Thirteen Tales From Another World
The Tale of the Fabled City
Meanwhile on an island paradise in another dimension.
“Sometimes, other worlds aren’t actually all that hidden or hard to find.” Dr. Callyco was playing rolling an empty hamster ball back and forth on the ground in front of him.
“Huh, all the things to do on the island and you’re just messing with that?” Dr. Cutie Pup gave him a quizzical look.
“I don’t know, I’m bored. I feel like we’ve been on this island forever and I’ve run out of things to do.” Dr. Callyco huffed. “So I think I’d rather just focus on introducing the stories.”
“You mean the thing you were supposed to be doing this entire time?” Dr. Cutie Pup rolled his eyes.
“Yes.” Dr. Callyco nodded, not even the smallest hint of irony or sarcasm in his voice. “Tonight, we have Snowheart, someone who is no stranger to shapeshifting. As for the other world she’s going to visit well… She’ll know a lot about that pretty soon. But, that’s the thing. Sometimes it’s not about the place but the journey. Actually, most times it’s about the journey, but especially tonight. For various reasons, Snowheart will have to seek out this hidden world that exists within her own. And so, I bring you our tenth tale. The Tale of the Hidden City.”
Thirteen Tales From Another World
The Tale of the Hidden City
Snowheart’s head was fuzzy. And not just because it was covered in fluff. She had just woken up and the details on what she had done the night before were a little fuzzy to her. She slowly glanced around. This wasn’t her bedroom. She was in in some kind of wire cage filled with wood shavings that covered the floor. There was a big water bottle hung on the side of the cage, an exercise wheel for small animals, a bowl of food, and a plastic little dome. There were also two other mice a brown and white one at the food bowl.
Well, it didn’t exactly take a genius to put all of this together. Especially when things like this had happened before. Snowheart held her paws up in front of her hand. They were furless. Instead, the fur started at her arms, or legs would be more accurate and ran over the rest of her body. A quick look and the former kitsune saw her normally fluffy tails were gone and replaced by a single tail covered in very thin fur. At least her fur was still pink. So… She was a mouse. And judging by look of things, a normal mouse. Aside from being pink that was. But why was she a mouse? It had to have something to do with why her memories of the previous day were so hazy.
Well, there were other mice around! Maybe they could shed some light on where she was and how she got here. And this would be an opportune time to find out if she was still capable of speech or not.
“Excuse me!” Snowheart scurried towards the bowl of food where a brown mouse and a white mouse were hanging out. “Could you… Oh hey I can talk. That’s good.”
“The newcomer finally woke up.” The brown mouse spoke. She was the largest of the three mice gathered, though not by much.
“Yeeaah you can’t actually talk.” The white mouse thought it better he speak to Snowheart instead of about her. “Well, you can but… No one will understand…”
“That doesn’t make a lot of sense…” Snowheart tilted her head and let her tail twitch in curiosity. “Are you just trying to say I can talk to other mice but not anyone else?”
“Well, look at that, the new kid is ahead of the game.” The brown mouse smiled.
“Yes that’s… Exactly… Wow why was I struggling to explain that…” The white mouse looked bashful.
“So that’s one thing explained although…” Snowheart looked around. They were in a wired cage sitting atop a table in a room that was impossibly pristine. “How did I get here… And why am I a mouse?”
“Why is anyone a mouse?” The brown one replied with a shrug.
“Well…” Snowheart didn’t have a good answer for that. There was no reason one couldn’t be a mouse instead of something else. This wasn’t even her first time being a mouse. But, she didn’t know what had caused her transformation this time or why she was in a cage.
