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While the Cat's Away

By Carl S ~

There’s an old saying: "When the cat's away, the mice will play.” But what if...

On a planet not so very far away, a Supreme Cheshire Cat watches every mouse on it. Although astronomers estimate there may be as many as two trillion galaxies in the universe, the mice claim that cat built this planet just for them, his favorites, the only intelligent beings in the universe. He is the ruler and judge, knowing the thoughts and feelings of each mouse, every mouse second. While the cat silently watches, the very thought of its presence deters the mice from misbehaving (or so it is claimed). They've been warned not to say or do anything to offend or provoke him. But the cat was never heard to say what those offensive words and actions are. Never being sure kept the mice emotionally agitated. This opened them to exploitation.

Once upon a time, some of the mice appointed themselves his spokesmice-henchmice. They decided to speak for him, telling everyone everything they needed to do to keep him from “playing” with them or punishing them and their families. Their list of “transgressions” piled up. Still, the cat did nothing.

It is a fact: even a supercat must eat. Rather than having the cat kill whatever mouse he saw, at random, the novel “solution” of these special cat representatives was to choose which ones would be sacrificed to him. Those chosen, they decided, were mice they considered undesirables, and oftentimes, the tasty child mice the cat preferred. And then there were ones so bold as to believe this cat didn't give a damn how they behaved. The latter were considered dangerous to the stability of mouse society, since they appeared to be making a point.

One night, over a dinner of cheese, peanut butter and applejack, the cat's representatives, (who were betraying their fellow mice in “service” to the cat, by the way), got to discussing just how far they could go with misbehaving in its presence. “Let's give it a tentative try,” said one. “You go first,” said another. So, one mouse did steal something small, right under the nose of the cat; then more, larger stuff. They began to add overt cheating and betrayal and lying.

The other mice watched from a distance, or out of the corners of their eyes. The cat didn't move a bit. When the group found this out, they became bold and bolder still, quietly raping and injuring the other mice. They also discovered their victims feared they would not be believed; they even feared for their safety if the other mice found out.

It's true, at first these henchmice suspected the cat was blind. But this wasn't so. They found out something else soon enough, for whatever they did, no matter how bad, if they only apologized, then he'd forgive them, every time. Not only that. The cat seemed to enjoy watching their harming and killing!

These observations had a profound effect on the mice in power. At a quiet breakfast, one of them asked the gathering, “Have you noticed: He doesn't do anything to stop or even deter us? He might as well not be there at all.” Then the chief henchmouse said, “No shit! Don't you know what this means? We must keep this an eternal secret among us.”

And so it came to be, ever after.