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(236) Táá’

You have an instinct, do you? Not really—no. I’m just a man who stared into a candle and saw three dead mice, they were under the insulation in the attic; and the material beneath them was soaked in urine. They had to die, they didn’t belong there—although Apollo sent them to me, sent them to die above my room (they could have died anywhere, but Apollo gifts you muse-mice so I didn’t get to choose where they died). I picked up the largest one, curled into a corner in the nest, by the tail—and I shuddered when I did it. The instinctive response is that strong, I was so repulsed I dropped it; and the response was entirely felt through my body.

Still, after I had tidied them away, I felt sorry for them—blood thinned to nothing by arsenic, then huddled up together, a little family, not knowing what had happened to them and why, one by one, they died. I suppose that’s the balance: I know I have to kill them, I feel repulsed by them when I touch them, and I yet when I see the corpses I feel sorrow for them—there’s pathos in the body of a dead mouse you helped to poison. Perhaps that’s why Apollo sends them to me, not only to grant me the muse but also to teach me about what life is.

Death smells hot—Apollo taught me that too, two times. When the mouse doesn’t move anymore all you can smell is the fur—and the heat. This isn’t scientifically measurable heat—it’s heat you can smell and taste, not just measure with a thermometer. Death smells hot—and it really shouldn’t, it should be cold; and perhaps, in the long term, it is. But, right now, it’s hot. We all have mice in our attics, one way or another—and not all are a message from Apollo. There are some mice that are just vermin plain and simple.


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