong, stronger than even the sweetest blueberries he'd tasted. What could have possibly made such a scent?
Taking a look around the corner of a tree, he saw something very odd. Contrasting the vivid colors of the landscape, he saw a very odd tree. It was short and stout compared to most trees he had seen, but it's color was unlike anything he had ever seen. It's bark was white like the clouds above, and it had but one giant leaf atop it. Brown like bark, and folded in the shape of a mountain.
The scent was still in the air. Circling around the odd tree, the mouse found a bush. A tall bush of blueberries. Hundreds of times his height. If he were younger, more brash then perhaps he would have leapt at the opportunity immediately but Elliot was a bit old for a wood mouse. Maybe just a babe in human years, but wood mice rarely live older than a single year.
Some careful vetting led to him noticing the pillars of wood surrounding the bush. He noted that they were close enough to perhaps keep out a larger creature like a rabbit, but he was more than small enough to slip through the gaps.
Up and close to the gorgeous smell, before biting in he also noticed how big the blueberries were. Perhaps a reflection of the bush's also irregular size.
The mouse sprinted up the bush and grabbed a few juicy berries, as many as he could bring. Before leaving for his burrow he decided to try at least one of the berries.
Biting in with his incisors, a a squeeze of the sweet juice sprayed his nose. The sweet scent entrancing him, he dug in furiously.
Now, Elliot had heard about this supposed crisis from earlier. A friend of his, a little forest bat named Jupiter had told him about certain rumors of a new predator. It seemed as though that from Jupiter's vantage point in the sky, she could see all sorts of things that those on the ground couldn't. In this case, it wasn't what she could see that worried her.
It was what she couldn't see that did.
All the house mice, the littlest but most aggressive mice had just disappeared. Overnight, the once numerous group of mice was reduced to a fragment of the original group. Elliot would have then thought to ask the house mice directly what had happened, but the house mice were a special type of mice.
They were incredibly territorial, even more than the usual mice. There was no way he was going to be able to talk to one of them.
He did however remember something. Something his mother had told him while he was still weening.
"House mice are different from us. While they seem aggressive they're actually scared."
"Scared of what?", he'd ask.
"The forest. Unlike us, the forest isn't their home. They have a utopia somewhere."
Elliot couldn't help but remember his mother's words at the moment. Because while he was snacking on his berry, the sky drew dark.
CREAK, he heard.
Turning to the noise, he saw a figure. Obscured by the dark, but he could tell. It looked nothing like any animal he'd ever seen. And it stood so tall, it made the huge bush from earlier look minuscule.
"Where the humans live."