Godot's Maze

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
This is a story designed around the idea of impossibly enhancing mouse physiology to better reflect human psychology. It is the story of an endless journey through a maze and the conflicts that arise from a self contained environment of intelligent beasts with no idea that they are stuck in a cage with very short life spans.

This is my first short. I plan to use it to improve my descriptive writing and find my writing voice without the use of dialogue.

Submitted: August 13, 2016

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Submitted: August 13, 2016

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Godot's Maze

By: Marcus Ryker

 

Part 1: Release

The most important piece of information you must commit to memory is that whiskers that bob up mean “Yes” and whiskers that drop down signify “No”.  

Or at the very least, it is the best method by which you might hope to understand what a metacognitive mouse is trying to tell you. (Not that you would care to know what a metacognitive mouse was thinking of. Their thoughts vary little between the subjects of sex, food, pain and how to properly prepare an aphid.)

The yes/no level of communication was the great discovery of Dr. Kandel Green in the early age of metacognitive mouse research. The metacognitive mouse was designed to be the dawning of a new age in psychological study. The perfect creature to analyze, genetically enhanced mice would be able to think and understand their world on a similar level with humanity. Yet, they would live the short lifespan of a mouse. Hours of study would provide insight into the long-term workings of the mind. Many of humanity’s oldest questions would be answered. Questions such as:

How do we cope with the perilous nature of existence?

Could a person really change?

How constricted is a creature’s character by its genetic blueprint?

What do mice think about?

So the great geneticists; Dr. Kandal Green, Manny Simone PhD. and many others gathered together to create the perfect model of a mind. They built the Center of Metacognitive Mouse Studies (COMMS) and successfully engineered the first generations of metacognitive mice. And the mice were in fact perfect except for one flaw, they couldn’t speak. The scientists attempted for years to perfect mouse vocal chords. However, their tiny throats could not produce low enough tones with enough clarity for their human counterparts to understand. And they had difficulty understanding language. 

Eventually, Simone Hector PhD. made his mark on the metacognitive mouse movement and produced a line of metacognitive mice with opposable thumbs, mice he nicknamed Manny Mice from the latin word for hands, Manibus. Hector intended to teach the Manibus to write. He made tiny pens, pencils, paper, erasers, chalk, chalkboards, markers and whiteboards. He gave these items to his little Mannys and attempted to teach the art of language.

The mice, however, had other ideas. They constantly drew pictures of mouse genitalia.

No matter what the scientist put in front of the mice, they would eventually stop paying attention and doodle disgusting, unartistic images. Hector decreased lesson times and chose the smartest looking mice to teach individually but he soon realized that human and mouse attention spans were similar in proportion to their lifespan. Imagine a particularly attentive human who can focus on a task for twenty four hours in a phenomenal show of filibustering prowess. That human’s lifespan would be around fifty times the length of a metacognitive mouse who live around two years. Twenty four divided by fifty gives a metacognitive mouse with the brilliant attention span of about twenty eight minutes, just long enough for their favorite soap.

As a result, there were many frustrated professors and equally frustrated Manny mice.

Some mice would show signs of understanding late in life. Suddenly, they would comprehend and write a full sentence and then keel over on the spot from exertion. Final words from these high achieving Mannys included “What’s for dinner”, “Why Oh Creator, Why!” and the longest and most cited mouse quote “Please. Please. Please. Bring me food and something to fuck.”

***

Greater strides in communication came suddenly via the efforts of Dr. Kandel Green. Green was a rotund mammoth, or in other words, he jiggled while he wiggled. And Green wiggled quite frequently, lumbering around his vivarium like a vat of jello on stilts.

The Green Vivarium was an enormous L shaped wing of the COMMS entrusted to Dr. Green specifically for the advancement of Manny mouse communication. In the northern end of the Green Vivarium, mouse habitats held thousands of Manny Mice. Here, Green employed his staff to breed, ween, clean and kill the Manny mice. Dr. Green seldom visited the Manny mice. His infrequent visits were simply to select mice from his stock that he perceived to have the greatest attention span.