“You most likely fell into a Mouse Trap.” A third voice spoke up. Slowly a black and white speckled mouse crawled out from beneath the plastic dome. “Yes, it’s a terrible pun. But the people who created it thought it was clever.” The speckled mouse looked Kiara up and down. “You’re very… pink.” She shrugged. A pink mouse wasn’t the oddest thing in the world. “So… anyway, I’m Getrude, the white mouse over there is Heracles. And the brown one is Dulcina. We didn’t pick the names. Scientist here did. We were born as mice, rather than converted so neither us or our parents had any real say in the matter.” She then shot Snowheart a look. “So… Who are you, or maybe I should say were you? I’m sure they’ll come up with a new name for you too.”
“I’m Snowheart.” The pink mouse twitched her tail as she put together everything that had happened. Someone had turned her into a mouse and brought her here. At first when she saw the other mice she thought they might have the same story. But they were always mice. “So… I was a kitsune… And… The rest of you have always been normal mice?”
“Normal, who said anything about normal?” Heracles grinned.
“No normal mice here.” Dulcina nodded her head eagerly.
“We were normal mice.” Getrude gave a heavy sigh. “They did experiments on us that gave us human level intelligence and use us for various tests. Anyway… Someone forgot to properly lock the cage one afternoon, and the window was open. Most of the mice escaped that day. We three were the only ones left behind. This meant they were low on test subjects. Apparently, it’s easier to turn someone intelligent into a mouse than to make more intelligent mice, and that’s where you come in.”
“So… When you say tests… What exactly happens?” Snowheart asked slightly nervously.
“Don’t know.” Gertrude crossed her arms. “No one whose been taken in to do a test has ever come back. I doubt it’s pleasant.”
“Then… Why didn’t you three leave with the others?” Snowheart tilted her head.
“That may sort of be on us…” Heracles spoke up bashfully.
“We noticed the other mice were excited about something, and realized that meant the food bowl was unguarded.” Dulcina continued. “So… We took the rare opportunity to gorge ourselves until we passed out. If we had realized they were escaping, we would have went with them.”
“So… Then were you also-“ Snowheart turned to Gertrude.
“Don’t lump me in with those two.” Gertrude huffed. “I stayed behind because someone had to try to keep these two idiots alive.”
“That’s her way of saying she loves us.” Dulcina giggled. “Gertrude can’t just come out and show affect- OW!” She let out a shout as Gertrude slammed her on the head.
“You two should be trying to think of ways the three-“ She paused and glanced at Snowheart. “Well four now. How we can escape and make it to Moss Stone.”
“Moss Stone?” Snowheart grabbed her own tail. “What’s that?”
“Fabled city of the mice!” Dulcina shouted. “It’s an absolute paradise! There are no predators!”
“Almost unlimited food!” Heracles added. “Plenty of trees and root systems to make a home in!”
“And the cats are smaller than you paw!” Dulcina finished.
“Hmph.” Gertrude gave the two an irritated look. “They’re not wrong. The city is hidden away where no one can see it. It’s a safe haven for mice. I don’t know if the original mice who created it were born intelligent or granted it… But somehow they managed to find a completely safe home. Moss Rock is its own little world, completely separate from the rest of reality where we’re at the bottom of the totem pole.”
“We can just wait for them to leave the cage unlocked again.” Dulcina suggested.
“There’s no guarantee of that happening!” Gertrude barked. “Don’t you understand. There are only four of us. When they come in to do test tomorrow one of us is never going to be seen again.”
“Oh…” Both Heracles and Dulcina had their ears and tail droop.
“We have less than twelve hours before they’re back. There’s not a lot of time left to come up with an escape plan.” Gertrude lectured them.
At this point, the fight was devolving into some kind of argument. Or… At least something where Dulcina and Heracles kept rattling off things before Gertrude would get angry. Snowheart didn’t know them well enough to know how to deescalate the situation. So, she decided to focus her efforts on something else. The other mice had been here longer and knew the place better, they no doubt knew more about the situation that she did. But, a pair of fresh eyes might see something they missed. Something that could help them escape.
