Moby

When Moby walked into the fluff after a long day of work, he wasn't the only one who reeked of Kol. Every daun he would sit next to another of his kits, trying to get back in touch with his family, and todaun it was Jak. It took him a little while to realize that Jak's stench wasn't just his own, dissipating, but, he noted the way Jak's whiskers drooped, his lack of conversation, and the general impertinence of anything he did say. After a few minutes of this, nibbling away at the rations, Moby jumped up.

He sniffed at Jak, and with sorry anger he began to shout grievingly at him. "You're kold!" Moby yelled at the little mouse, who nodded in blissfully unaware agreement. "How are you kold? Who gave you Kol in the first place? Why the fug are you kold?" he shouted at the little mouse, who continued blissfully nibbling. Entirely unsatisfied, and looking to shift the blame away from someone who didn't react to it, Moby turned to Rakel. "I thought you said that you're watching over the kits for me!" he berated her. "How can you let this happen? Really! You'll make a terrible ma'am someday! You're own kit comes home kold and you don't even notice."

Rakel kept her cool and tried to speak up, but Moby continued yelling. "I need you to care for my kits while I'm at work! I can't be coming home and worrying that I'll mistake my own Kol smell for the smell of one of you! What– did you decide they were old enough and just pass around the pouch to all of them!" Moby stopped shouting and began sniffing the heads of all the little ones, who cowered in fear, afraid that their father would start screaming at them too. But Moby's pause gave Rakel her chance.

"I don't have anything to do with Jak," she said, staring at her brother angrily. "He follows Fil around like he's his mother."

Moby turned and looked suspiciously at Rakel, but seeing no signs of a lie, looked towards Fil, whose whiskers drooped even more. His crumb was laying in the fluff next to him, and his little ribcage was undulating in a peaceful stupor. As Moby stood over him, glaring angrily, he stirred, and then shuddered to life. "Wusssntmeh!" he shouted, body rocking up despite his obvious intoxication.

Moby stared down at him. "What wasn't you?" he asked accusingly.

"Uh," Fil looked up at him, "Idunrellyknoww. Izndatwotyootellme?

Moby glared down at his pathetic son, laying incredibly kold on the ground. "How did you get kol anyway?"

Fil stretched lazily. "Preestss."

Moby didn't understand him, and turned to the rest of the kits. "Does anyone know where he gets his Kol?" he asked them, staring each one in the eye. "He said Priests," Rakel informed her father, no emotion coming to her face.

"Well why would the Priests give Kol to him?" he asked, gesturing at the purring and hicking mouse beside him. No one dared speak up except Rakel, who opened her mouth, considered saying something, and closed it again. Moby shouted at her angrily. "What is it?" he asked. "Why?!"

Rakel opened her mouth again, and in a matter of fact tone, stated, "I don't know exactly, but it definitely started just before Mother died."

Moby took a breath, getting ready to speak, and then stopped, his piano key teeth hanging out as though in mid-yawn. "Oh." he said.

The mice finished their crumbs in silence, with the exception of Jak and Fil who occasionally snored or squeaked in their Kol comas.

One by one, a kit would finish his crumb and curl up, stomach un-full, and subside to a chilly sleep. The maun 10 air cooled their flossy mattress, and they each shivered alone. Ordinarily, they would curl up together for warmth, but tonight, the heavy, cold cloud of somber sobriety hanging over everyone but Jak and Fil served as a cage for each little mouse, separated by wire mesh from each other's comforts.

Finally, Moby too curled up, and fell almost instantly, like a brick placed tediously on the edge of a manhole, into a fitful dream.

***

Moby was walking home from work without trying, his body being carried along by itself. He extended no effort, no electrical impulses shooting through his brain, to the task of returning to the fluff with food. It took him a minute to realize it, but when it came, it rolled in like a 10 foot wave smashing the beach during a thunderstorm: this was like the lat time. He scanned around for Meredith, hoping to catch another glimpse of her, feel her warm paw again, but there was nothing, only him, only a path of dirt along which his body was being pulled by a tide-like gravity. His feet scuffled along, his face remained stagnant, his tail pointed up, just like usual. But it wasn't usual, because Moby again found himself a marionette puppet in someone else's world.

The voice from the previous episode corrected him: "No, it's you're world," it said. Moby's entire consciousness did a 180º turn, but his body just kept walking as though nothing was the matter.

"Who are you?" Moby thought.

"I can't tell you just yet," it told him, echoing through his mind like the "Voice of God" in a faulty hearing aid.

"Why not?" Moby asked, growing annoyed. "Why won't you tell me?"

"It's not time yet. Still a good while to go. There will be a time for secret telling. But for now, just watch."

"It's not like I have another choice," Moby grumbled. He paid attention to the world he could see within his limited frame of vision. He saw nothing unusual, simply dust, and dirt, cinderblock walls, concrete floors, and everything he was accustomed to seeing. "What do you want me to see?" Moby asked, confused.

