‘Pudding’ by Beatriz Seelaender

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He was her favourite mouse, beating all others- Mickey (too obvious), Bernard and Miss Bianca (too cutesy), Jerry (too smug; she always rooted for Tom), Speedy Gonzalez (too fast), and Pinky (too stupid) and the Brain (too brainy).

If she had to pick a pair of fictional mice, she’d definitely pick Emily and Alexander- her favourite cartoon when she was a small child, also known as The Country Mouse and the City Mouse adventures. But even Emily and Alexander were, respectively, too country and too cosmopolitan. They travelled everywhere; you’d think they’d absorb at least an ounce of other cultures.

Pudding, her favourite mouse, however, was a real mouse- and therefore immune to all slightly annoying human idiosyncrasies that kept her from loving the fictional ones. Pudding was very clever, and plump, and he liked to be petted.

Liza knew she would eventually have to infect him with diphtheria or Ebola or at best syphilis. Her professors were always ready to inject something. And they were right- she just wondered if she had it in her.

The other day someone from the Liberal Arts building broke out a bunch of mice about to be infected with dengue fever and HIV. The hypothesis was that, since the commensal pegivirus has been known to considerably mitigate HIV infections, perhaps a virus in its family- the dengue virus- might be able to do the same.

One fifth of the mice were to be infected with HIV and then dengue, and another in the opposite order. Then yet another group would be infected only with HIV, and the other only with dengue. The remaining fifth was the control group.

Professor Callaham, who was responsible for the project, called for a general assembly once she heard of the break, which she deemed extremely irresponsible. In the assembly she reminded the students that while the freed mice represented no threat to the human population, the person who did it probably didn’t have access to this information and could have potentially released a lethal contagious disease.

Despite this, in theory, being possible, Liza found it unlikely that whoever organized the break out had no knowledge of the mice’s health condition. No one wants to run the risk of getting caught for saving mice that were already going to die anyway. Not to mention that in order to break in one had to know the passwords, or at least the security guard, Marv.

Marv had guarded the gates of research facilities for a decade now, like a patient Cerberus- although, since it is mice we are talking about, a three-headed cat is more like it. Marv of course had but one lonely head growing from his neck, which was neither too wrinkled nor unwrinkled and therefore appropriate for a man his age.

Liza actually liked him a lot; he wasn’t as scary as he looked- she was considerably more scared of her professors than of Marv. He enjoyed mustard on everything, really obscure Netflix shows, and learning the science behind dog grooming. Right now his huge shadow stood onstage a bit behind the Professor, which made him look like an omen or a prophet for misfortune- a look he usually strived for as a member of the Old School of Security Guardsmanship which did not care for these new unthreatening ways of carrying oneself while on-duty.

Meanwhile Professor Callaham spoke in between uuuuuhm(…)s in a very stiff and laid-back manner, in order not to appear stiff. She reported her views on the term the lab invader had used: “Stop the Mice Massacre” had been written in (hopefully) fake blood on the walls. Liza thought Mice Massacre would be a good name for a rock band, although there was already a band called Modest Mouse and that might generate some confusion.

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