Surprise! Surprise! The Boy Has Mice Eyes!
'Chris, do you have Sasha in your room?' my mum calls up the stairs
'Yeah. She's just doing something for me.'
'OK. Bring her with you when you come down, please. She's not eaten yet.'
I open up my cupboard door. 'She will soon,' I say to myself.
I smash my hand around on the bedside table trying to find my torch. There's no plug socket near my bed, so I can't have a proper light. Eventually I hit the thing and click it on. It's still dark. Great! The batteries must have died. This is what I hate about November. When I wake up for school, it's dark, and when I get home from school, it's dark! Why can't they just have school at night in November? Or better yet, just cancel it completely. We can all go back in the Spring.
I stagger out of bed, feel my way to my door and turn the bedroom light on. It's still dark, but more than that, it's black. Actually black. I can't see a thing! I start to wave my hand in front of my face, but I can't even make out a blur.
The torch isn't broken. I'm blind!
'I think he's realised.'
'Oh, he's realised,' say these two high-pitched voices.
'What? Who's there? Who are you?'
I hold my hands out and start to feel around. Someone must have crept into my room and blinded me in my sleep. Now they're going to kidnap me and put to work in a factory somewhere, or cut bits off me and sell me back to my parents piece by piece.
'We're not out there.'
'Oh no, no, no, not out there at all.'
'We're quite cosy.'
'Oh yes, very cosy!'
I stop waving my arms around. I feel something on my nose, like a single toothbrush bristle is tickling it. I start to feel my face. I move my hands up, over my mouth, my nose, I touch where my eyes should be and scream.
'Oww! That was my face.'
'Yes, don't be mean. That was his face.'
'My poor face!'
'Such a poor, poor face,' the singsong voices cry.
'Whe-whe-where are my eyes?!'
The voices titter.
'Oh, they're gone.'
'Never to be seen again.'
'Never to see again!'
'What are you?' I ask.
'We're your new eyes!'
'New and improved and ready to use!'
'But I can see anything. Why can't I see anything?'
'Oh, you don't see,' one of the voices titters.
'Oh no, no, no.'
'We see and tell you where to go.'
'Oh yes, yes, yes!'
'But what are you? What do you look like?'
'Why, we're mice of course.'
My hands go up to my face again. I'm gentler this time and they don't cry out. They're right, I can feel them. Their ears hang out the side of my eye sockets and their noses and whiskers poke out from my face.
'He he! That tickles!'
'Yes, tickly, wickly.'
I drop my hands.
'Why are there mice in my eyes?'
'Oh yes, very good question.'
'Don't know the answer, though.'
'No, don't know the answer at all!'
I feel my way to my bed.
'It's in front of you. Take two steps.'
'Feel lower, lower.'
My hand touches my unmade bed and I turn around to sit on it. They did what they said they would. They saw for me, but strangely, I'd still rather have actual eyes.
'Well, how did you get there? Mice don't just grow in people's eyes. At least, I don't think they do. This isn't puberty, is it?'
'No, no, puberty's different.'
'It's all sweaty and hairy.'
I nod my head. I wonder if it makes the mice feel sick.
'We woke up in your head.'
'We were sleeping in your brain.'
'So we ate our way out.'
'Munch, much, munch.'
'But we get stuck in your eyes.'
'Stuck in the mud!'
'We'd eaten too much brain and couldn't fit through the holes.'
'Delicious, delicious brain.'
'Any now were stuck.'
'Poor little mices.'
'Poor little big-bumed mices.'
'Big, big bums!'
'You didn't eat your way out my brain,' I say.
'Of course we did. That's why you don't remember so much stuff.'
'All of it forgotten!'
'I bet you don't remember when they build the moon elevator.'
'Up to the moon!'
'Or when they tied a load of balloons to Ireland and made it float.'
'None of those things happened!' I shout.
'He's forgotten,' says the first mouse.
'Lost his mind to big, wobbling mousey behinds!'