The first thing she did was climb the wiring of the cage to get up to where the lock was so she could examine it. It looked like a standard latch. The type you had to lift up from the outside to open the cage. She stretched one of her paws out trying to reach the latch. She could just barely touch the edge of it. No good, she couldn’t do anything to manipulate it if all she could do was scrape it with the tip of her claws. If only she had something longer to reach with it. Maybe she could find a wood shaving that was sturdy enough to be used as a stick…
Or! She could use what she already had! Her tail was basically longer than her body! Snowheart climbed higher up onto the cage until she was clinging to the ceiling so she could get her tail as close to the hatch as possible. She slid her tail out through the gaps and wrapped it around the latch. Was her tail strong enough to lift it? Only one way to find out. She didn’t have quite perfect control over the limb. It wasn’t as easy to grasp things as it was with her paws, but she managed to at least wiggle the latch. Then, suddenly, the latch popped up and the top of the cage sprung upward. Snowheart, who had been clinging to the roof had not expected this, lost her grip and fell downward into the wood shavings. Thankfully, one benefit of being a small mouse was that falls didn’t hurt much. Didn’t stop them from being scary.
“What!?” Gertrude completely lost track of her conversation with the other two. “You opened the lock!?”
“Apparently…” Snowheart rolled off her back and slowly got back up on all fours. “I just kind of jiggled it a bit and the entire thing slid open. I think it might be broken.”
“You just… Jiggled it? That was all it took?” There was a combination of shame and hope in Gertrude’s voice. “Wait, how did you even reach it. There’s no way your paws were long enough…”
“I grabbed it with my tail.” Snowheart grinned.
“Huh…” Gertrude sat on her haunches and thought for a moment. “I always assumed that the lock would be too heavy to manipulate with our tails… Are you really telling me that they’ve been keeping us in such a low-quality cage we could have easily gotten out of here anytime we wanted!?”
“Well… We still need a way to get outside the building.” Snowheart tried to be encouraging but wasn’t sure if that was the right thing to say. She looked above the cage. The window was clearly closed. “Do you think if the four of us worked together that we could lift the window open?”
“Maybe…” Gertrude considered. “If nothing else it’s worth trying as we don’t have any better plans.”
“Why open the window? Why not just go through it?” Dulcina asked. “It’d be much quicker.”
“Yeah! Glass is fragile! We just need to hit it with enough force and bam! We’ll break right through it!” Heracles twitched his tail excitedly. “And now that we’re free from the cage I’m sure we can build something.”
“H-hang on!” Gertrude protested. “You can’t just throw us through the glass! Think about how badly cut up we could get! That’s incredibly dangerous!” But the other two had already climbed out of the cage and disappeared into the darkness of the room. “Oh boy…”
“So… Those two…” Snowheart started.
“The three of us are hyper intelligent thanks to the experiments.” Gertrude slowly climbed out of the cage and onto the desk. “We can do complex math, build things. Better than most humans… Although… We often miss the simple solutions.” She looked up at Snowheart as she followed her down.
“So… Shouldn’t they be fine with whatever they’re planning?” Snowheart asked.
“Well…” Gertrude considered. “They’re very smart. But they have no impulse control. They also know they’re smart so they don’t think to question any of their ideas because if there so smart why would they have a bad idea?” Gertrude sighed. “It leads to… problems. Basically… They’re so smart they’re stupid.”
“What about you?” Snowheart looked at Gertrude. “Aren’t you like them?”
“Yes, yes, I’m very clever. And I even know how to calm my impulses…” Gertrude sighed. “But… I suppose I’m also too smart for my own good. Whereas Heracles and Dulcina lack the foresight to think through their ideas and if they’ll work… I’m cursed to see every possible way one of my ideas can fail and just how badly the failure can cost us.”
“I see…” Snowheart moved closer to Gertrude and wrapped her forepaws around her.
“W-what are you doing?” Gertrude demanded.
“Giving you a hug.” Snowheart hesitated slightly. “I’m sorry, I didn’t ask, should I stop?”
“No…” Gertrude leaned into it.
