I Found A Knife

A Story site from EldonHughes

Mouse Wheel & Quill Willie & Frank--
Shakespeare?
In Nano-Time

Mouse Sports
(Chapter 4)

I didn't have to stay with the mice twenty four seven, but I was supposed to "check on them on a regular schedule." The research team had a clipboard on top of the cage. I was supposed to log the date and time, and note any comments that occurred to me. Yeah... right.

Every morning I'd start coffee and head down the hall to the lab showers. After that, I'd check in on the mighty mouse duo and see how their novel was coming along. More of the same:

EARLY YES ME REAL HOLD HOT GIVE LIFE WEST MISS OUR FEW GROUND BROUGHT UNDER STOP INTEREST HEAT REACH SNOW WORD FAST BED OPEN TEN FIVE BRING SEEM SIMPLE SING SIT TOGETHER SEVERAL LISTEN PERHAPS NEXT VOWEL SIX FILL WHITE TOWARD TABLE EAST CHILDREN WAR TRAVEL WEIGHT BEGIN LAY LESS LANGUAGE GOT AGAINST MORNING AMONG EXAMPLE WALK PATTERN SLOW EASE CENTER PAPER LOVE OFTEN PERSON ALWAYS MONEY MUSIC SERVE THOSE APPEAR BOTH ROAD MARK MAP BOOK SCIENCE LETTER RULE UNTIL GOVERN MILE PULL RIVER COLD CAR NOTICE FEET VOICE CARE FALL SENCOND POWER FREE GROUP TOWN CARRY FINE TOOK CERTAIN RAIN FLY EAT UNIT ROOM LEAD IDEA MACHINE FISH NOTE MOUNT WAIT NORTH PLAN ONCE FIGURE BASE STAR HEAR BOX HORSE NOUN CUT FIELD SURE REST WATCH CORRECT COLOR ABLE FACE POUND WOOD DOWN MAIN BEAUTY ENOUGH DRIVE PLAIN STOOD GIRL CONTAIN MOUNTAIN USUAL FRONT YOUNG TEACH READY WEEK ABOVE FINAL EVER GAVE RED GREEN LIST OH THOUGH QUICK FEEL DEVELOP TALK SLEEP WAR BIRD SOON FREE BODY

 It went that way for the first couple weeks, then, I started noticing something peculiar. There was still  gibberish, but every couple of pages there would be words strung together that seemed to make sense. The one that caught my eye first was on a Sunday afternoon. I was watching the football game. The Rams were on this huge losing streak. I didn't really care about the game, but that little TV only got 4 channels. Anyway, in the middle of this string of gobblydeegook was this:

TOP INTEREST HEAT REACH SNOW WORD FAST BED OPEN TEN FIVE BRING SEEM SIMPLE SING SIT TO GET MAN THE RAMS REALLY SUCK HER SEVERAL LIST PERHAPS NEXT VOWEL SIX FILL WHITE TOWARD TABLE EAST CHILDREN WAR


At first I just laughed.

“I couldn't agree with you more Willie,” I said.

A bit later, in the middle of a bunch of random words, was a complete sentence:

OLD HOT GIVE LIFE WEST THAT WAS FRANK, BUT I AGREE WITH HIM. PROBLEM FOOT YET PIECE TOLD EACH READY WEEK ABOVE FINAL EVER NEED FOR BEFORE

Ok, this is too weird, I'm thinking to myself. Then I figure that maybe we have somebody with some computer talent in the lab upstairs. Somebody who's figured out how to remote into the computer and insert words. But, when I ran upstairs, there wasn't anyone there. It was a holiday. Stranger and stranger.

On the screen in the lab, I could see the same stuff I saw downstairs:

OLD HOT GIVE LIFE WEST THAT WAS FRANK, BUT I AGREE WITH HIM. PROBLEM FOOT YET PIECE TOLD EACH READY WEEK ABOVE FINAL EVER NEED FOR BEFORE THE NAME SHE SUCH OF VERY WHICH FOLLOW TO THROUGH DO ACT AND JUST THEIR WAY A FORM TIME ASK IN MUCH OF IF MEN IS GREAT WILL CHANGE IT THINK WAY WENT YOU SAY ABOUT LIGHT THAT HELP MANY KIND OF HE LOW THEN OFF WAS LINE THEM NEED FOR BEFORE WOULD HOUSE ON TURN WRITE PICTURE ARE CAUSE LIKE TRY WITH SAME SO US ASS AS MEAN THESE AGAIN I DIFFER HER ANIMAL HIS MOVE LONG POINT THEY RIGHT MAKE MOTHER BE BOY THING WORLD AT OLD SEE NEAR ONE TOO HIM BUILD HAVE DOES TWO SELF THIS TELL HAS EARTH FROM SENTENCE LOOK FATHER OR SET ORTHE NAME SHE SUCH OF VERY WHICH FOLLOW TO THROUGH DO ACT AND JUST THEIR TOO HIM BUILD HAVE DOES TWO SELF THIS TELL HAS EARTH FROM SENTENCE LOOK FATHER OR SET OR SET HAD

I looked through the screens and didn't see anything else that might make any sense. Just that one sentence.

“AH, somebody is screwing with me,” I said. Nuts to them. They were right, though. The team really sucks this year.

