The Tunnel

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Stephen Whiteside
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The Tunnel

Post by Stephen Whiteside » Mon Oct 17, 2011 5:48 am

The Tunnel

© Stephen Whiteside 17.10.2011

Magnifico? What sort of name is that for a mouse?

Well, I was a strong mouse, you see. In the circus.

But mice aren’t strong. They’re weak little creatures.


Yes, I suppose that’s true. But compared to other mice, I was strong. And it was a mouse circus, you see. All of the performers were mice. And all the audience were mice, too.

But that’s impossible! Mice cannot organise themselves that way. They are slaves. Slaves or scavengers.

I think that’s a pretty common belief. But it’s not true. There are mouse villages. Mouse towns. True, since THE GREAT CALAMITY they are not as strong as they used to be. And, sadly, many of my brothers and sisters are now indeed reduced to the life you describe. It is very sad. But it was not always that way. And it will not always be.

Such strange things you are saying. I’ve never heard such stuff.

Well, believe me or don’t believe me. It really doesn’t matter to me. Things change. It’s in the nature of things. Perhaps there will come a time when rats no longer rule mice, when rats become to be regarded as pests, too. Stranger things have happened.

Rats? Pests? Preposterous! Now I know you are talking rubbish!

Ssh! Not so loud! We are very vulnerable here. Come, follow me.

Magnifico crept from under his scanty cover of leaves and back up stream, hugging the bottom of the embankment so that nothing could get behind him. Horatio followed. The night was full of strange and frightening noises. A thin sliver of moon showed, and there was slightly more light than the previous night.

Shortly they came to a small tributary stream that entered the main creek to their right. Horatio was surprised he had not noticed it before. He had obviously blundered blindly straight past it in his exhaustion the previous morning.

The embankment continued a short distance from this little creek also, though it was not as high as before. They followed it in the same fashion, squeezing themselves tightly against it, trying to render themselves invisible, or at least small and uninviting.

It wasn’t long before they arrived at the broad root system of a mighty tree. It was partially covered with leaves. Horatio watched as Magnifico suddenly disappeared between a bundle of leaves, leaving behind a slight gap through which he also eased himself.

It was very dark under the leaves, and Horatio was temporarily blinded once more. It quickly became apparent to him, though, that they were entering some sort of narrow, primitive tunnel, with a root forming the left side wall.

They stopped. Horatio was about to say what a cool little place it was, but other words came out of his mouth instead.

Ooh, I feel sick!



I told you not to wolf that cheese down so quickly! I’m not surprised. Well, for God’s sake, don’t bring it up in here. That’s the last thing we need!

Horatio began to pant, breathing in and out quickly. It had worked before. Alas, it was no good. Before he had a chance to move, the half digested cheese came up in one swift convulsion of his stomach, wrapped in a shiny envelope of mucus, covered in bubbles.

Oh, great!

Don’t worry, I’ll eat it up again. Just give me a moment.

You’ll what?



I’ll eat it again. This little tunnel will soon be even cleaner than ever before. I promise you. Trust me. Just give me a moment.

But what a disgusting thing to do!

What do you mean disgusting? Rats do this all the time. It prevents waste, and makes for great cleanliness. No wonder mice are in such disarray, if they can’t even do a simple thing like this!

But it’s revolting! It’s uncivilised!

Call it what you will, but it’s very efficient.

But Horatio said no more. If he was deeply wounded, it did not show. His tongue was working fast, quickly lapping at the edges of the large slippery bundle. Then his sharp teeth appeared, and punched surprisingly well defined bites out of the slippery, amorphous mass that lay before him.

It didn’t taste great, but it didn’t taste absolutely terrible, either. Soon it was all gone. Horatio licked the last traces of mucus from the ground before him, and it was true, the floor of the tunnel was probably cleaner than it had been before.

Good God! You ate that even more quickly than the first time. You’ll probably bring it all back up again.

No, I think I’ll be all right. It tends to stay down better the second time.

You mean you do this often?



No, not really often, but often enough to know what to expect.

Magnifico shook his head in dismay, confusion and disgust.

What I was going to say, said Horatio, before I so rudely interrupted myself, was what a great little place you have here!
Stephen Whiteside, Australian Poet and Writer
http://www.stephenwhiteside.com.au

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Maureen K Clifford
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Re: The Tunnel

Post by Maureen K Clifford » Mon Oct 17, 2011 6:18 am

disgusting enough that the kids will love it...Yuk :lol: :lol: Do rats actually do that???
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I may not always succeed in making a difference, but I will go to my grave knowing I at least tried.

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Stephen Whiteside
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Re: The Tunnel

Post by Stephen Whiteside » Mon Oct 17, 2011 7:02 am

Don't know. Dogs sure do.
Stephen Whiteside, Australian Poet and Writer
http://www.stephenwhiteside.com.au

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