Meredith and the kits stood waiting at the entrance of the family fluff. Moby was over 2 launs late, and the kits were speculating about what might have delayed him so long. Meredith tensely reassured them that he was fine, her own mind racing about her mouse's whereabouts. When she saw him enter the fluff complex, she, as well as the kits, let out a sigh of relief. But then she noticed what was missing: the food bag. Meredith ran to Moby. "What happened?" she squeaked. "And where's the food?"

Moby cursed himself for forgetting it while the kits stood watching about 50 tails away, wondering what was going on. "I'll go back out and look for it," he told his ma'am apologetically.

"No, you can't!" she reminded him, voice full of concern. "The priests will put you on trial if they catch you. It's okay. The kits can have my food from last night."

"You didn't eat last night?" Moby asked.

"No, I heard from Angelina that more rationing of food was on the way, and so I saved my half crumb so the kits could have something to eat if it got too desperate."

"It still won't be much."

"No, but they'll have something. Honey, I don't want you getting hurt."

"What will we tell the kits?"

"Tell them that a black mouse stole it from you."

Moby hesitated. "Oh, alright," he said at last. The two walked back towards the fluff to give the kits the bad news.


They mice sat in their fluff, eating their meager portions. "Mom, I'm hungry," Hana complained, wriggling in the polyfiber couch stuffing.

"Me too!" complained May. "Why'd that mean black mouse take our food?"

"Black mice are all criminals," Brad informed his little sisters. "You're in school now, you should know that."

"Brad, not all black mice are criminals," scolded Moby. "In fact, I met a very nice black mouse just yesterday. His name was Carle. He died in a trap."

"But Dad, that's what they taught us in school today! Black mice don't have values."

"Who told you that?" he asked suspiciously.

"The teacher!"

"Well then, your teacher is wrong."

"He told us you might say that."

"The teacher? Why?"

"Because, Man hadn't told the priests that when you were in school."

"You know, Brad, not everything they tell you in school is true," Fil teased.

"Of course it is!"

"No it's not!"

"Yes! It is! That's breaking the Claw! You're breaking the Claw!"

"Mice!" whisper-yelled Meredith at the both of them. "Brad, quiet down, or your brother will get in trouble with the priests. And Fil, don't you dare speak ill of Man in this fluff again!"

The mice nibbled in silence for nearly a half-laun, taking as small bites as possible to preserve the sensation of eating.

"So, Dad," Mat finally broke the silence. "How did you say that mouse died again?"

"A trap," he unenthusiastically told his son.

"That's what killed some black kits in my class!" Mik exclaimed. "Awesome!"

"Yeah, awesome!" Bil agreed.

"Dead mice aren't awesome," Rakel scolded.

"Sounds pretty awesome to me," replied Dane. "Getting your head snapped off. Loads of fun!"

"It's not a joke!" rebutted Rakel.

Meredith and Moby just looked at each other and sighed. Fil giggled.

Hearing this, Jak began to laugh loudly, trying to imitate his brother.

"You guys," Any whined, "You're upsetting mother."

"You guhyyyyys," Fil mimicked. Jack cracked up.

"Okay, that's it." Meredith was done. "Bed time for all of you. I don't want to hear another squeak out of any kit before the morning." All the kits but Any groaned, but they complied. They swallowed the last of their rations and curled up in place, stomach growling. Soon enough, Moby and Meredith could hear eleven little kits breathing slowly in sleep.

"So who was this black mouse you were talking about?" Meredith inquired, concerned.

"He was a fooder named Carle. His family died in a trap, and then he did."

"How did you know him?" she interrogated.

"He heard that I had eleven kits and offered me food for my kits."

"I don't see any food."

"Look, Mer, he died! Give me a break!"

"How was he stupid enough to walk into a trap?"

"A priest told me he threw himself in. I don't know the details."

"Why would he kill himself if he was going to bring you food?"

Moby paused. "I don't know. Seems strange."

Meredith sighed. "Go to bed. You have work early next daun."

Moby curled up exhausted in the itchy fluff, feeling his back against the cold concrete floor. He closed his eyes. Meredith sat up, scanning the crowd of kits, and lastly her husband. She wondered if they truly would grow up to be the wonderful mice she once thought they would.

The End

7 comments about this story Feed