"Oh great, Seville," commented Mason as she passed by the room. "Now it's going to rain."
"Been raining since Sunday, Mason," Seville called after her. "DON'T THINK KILLING ONE LITTLE SPIDER WILL MAKE A DIFFERENCE!"
Bored with dust bunny counting and spider hunting, Seville headed into the kitchen to see if there were any snacks lying about. Finding nothing but dry kibble in the dishes, he jumped up onto the kitchen island. "Maybe the peeps left something tasty up here," he thought aloud.
As luck would have it, Seville found a container of grated Parmesan cheese. He flipped open the lid and knocked it on its side, causing its contents to spill out. Licking a paw, he touched it to the cheese on the counter before drawing it up to his nose. He breathed in heavily. "Mmm... reminds me a bit of Valerian Root," he whispered.
"Someone mention Valerian Root?" Mason called from the family room.
Seville ignored his sister. Mason might have the hearing of a parabolic microphone but she also had the memory of a sieve. She'd forget about the mention of Valerian Root soon enough.
Seville tasted the Parmesan cheese on his paw. "Delicious," and with that, he licked up all that had spilt onto the island counter.
He then trotted into the family room and hopped up onto the kitty condo. He would have liked to have taken a nap on the big chair but said chair was occupied by Anderson, who lay there, sound asleep and snoring like a bear. Peep #1 was on the couch reading and the television droned on in the background. Seville doubted he'd be able to nap with the noise of Andy's snores and the television but thought he'd give it a try, anyway.
Seville batted a paw at his ear.
He batted at his ear again and this time, opened one eye. Before him stood a little grey mouse, clutching a clipboard to his chest. Seville stared at the mouse. The mouse stared back.
"Excuse me, Mr uh... um... Mr. Seville? Is that your name? You're Seville the Cat, brother of Nerissa? Nerissa the Cat? Is that correct?"
"I. Don't. Believe. It."
The little grey mouse held out a paw. "M1 is the name. I'm here to brief you on the latest happenings in Mouseland. Please follow me. Your presence is required."
The mouse then turned on his heal, jumped down from the kitty condo and onto the arm of the big chair, walked right past Anderson who was still snoring, completely unaware of the presence of a mouse in the house, and then down to the floor, where he scampered across the room and into the kitchen. Seville followed, obligingly.
"Whoa!" Seville cried, stopping dead in his tracks. The air in what should have been the kitchen had turned thick with smoke and haze. Coloured threads appeared before his eyes. They swirled about his head, this way and that. "Is this some sort of spacial-time distortion? Like a wormhole?" he asked M1.
"Mouse hole, actually," answered M1. "Please follow me. I'm on a tight schedule."
"Mouse hole, Makes sense," shrugged Seville. "Then uh... you must be from the Canadian Cheese Consortium, huh? Nissy told me all about the consortium and all the troubles you've been having with The Big Cheese and stuff." Seville paused for a moment before adding, "I never really believed in any of it before but now..."
"Oh, you can believe it, all right," said M1. "We're here now. Please take your muzzle and come this way."
"MUZZLE!" Seville cried with indignation. "Muzzles are for dogs! MOUSES!"
"Mice," several mice cried, seemingly out of nowhere. "The plural of mouse is mice."
"Grammar Mice. Heard about them from Nissy, too. MOUSES!" and he held up a paw before the Grammar Mice could reply. "I know... I know... MICES! No such word though, mice. The word at paw is mouses. MOUSES!"
The mice sitting in the great hall which Seville and M1 had entered looked at one another, obviously confused by the conversation.
"So what's with the muzzle?" Seville asked M1.
"The Big Cheese has informed us that all scientists, Consortium employees and um... Oh, I have the list somewhere here." M1 glanced down at his clipboard and started flipping through papers. "All... Well it doesn't really matter," explained M1. "Bottom line is, you need to hold onto the muzzle."
"Scientists, huh? Is this because of my research into Eggbeater-Whisk Time Travelling-Teleportation Physics?" Seville asked of M1. "But Nissy worked on that, too, and Nissy never said NOTHIN' about wearing no muzzles."
Gasps could be heard from about the hall as Grammar Mice squeaked out cries of "Double negative!" and "He's using Fleaspeak! HE'S USING FLEASPEAK!" Seville rolled his eyes.
M1 looked sternly at Seville. "There's no need for that kind of language here, Mr. Cat."
Seville looked down at his paws. "FINE. But I'm not wearing this muzzle and there's no way you can make me."
The little grey mouse nodded in agreement before adding, "The muzzle isn't required to be worn. It's merely a symbol. And it's not because of your teleportation physics thing. It's because the last time Nerissa the Cat was here, he used the words..."
M1 scampered right over to Seville and climbed up on one of the big cat's paws. Standing as high on his tippy-toes that a little mouse could stand, M1 beckoned for Seville to lower his head.
Seville eyed the mouse. Was this some sort of trick? Some sort of mousicidal entrapment? An attempt to tempt him with a mousy snack? He lowered his head while forcibly clamping his jaw firmly shut as to avoid temptation..
"Global Warming," M1 whispered under his breath. "We are forbidden to use those words here or anywhere else within the Big Cheese's control." M1's eyes darted back and forth, making sure no one had heard him but Seville.
Then all of a sudden, loud noises could be heard at the other end of the hall. The Big Cheese was making an appearance. Wearing a long golden robe, he glided down the centre of the hall, majestically. Scurrying alongside him were two smaller mice, Masters Pomp and Circumstance, according to the name tags they wore.
Seville used his free front paw to lift M1 by the tail, up and off his other paw. Setting him down on the floor he whispered, "What's going on? What's with the... the... the whatever is going on over there?"
"Just watch and listen, Mr. Cat," said little M1. "And remember. Remember all that you see here today for sometime in the near future, you'll need to draw upon this information to solve the greatest unsolved mystery this land has ever known."
Seville's eyes grew wide in amazement. "You mean, who let the dogs out?"
M1 slapped a paw to his forehead. "Not that, cat. I'm talking about the case your brother was working on. The conspiracies at play in the Canadian Cheese Consortium. Watch and listen, cat. One more piece of the puzzle lies before you."
The Big Cheese was less than a tail's length away from him now. Seville could smell ripe cheese on his breath. He wondered how Nissy had been able to resist the temptation to...
"THERE you are," and Peep #1 scooped Seville up and into her arms. The kitchen lights shone brightly, causing him to squint his eyes. "You wouldn't happen to know anything about this empty container of Parmesan cheese on the kitchen counter, would you?" the peep asked.
Seville blinked slowly and looked around. The mice were all gone. M1 and The Big Cheese were nowhere to be seen. No sign of the Grammar Mice, either.
And as if coming from inside the walls of the house, Seville could hear cries of, "Mice. The plural of mouse, is mice."
"Darned Grammar Mice," Seville muttered under his breath. Luckily for him, the peep hadn't heard the mice over the loud noise of his purr.