The mice tell me where my clothes are and I manage to dress myself. But it doesn't feel quite right. I needed the loo earlier, and they told me where to go, but the way back to my room seemed to take longer. I think they took me to my little brother Josh's room. The shirt feels really small and the trousers swing above my ankles.
'Food!' the mice both cry as they lead me into the kitchen. I can feel their whiskers and ears twitching excitedly and it makes me want to swat my face, but I'm not sure that's a good idea.
'Feed us cheese.'
'Yes, cheese, cheese, cheese!'
'OK, fine. I think we have some Dairylee. You can have that.'
'What do you take us for?'
'We're eye mice!'
'Proud, proud eye mice!'
'Feed us proper cheese.'
'Oh yes, camembert!'
'OK, OK, I'll see if we have something better. Tell me where the fridge is and I'll have a look.'
The mice direct me to the fridge and start shouting out its contents. They spot some Roquefort and demand that. I break off bits and hold it up to my eyes. I can feel the mice's sharp little teeth attacking the cheese as crumbs start to fall on my cheeks.
I know I should still be shocked or surprised. There are mice where my eyes should be, after all. The only reason I'm not running around the house shouting and screaming is because I'm pretty sure I've gone completely insane. Also, I can't see anything, so I'd probably just end up hurting myself.
'You walked into a door?'
'Yes, Miss Forest. I wasn't looking where I was going. I've got a massive bruise around my eye now.'
'Hmm, OK. And this bruise makes it harder for you to see, correct?'
'It's all swollen and looks disgusting.'
'And so you decided the best thing to do with an eye that can't see very well is to wear big, pink sunglasses when you're inside, making it even hard to see?'
The rest of my English class laugh.
'Errrr. Yes, kind of.'
Miss Forest sighs, 'just take them off, Chris.'
'But I don't want to gross everyone out with my eye.'
'You won't gross anyone out with a black eye. We've all seen them before. Now take off those stupid sunglasses, please.'
'She's looking right at you,' says the first mouse.
'Right at your sunnies.'
'Her face is really close. No one else can see you.'
'Maybe she wants a kiss?'
'You should show her, it'll shut her up.'
'Oh, yes, yes, yes, right up!'
I lift up the sunglasses and feel Miss Forest's hot breath blasts over my face. She doesn't scream, which is quite impressive. She doesn't even say anything to me.
I let the glasses fall back onto my nose.
'She's walking away.'
'Bye, bye, teachey!'
'She's drinking some coffee.'
'She's all shaky.'
'She's putting in some pills.'
'So many pills!'
'She's looking right at you.'
'Now she's crying! Boo hoo!'
'Seriously, though, what's with the glasses?'
'I walked into a door, I told you.'
'Yeah, but it can't be that bad.'
I can feel Phillip lean over and try to lift up my sunglasses. I kind of guess where he is and slap his hand away.
'You saw what happened to Miss Forest. My eye's really bad.'
'Yeah, she was a mess!' Phillip says. 'She hardly said a word for the rest of the lesson and then just drove home. Claire told me the school's been racing around trying to find people to teach her other classes. Apparently one of the year 11s had to take one.'
'Down, down. To the left.'
'Save us some! Save us some!'
'That one there, no you're holding it wrong. The other way.'
'Save us some! Save us some!'
'OK, OK, I will!'
'You will what?' asks Phillip.
'Huh? Oh, can't you hear them?'
'Hear who? It's just us out here.'
I pick up my sandwich and slide out some of the cheese. I'll leave it in the lunchbox, it'll look weird if I start feeding my mice eyes in the middle of the courtyard.
'He can't hear us.'
'No, no. Just you!'
'But he can see us!'
'Yes, yes. Just like Miss Boo hoo!'
'Oh, it's nothing,' I say. 'I was just thinking about something.'
'Well think less,' says Phillip, 'with talking to yourself, freaking out Miss Forest and those ridiculous sunglasses, I have to tell you, your brain is not your friend today.'