“We’re back!” Dulcina climbed up with Heracles in tow. Dulcina dragged behind her multiple small test tubes filled with some kind of liquid held to a glass plate by a rubberband.
“We both figured out a way to get out the window but aren’t sure which is better.” Heracles had pulled up two large measuring cups attached to a plastic ruler with rubber bands, and the ruler attached to rock at its very center. He disappeared over the edge of the table again and then pushed up a second rock.
“Please tell me that’s not a catapult.” Gertrude quickly stepped away from Snowheart and put a paw to her face.
“It’s a Mouse-A-Pult! Because it pults mice.” Heracles paused. “Wait pult isn’t a word… Or is it… After this is over someone find me an English dictionary!” He turned and grinned. “Basically, we set this rock up on the window seal, attach a string to it and then climb into one cup. We pull the rock down so it lands in the other and we’ll be sent hurling through the glass with enough force to break it.”
“And most of our bones.” Gertude shook her head.
“Then we can do mine!” Dulcina grinned. “I gathered some chemicals that are highly volatile when mixed together and combined with one more element. Using the test tubes, I can aim the explosion so that we can ride the plate and have it propel us through the glass!”
“And we ride the thing while it’s exploding.” Gertude gave a heavy sigh. “I can’t even count the number of ways this could end in one or all of us dead.”
“Maybe we could fashion helmets?” Dulcina suggested.
“What about the rest of our body?” Gertrude demanded. “Neither of these plans will work. Both of them are ridiculously reckless and ignore the fact that slamming us into the glass with enough force to break it will hurt, A LOT. And then there will be broken glass everywhere that cuts us into ribbons.”
“Well, you gotta take a risk sometimes.” Heracles explained. “Especially if we need to break out tonight.”
“Huh…” Snowheart looked between the two inventions.
“We’re trying to escape death! Dying along the way kind of defeats the purpose of that!” Gertrude was yelling at the other two.
“What if…” Snowheart pushed the makeshift catapult onto the glass plate Dulcina had brought and then tossed one rock into each cup. “Yeah, I think this could work.”
“You want to combine our inventions?” Heracles asked.
“Yes! The power of kinetic energy combined with a chemical explosion!” Dulcina shouted. “There’s no way we won’t shatter the window.”
“We are tiny mice! We have fragile bodies! We should not be crashing through windows!” Gertrude flailed her paws.
“Actually… I was thinking…” Snowheart paused. “Um… Dulcina, how do you start yours?”
“Oh… you just do this!” Dulcina pulled corks out of the testtubes. “The last element the chemicals need to explode is oxygen!”
“Wait, so it’s going to go off right now!?” Snowheart got her answer as the fluid in the test tubes begam to bubble and the tubes rumbled. “Ah shoot, not a lot of time to make this work.”
“It’s too dangerous we can’t get on that thing!” Gertrude protested.
“No one is getting on it!” Snowheart explained. “Just let me…” She tilted the plate up so it was facing the window. Then, the explosion happened. Both contraptions were sent rocketing through the air and straight into the window. There was a loud crash as glass shattered. The contraptions themselves came apart at this point, the test tubes flying off in different directions while the rest simply fell downward. But, a sizable hole had been left in the window.
“See, we would have all died.” Gertrude gestured in the directions the test tubes had flown.
“I never planned for us to ride it.” Snowheart rubbed the back of her head. “But… When Dulcina set it off there I didn’t really have time to explain my idea and ask what you thought… But look!” She gestured towards the window. “There’s a hole now. We can go through the window without having to launch ourselves at it. We can just climb through it and then down the building! There’s still the broken glass to worry about, but as long as we’re careful and watch where we step we can get around that with no problem.”
“Huh… Yeah… That… works…” Gertrude’s ears perked up.
“Well… To freedom?” Snowheart grinned. With that, all four mice took off, climbing the window, through the hole and then very carefully down the side of the building till they landed in the grass.
