In the great scheme of things, Melody Carmichael understood that one dead mouse meant very little. Nothing earth-shattering, nothing to bring the Wheels of Progress to a grinding halt.

Seven in four days, though. That took a little adjustment of one's personal cosmos.

It's not as if they'd died in traps. She didn't believe in murder of any sort, even if it extended to the substrata of the evolutionary chain that might be labeled as 'pests'. Not that she heard the PETA clarion call, necessarily, but the odd rodent could easily be relocated with the use of humane traps. No blood, no smell, no heartless snap of steel on vertebrae in the middle of the night.

If only the mice weren't hanging themselves, she might be less disturbed.

The first one looked like an accident.

She'd found the mouse dangling from her sewing kit, tangled in loops of loose thread. After an initial wave of disgust, she pitied the poor thing. What a terrible way to die. One minute you're enjoying a brand new playground, the next . . . time for the bright light, Mr. Mouse!

She'd tried to imagine the vermin tunnel to the afterlife, stopped immediately when she started to giggle. It's not funny, Melody. No, really! She sobered when she realized she had to dispose of the body.

The second mouse managed to garrote itself on a bit of cooking twine, its limp body found hanging from a half-opened kitchen drawer.

The third somehow knocked over her father's old tackle box in the garage and strung itself up with fishing line. The fourth, again in the garage, used a string of Christmas lights as its chosen means of departure. The fifth, sixth, and seventh. . . .

Well, they were a bit more ostentatious about it. Melody found them immediately on waking the fourth morning, depending like large grey dust-bunnies from the fringes of her knitted coverlet. They'd even managed to entangle their paws together in the final moment, as if they'd jumped simultaneously, a triple suicide. A mouse-land ménage a trois gone horribly wrong.

At this point, Melody realized that the great scheme of things no longer had a clue. Her house, once a tidy, serene place of comfort and solitude, now rested on some heretofore-undisclosed site of rodential evil. A charnel house for melancholic mice, a microcosmic recreation of the Elephant's Graveyard.

She lived, in short, where mice came to die.

I should buy a cat, she thought. Just to chase them off, of course.

Not to kill them or anything. What would be the point?

The trouble with this idea, though, was that she didn't particularly like cats. Pets on the whole, in fact left her a bit — uninspired. Not that she hated animals, no, far from it. She just preferred them elsewhere.

And the plain truth of the matter, when it really came down to it, was that a cat seemed a frivolous response at best. Either she'd find a typical housecat, one most likely to ignore the mice completely — or she'd wind up with a Grade-A mouser which would engage itself in seek-and-destroy mode, only to leave the remains of the enemy in strategic places around the house, guaranteed to be found by Melody herself at the most inopportune moments.

No better than the suicides, frankly — just gorier.

What to do, what to do. . . .

She tried to create a list in her mind, shooting down her ideas almost before they formed:

I'll fumigate, or lay poison, maybe. Not an option. Even if she could stomach the idea of killing the mice, they wanted to die in the first place. She'd be the rodent equivalent of Dr. Kevorkian. They'd line up for it.

I'll have the house exorcised. She wasn't even Catholic, and she didn't believe in that sort of nonsense anyway.

I'll make a little mouse sanctuary in the back yard, full of cheese and peanut butter and whatever else they like and — Ridiculous. She'd wind up with an ant sanctuary. Next.

I'll relocate. From the house she'd lived in since childhood, full of all her memories, solid as her father's fortune. And let the mice win? Not a chance.

I'll, I'll, I'll. . . . What? Grin and bear it? Start digging little mouse graves in the backyard, put up popsicle-stick crosses with tiny inscriptions? Here Lies Max Mouse — Safe From Owls At Last.

The time-faded voice of Winston Churchill running through her mind — we shall never surrender! — Melody gave in, only for the moment of course, and decided to sleep on the matter.


About the Author
Mikal Trimm has made over a hundred sales of speculative fiction and poetry, he's been nominated for the Rhysling Award, and he still has all his own hair -- but not one single groupie! The world just isn't fair. . . .

Of Mice and Melody © 2005 Mikal Trimm

About the Artist
Emily Veinglory is a freelance writer and illustrator. Her art has appeared in the journals Dark Animus and Night to Dawn and the role-playing games Valtyr and Guardians. She also accepts commissions for fantasy portraits and RPG character depictions. You can find her on the Web at and view her portfolio at

Artwork © Emily Veinglory.