It is a new day, the little mouse wakes up and stretches her little arms and legs, trying to find the courage to get out of her bed full of morning warmth. She eventually manages to get out of her nest and shakes her fluffy little fur in the hope of getting her hair out of the bed state it is in right now, but only half succeeds. Her nest has been feeling empty ever since she got separated from her family when she was an ever smaller mouse, just a few months ago. That does not stop her from being the awesome little mouse she is, though!
Her tummy rumbles. So, she steps out of her little hideout, a den fit for a mouse of her size, located beneath an old willow. She does know about a few places to get some food. Some have a higher risk but also a higher reward, like that old woman’s house. She always has some crumbs lying around or some cheese, but she also has a cat, which makes it dangerous. Or should she just go search for some seeds or berries? The risk may be smaller, but it is also less rewarding because it takes a long time. Where to go, where to go…?
The tummy of the tiny mouse, standing at the entrance to her little burrow in the willow tree, rumbles again. Time to make a decision, she thinks to herself. Even though there is no one else around, she needs to prevent getting hangry: she can’t even stand herself in that state! As she decides that today is the day to be adventurous, a new path catches her eye: the path behind the old willow, leading to a darker part of the woods. The mouse pushes aside a few branches covering up the entrance to this new road and bravely steps into the darkness.
After her eyes have adjusted to the darkness, the mouse sees that this place does not look like the forest at all. The new path is very smooth and neatly aligned with trees, different from the ones she knows. While becoming a bit anxious, the little mouse hurries from bush to bush to pick up different scents. Just when she notices some unfamiliar berries, hanging from a branch nearby, she spots a tiny house with light coming from its windows further down the road. While she stretches her neck to see if there are more houses, she suddenly detects a sweet smell coming from her right… She contemplates what to do.
The smell is so sweet and delightful, virtually irresistible. It’s like nothing she’d ever smelled before. What in the world could produce such a delicate perfume? Maybe a chunk of French Blue d’Auvergne? Or perhaps a piece of 20-year-old Italian Taleggio? The hint of almonds draws out an uncontrollable urge to find the origin of the fragrance. Her heartbeat rises as she picks up more and more of the aromas. Carefully, not to lose track of the scent, she treads lightly in the direction of the smell. With each step, the fragrance intensifies and before long, she finds herself speeding out of cover of the tall trees, into the wide open field. ‘Mother warned me about the risks of meadows,’ she thinks, ‘but the grass is tall, the flowers are blooming and it’s still early in the morning, so maybe Perry the peregrine is still asleep.’ The intense smell clouds her judgement as she rushes forward. By now, she has already run so far she passed the point of no return a long time ago. The smell is getting stronger and stronger. It’s so intense she can almost grasp it. And then, all of a sudden, she freezes. A rustling sound says that she’s not alone in the tall grass.
Her mind quickly considers the options, which are not many. She gets fed up with her own decisions. What was she thinking?! Risking the exposure of the open field, solely to satisfy her cravings. Especially after what happened to her family. If only she… ‘Stop right now,’ she says to herself, ‘this is not the time to lose your thoughts to memories.’ She already lost valuable seconds by contemplating the past and has to act quickly now. While scanning her surroundings, she comes to realize she recognizes the meadow.
There was this one time, her family and she were searching for a new place to live, when they were surprised by some sort of crater in the ground and they fell down multiple grown-mouse-lengths. Disoriented and not yet accustomed to the dark, they were startled by a creature with velvety skin and large paws. This mole, Bucco, wasn’t offended at all by the invasion of his living space and even helped them out by digging a tunnel to the surface.
Bucco is her only hope now. She picks up speed and sprints through the field, ready to plunge into the first molehill she encounters. Her heart skips a beat when she hears the strong wing strokes of the peregrine, meaning he is gaining speed. Suddenly, a molehill appears in her sight. She gathers all she has got left to push herself to run even faster and without having a second thought, she plunges into the earth.
A rush of wings passes by the entrance to the mole’s burrow, but our little mouse is already safely out of reach of the raptor’s talons. She tumbles down the tunnel into the darkness and eventually comes to a halt, as she rolls into a mass of roots protruding from the tunnel’s walls. With some difficulty, she manages to get out of the tangled mess and tries to find out where she should go next.
Like the last time she visited this place, it takes her eyes some time to adjust to the darkness. Once they are used to the dark, however, there seem to be no clear visual indicators of where she should go. Besides, it seems eerily quiet in here. Luckily, her choices are limited and she decides to simply start walking in one of the possible directions. Surely, she’ll run into Bucco sooner or later.
As she continues on her way, our little heroine suddenly starts to notice a peculiar odour. It is not a particularly pleasant smell, but the mouse is still intrigued and follows her nose. The closer she gets to its source, the more intense and unpleasant the stench gets. As she moves around one last corner, she finally stands before her old friend Bucco again, lying on his tummy on the floor. One might have thought that he was sleeping, if it weren’t for the gaping hole in his back and the tiny earthworm wiggling where his missing eye should be. Sadly, it would appear as though Bucco had died recently.
For a moment, the mouse respectfully bows her head to honour her deceased friend. Then, she is startled by an unexpected noise. She turns around and looks into two frighteningly large eyes.
Fields marked with an asterisk (*) are mandatory.