The voice sighed. "Nothing but the usual yet. You know, you're not very patient. This is all for you, all about you, and you can't wait even a laun to see it?"

"Are you the one controlling me?" Moby asked the voice, trying to lift his paws which were scuttling across the floor at a regular pace.

"No," the voice told him. "I just put you here."

"Why?"

"Because it's my job."

"Well, then, who controls you?"

"I do."

Moby sighed in his mind, the voice in his head clearly didn't understand him. "Well, then, who does control me?"

"You do."

"Clearly, I do not," Moby informed the voice. "If I could, I wouldn't be wandering aimlessly right now."

"Actually, that's exactly what you'd be doing, but that's besides the point." the voice paused, trying to figure out how to explain it. "You do control you, but a different you controls you."

"What?" Moby asked. The voice was babbling nonsense at him.

Moby's fluff came into view. "Never mind," the voice said. "Just watch."

"Not like I have a choice," Moby reminded the now silent thing–since he had no other word for it–that had stolen his ability to move freely, and essentially, sat back and watched his home approach while his furry body drove him forwards, towards the known yet strangely unknown, on autopilot.

***

This time, when he walked into the fluff, he could smell the kol on Fil. The 11 maun old kit reeked of the beverage, contraband for mice under the age of 12. Moby's mind was resigned to the idea of it, but his body had just discovered this horror. He lifted Fil by the scruff of his neck, spun him around a minute to scare him into listening. But that only worsened the stupor. The other kits watched in horror as he smacked the side of Fil's face with his tail. "What were you thinking?" he asked angrily. Fil let out a blithe, incoherent mumble.

"Stop it! You're hurting him, this will only make it worse," Moby told his body, but he didn't, couldn't stop.

His bosy whacked his kit on the side of the head. "Do you know what too much Kol does to you? Haven't I told you about modmen who dipped into their pots just a little too much? They die! That's why we only drink our supplied rations in this family: moderation. You know how many friends I've lost to an excess of Kol, and you dare come here like that?"

"Iweansitsliddernemsnainsnsmm," babbled Fil. Moby's body whacked him one more time and set him down, turning to the kits who were cowering with fear.

"Any others thinking about coming home kold?" His body asked them.

"Yes," his mind replied, "Jak," but his body didn't hear it, and deemed the enthusiastic head shaking of his kits to be sufficient answer.

"Meredith," he said, "why didn't you do anything about this?" He looked around and saw that she was gone. "Where is she?" his body asked his kits, confused.

"She has a meeting with the Priests," Any told him.

His body roared to life, his mind choked with fear. "Stay here, kits," he said to them. "Any's in charge while I'm gone." He took off running.

"No! I'm done! I'm not watching it again!" his mind shouted to the voice. "No! Don't make me!"

He trembled awake, like a prisoner shaking off his chains.

***

Moby was the first one awake of his family. He could tell was two or three launs before he needed to wake for work, since there was still a little evening light shining down into the basement. He sat still for a little while, maybe a half laun, and decided a few things:

First, he needed to stop Fil and Jak from drinking. He was ridden with fright that they would die far too young due to excessive consumption of the drink. He decided to provide the kits with kol from his own mod, which he would brew for them, weaker by a factor of ten, so that they wouldn't get kold. He would offer it to the other kits too: protecting his young. Moby felt proud knowing that he could use his job to do his real one: protecting his young.

Secondly, Moby would have to figure out a way to bring the family back together. If their family was more cohesive, the kits wouldn't have turned to Kol in the first place. The key was how to do it. Moby decided that he would find a way to double-hit the system for rations to start. He wasn't sure how this was to be done, but he knew that supporting the family was the best way to pull the family back together. He would also assign Rakel the position of mother for the younger kits, ensuring that they be cared for well. Rakel was already acting as mother, but Any held the official title, having been a near clone of her mother. However, Any was heartbroken, and so, Rakel would make the perfect care-giver to the kits.

Moby sighed, satisfied with his plan to mend his breaking family. He saw a priest, slinking around the fluff complex, about to call wake time. He leapt up, and dashed off to work: if he were to weaken his brew, he had to work fast, or else the other modmen might catch him doing it. He poured half of the previous daun's brew onto the ground below the boiler, where the usual drips gathered into a river with the added fluid. Then, he sat the bucket below the pipe and allowed it to gather enough water to refill it. He dragged it back over to its place, and poured it into pouches. When he brought home the Kol rations, he would switch these for the ones provided.

Moby smiled, and returned home quickly. He heard the loud clanging that indicated it was time for all the mice to get up. Fug! he thought to himself. Rakel must be waking the kits now, and she'll wonder where I've gone. They might even worry that I disappeared like Meredith. He scampered across the basement as quickly as he could, and made it into the fluff, only to see Rakel waiting for him.

"Where have you been?" she asked, concerned.

"I couldn't sleep, so I went out for a walk," Moby lied. She nodded, and went on with preparing the kits as her own for school. "Work in half a laun," she told him.

The End

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