***

Nikola and Victor Genevese attended the Manny mice in the Green Laboratory. The brothers were the son of a fellow biomedical engineer Green had befriended as a young doctor who dragged Green through medical school whining all the way. In perfect condescendence, Green employed the man’s two bumbling children. Both men were tall and lanky and each sported an eccentric moustaches. While Victor’s mustache was pencil thin and wiggled quite dramatically when he was frustrated, his younger brother Nikola’s mustache was preposterously bushy and hardly ever moved. The two lanky graduate students had been thrown out of medical college for investigating too extensively the mobility of a cadaver.

***

One day, Dr. Green rolled unexpectedly into the habitats and wrinkled his brow at a cage of mice situated on the closest wall. Green waddled over to the cage and leaned his heavily jowled face close to cage bars to inspect his inventory. Upon recognition of the great doctor, every mouse in the first cage scurried for cover. Dr. Green grunted in disapproval and stepped sideways to the next cage while waggling his fingers together behind his back.

He continued his step wiggle dance for three cages until in cage 54B, he spotted an immobile mouse clearly at attention at the front of the cage. This one mouse had a unique black mark on his right shoulder, a black dot inside a faint oval outline that looked like an eye.

The black eyed Manny mouse scurried forward, went up on his hind legs and grasped the small metal bars of his tiny mouse jungle gym. He wriggled his white face and black nose, sending his whiskers whipping about as he sniffed attentively in the direction of the scowling face of Dr. Green.

Dr. Green observed the little mouse’s actions, wriggled his nose and grunted. He continued to watch the mouse expectantly, waiting for it to scurry off into hiding or wander off. But this little mouse stayed focused directly at the doctor. With a grunt of approval, Dr. Green called over to the Genevese brothers and selected the mouse for study. He perceived that this mouse had one of the best attention spans he had ever seen.

What the good doctor failed to understand was that the mouse he had selected was blind. Dr. Greens face was fat and pockmarked, he always had a faint mustache and dribble on his chin. His head was bald and his fat chin made him look like a jiggly egg.

Naturally, the mice that could see him were horrified.

***

Victor and Nikola looked on at Green’s thirty second selection in total awe. In the past month, Victor and Nikola had witnessed the enormous man select the least capable mice that the two had nurtured into adolescence. He had selected a mouse with a gimpy leg, a deaf mouse and already a few near sighted mice but this was his first totally blind mouse.

After Dr. Greens thundering departure, Victor swept into the habitats to have a closer look at the selected mouse. The mouse continued to stand still, sniffing the air furiously. Victor bent over inspecting the mouse closely while his pencil thin face fur.

Nikola slouched over to his brother and watched Victor twittling his mustache. Nikola was a few inches taller but leaner and droopier than Victor, so he often stood off to the side and behind. He knew from past experience that when Victor twittled his mustache he was thinking and when he twirled it he had thought of an idea. In act of sheer magnitude, he was currently twirling and twittering his mustache.

Nikola gestured dramatically to his brother and began scanning through the mice for the cleverest Manny Mouse, Victor began his search for a sharpy. Nikola began a series of tests on a few mice and eventually resolved to pick a particularly fast mouse with a small black dot on his left shoulder. By that time, Victor had had a smoke and found a marker. He sauntered in on his dainty limbs and frowned at the mouse Nikola had chosen. He indicated to the birthmark on the right of the mouse’s back. Nikola took the sharpy and drew an eye mouse and named him Simon.

***

In the eastern section of the Green Vivarium, Dr. Green had just completed his masterpiece. An enormous room dedicated entirely to a mouse maze. Upon entering the room, the first noticeable detail would be the lack of anything. No shelves lined the walls, no desks or cubicles, nothing but open space and a very interesting floor. The floor was completely see through, revealing an intricate maze that extended five feet below a layer of reinforced two way mirrors. Walls containing light fixtures divided the space below into one continuous and looping pathway.  The maze contained its own ecosystem complete with a shallow stream that spanned the ziz zagging and continuous track. Gazing down from above showed the extent of the maze and gazing up from below showed only yourself.

