Waking from a short night Lennie and Candor emerged from their nest of sawdust and wood shavings. Rubbing her bulging eyes with her pink claws Lennie complained that she was sick of playing games to obtain food. Candor said he didn’t mind the games as the food was good and their nest was warm. ‘True, but why should we run around in a wheel or get lost in endless mazes to please the whim of The Big Ones?’ she replied. ‘To get food.’ Candor was not dreaming big, but Lennie was.
‘We could do better than that! There is a whole world out there which we could populate with our offspring and feast on wild things!’ ‘Really?’ Candor objected, ‘I have a vague memory that there are indeed wild things out there that could harm us and our children.’
Before Lennie could unveil her plan, The Big One came and lifted them up. ‘See you tonight!’ Lennie screamed in Candor’s direction.
The Big Ones wore white lab coats and black-rimmed glasses. They had machines on their wrists, in their pockets and in their ears and proceed to dress the mice in a similar fashion. Fanatic about numbers they counted their subjects breaths, steps, heartbeats and measures weight and revolutions. Every so often one of their machines made a noise and got attended to while the mice ran through another maze.
At the end of the day Candor and Lennie were reunited in their little cage. They were exhausted and although Lennie tended to her current brood of babies, she refused Candor’s advances. ‘Not tonight, Candor, I have to think! How did you go, today?’ to which he replied: ‘I think I did well, plenty of food! What about you?’ ‘Yeah, not bad, but still, I am sick of it! You see, every time our babies are weaned they get lifted up and we never see them again!’ ‘Why worry, there will be another bunch soon enough!’ They licked their babies and settled in to sleep.
Lennie was up early sniffing around the cage. When Candor rose she was onto him with an escape plan! ‘You must have been infected by the Big Ones, they always follow plans, it seems!’ Candor interjected.
‘Well, you know how there is a rest period in the middle of the day when the Big Ones leave the lab for quite a long while?’ “Of course, that’s when we have a nap and often the nicest dreams!’ ‘Yes. But I noticed that sometimes they don’t fasten the latch very well. We should stay awake and try to prise the gate open!’ ’Very clever, ninety-nine!’
Tom had arrived late in the lab, cursing the traffic. Sandra had already prepared the experiment and put the coffee machine on. The aroma of the black liquid percolating into the glass jug was delicious. It appeased Tom quite a bit but he continued grumbling about the rat-race of getting out of bed, the kids to school and him into work. Sandra new the story, it was the same one every day.
They set about working, writing papers, observing and timing the mice, fiddling with the set-up and soon it was lunch time. Tom asked Sandra if she wanted to join him for lunch at a waterfront café, but she declined because she had brought her own and was going to do some errands. ‘Thanks, anyway, maybe another day.’ ‘Sure.’ He said looking a little lost. When he finally exited through the revolving door onto a busy pavement he felt assaulted by the glaring sunlight and hurried into the nearest subway station.
Lennie and Candor pretended they were going to sleep as usual when the Big Ones had their discussion about lunching together but once the door was closed they got up and tried to push open the gate.
It worked! ‘That’s great! Your plan worked! But what next?’ ‘Follow me!’ Lennie yelled as she climbed out of the cage. ‘And leave the babies behind?’ ‘They’ll be gone soon, anyway’, Lennie said laconically. She was already on the floor. Candor bundled up his courage and jumped, landing flat on the linoleum and sliding towards the door.
They stayed together as they navigated the bigger maze of the building until they found an exit. Candor was right into the rubbish finding food items and even mice poo, which told him that they were not alone in this new environment. He said so to Lennie who thought that maybe there were other mice who had managed to escape!
Eventually they met the other mice and heard that this was not the whole world but only a yard with rubbish bins that were emptied regularly but were soon being refilled. Plenty of food and shelter. The good life.