Mice in the Machine

Mice in the Machine

All was silent in the cupboard under the stairs. So hushed was it that it might have been another world.
Beyond the locked wooden door night abounded in overlapping ridges of black, the world concealed by its universal shroud. Yet something stirred tinkling the empty jam jars, dislodging dust from paint tin lids, pitter-pattering over the small, slumped figure.
The little mouse knew his way about the quiet places of the mansion and this night was no different to any other. He sniffed, but no human scent availed his senses, no creature larger then he stirred.
A twitched tail indicated for his family to follow. In a procession of tiny feet, mouse after mouse marched across the wooden shelf, around the bottles and jars and over the metal head of the thing that couldn’t be human because they’d have known. They crossed onto the thing’s askew head, trotted down its barrel chest and came to rest on its coiled spring legs.
If someone had happened to open the cupboard door, they should’ve found it most strange to see that brigade of considered vermin sat upon a broken automaton. Of course, the mice didn’t know it a broken automaton, at least, not on that first night.

The mice realised something was wrong when the automaton lifted a copper plated finger; it creaked like the old gate outside. The next day, a luminous, saffron eye lit for an instant, then flickered to grey. On the third day, the automaton coughed, but that scared the mice away. The thing didn’t move again until they came back and then it just squeaked.
Squeaks to you and I mean nothing: a hinge that wants oiling; a wobbly shelf; a mouse. To the mice it meant much more. In fact, it meant everything. One might almost have said they understood it. That they understood it completely.

The inventor never knew how his failed experiment escaped the cupboard. He’d never gotten it to work. All he had to go on was small, mouselike footprints in the dust, a spare spring and a note that said goodbye.

Eureka Moments

A: “Let’s here it then.”

B: “Prepare yourself, this is brilliant.”

A: “I’m waiting.”

B: “If I had a drum, I’d be rolling on it.”

A: “I’m still waiting.”

B: “Alright, alright, keep your socks on. I just wanted you to be the first to know.”

A: “I’m hoping that one day I will.”

B: “Oh, you will, matey.”

A: “Is this leading to a — can you lend me money — type scenario?”

B: “I can’t tell a lie.”

A: “You can’t tell anything. Get on with it.”

B: “I’m trying. Anyhow, I’ve had this idea for an app that’s possibly the greatest since the world became Pokédexed.”

A: “Good, I’ll get ready to shout eureka.”

B: “Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit.”

A: “It would be.”

B: “Alright, here I go. It’s an app that requests aid from the community to help in getting things done for other people. Anyone can help, and if they do, they get fed by the person who they’ve helped. If you want someone to cut your grass, you text on the app. If you want someone to go shopping for you, you just text the app. If you want someone to help you tidy up…”

A: “You just text the app.”

B: “That’s it, you’ve got it. Good, isn’t it?”

A: “As your hare-brained schemes go, yes.”

B: “Geez! You’ve never said that in all the years I’ve known you.”

A: “You’ve never given me reason to.”

B: “Hmm!”

A: “So what are you gonna call it?”

B: “This is the most brilliant part of all, and don’t worry, Mr Cautious, I’ll test it here thoroughly before I trial it with others. Because it’s a mixture of self and getting things done with assistance, I’m going to call it Please.Do.Me.”

A: “!”

B: “Well?”

A: “You do realise you still live with your mum.”

B: “Hm, I’ll rethink.”