Colin Hinckley '14
The Webster’s have a mouse problem. They are not cognizant of their problem. If Howard Webster was not such a sound sleeper and his wife, Maureen, did not sleep with earplugs, they, perhaps, would move from Thompson, Canada and never look back. But they reside safely in their REM cycles, unaware of what transpires in their bathroom in the wee hours of the morning. Creaks and squeaks ripple in the tile. Unwavering, uniform, quiet, devastating, the mice coagulate and form a rug on the bathroom floor. Their collective voice is deafening, their collective consciousness, horrifying.
Were Maureen Webster to wake, she would walk to the bathroom and observe the hot mass of brown and gray and white fur and she would think she is dreaming. And in a way, she is.
But the mice know no difference. They will consume her, become her. Crawling up the hem of her nightshirt, as she stands stymied, confused, half-asleep, they will pry her mouth open and force their way down her throat. She will be dead in just under four minutes.
And they will carry her away.
Instead, she twitches in her sleep. A storm crosses her sleeping brow and passes. The light in the bathroom turns on as a mouse drops from the ceiling and flicks it on. The light casts a beam onto her sleeping face. She grimaces, and turns. In her head, an image of a crow darts through the dark. It caws incessantly. It ascends skyward into a black night.
As the night slowly begins to dissipate and the sun begins to paint the sky, the mice leave the bathroom one by one, descending through pipes and out the window, down stairs and through light fixtures. One remains and observes Maureen from the still warm linoleum, its whiskers twitching agitatedly. It skitters out the window.
Maureen opens her eyes and sits up in bed. She walks to the bathroom and, annoyed, turns off the light to allow the natural morning sun to fill the room. It hurts her eyes.