Part 1: It came upon a bad, bad day!
Here are some images that will open up in a new page:
A holiday mouse
( a cute little hamster)
The northern winds blew, hard. The sky, slate gray, edged toward black with roiling clouds. The winds chilled the land, spitting water, ice and snow down with vengence. Basically, it was a typical winter at the Edgaarton farm. The place was sadly run down, and looked barren, without any life. The family was gone, They had left 10 human years before. The barn is a very cold place, this particular winter. Snow and frozen rain fall through the holes in the roof and blow though the walls. Roddy and Rudy huddle together and shiver in their little corner of the universe.
Roddy, let us note, is a very, very grumpy and way too prudent mouse, never giving a cheerful inch. Rudy, on the other hand is always, almost sickeningly positive and as naive and innocent as a new born baby.
Rudy smiles cheerfully at Roddy, "Isn’t this a wonderful Holiday?"
Roddy grunts in reply, wrapping his arms around his shivering gray body. He snarls a bitter, reply at Rudy, "Wet, snowy, cold, a nasty day for sure...and you say ‘wonderful’, BAH!" Rudy looks over at the shaking lump beside him, "I LOVE Christmas! And I love you too!" And then begins singing "Jingle bells, jingle bells..."
"SHUT UP!!," hollers Roddy, "Before I hit you with the pot we don’t have!"
Georgie, Fred and Charlie all yell back from another corner of the barn, in unison, "Both of you just SHUT UP!!!!!!!!!!!" Rudy blushes, and looks shocked. Roddy chuckles just a little, thinking, incorrectly, it is nice that the others agree with him. He knows that doesn’t happen very often, unless it is "business".
Then,out of the miserable day, there is a bing, bang, boom, AND crrraaashhhh !!! A huge blast of snow falls through a large new hole in the roof, dousing the 112 mice down below, in the barn. The groans of the poor injured mice make a strange song all by itself, in the sudden silence following the noise. In a little bit, they hear another groan. This one, even louder than all the mice together, comes from outside the barn!
"EEEEEEEEK" scream several uninjured mice as they dive for their holes in the wall. Others stay there on the barn floor, stunned, or just lie there unmoving, as the medical mice team, and other helpful mice move among the fallen, checking on those who might be hurt. Rudy hurries from one mouse to the next. He is there for what seems hours, helping the hurt mice...And of course, the wicked hungry, scavenger mice, eat any that are too injured to survive, don’t have help close by or cannot fight back. Roddy battles off several of those creatures, saving several mice.
First comes the clean up, and hospitalization of 10 remaining injured mice. These are more than slightly injured, yet have survived all the dangers, so far. Finally, a small team of police mice led by Mayor Jigglenose, under the "no nonsense" direction of Roddy, creep outside to see what the noisy matter is. There lying beside the barn is a huge something. They sneak up close, before Roddy speaks in a whisper. "My heavens...He tests the air, *sniff sniff*. It is a HUMAN!", he whispers a bit loudly, in shock. And yes, lying there many times bigger than all the mice beside him, lies a huge human figure. The human looks funny too. He is all red... with white hair on strange places and black feet. He has a white hairy tail on his face! And he has white around his forehead, neck, middle and all four feet. Well, that’s how the mice see him!
The man groans. It is like all the mice had yelled at the top of their lungs. The mice quickly burrow their ears under the snow for a second. After they all come up, Roddy puts it quite clearly to the Mayor. "Well, now what?" he asks. The Mayor turns green and a little bit white around the collar, himself. He scrunches up his quivering nose, saying "we wait.!"
"For what??" demands Roddy. "Why wait? There is nothing for us here! Let’s go." He turns to leave, but the Mayor says sternly, "WAIT!" His tone is as firm, as his nose isn’t! And this shows why he is the Mayor! The man stirs, moaning, and rolls over. The mice scatter, long before the man rolls on his back and then slowly begins to sit up. The man looks groggily around and then sees the mice. His blue eyes clear of pain and twinkle as he "Ho Ho hoes" his groaning, but laughing greeting. The man continues to chuckle his Hello. "Mr. Mayor, Roddy, how are you both?" In shock, the two mice respond with a surprised, but normal "fine" from the Mayor and a shocked, but normal "terrible" from Roddy. The man’s big belly shakes with laughter. "I knew you would say that," the man addresses the two mice. The man then, in turn, greets each of the other mice there, by name, not mentioning their families, of course. Mice have very short life spans, in human terms.