My nose is twitching just like a mouse's. I can feel it coming. It's like waiting in the cinema for a movie to start when another trailer sneaks up on you.
My hands fly up to my face just in time to stop me from spraying the entire classroom with my snot. I can feel something on my hands and wipe them on my trousers. Claire Hodge screams, 'oh my god, that's disgusting!'
I try not to turn to her, but I can't help it.
'You're really gross! What's wrong with you?'
'She's looking at you,' the first mouse says.
'And she thinks you're icky!'
'Yes, I can hear, thank you,' I whisper to them.
I can still feel something on my hand and wipe it on my school shirt.
Claire screams again. 'Miss, stop him, he's being gross!'
'What's wrong?' I ask the mice, 'I only sneezed. It's just a little water and spit. Why is she freaking out?'
'It's not just water and spit.'
'Oh no, not just water and spit at all.'
'You see, you fed us cheese.'
'Delicious, delicious cheese!'
'And what goes in, must come out.'
'All the way out.'
'And it can't go into your brain.'
'So we dropped it down your nose!'
'Oh. My. God. I just sneezed your poo everywhere?! Then wiped it on myself!' I shout loud enough for the whole class to hear.
'They can hear you.'
'They're all looking.'
'I know they can hear me. And of course they're looking at me. I've gone completely mental!'
I run out of the classroom as fast as I can. The mice try to direct me, but I'm too quick and they can't keep up. I run into teachers, knock down pupils, plough head first into walls and fall down a flight of stairs before I managed to get out of school. I have two mice where my eyes should be, to everyone else it looks like I'm talking to myself and I just sneezed poo everywhere before wiping it all over my clothes. Why didn't I just stay in bed today?
Riii! Riii! Riii! Riii!
My hand flaps about trying to find my alarm clock. It's a Saturday, why did I even set it? Eventually I hear it smash on the floor. That should have shut it up but I can still hear the thing screeching away.
Riii! Riii! Riii! Riii!
I roll about in my bed, hoping I'm not going to actually wake up, when I realise that the noise isn't coming from my alarm clock at all. I sit bold upright.
'Brie! Brie! Brie! Brie!'
It's not my alarm clock that's woken me up. It's those stupid mice!
'BRIE! BRIE! BRIE! BRIE!
'Alright! Alright! You're hungry, I get it.'
I roll out of bed as the mice continue to scream at the top of their voices, which mean they're absolutely no use in directing me to the kitchen. I find the fridge through some miracle and take out the brie I asked my mum to buy last night.
The mice dig into it, spraying my face with the sticky cheese in their excitement.
'Aren't you worried that someone will see us?' I ask them.
'No, no. Not at all.'
'Not even slightly worried is we.'
'Why not? I'm not wearing the glasses. People might see you.'
'But there's no one here.'
'No one at all.'
'They're all still in bed.'
'Sleeping and dreaming.'
'And dreaming and sleeping.'
'Groaning and snoring.'
'Cos their dreams are so boring.'
'What are they all doing in bed? Why aren't they getting up?'
'Because it's five in the morning,' says the first mouse with a mouthful of cheese.
'And at five in the morning the world is still snoring.'
I stand up and walk out of the kitchen.
'I hate you both.'
'Thanks for the cheese!'
'Oh yes, thank you! Thank you!'
It's the real morning now and I've just had my breakfast after going back to sleep. At least, the mice tell me it's the real morning. It's always black for me, so it could be any time of the day and I'd probably still believe whatever they told me. But I did hear some birds earlier and I'm pretty sure there's someone singing in the shower right now, so it's probably about half nine.
'You must have angered one of the gods.'
'Oh yes, angered them bad.'
'They are so easy to anger.'
'So very, very stroppy.'
'Like children they are.'
'They cry to their mummies.'
'But powerful and strong.'
'And mean and scary.'
'Like Krakenhooper, mouse god of drawing circles.'
'Or Boutygout, mouse god of turning left.'
'And don't forget Framplapper, ferocious mouse god of socks.'
