Crossed Wires

by Matthew Wilson

Richard had never seen a living mouse. Maybe they had stopped existing at all.

He admired the work that went into making the furry creature getting his exercise on the quickly spinning orange wheel. It’s insides full of wires must have made a miscalculation for the thing squealed as it’s feet locked round itself and being flung out into the different coloured paper, landed, seemingly no worse for wear.

Poor thing.

But Richard had not paid for pain receptors, the things held no purpose for him. Let the Cat eat the mouse and cough it up. It would keep it’s original form. The mouse did not know it was none living. It still jumped when Richard banged his toe against the edge of his bed. Or cars on the nearby highway blared by in frustrated traffic.

Oil beat faster by it’s battery powered heart in frightened belief it’s end was near.

Poor thing.

Richard smiled and picked it up, letting it sniff the cheese and onion crumbs on his palms to calm it. He called it Robo, mom said it would be silly to give an object an affectionate name like Toby or Sam.

He might as well name the TV Fido.

But as long as he kept the battery fresh, the mouse never got sick. The tracker in it’s neck made it easy to find should it squeeze it’s metal ribs under the door. After what she paid for the thing, mom was not just gonna let it run a mile the first chance it got.

It was easy to recharge the mouse when it powered down for the night. The manual explained everything, just remove the top of it’s head with the catch behind it’s ear, and insert the wire.

Robo was a good friend, mom thought. It broke her heart to see him cry when his last pet had been run over. The last real thing he owned. But not this time! Her boy would not suffer seeing death again so she had kicked the thing ten times in the shop to check the owners ten year guarantee.

Her boy and the mouse would live a long time together.

She smiled when she tapped the door, came in. “Bed time, Richard. You’ve a test in the morning.”

Richard yawned, thinking mom a psychic. She always seemed to know when he was tired.

“Upsy daisy,” she said, lifting him into the bed and closed the cage on Robo. “Oh no you don’t. I found him in the chimney last week. If he was real, he’d have been smoked to death.”

Richard picked up his favourite book, gave it some consideration and lay it down. Mom was right, he had to get his rest for the test tomorrow. “He’s just an explorer, mom. Has to see and know every answer to every question. Like me.”

His mother smiled and kissed his brow as she sat on the bed. For a while she watched him. Eyes closing, closing. Gone.

Poor thing. It didn’t even know it wasn’t alive. Richard had died a while ago, on the road. Chasing that mouse. He had been so worried about it, he’d not hesitated in giving chase, nor looked both ways.

But mother could not face it, she touched the switch behind her sons ear and inserted the wires.

Her boy had a maths test in the morning, and needed all the energy he could get.

The End