“Be careful. Stay low and keep cover. Last thing we need is for an owl to catch us as a midnight snack after escaping.” Gertrude warned. “And keep an eye out for other predators…”
“Maybe I could make something to drive them off…” Heracles started.
“Or… something to shoot them out of the sky?” Dulcina suggested.
“No! No inventions now! Just quiet, stealthy moving! Come on! The edge of the forest isn’t far.” Gertrude insisted.
“I think she’s right.” Snowheart nodded. “At this point the best thing to do is move quietly and not attract attention to ourselves.
It didn’t take long for them to make it to the forest. Once there they dove into a bush for cover as they took a quick rest. The forest was full of unfamiliar scents and sounds. Some tantalizing, like the sweet smell of a berry. Others, alarming like the sound of grass rustling as something much bigger moved by or the hooting of an owl.
“So… How do we find Moss Rock?” Snowheart asked.
“The fabled mouse paradise…” Gertrude spoke quietly. “You know, I’ve been talking about it so much, I never stopped to consider if it was actually even real or not. I suppose… Even if it isn’t… Out here we at least have a chance.”
“Ah come on Gertrude! You’ve been talking about going to Moss Rock since you could talk!” Dulcina insisted. “Well, converse, this isn’t exactly talking. You’re not about to give up. Sing the song.”
“There’s a song?” Snowheart asked.
“Oh yeah Gertrude sang it all the time when we first gained sapience.” Heracles nodded.
“It’s… Really just a song for little baby mice…” Gertrude insisted. “But…” She took a deep breath.
“Beyond the lab, look out to the trees.
And a glimpse of paradise you may see.
Once you’re in the woods just follow these clues.
Ancient marks come into view.
First find the eldest tree’s grave.
The way up on top for those who are brave.
Next you must look for and follow the signs.
A maze awaits don’t stray from the lines.
At the end you must find the invisible door.
Go through it and you’ll reach the fabled city of yore.
Moss Rock awaits for all mice who seek it.
Find the path and use your wit.”
“So those are directions then…” Snowheart poked her head out of the bush. “These directions mention coming from the lab… So, I imagine the first landmark has to be somewhere close by…” She paused, noticing a tree stump. “I have an idea of what might be the tree’s grave.”
“So next we need someone brave to find way.” Heracles thought. “So, think there might be something dangerous about it.”
“I think… You just need to climb to the top of it…” Snowheart twitched her tail as she thought. “The song feels more like literal directions than a riddle. And… In a forest full of predators climbing up on top of something into plain view of the entire forest would require quite a bit of bravery.” Snowheart skittered out of the bush and towards the trunk. Her ears and nose twitched, and she listened to all her senses for any signs of danger. With glacial speed, she climbed the trunk waiting for signs of danger.
Once she finally reached the top. She found it to be a plane tree trunk. There were so many circles inside it though! This tree must have been really old when it was cut down. But where did she go from here? Was the clue on the trunk itself or something she could see from the trunk? She crept across it, slightly nervous at house exposed she was. Then she found it. In the center most ring, which was barely bigger than her paw, someone had scratched an arrow into it pointing further into the forest. It was doubtful anyone bigger than a mouse would ever be able to see it.
With he clue found, Snowheart quickly leaped from the trunk and ran back into the bush.
“That way!” She pointed. “There was an arrow. Looks like the city might be real after all.”
“Wouldn’t that be wonderful.” Gertrude smiled. For the first time she seemed full of hope.
The arrow sent the mice into tall grass, giving them cover from most predators. They had to stay alert but it was less tense than traveling in the open. After awhile they came to the rotting remains of a log. Another tiny arrow had been scratched into the side of it pointing in a new direction. And so they quietly traversed the forest. About each ten minutes they would encounter a log, a large stone, or some other object that always had an arrow marked into it. The sun was starting to rise by the time they reached the end. But the arrow led to a dead end. There was no clue where to go next.
