Dennis was a bully and he loved it. Despite an upbringing and education that should have taught him better, he devoured power. As a corporate exec, he honed his predatory look to perfection – salon-cut hair, hand-made suits, a smile that never left his lips nor reached his eyes. He made questionable deals, cut payrolls, fired the little guy and relished the destruction that rolled from his strokes of a pen. It was his super power and he didn’t need or want a secret identity.
He never would have imagined that first cancer would gnaw him from the inside out, then he would lie helpless in the hands of strangers, who were not like him, and cared for his needs. But despite his iron resolve and long list of apparent victories, the inevitable happened; his super power was revoked and no one cared much when they plunked him in the ground.
Karma is a bitch.
His first inkling that all was not as it should be, was a hazy awareness that he was hungry, that wriggling warm bodies were going after the same food as he was. Biting and scratching as much as his tiny mouth and paws allowed, he made it to the food source. He survived…barely. As the runt, the other micelings could outbite and outscratch. If a passing cat had not made a meal of a few siblings, he would have slowly starved.
His small life was moving fast. An endless hunt for food, cowering in cracks and holes as hunters sauntered by. And Dennis had received a suitable punishment – he dimly remembered his other life. Remembered that he had been the ruthless hunter. That he had held other lives in his hands. Burrowing into hay, making a nest of old leaves, and gulping meals of scraps should not have been his destiny. Lifting his head, Dennis chittered defiance at the universe.
So he left the barn and made his way stealthily across the fields and wild places, heart hammering, terror burned into his mouse DNA. Above a hawk screamed, rain pelted, and there was no refuge for a runty mouse. At last, Dennis reached a gigantic building where light broke from the window into the darkness. Remembering, Dennis raged that he was out here, not in there. Skittering, scratching, clawing, Dennis found a tiny hole and forced himself inside.
Miles above, on a table, lay a pile of paper and a heap of books. Useless. Worse than useless…because Dennis had a hazy memory of their power. A smell drifted on the air and Dennis wiggled his nose to catch it. Desperate with unending hunger, Dennis scaled the table leg. Cobs of corn lay cooling on a plate beside the books. A woman lay face down on the desk, dozing. Dennis edged to the corn and began the feast. The woman didn’t wake up.
As he ate her meal and stared at the woman, rage filled him again. He should be the master of this place! Consumed with anger, Dennis ran across the table and sank his teeth into the woman’s hand. She screamed and yanked back her arm. Her monster eyes and his beady ones met across the table. As Dennis squeaked his glee, she picked up a book and smashed him.
His first inkling that all was not well was when he bit his way out of the egg sac and found himself surrounded by a squirming mass of grubs…