Welcome to the Spot Writers, bringing you your weekly dose of flash fiction. This week’s post comes to you from Val Muller, author of the Corgi Capers kidlit mystery series. You can learn more at www.CorgiCapers.com. The prompt was to write about autumn.
The Mouse War
By Val Muller
The chill in the air was bitter. Though the dogs seemed to love it, Allie hated to stay outside with them. The stink bugs, somehow, managed to survive—finding comfort in the warm crevices of the laundry room and the utility room near the furnace. Probably in the attic as well.
She wondered what else was up there.
Coming in from the cold, she turned on the kettle for some hot tea. Then she reached for her travel mug. If she had to drive to work in such weather, at least she’d be warm when she got there. But upon opening the drawer of lids, she shuddered and turned off the stovetop. There it was, staring at her, mocking her, making her skin crawl.
A mouse turd.
Oblong and brown and intrusive.
Sitting on the lid of her favorite travel mug.
She slammed the drawer shut, imagining all the tiny particles that had escaped into the otherwise clean kitchen. Then she reached for her phone.
“Greg,” she said as soon as he picked up. “There’s a mouse in the kitchen. We’re not eating anything cooked from home until it’s taken care of. Got it?” Her voice trembled and her heart pounded. She struggled to form every word. She could just picture the mouse urinating and defecating on all the food they had eaten in the past few days. How long had it been there, anyway? When was the last time she’d opened the lid drawer? It hadn’t been this cold since—since—March?
And now it was almost winter again. Who knows how long the mouse had been desecrating her kitchen?
She shuddered and checked the clock. She had just enough time to make it to McDonalds for a cup of tea—how ridiculous was that? She eyed her two dogs with a frown.
“Aren’t you guys supposed to catch mice and things?”
They lowered to the ground, heads pathetically on their paws.
She bit her lip and threw them a treat. “Alright, I’ll forgive you this time. But you’d better catch that thing. And soon.”
She lingered coming home. Made an extra-long grocery stop. Went to the post office for stamps she didn’t need. Anything to give Greg a chance to buy and set some traps. By the time she got home, the sink was filled with sudsy water—hopefully all the lids were becoming clean—and the drawer was cleaned out save for one cylindrical mouse trap.
The kitchen smelled of cleaning solution.
“Thanks, Greg,” she said, smiling. “I picked up a rotisserie chicken from the store.”
Greg laughed. “Because you won’t cook in here again until the mouse is gone.”
She nodded as she put a box of cereal in the refrigerator. “Just in case,” she said, eyeing the open box on the counter suspiciously.
Greg shook his head. “Now this trap is supposed to be humane. Kills right away. Makes a loud click¸ though. But that way, you won’t have to see—”
Allie held up her hand. “I don’t need to hear anymore. We’ll just hope he’s caught.”
“Okay, but you know there might be more than one.”
Allie shook her head. It wasn’t even a possibility. One mouse was bad enough. But a family–a colony? No way.
They ate with the television on so that Allie didn’t have to hear the click. Before going to bed, she peeked in the drawer. The cylindrical trap still registered “empty,” and there was a new mouse turd in the drawer.
“Stupid mouse,” she muttered.
Her sleep was filled with nightmares of amorphous things crawling over her body, leaving little trails of dust and dirt and turdsy bits. She awoke to a loud snap and checked the clock. 2:19. Could it be the mouse? Could they be so lucky to catch it so quickly?
The next morning, she peeked into the drawer. The trap indicator was set to “caught.”
“Got him!” she called up to Greg. Then she took the dogs for a nice long walk while Greg disposed of the trap and cleaned out the drawer once again.
The next morning, there was a chill in the air. Allie came in from letting the dogs out and once again turned on the kettle. Then she reached into the newly-cleaned drawer for a newly-cleaned lid.
And there it was, once again, searing through her blood and her mind.
A mouse turd.
She looked menacingly at her dogs as she reached for the phone.
It was going to be a long winter.
The Spot Writers–our members:
RC Bonitz: rcbonitz.com
Val Muller: http://www.valmuller.com/blog/
Catherine A. MacKenzie: http://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/
Tom Robson: Blog pending