The four mice found themselves beneath the roots of a tree that was atop a stream. They weren’t able to get far before their path was blocked by a combination of rock and roots. Part of the stream ran through the tree, but there were no signs of a way forward.
“Did we miss an arrow?” Dulcina asked.
“I don’t think so…” Snowheart looked around. “Maybe this is the part where we have to find an invisible door?”
“So, like a literal door, or metaphorically? And is it like magic and we can do something to make it appear or what?” Heracles asked. They all looked at Gertrude.
“The song is all I know.” Gertrude insisted. “I never honestly thought I’d be here… But…” For a moment she sounded defeated, then she sat down and a graceful smile crossed her snout. “You know what. Let’s take a break. We’re very well hidden here, and we have fresh water. We’ve been going nonstop all night. We can take the time to figure it out.”
“Having any doubts?” Snowheart asked.
“Many but…” Gertrude looked around. “Worst case scenario, Moss Rock is a myth. Even if that turns out to be the case, we made it out of the lab. We got through the forest without being sighted by predators. And even if the city isn’t real this is a safe spot we can rest. If Moss Rock doesn’t exist, I’m fairly certain we can live a full life in the woods.”
“Wait, this isn’t going to turn out to be one of those Moss Rock was actually the home in our heart this entire time is it?” Dulcina pouted.
“Or Moss Rock was actually the journey?” Heracles stuck his tongue out.
“Heh.” Snowheart couldn’t help but giggle at the two. “Pretty sure it being a metaphor would be a pretty big stretch at this point. Plus, Moss Rock is the place in our hearts just doesn’t have a good ring to it. You now? If it was going to be a metaphor they would have named it something like Tranquility Grove, or Serene Peace.”
“Why tell the way in song and do clues anyway?” Heracles asked. “I mean, who else would even be looking for this place?”
“Well, if mice can be intelligent, whose to say other animals can’t be…”
“I mean I was a fox.” Snowheart pointed out. “Though not the type that lives in the wild.”
“Wait… Foxes eat mice! What if this was all a trap!” Heracles jumped back alarmed. “Wait then why would Gertrude be the one who knew the song if Snowheart set the trap?”
“Because it’s not a trap.” As Gertrude spoke up Heracles flinched as if he expected her to slap him. Instead, she just laughed. “I’m getting a drink of water.” She crawled over to the water, took a few sips and then froze. “Wait… How is the water getting through?”
“The tree was over a stream so it’s from there.” Snowheart pointed out.
“Yeah… But if this was really a complete dead end and sealed off, shouldn’t the water be pooling up here? Instead, it’s flowing through. There’s a way out.”
“Could just be through tiny cracks between the roots and rocks. Heracles suggested. “We may be small but we’re not that small to get through those.”
“All though, if we can find the right herbs maybe I can mix up something to make us that small!” Dulcina suggested.
“The invisible door…” Gertrude muttered to herself. She stared into the water. She stuck a paw in, finding it went deeper than she could reach. It was too dark to see through the water. As she studied it Snowheart moved to sit next to her. She glanced up at Snowheart when she appeared.
“Do you think?” She started.
“Only one way to find out.” Snowheart grinned. With that, both of them dove into the water. It was easily deep enough to submerge their bodies. But it was dark, they couldn’t see. They grasped around beneath the water, feeling a root, and then feeling a gap between it. Both of them quickly swam back up to the surface.
“I think we found it.” Snowheart grabbed the edge of a root to help herself stay afloat.
“It’s too dark to see, but there’s a gap big enough for us to go through underwater. If we can swim to the surface on the other side…” Gertrude started.
“Aren’t you being awfully risky?” Heracles asked.
“There might not be a spot to get up on the other side. Anyone who goes for it might drown.” Dulcina pointed out.
“Seriously?” Gertrude asked. “You never consider the negative consequences of your own actions, but you actually think about mine?” She shook her head. “You’re not wrong. But I believe Moss Rock is real. And we’re almost there.”
