My thumb pulsated as I pulled the hammer of the mouse trap back. I had attempted to set the trap several times, but it was cheap, so the hammer kept coming loose and smashing my thumb. I took a deep breath and finally managed to hook the hammer in place. I sighed in relief and carefully placed the trap next to a crack in the wall. Still shaking from the pain, I collapsed on my dusty love seat. “All that trouble for a mouse I’m not even sure exists.” I said to myself.
For the past few days, I kept seeing a small brown blur scurrying out of the corner of my eye. I had just assumed it was a mouse, but I had never actually seen it clearly. I had read that schizophrenia takes root in your early 20’s (my age at the time) and I feared I was losing my mind.
My living situation wasn’t helping my mental state either. Anyone would go a little loony after spending a few months living in a cramped windowless studio. The walls were crumbling and all of the appliances had been there since the 70’s. It was tiny too; the whole room was less than 500 square feet. The bed on one end of the room was only ten footsteps away from the toilet at the other.
Gazing at my cracked walls, I thought back on how I came to live there. I had fled my parents to find independence. By trying to escape feeling like a loser I wound up in little better than a prison cell. Perhaps I should have stayed another year. I could have saved money for an apartment that wasn’t falling apart.
However, my contemplation of past mistakes was cut short by movement in my peripheral. A fuzzy brown head poked itself out of the hole, it was a mouse. A sense of relief washed over me at the realization that I wasn’t a schizo. The mouse sniffed the air and my heart pounded as it slowly approached the trap. It twitched its whiskers to examine the new object and I prepared myself for a metal the snap. However, no snap came. The mouse briskly circled around the trap and scampered away. Once it reached the other side of the room, it had the audacity to stop and look at me before disappearing into another crack in the wall. I cracked my knuckles and narrowed my eyes, “Little shit.”
My apartment had become no man’s land. Along the walls were not only several snap traps, but a whole smorgasbord of deadly paraphernalia. I’d gotten glue traps. I’d gotten poison traps. I’d gotten small traps, big traps, homemade traps, and even an expensive electric trap. I had arranged this gauntlet of death in such a way that it forced my little friend to pass through it.
However, my enemy wouldn’t just appear immediately, so I had to wait. I checked my email and my socials to see if any friends had messaged me, but there was nothing. This was expected though. Most of my friends were still in college at the time and keeping up with them had been a challenge.
I wished that I had friends from work, but I hadn’t really spoken to anyone. In order to do my job, I didn’t actually have to talk to people so I tended not to. Hell, there had even been a few days where I’d come in and spend a whole eight hours without even seeing a single face. I was more concerned with keeping my head down and working than making friends. I needed the money to pay rent, and I was constantly and irrationally paranoid of being fired. I figured no impression at all was better than a bad impression. Before I could contemplate my diminished social life any further, I saw a familiar brown head out of the corner of my eye.
The little bastard sniffed the air and shot out of the hole. It snaked through the snap traps, plowed through the poison traps, carefully walked on the edges of the glue traps, and ignored the electric trap altogether. The devilish pest drifted through the other miscellaneous traps before disappearing into a crack. The whole act took about three seconds. I store blankly, mouth agape, before finally bursting into shocked laughter
Every day I came home from work and rearranged the traps, and every day the mouse fiend evaded them like they were nothing. The first few times I witnessed this it irritated me, but eventually I just became impressed. I thought about just giving up, accepting that the mouse had become a permanent resident. Eventually, I grew used to the pest and would even look forward to seeing it. Some days it would be the only living thing I would interact with. It had become more of a pet than a pest.
I contemplated getting rid of the deadly traps and replacing them with catch-and-release traps. I even thought about keeping it if I caught it. I thought a pet would be good for me and taking care of a mouse couldn’t be too difficult. Unfortunately, these were only thoughts and I never got rid of the traps.
One night I was awoken by a small scream. I jumped up and whipped my head around but found nothing. I was about to fall back to sleep when I heard it again. It was shrill yet faint at the same time. A knot formed in my stomach, and I stumbled over to the death gauntlet. my furry friend was caught in a glue trap.
Its heart was practically beating out of its chest. It whipped around, trying to break free, but only caused the glue to rip small chunks of hair and flesh from its body. While it flailed, I noticed its limbs weren’t moving, they must have broken. “Ah fuck.” I said out loud. It must have heard me because it struggled to look up and stare with its beady little black bug eyes.
It was suffering and I knew I had to kill it, but how. I googled humane ways to kill mice, but as I searched the mouse squealed louder and louder which just caused me to panic and search faster. finally, I found there were only two “humane” methods, drowning it in a bucket or smashing it with a blunt object. Drowning seemed too cruel to me so that only left one option. I picked up one of my work shoes and aimed it at the poor thing. With two quick strikes, it ceased to be.
I looked at the pile of blood, guts, and glue, and a sickening thought crossed my mind, “I just bludgeoned my only friend with a shoe.” But there was no time to contemplate this, or even mourn my pal. In a few hours I had to go to work, and I didn’t want to ruin my perfect attendance, in fear of being fired. So, swallowing my grief, I dropped the corpse in the trash, washed the blood off by shoe, and got ready for work.