Malcolm M. Mouse, Explorer
As the phantom neared, Malcolm flexed his tail. Tensed his whiskers. Gave himself a good shake. Where was his backbone? Where were his guts? He was an explorer, wasn’t he? Explorers came across strange and alien creatures all the time in the course of their adventures. His GREAT MICE heroes hadn’t turned tail and run at the first sign of trouble, had they? In best-brave-explorer fashion Malcolm advanced out of the shadows. “Malcolm M. Mouse, is that you?” a voice wheezed through the mask.
Whoever it was knew his name. The creature put down the dish and pulled off his mask. Malcolm spied long grey whiskers. Crinkly cheeks. A familiar smile. It was none other than Dr. Dose!
“I’m very much in need of some assistance, wee lad,” said the doctor.
Being quite unable to find his tongue, Malcolm could only nod.
“Follow me,” instructed Dr. Dose, picking up the bowl again, “but not too closely.”
Malcolm skittered along behind Dr. Dose, intrigued beyond measure to find out what lay hidden in the covered dish. And proud as punch to be asked for his assistance. Except for Uncle Fergus, nobody thought Malcolm was quite up to snuff. No further proof was needed than his dismal school report. Thank goodness it was still safely stashed behind the coat-stand.
Once they were safely in the laboratory adjacent to the doctor’s surgery, Dr. Dose shrugged off the peculiar clothing – booties and mittens, suit and mask – and tossed them into a container marked HAZARDOUS WASTE MATERIAL. The lid slammed down with an almighty clank.
Using a pair of tongs, Dr. Dose lifted a single granule, roughly the size of a grain of rice, from the dish and placed it under his microscope. With his spectacles jammed on his long nose, Dr. Dose peered intently through the lens.
“Where did you get it from?” asked Malcolm, quite unable to keep quiet.
“Lots of it scattered along the skirting boards in the kitchen,” mumbled Dr. Dose.
“Do you have any idea what it could be?” asked Malcolm. Then he blushed a bit, wondering if perhaps that was a rude thing to ask a grown-up mouse. Especially a doctor. He supposed doctors must know everything there was to know. A bit like judges.
“Hmm,” muttered Dr. Dose. “Hmm, hmm,” he grumbled. “Hmm, hmm, hmm.” Dr. Dose sat back hard on his haunches. All of a sudden the fur around his muzzle looked as white as the suit he had just discarded.
“Do tell me what it is.” Malcolm simply couldn’t contain himself a moment longer.
“Poison I fear,” mumbled Dr. Dose.
“P-p-poison,” squeaked Malcolm. The ‘P’ word. That most dreaded of words. The word that sent shudders of fear throughout the mus musculus colony whenever it was uttered.
This was a terrible disaster, Malcolm realized. And it was all his fault. If he hadn’t gone exploring; hadn’t got caught in the jar of sultanas; hadn’t been chased by Chief Under-Cook; hadn’t revealed exit ramp #3; none of this would have happened.
“Never have I seen the like of it in my entire professional life,” continued Dr. Dose, holding up the offending object with the tongs. He shook his grizzled head in puzzlement.
“Look,” Malcolm pointed, “there are words printed on the other side of the rice. Um…the poison, I mean.”
“Good observation, Malcolm. Splendid young eyes, eh!”
Despite the gravity of the situation Malcolm beamed with pleasure.
Dr. Dose popped the piece of bait back under the scope again. “Take a look, Malcolm, will you? Help me read the letters.”
Malcolm scampered up beside the doctor. The object was a grubby brownish color, and when magnified definitely resembled a certain item that belonged in a lavatory, and was not to be mentioned in polite company! Malcolm studied the letters with great difficulty. Even under the microscope they were very, very small but he did his best. M-O-U-S-E – that was easy enough – B – Malcolm paused for a moment – G-O-N-E – he spelled out. MOUSE B-GONE.