Saturday, May 14, 2011

Addicted To You

Compacted to barely half her normal size so as to become nearly invisible, Melinda waited for the footstep to echo its last ca-lomp before racing down the long, granite hall. Following the right base, scurrying past barred openings that reeked of the foul, murderous creatures and their toiletries, she turned once right, and then twice left before reaching the door to her destination.

The box was still there, she could see it across the vast expanse; its blue, pebbled contents crying out to be stolen and put to good use. But the guards were about as well, and the swampers, waving their sodden mops to and fro, creating shallow lakes and riverlets that Mel would need to cross to claim her prize.


She was so hungry she nearly passed out watching the activity in wait for an opening. It had been days since she'd had her own meal, and her recent activities were only exacerbating her stamina problems.


Mel couldn't remember how long it had been for sure, but it must have been a week or more since Dophan awoke from his customary one hour sleep, sweating and smelling of molt. So at least that long she'd been running this course, bringing back whatever morsels she could find in the
creature kitchen to feed her prince and protector while he was unable to do for himself.

He'd found the box on his own while on his daily scamper and once having tasted of it's pungent contents, he was hooked. Mel had brought him various morsels and droppings in the first days of his sickness, but he'd have none of it, whining constantly that he would only eat the blue pebbles, that nothing else could save him; nothing else would make him happy.


Mel could only sigh at first, not believing her mate would allow himself to perish before he'd eat ordinary food. "Men are all pretty much alike", she'd been told by her mother; "they are brave and strong and unyielding until the moment they find themselves sniffling, and then they whine and moan like newborn".


Heeding mama's warning, Melinda was stubborn at first, facing off with Dophan's stubborness and accusing him of putting her at great risk as some kind of silly test of her love.


But over time it was obvious that her sweet, sweet Dophan had some sort of addiction to the blue crumbs, and regardless what threats there were to her own safety in collecting them, it was her solemn desire to satisfy her lovely mate as best she could
in sickness and in health as promised.

Hyperventilating, the young girl picked a path and threw her weight forward, tossing herself into the open light so as to remove her cautious reluctance by physical force. She ran as the wind runs upstream on a quickly cooling late summer's night, following her nose while her eyes were constantly darting across the horizon for signs that she'd been noticed.


She made the trip uneventfully save the splashes of soapy water on her belly, matting her fur and sending a slight chill into her anemic bloodstream.


The box was in its normal place, just under the shiny steel counter where trays of silver utensils waited for hundreds of thick, unclean hands to snatch them from their rest. It was dark near the box, and a bit scary if you'd ask Melinda; she'd already fought off an encroaching spider intent on laying eggs in her husband's foodstuffs; and as she was deathly afraid of the chitin jawed creatures, Mel had damn near died of fright before winning the day.


But love is an inspirational master, lending courage and prowess in battle to the weakest of its captives. And love was all Melinda needed to stay focused on Dophan's recovery.


She'd not yet told him they were expecting, he'd no idea how important it was that he become the same lord and master that he'd been before coming down with his virus or whatever it was. She couldn't do this parenting thing alone and he would just have to get better soon so as to pull his weight while she suckled the children.


A loud clank roused her from her restful but tense daydreams. The swampers were done, putting away their equipment in the maintenance closet and if she didn't hurry, the doors would close and leave her trapped until the next creature meal; too long for Dophan to live without at least a morsel of his precious pebbles.


Mel pulled back her lips and clamped her front teeth around two of the cylindrical pellets, careful not to touch either with her own tongue and start the melting process. If the food was to begin dissolving in her own mouth, she'd need to swallow and swallowing on the run always led to choking, then dropping the food, then panicking that she'd been seen and then starting all over again. So, better to keep her mouth totally dry for transport.


The floor was clear, the door still open. She pushed off the wall behind her for a tiny speed advantage and flew across the black speckled, white wasteland faster than she'd ever run in her life; and all to no avail as a shout and burst of wind from a miss-aimed mop gave her plenty of noticed that she'd been spotted and was now in a race for her life.


The clomping was dreadful; multiple creatures were on her tail, one of them slamming his mop across her back trying to capture her in its cotton tentacles. Slowed but not stopped, Mel kept running along the wall knowing that to deviate from the path would surely spell her eventual doom in a place unknown. The creatures behind the bars were now joining in the chase, in spirit if not by foot. Their loud caterwauling was unnerving to the tiny lass; screams of
kill it, kill it were frightening enough, but the taunts about catching her and making her a pettable slave nearly made her leave pellets of her own in her wake.