'And Darstookin, terrifying mouse god of forgetting where you left your phone.'
'You have a lot of mouse gods for very stupid things,' I say. 'Plus their names are awful. What's wrong with Steve?'
'Steve the mouse god? That's not very scary at all.'
'I'm not scared of a Steve!'
'Who would worship Steve?'
'No one would worship Steve.'
'We're talking mouse Gods.'
'Not dog gods.'
I'm trying to learn to tune them out when they do their little back and forth rants like this, but it's really hard when they're actually stuck in my head.
'So you think I've angered one of these mice gods, then? How have I done that?'
The mice think for a bit. I can hear them going Hmmmm.
'Mice traps are the best.'
'No, no, no! They're the worst!'
'But best for angering the mice gods.
'But worst for the mice.'
'Yes yes, worst for the mice.'
'Cos they end poor mice's life.'
'A mouse trap? No, we don't use mice traps,' I tell them.
'That's good,' I hear the first mouse say with relief
'Oh yes, so good to hear.'
'There's no point in having mice traps because we have a cat.'
I can feel the mice vibrating in my eye sockets like someone has put a video game controller in my head.
'Why would you have a cat?'
'Cats kill mices!'
'What if your cat crept into your bed?'
'And ate us mices right out of your head!'
Would my cat really eat the mice from my eye sockets? I'd better shut my door tonight, just in case.
'I can't have angered a mouse god by just owning a cat. That's not really fair. Plus loads of people have cats. They don't all have mice instead of eyes. Do they?'
'We'd like punish you for having a cat,' said the first mouse.
'Oh yes, we'd like that very much.'
'But that's not why we're here.'
'Why we're so very, very near.'
'I bet your cat's been bad.'
'And it's made the mice gods mad.'
I make the mice help me search the entire house for some sort of clue. I still have to know why they are in my head. It was a good job that they're the ones that can see, though, because I really have no idea what sort of thing would annoy a mouse god.
'Oh no!' squeals the first mouse.
'Oh no, no, no,' cries the second.
'Yes, poor, poor Banticorn.'
'He is no more.'
'He is most dead.'
'Most of his body's.'
'Quite far from his head.'
'What is it? Who is Banticorn?' I ask. 'Is he a mouse god?'
'Was a mouse god.'
'He was important too.'
'One of the five great mouse gods.'
'But now he's no more, there's only four.'
'So what was he the mouse god of? Something important?'
'Oh yes, something very important.'
'Oh so very, very important.'
'Banticorn was the mouse god of Jacob's cream crackers.'
'Those yummy, yummy crackers.'
'They're good with cheese.'
'And always please.'
'So what's going to happen now?' I ask.
'We'll be here for a long, long time.'
'Oh you'll be punished forever.'
'We'd better get to know each other!' squeaks the first mice.
'Yes, good idea. Our hobbies are knitting.'
'Sitting on buses.'
'Making squeaking sounds.'
'Scratching our ears.'
'Licking our whiskers.'
'Lying on bananas.'
'Playing hide and seek.'
The mice continue listing their hobbies for over an hour. Strange as they may be, I have to hand it to them, they don't waste their free time.
'Another two steps to the left.'
'No, three. Three steps.'
As I take my third step I feel my foot slip and I fall down the English block stairs. I can hear gasps of amazement and laughed as people watch me fall, bag flying and arms flailing, to the floor. At least I can't see their faces.
I stand up. It hurts. My hands go up to my face. Thank god the sunglasses are still there. People are coming over to me, I can hear their voices getting louder and louder. Some are asking me if I'm OK, though most just tell me they videoed the whole thing and it's already on facebook.
'I want to go to the toilet.'
The people around me sound confused. But I'm not talking to them, I'm talking to the mice.
'It's along the corridor.'
'Then we go left.'
'No, then we go right!'
'Left, left, left.'
'Right, right, right.'
