Short Story #43: Mouse by Fredric Brown
Author: Fredric Brown
Short Story #43 out of 365
Rating: 4 (out of 5 stars)Date Read: 2/7/2014
Source: Cats in Space and Other Spaces, edited by Bill Fawcett, Baen Books, 1992. You can also find this story on Archive.org.
SummaryBill Wheeler witnesses the landing of a spaceship right outside his apartment that borders Central Park. The small cylindrical ship seems almost impossible to contain any life but as he watches from his apartment, his cat begins hissing. The ship opens up and there's a bright flash that accompanies it that calms his cat immediately. Meanwhile, the military eventually shows up and begins to contain the site. Bill is called shortly afterwards as one of the foremost (and local) biologists to examine the inhabitant of the shuttle: a mouse-like creature. Bill discovers similarities and differences in the anatomy of the body, but there still no clear sense of what it is or what it's purpose was in getting to Earth. After several days, he is sent home from the project. Shortly after that, the world begins to fall to pieces. The President is assassinated as are other world leaders and the world seems on the brink of war. Bill begins to speculate that maybe the mouse was a distraction to the humans so that something else could slip by--some kind of essence--and do significant harm to the human race in order for an invasion to be more successful. He begins to theorize that maybe that essence invaded some other similar being. At this point, he recalls his cat's response to the whole ordeal and wonders if she has become possessed. He begins to vocalize this and even approach the cat, but just as quickly, the cat looks at him and he forgets that train of thought entirely.
The story had a good flavor to it. It reminded me much of John Campbell's The Thing in the was the alien is an insidiously slips into human society. The hard part about this anthology is that because it is all about cats, you ultimately know that the cat plays some central role in the plot so therefore, it seemed evident that the cat was going to somehow be seriously involved. That being said, I enjoyed the pacing of total calm with the alien discovery followed by a quick descent within a few days.
For a full listing of all the short stories in this series, check out the category 365 Short Stories a year.
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