_______________________________

Heading for the shower the next morning I opened the door and ran nose first into Jenny Riley. Fortunately she was facing the other way. The wandering mass of soft brown curls that is her hair makes for a really nice, wonderfully smelling, way to break a fall.  I can still remember thinking that just before hitting the floor.

We wound up on opposite sides of the hall, feet still entangled.

“What's the rush,  Jake?” Jenny laughed.

I groaned and lifted myself off the floor. “Late for work.” I said. “I stayed up late last night reading over....” I stopped myself. I wasn't going to admit to anybody that I poured through several hundred screens of mouse scrabbling looking for more hidden messages. And even though she made a lab coat look cuter than an Atlantic Sea Shore sun suit in the spring, it was still a lab coat. She worked for the research team. Well, sort of. She's a research assistant, one of the people assigned feeding duties for Willie and Frank. Like I said, she was one of them.

That stopped me for a moment. When did I start putting myself on the rat's side? Us against them, and all that. Whatever, I decided. It was still one of them that had been screwing with me, planting those two phrases.

I had read every screen, checking. What can I say, The game was boring. And, the phrases had freaked me out. So, yeah, I stayed up most of the night looking back and forth through the gibberish. But I wasn't planning to let whoever it was know about it.

“... um some tech specs for the new hardware for the lab.”

“Well, aren't you just the dedicated one?” she smiled. “Probably couldn't have been anymore boring than the football game, though. Geez, the team really sucks this year, doesn't it?”

AH HA! I shouted inside my head. But I didn't let it show. I stayed cool... nonplussed. “Yeah, I gave up on watching them a couple games ago.” And headed down the hall for the shower area.

Jenny was gone when I got back. I dressed and headed upstairs to my office, just down the hall from the lab rooms.

I won't bore you with the details. I'm a computer systems geek. I spend my days making blinky red lights turn green and making the lights that are off blink whatever color they are supposed to. All the rest is details, meetings and tech manuals.

For lunch I went downstairs and said "hi" to the mice, and microwaved some lunch. The afternoon was filled with more blinky lights than usual, so I didn't get back downstairs until late.

There was noise coming from my room, thumping vibrations that I could feel through my shoes. Whatever it was, it was vibrating the door. I mean it was really loud and obnoxious noise. Ok, it was disco. I groaned and opened the door.

“Shaun!” I shouted. “SHAUN! Turn that crap down.” My brother was dancing in front of the mouse cage, with his back to me. He didn't hear me. Shaun's radio is one of those hold overs from the early eighties, the kind you'd see some guy lugging through the subway, annoying the crap out of the other riders. It was three feet wide, a foot tall and at least a foot deep. I think it had about thirty minutes battery life on a full charge. But, it also vibrated at about fifteen miles an hour, so you could probably ride it home if you lived downhill. I went across the room and cranked the knob down.

“Jesus, Shaun... you're gonna make the mice deaf.”

“I think they like it, Jakey,” Shaun said, turning around. “Besides, they're probably already deaf.”

“No, they aren't.”

“Sure they are,” he said. “Most albino mammals have hearing problems.”

“They aren't albinos, you idiot. They're white mice.”

“Hey, white hair, pink eyes. They look albino to me,” he insisted. “Just like Johnny Winter.”

“First off, just their eyelids are pink. If they were albino, the eyes themselves would be pink. Second, are you trying to tell me that the greatest white blues guitarist in history was deaf?”

He shrugged and popped the door on the microwave. “Hey, just telling you what I've read.”

He leaned his head in and blew steam off of something, then reached in and pulled my last now not frozen dinner out.

“What the crap? You stole that from my freezer.”

“Relax, man. It's just mac and cheese.”

“Yeah, and?”

“And nothing. I guess,” he said. He stuck a fork into the cardboard container and took a bite. His eyes bulged and his mouth dropped open. He turned to the trash can and began spitting food into the trash.

“Oh man... How old is this?” he choked out.

“I don't know,” I shrugged. “I found it in a fridge, in the store room on the fifth floor.”

Shaun took a plastic cup from the sink, ran some water into it and rinsed his mouth out. “That room's been closed up for what... three years? And you were going to eat this?”

“No way.  I just stuck it in there 'cuz I knew you'd take it eventually.”

“You asshole.” He threw the empty cup at me, but I caught it and threw it back.

“Tell you what,” he said. “I'll let you buy dinner to make it up to me.”

“That's big of you. Chinese?”

"Johnny Cools? Let's go,” he said and we headed for the door.

On the screen behind us, unseen until later, in amongst the gibberish the words scrolled up:

FRONT YOUNG TEACH READY WEEK ABOVE FINAL EVER GAVE RED GREEN LIST OH THOUGH QUICK FEEL DEVELOP MAC AND CHEESE ROCKS.

 

Up Next: Noodles and Pin ups  

 

Book One of the Poison and Wine series by C.H. Valentino and Eldon Hughes.

    There's a battle underway in New Orleans. It's a game being played between the voodoo Barons Samedi and LaCroix.

    Danni Toussaint has a nail in her chest, the mark of her debt to The Baron Samedi. To repay him, she steals souls.

   Michael Belew works for the Sisters of New Orleans. Nuns in the 9th Ward are missing, and he suspects voodoo is the cause.  He's desperate.

    He drafts Danni to help find them. Now they are pawns in the Baron's game.

There is no winning the game. There's only survival. But even that could cost Michael his soul.

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--"Willie & Frank"

~~~~

I Found a Knife

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