I just start walking. They've been getting worse. Ever since they saw the body of their dead mice god they've been telling me different things. When one says I need to go left, the other will say I need to go right. When one says I need to duck under something, the other will say I need to jump over something. I'm covered in bruises. I can't see them, but I can feel them under my skin, large and swollen. Also my mum is angry because I keep on ripping all my clothes. And sometimes I even put on her clothes by mistake and rip those too. I don't know what to say to her. The only excuse I have is puberty, but I don't think even that'll explain the cross dressing.
I manage to find an unlocked cubicle and check with my hands to make sure the toilets seat's down before I sit on it. I start to feel the fresh cuts on my forehead.
'Why are you doing this to me? It's not my fault the cat killed your mouse god. It's the cat's fault. And why was one of your most powerful mouse gods in our house anyway? He shouldn't have been there in the first place. And it's a family cat. Why am I the only one who gets punished? My dad picked her up from the shelter, so if she's anyone's cat, she's his.'
'You know why.'
'You're telling fibs.'
'That's why you've got mice.'
'Between your eyelids.'
I really wish those mice would stop rhyming with each other. It sounds so stupid. I'm glad no one else can hear it.
'But it wasn't my fault. I promise. How was I to know she'd do that? Please, I just want to be able to see again.'
The mice shut up and think for a moment.
'There is a way you can see again.'
'Yes, yes there is. You can see!'
'But there's a price to pay.'
'Oh yes, you have to pay the price.'
'Anything. Please just anything. I don't care if I have to look after a hundred mice, or kill a hundred cats, I'll do it. Please, just let me see again. I can't go on like this. I'm covered in cuts and bruises and everyone thinks I'm a freak for wearing sunglasses everywhere. I promise you, whatever it is, I'll do it. Just let me see again.'
'Anything? Are you sure?'
Anything, anything, anything at all?'
'Yes, yes, please!' I beg.
I can hear the mice hum happily to themselves. We've been together for a few days now. They must have grown to like me. Surely they can see I've suffered enough, that none of this was my fault anyway. Maybe they'll want to stay with me once they leave. I could even get a cage for them in my room. I'm sure my mum wouldn't mind
'OK then. We'll let you see again.'
'Yes, you'll see the sea.'
I get off the toilet and walk to the sinks. They're always opposite the cubicles and have mirrors on the other side. The first thing I want to see is how I look.
'Ready steady teddy!'
'Yes! I'm ready! Hurry up!'
I can see something! It's all just a blur at first. But then I've not used my eyes for so long I guess they just need to warm up a little. I wonder where they've been all this time. Probably in some mouse storage.
Shapes start to come alive in front of me, but eventually I start to see myself, the shape of my body, my hair, my head. It's all coming into focus. Then I see my face, and I see that instead of eyes, I have the two mice sticking out my eye sockets. They're so much bigger than I thought they'd be and take up nearly half my face. I don't have my old eyes back at all, I'm just looking through theirs.
'That's not what I meant and you know it!'
My lips didn't move. I heard my voice. But it was only inside my head. I didn't actually say anything. I try again.
'Seriously, I want my own eyes back!'
My lips didn't move that time either. I stare at my reflection and the big mice with their twitching noses that stick out of my eye sockets. Suddenly I see myself smile, but I'm not the one doing it.
'You said anything,' I hear and see myself say out loud.
'Yes, yes, anything at all,' my voice says again.
'We were bored sitting in there.'
'And you didn't feed us enough cheese.'
'So we decided to take control.'
'And you said we could do anything at all!'
'So you can't go back on it.'
'It's our body now.'
'But we'll let you see.'
'Yes, yes, you can see everything.'
'But that's all you can do.'
I smile again then start to walk out the bathroom. I try to fight the movement, force myself to stop or even just to trip over, but nothing happens, I have no control anymore. The mice are in charge, I let them in. All I can do now is watch. Watch as these two mice ruin my life.
I'm running down the aisle of Sainsbury's screaming Cheese! at the top of my voice. Everyone is looking at me but there's nothing I can do. The mice are in charge. This is the first place they took me as soon I left the bathroom.