“I can hold my breath for a decent amount of time!” Snowheart piped up. “I could go in first and come back and let you know if there’s a way up.”
“No… I think I should do this.” Getrude looked downward into the water.
“You got this.” Snowheart played a paw on Gertrude’s shoulder and gave her an encouraging smile.
With that, Gertrude dove beneath the water’s surface again and disappeared. A minute passed. And then another. There was no sign of her.
“No… She couldn’t have…” Heracles muttered.
“Gertrude would never do something reckless enough to…” Dulcina whimpered.
Then, there was a gasp as Gertrude rose from the water. She climbed up onto the surface and sat down.
“Sorry, I had to explain to the doorman there were three more coming. But… We’re here. It’s just on the other side of the stream.” Gertrude grinned.
“You were gone awhile!” Snowheart threw her paws around Gertrude. “We were worried.”
“I know. But… It’s not far. Come on!” Gertrude jumped back into the water. The other three mice exchanged a look and then went after her.
The hole in the roots was easy to find even without sight. After that it only took them a few seconds of swimming upward to reach the surface again. Now, they were inside some kind of cave underneath the tree. And at the back of the cave was a large rock covered in moss.
“This is… A lot more literal than I was expecting…” Dulcina muttered as she climbed out of the water.
“So was the doorman thing a joke?” Heracles asked.
“Have a little faith.” Getrude climbed out of the water then offered a paw to help Snowheart out. “Alright… We’re all here!”
“Who are you talking too?” Snowheart asked. She got an answer soon. The rock suddenly began to move. It slid to the side, revealing a tunnel made out of roots that widened into a much larger area.
“Ah, so the others are here. Come on, inside quickly! We mustn’t leave the way open long!” It was a strange mouse indeed that greeted them. His fur was colored a dark green. Of course, Snowheart was in no position to make judgements about normal fur colors for mice. He ushered all of them in, then he and three more green mice appeared to pull the rock back into place.
“Welcome to Moss Rock.” Gertrude grinned. “We made it!” Before the mice was a large forest, but there was something different about it from the woods they had traveled.
There was no scent of danger. No sound of predators. Instead, just an abundance of trees, grass and bushes. Plenty of place for mice to make a home and find food.
“The tree canopy and branches are so thick here, not even the smallest bird can get inside of here.” Gertrude was grinning as she stared wide eyed. “The only way in is the hole we just came through… So, no large predators.”
“Or small predators either!” The green mouse added. “Most animals aren’t smart enough to move the Moss Stone even if they find it. And then even if they were, it’s heavy. Really though, the only thing that might make it through the invisible door aside from mice would be a small snake. And it wouldn’t be able to get past the rock. It’s completely safe here.”
“No lab, no predators…” Gertrude sounded in awe.
“Look at all the natural growing berries! Heracles shouted. “I’m gonna eat my weight in them!”
“Hey save some for me!” Dulcina shouted as the two ran off.
“How long do you think it takes them to realize there’s more berries here than they could ever eat?” Snowheart asked.
“I suspect they’ll enter a food coma and have forgotten by the time we awaken.” Gertrude awkwardly moved her arms as she grabbed Snowheart’s shoulders.
“What are you doing?” Snowheart asked.
“Hugging you?” Gertrude tried.
“Lean in closer.” Snowheart giggled.
“I know it’s bad luck for you that you got turned into a mouse… But without you the three of us wouldn’t have survived. There’s no way we would have escaped the lab and made it here.” Gertrude was grinning ear to ear.
“I don’t know.” Snowheart shrugged. “It seems to me the three of you had everything you needed. I mean, any of you could have climbed up the tree trunk and found the sign.”
“Maybe we did… But without you we’d still be in the cage, coming up with useless ideas, or shooting ideas down because of the risks. It’s because of you we actually took action. We may have just met, but you’re a real friend. Now come on, let’s get some food.”
“Sounds like a plan.” Snowheart’s tail twitched. “Let’s go!”