Looking up and away from her path in order to gather bearings, Mel made the last left and finally spied the crack she and the Dophan called home. She was winning this race, the mop monsters slowed by their sedentary lifestyles.
It has to be hard to keep fit Mel thought as she sucked in her breath to form fit the sliver of doorway to her dusty but warm and dimly lit manse, when you're cooped up in a box no bigger than your body all day.

Once inside, she collapsed to the floor, spitting out her packages before huffing and panting her way back to a near regular heartbeat. She whimpered in the direction of Dophan, dreaming that he'd suddenly recovered while she'd been gone and was at this moment preparing to whisk her into his arms for butterfly kisses and baby talk words of his devotion, just before laying by her side in a bout of serious lovemaking.


For what might have been 20 minutes she lay there in silence with her eyes closed, imagining her lover's fingers slipping between the cold, hard floor and her warm, fuzzy spine. A few times she'd even held her breath in joyous excitement, the vision so strong as to make her truly believe that her fantasy was no illusion at all but actually occurring.


But as disappointment settled in to obscure hope, Melinda reluctantly opened one eye and peered toward the family bed, knowing that to do so was to destroy the possibility of her dream for good. And oh, it did more than that.


With a great wail Melinda stood and lept the few inches to her darling prince's side, touching his open jaw where spittle was oozing from within his stiffening body. Her heart stopped for what must have been eternity as she gazed upon the form of her only reason to be alive, the last vestige of her pride and comfort, the only mouse she'd ever loved.


A multi-image collage of their lives together drifted in and out of Melinda's fog, her tears flowing like spilled wine, always sippable off the alcoholic warden's kitchen floor. She lay across her
little Dope's body, hoping that a lightning bolt might pierce them both and send her along with him to heaven. Certainly God could see her pain! Surely the Almighty would take pity on this poor faithful and always tithing waif, so dedicated to her vows that she'd risk her very life to feed her dying husband a stupid blue pebble of smelly vegetable compound! Take me, Take me PLEASE! she shouted to all that is holy, but as always, in vain.

Dejected, trembling, the slight wisp of a girl sat upright on her haunch to ponder her future. She'd not seen another mouse beyond the magnificent Dophan in years, it was hardly likely that she'd find another mate in time for the birthing.


She could search beyond the boundaries of their territory to see if others were still scurrying, but there was always the risk that she'd lose her way and forever run like a rat in a maze, never finding satisfaction, much to the cursed
creatures' entertainment.

A hollowness washed over her, not from her lover's death, not from her being quite alone, but from her absolute hunger, the pangs of which were now gnawing through her very righteous misery.


Mel sighed a heavy sigh; there was nothing to eat save the blue packages she'd nearly been squashed for. And there was something about them that made her queasy. Perhaps they looked all too inviting; were she to develop the same addiction to them as Dophan, she might lose her girlish figure and never attract a potential mate; not to mention have a severe liability if ever she needed to outrun the creatures again.


Then again, it was a long way to the kitchen; if this became the food of choice it would take oodles of energy to collect; and the scampering alone would keep her trim.


Almost absentmindedly she picked up one blue tube and began to gnaw on it's upper end. She was again browsing her
library of memory for photos and stories of her life under the protection of the Mouse Prince, and too occupied to notice that she'd eaten nearly half a pebble before being aware of its marvelous taste and texture.

As mice often do, Melinda set her troubles aside and bore into the chunk of chow she held in her tiny, clawed fingers. It was quite good, she was thinking...
No wonder Dophan would rather have died than eaten ordinary food, once having tasted this wondrous morsel.

Wept out, pragmatically thinking of her next chores (move the body-clear the bed-get a good night's sleep-run for food-), Melinda munched away on her husband's last supper never had. She wanted to eat up and take her hour of sleep as quickly as possible. She had a whole new attitude about life now, moments after having been kicked to the curb by the powers that be.


She couldn't wait to run to the kitchen for more blue pellets, those things were damn good. Dophan was right and his teachings served his lover Melinda well;
if it aint spelled "D-con", the Mouse Prince would always say, it aint worth eatin.