'You're very bad at scurrying.'
'Yes, very, very bad,' the mice say to me as they dart around Sainsbury's, throwing my limbs everywhere in what's supposed to be running.
'Mice are good at scurrying, very, very good.'
'But ten year old boys are bad at it. Bad, bad, bad.'
The worst thing is I can see now. I wanted my sight back so much, but now that I have it, I want it gone again because all I can see are people staring and pointing at me. I can't even close my eyes, the mice control that too.
'Camembert, Camembert,' I scream and run towards the cheese. The mice haven't quite worked out the best way to stop me. I don't have claws like they do, so I end up slamming into the cheese fridge and falling in it. Inside I'm dying of embarrassment, but you can't tell that from watching me. I'm currently jumping up and down grabbing as much cheese as I possibly can while laughing wildly.
After I've grabbed all the cheese I can manage, my legs carry me out the shop. People are starting to follow me now, staff and security guards, but I'm too fast for them, even with all the cheese. It looks like the mice finally have some sort of control.
The mice take me back home, even though I should still be in school. They run me up the stairs to my room and throw the camembert all over the floor before they start digging into it. I thought they would feed the cheese to my mouth, now that they're in charge, but they hold it up to my eyes and all I can see is blurry cheese and whiskers and their little noses.
'Guys stop. You can't eat all that cheese. You know what happened last time. I'll end up sneezing out all your poo again.'
'Camembert, Camembert,' the mice chant.
They've already gone through one packet now and are opening another. They hold it up to my face and it's devoured in an instant as mice-sized mouth bites are taken from it at lightning speed.
'You're eating too much! Stop!' I scream in my head.
I can feel them growing bigger. They're starting to bulge out of my eye sockets and their bottoms are growing inside my skull, pushing further and further into my brain. I hurts, really hurts. If they get any bigger they're going to crack my skull open and my head's going to explode.
The pain increases to the point where I can no longer bear it. I'm screaming inside my head at the top of my voice, but the mice don't stop. They just keep eating. Eating, eating, eating. Eventually everything goes completely black and I feel nothing at all.
It's dark. I roll out of my bed and land on the floor. I don't make a sound when I land. That's not right. My mouth tastes awful, like it's stuffed with my granddad's old socks kind of awful. I need a drink of water. I can't hear the voices of the little mice, so I make my own way to the bathroom. I have no idea what time it is. It could be the middle of the night or four in the afternoon. It's all the same to me. But I have control of my body again. So I'm happy.
I pull the cord and feel it click, but I don't hear it. I don't see any light either, but I guess I'm already used to that.
I know I'm standing in front of the mirror because I can feel the sink. Just then, something starts to change. Just like in the bathroom at school, shapes start to form, grey at first but then becoming clearer.
I scream, but my mouth in the mirror doesn't move. They have control of me now.
'We ate too much cheese.'
'Oh such lovely, lovely cheese.'
'Then we got too big.'
'There was nowhere for us to fit.'
'We changed a little.'
'We decided to split.'
The me in the mirror is smiling, but the me me, the real me that's in my brain is trying to run away.
Sticking out of my ears are the two mice. They're as large as I've ever seen them, and they're starting to look ugly, whisker bent and noses crusty. Then, out of my ears poke too smaller mice, and sticking out of my nostrils are another two tiny mice. But the worst one of all is the massive, ugly brut of a mouse that's sticking out my mouth. His ears are huge and cracked and his teeth are long and yellow. I know before I have to ask who the mouse is. He is a mouse god, the great Banticorn, god of Jacob's cream crackers, and he's come to punish me himself.
I watch the grotesque face of Banticorn smile.
'I'm in charge of you now, boy,' he says. I smile wickedly as my lips move around his head. The mice turn me to look at the bath. I see my cat, Sasha, hanging from my shower curtain with cheese wire wrapped around her throat. She's definitely dead.
'Just you wait until you see what I've got in sort for you, boy,' says Banticorn. 'Just you wait.'