rating: +74+x

We have such a mouse problem. What's worse, they're stupid. Your average mouse has the common decency to stay hidden 90% of the time, you just find nibbled items and mouse crap. Our mice just wander around, it seems. Step in to the kitchen, and one's running like hell for the stove gap, like he had no idea anyone was in the house. In the bathroom, and one's frozen on the edge of the tub with an “oh shit” look. I run five traps, and get at least one a night, high score is a solid five. Either a testament to my trapping skill, or (more likely) additional evidence of dumb mice.

It was very late, and I'd gotten up to lay down my baby daughter, who had woken up doing her “nobody loves me in the entire world” cry. Again. I was stumbling back to bed, navigating more by memory and that sleepy sixth-sense you get in the dark, when I heard a clacking sound. Our house creaks and groans like a clipper ship, but this was odd. A sort of rhythmic clicking: Clack…clack…clack…clack…

If you've ever used a glue trap before, you already know the sound. It's less common with the standard wood-and-spring traps. It's the sound of a mouse that is stuck and/or crippled, and trying to get away. For about ten seconds I seriously considered just ignoring it and going to bed, but knowing my luck my wife would get up for a drink, step on it, and lose her shit for the rest of the night. So I followed the noise to the kitchen, still only half awake, and clicked on the light. It wasn't a mouse.

Jesus CHRIST it wasn't a mouse.

It had gotten nailed by the stove. It looked like it hadn't even been trying to get the peanut butter, just crawling (Walking? Running?) by the trap and set it off. It'd crawled about thirteen feet in the general direction of the laundry room. I just stood there, dumb with sleep, watching it crawl. The arms were toothpick skinny, ending in little squirming masses that looked like pinworms. Below those were rows of the same little tentacles, and the legs looked boneless, but they might have been broken. The trap had snapped over the things back, and the metal was sunk in deep. Some kind of clear liquid was oozing around it and leaving a tiny trail.

I think it had a tail, or it might have been three legs. The lower body was wrecked, and just looked like a torn fleshy skirt. The head. The head was disk-shaped and had this kind of random spattering of little back dots on top. They looked like spider eyes. Underneath was the mouth, it looked like an upside-down “Y”. It had a kind of greasy looking fur all over except for the head. The clacking came when it tried to crawl. It would reach out and pull, but the trap would catch on something in its back, lift up, then fall. The thing couldn't have been much bigger then a kitten.

I didn't know what to do. I just…froze, kinda. Some people can stomp a mouse, easy as swatting a fly. My dad can. I can't. I just…I can't, and I couldn't then. I just watched it, assuming I was dreaming or something. I thought maybe I could try and grab it and throw it outside or something, but if it bit me or touched me, I'm pretty sure I would lose it. I thought again of whacking it with something, or stomping it, or something, but I just watched it. Finally I grabbed a broom and just kind of…brushed it over to the trash area.

It just wallowed there, on its side. I'm pretty sure it didn't know what was going on. Anyway, I pushed the trash can in front of it and went back to bed. It seems retarded now, but at the time it just seemed like what I could do. I figured I'd just deal with it in the morning. I was pretty sure I was still half dreaming, and that it was just a screwed-up mouse that I wasn't seeing right. I laid in bed for about an hour, then got up to go look at the thing again.

It was gone, and the basement door was open a crack. I was honestly relieved, I didn't have to deal with it now. Then, I thought of stepping on it in the dark, or slipping down the steps, and sighed. So, I opened the door and pulled on the light over the steps. The light is pretty crappy, and to light the actual basement you have to go downstairs to get to the switch, so I could only really see the steps and a couple feet in to the basement. There was a little trail of that clear stuff down the steps.

There's a wall with a vent right at the bottom of the steps on the left side. The grating is an old cast-iron job that's probably been there since the house was built. The grating gaps are very wide. The trap was sitting right beside it. Hanging above the trap was the little thing. Holding it up was the head of a bigger version. All I saw was the head, but it's probably the size of a average cat. Disk head the size of my fist, eye-spots a lot bigger and blacker. It was holding the little dead thing by the neck. Like a mama cat. It stared at me a second, or maybe it was just the light. Then the head sort of…narrowed, and it slipped in to the vent with the dead thing.

I didn't get back to sleep. The ice machine went on as I was walking around the house, and I screamed like I'd been shot. My wife woke up in a panic, told her I had a bad dream. I get those. The next day, I booked a hotel for a couple days, called off work, and lit at least two bug bombs off in every room of the house. Six in the basement, and even rolled two in to the vent. The house smelled like chemicals for days, but by god the mice were dead as shit. I never told my wife. I'm not even sure what I saw, really, it was late and I was very, very tired.

The problem is, the cat got hurt yesterday. We got her just a little bit after that night, much to my wife's delight. She brought the cat to me yesterday, crying, her hands bloody. The vet says she must have gotten in to something, or fell somehow. She was cut all over. She was all dusty when we brought her in, and the vet said she'd probably got in to a closet or vent somehow and gotten hurt. I looked in on her when the vet was fixing her up. The cuts looked like little “Y” shapes.

I don't know what to think. She could have gotten hurt on anything, anywhere. Maybe she was chasing a stupid mouse that was too dumb to hide well. Or one that was too scared to hide in or behind anything. One whose territory had already been taken. There's been nibbled things around the house lately, and my wife says she hears mice in the attic. I pretend I don't. I don't dare set a trap.

I really don't want to know.

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