"SANTA!!!", chorus the mice. Then they all start talking at once, until Santa raises his paw to shush them. They fall quiet, listening and Santa begins to speak through his white tail. "I’m glad I, uh, fell into such a nice mice group of friends, " he says cheerfully, looking around. "Because I have a problem, and I hope you will help me!"
Part 3A: The Work Begins
Santa presents the problem as best he can, holding up a clearly broken thingamajig. Mice aren’t usually very knowledgeable about human things. What they know really well is how to find food and eat! "We hit a really bad storm up there," Santa frowns, pointing up to the cold gray sky. My sleigh turned over, and the seat belt broke. It is the first time in all these years, I have had that happen! Now the problem is to find a way to contact my elves and the reindeer, and get home. He looks at his watch. "Oh my stars, Christmas Eve is in 26 hours, North Pole time, and I have to get home!"
The mice look at each other, with no clues, no ideas. A couple tentatively raise their hands and ask "How can we help?" and "What can we do?" But no ideas are forthcoming from Santa or from the mice. Out from the back of the gathered crowd of 90-odd mice, A voice yells out, "I know!"
Santa chuckles, calling out, "Hi Rudy! What do you know?"
"I know how to get you home, Santa!" the cheerful mouse states. He then outlines his plan for getting this really old car over by the house working. He tells everybody. "We have a beach mouse visitor from Florida, who used to live in a car garage, and once was a mechanic. Old told me he escaped from Auburn University where mousenappers sold him!" Rudy exclaims to all the mice: "And...and he even studied electronics and stuff there at the University of Auburn!"
Roddy the serious grumbler growls, "It won’t work! It just won’t work. The parts are too big, the car has been broken since way before our great, great, great, great, grandfathers were alive!" In human years that’s only around 4 years, but the car has been down a long time! The car has been "down" for 15 human years. The mice continue to discuss the problem, chittering and chattering, they move into the old barn. Santa asks "How far it is it to the nearest phone. "Days of walking" comes back the general answer. It probably isn’t more than a couple of miles, ten at the outside, but mice are so very small! Santa is still dazed, and not really thinking too clearly himself.
The mice take frequent breaks to scrounge for food. They do it in shifts. It often looks like worker shifts at a factory as first one group, then another leaves and then yet another arrives. The chatter, questions, discussion and movement is nonstop. Roddy and Rudy huddle together eating a couple of pine nuts, and discuss the situation. Rudy looks really sad. He is unhappy, his whiskers are drooping, that his great idea of fixing the car for Santa could not work, but Roddy is usually right. Roddy looks at Rudy, wrinkling his nose. Rudy is really, really down, the lowest Roddy has ever seen. They have spent mouse years talking about their dream of being able to help Santa. Those talks have filled many a cold, bitter or even a warm, bitter night! Both are as poor as...umm church mice! Actually, they are poorer! They don’t have any heat or leftovers to eat. Of course, there are fewer cats to chase them too. But, oh then there are those hawks, snakes and varmints! There is always danger in the real world.
Suddenly Roddy looks up and smiles. Rudy stares in amazement. He has only seen Roddy smile, really smile once before. That was when they first found fresh cut straw for a nest, in the field, next to the barn, and that was mouse years ago!
Roddy winks at Rudy and yells. "Oldfield Mouse, where are you?" Minnie Mouse replies, "He is still asleep! It’s not night yet!" Roddy stops a second and tries to speak more reasonably. "Minnie, would you go find him, please? We need some answers. And...I have an idea, that MAY work, he encourages Minnie, gently pushing her with his nose..." Minnie looks startled, smiles and runs down to the lightest corner of the barn, where some bushes have grown, darts down the ladder into a tunnel.
Oldfield gingerly comes up from the tunnel. He is one of the oldest mice alive in the barn. His smaller body moves slowly, his strangely haired tail shivers, as his large ears twitch. His eyes stick out, looking to humans like Peter Lorre, and with fur colors that blend with a different sandy soil type than this farm. Pushing nearly two centuries in mouse years, that is almost 5 years old, in human years. I told you mice live short life spans! He creaks and mumbles as he walks across to Roddy. "What is it, youngster?" Rudy takes him to Santa, and whispers to Santa, "Show him the thingamajig." Santa holds up the broken thingamajig. Oldfield Florida Mouse 2432, twice a centenarian, stops, looking. He studies it a moment, nods, dozes off a second, jerks awake, and says, "Nice cell phone, too bad the copper wires and case broke." Santa looks hopefully at the ancient mouse; "Can you fix it, sir?"