 

 

In another room adjacent to the maze, Dr. Green found that his attendants had already collected the mouse with the eye shaped marking and left it in the room’s solitary cage. The cage was lined with whiteboards and markers and had one of the first testing grounds for teaching language. Dr. Green pounded over to a bench next to the special teaching cave and began the efforts of training his chosen mouse.

Over the course of a week, Dr. Green could be seen flailing his arms around and shoving Polaroid pictures into the mouse’s face.  He taught the mouse to lift his whiskers and drop his whiskers and simultaneously provided positive and negative indicators for each. Dr. Green named him Doug.

***

Descending rapidly, his tail clenched between two pudgy fingers, Doug/Simon observed the vast underground landscape spreading before him. Immediately beneath him, a squat hill overlooked a winding river threading its way through the narrow, empty plains. On his descent, he could just see over the maze dividers, spotting the endless nature of the passage.

Turning to look at his conveyor, Doug/Simon waggled his whiskers up and down furiously but thought better of it, opting to waggle them only down instead. He clenched and unclenched his whiskers. He wiggled his nose. He scurried around the doctor’s palm. Dr, Green only stared at the mouse confusedly.

As the doctor set Doug/Simon gently down, he took one last crack and swung himself with enough force to reach and nibble at the doctor’s hand. The great man yelped and dropped Doug/Simon the last few feet before trudging off in a huff.

Doug/Simon watched his new home carefully, sniffing with white fur bristling. Dr. Green returned shortly carrying a number of small cages of aphids that he set down a distance from Doug/Simon’s snapping jaws. Doug/Simon wiggled his whiskers graciously and almost regretted his bite. Except Dr. Green left and returned yet again with a cage of new born Manny Mice.

Doug/Simon stared at the fat doctor and the infant Manny mice. His head was framed by a reflective sky, poking through a rectangular hole directly above the hill. The man’s face was smiling, a gruesome sight to behold. The infant mice were rolling over each other in their cages.  Doug/Simon wiggled his whiskers incredulously.

Doug/Simon noticed his reflection in the sky and began grooming his forehead and hands, checking to make sure everything was in order. Dr. Green waved his hands in front of the mouse’s eyes for attention but the Doug/Simon did an about face. He craned his neck to see through the pudgy sausage fingers but the enormous doctor continued to stretch his arm in front of the mouse’s view. Dr. Green picked up the mouse, turned him around and set him on his haunches. He pointed extravagantly at the cages of infant mice. He flailed his arms as much as possible through the sky recess.

 Doug/Simon scurried off down the side of the hill.

Catching his tail when he reached the base of the hill, the doctor repeated the process of setting the Doug/Simon on his haunches and pointing. Doug/Simon had other ideas. White hair bristling, the mouse continued to streak down the hillside, zig zagging and weaving. Every time he thought he was beyond the Doctor’s reach, he was caught. Doug/Simon stood on the top of the hill and waved his hands at the giant face, balling his little clawed hand in a ginger fist.

Doctor Green rifled through a pile of images that Doug/Simon had become infinitely familiar with. He produced a card with two images, one on each side divided by a heavy line. One side showed an animated mouse, overcome by a herd of aphids while the other showed a group of mice herding them into an organized pen. Doug/Simon had previously agreed to the benefits of community aphid farming. He wiggled his whiskers down and up, signifying his animosity. But the jowled doctor continued to produce images showing a mouse raising a group of younger mice, finally being revered as their leader. The last image showed the great mouse lying on a Dais with his feet in the air and aphid steaks all around. Doug/Simon was on board.

 


© Copyright 2017 Marcus B. Ryker. All rights reserved.

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