Oldfield looks at Santa, with big, bloodshot buggy eyes and shakes his head hesitantly, no. "If we were at the lab, I could get the materials we need, and it would be a snap. Rudy perks up... "Lab? Materials? What do you need, sir?, he asks in his usual cheerful voice. Old looks seriously and yet sadly at Rudy, We need copper wire this thin, and slowly holds a small broken piece out for Rudy to study. Rudy takes a long, memorizing look at the wire, sniffs it, and tastes it with his little pink tongue. His ears droop a little, he is concentrating so hard. His whiskers twitch, his tail swishes, then his ears perk up. He looks at the smaller ancient mouse, and mumbles, his ears and whiskers drooping from being unsure. "I don’t know, but let me look."
It seemed like weeks as everybody waited. A few mice nearly starved, having forgotten to eat in all the suspense. Eventually, Rudy does return, shaking from the efforts of his frantic search. He is carrying something in his mouth. It is shiny and reddish in color. He drops it at Oldfield’s feet. Then he speaks. "Will this work?" Old sits on his haunches, looking down at the shiny blob. He nuzzles it with his nose, tastes it, touches it with front paws, and looks up. "We can only try, he says. He looks up at Santa. "Can you unwind this wire, without braking it? I need about 5 mouse lengths. That is about 13" in human terms. Santa tries, stops, fumbles in his pocket and finds a penknife, that is a really small pocketknife. He plays with the wire gently, and very carefully. Five mice line up, and Santa measures the wire and cuts it. Old drags it off to the machine and with 3 other mice helping. Rudy, of course, is one of the helping mice, and Roddy is standing by helping supervise the project. In moments, Old returns and tells Santa, "Try it. Santa picks it up, but there is no sound. Ears, and whiskers droop all around the room. There is quiet sobbing, in the back. Old looks at the cell phone on the floor, and turns slowly away. "Wait", says Rudy. He moves forward and presses a wire against something. "Now try, Santa!" Santa clicks it on, the lights come on and it rings... Santa quickly presses the button, but there is no one there. He clicks it off. With shaking fingers he clicks it again. It comes on again, and Santa dials. The phone rings, and then rings again, then rings again a little weaker. There is an answer! It is the chief of Elves. Santa quickly tells the elf of his location, He finds out that the reindeer made it home, and help is now on the way!
The mice stir in the early hours of dawn. Out in the middle of the barn is a HUGE wheel of cheese. Beside it are carrots, lettuce and a gigantic bag of pellets. Pellets are pet foods for rodents, like mice. The Mayor holds everyone back, until Rudy and Roddy, and the others who helped Santa, arrive. He looks around, searching. "Where is Oldfield", grouses the Mayor, "We have to have him here too." Minnie go get him! Wake him up!" Minnie runs to the tunnel. She comes out alone, sadly, and slowly.Minnie sobs, "He isn’t there. It looks all messed up, like a fight. Like maybe the scavengers got him." The mice all start crying and squeaking. Then the Mayor spots notes on top of the cheese. Santa has written notes! "Don’t worry about Old. He was here waiting for me with some nuts and a bit of cheese. He and I talked a while, and I took him with me, dropping him off, back in Florida with some very distant grand children. There were a lotta greats in that one, 22, or 44 if I recall! He will be fine, and sends his love to you all. Every thing he left, Oldfield said the Mayor should have it all! I left something there for the Mayor too. Enjoy those Pecans, Mayor! And try the sea oats, Old left for you!" The mice cheered as Mayor Jigglenose read that note.
Right beside the HUGE wheel of cheese in the center of the barn are all sorts of toys for the mice, rats and other barn rodents. There are tags on each one. The Mayor reads them off to the crowd one by one. Written on each one are the names of every creature in the barn. They all say: "Thank you and you and you, and a very Merry Christmas, My friends and helpers."They are signed by Santa. Then there is another letter, this one is to Rudy and Roddy from Santa. It says. "You are my heroes, lads! You found the help I needed and got me home with 23 hours left to get ready! There are never enough thank yous for the two of you. P.S. look in you new nest, anyway!"
The Mayor reads that letter to the crowd of mice, as Rudy and Roddy hurry back to their nest. There they find a wheel of cheese for themselves, a nest of clean straw, lots of white fur folded in with the straw with a mouse blanket that has their names neatly stitched into the blankets.
The two mice hear the Mayor announce, "Let’s PARTY!" from their new nest.
Grumpy Roddy looks at Cheerful Rudy, smiles again and says "Isn’t this a wonderful Holiday?"