May 30, 2023, 06:27AM

Pigmice Look Behind Them

Tista-Lul eats greedy and weeps.

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Tista-Lul, a giant pigmouse, lumbered along the vast plains of the yellow-dust planet compelled by the grumbling in his stomach. He hadn’t feasted for several days and was hungry. His giant pig nose snorted the air for the slightest hint of sustenance. He looked about and noticed a few other pigmice wandering about with the same purpose when off in the distance he saw what appeared to be a small crater. Quickly, he scurried towards it, and when he arrived, was relieved to find a tiny volcano in the center, and from its summit spewed the gelatinous material on which pigmice fed.

He ate greedily. Great snorts from his giant pig nose and tiny mouse mouth echoed in the crater, and Tista-Lul was overwhelmed with gratitude to fill his empty stomach, but his noise attracted attention—there were three more giant pigmice at the edges of the crater. He’d never before seen them, but they were smaller than him, and he knew, should they become aggressive, he’d fend them off. But generosity welled in his heart. After all, these other giant pigmice were merely hungry, and there was more than enough to go around. And so he invited them down, and they wandered the slope of the crater to feast with him.

The gelatinous material that they had together was different in effect compared to the other feed hole substances Tista-Lul had sampled in his eons of roaming on the yellow-dust planet. Prior to his feasting at the feed hole, Tista-Lul felt like a normal pigmouse. Beneath his cracked hairless flesh beat the same yellow blood as his fellow pigmice, but as he slurped, chewed, and guzzled more and more of the “yellow Jell-O,” as he’d taken to calling it, he felt a change inside him. The walls in his heart began to dissolve. He began to have wonderful thoughts, and as he looked into the beady eyes of his dinner guests, he knew that they were having similar experiences.

The four new friends carried on in this fashion. They forgot themselves thanks to the small volcano erupting its gifts for their consumption. Then Tista-Lul had a profound philosophical thought that he shared with his new friends, and this started them down a path of discussion. But as they talked together as friends, enjoying their yellow Jell-O, they began to notice around them scores of giant pigmice sitting along the edges of the crater listening to their conversation. Tista-Lul saw terror and hunger in their eyes, and inside him he felt walls come up, and doors close. He was prepared to defend his feed hole, and he could tell that his new friends were prepared to do the same.

Then, self-consciousness set into their hearts, which was new to him and his friends, and they quickly ceased their philosophical chatter and replaced it with small talk, observations on current events ever blowing in the wind of the yellow-dust planet, and other matters of little import. A melancholy—masked by forced smiles and ridiculous self-deprecating expressions—overtook them. And though they wanted to return to their previous discussion, the laughter, and praise they received from the other pigmice gathered about the edges of the crater in response to their mindless prattle was too much of a compulsion to go back, and this compulsion was amplified by the fact that those pigmice who stayed to spectate, began showering them with gifts.

The matter was too hard for poor Tista-Lul, and he laid on his back and wept. Then he stood up, hung his head low, lumbered out of the crater, and disappeared to once again roam the yellow wastes alone. Afterward, the remaining pigmice decided to leave the crater and never return. The knowledge of the special crater spread far, as did the warning to avoid it. The memory of it changed into a mere shadow, and it never left the pigmice through their endless generations on the planet of yellow dust. And as they roamed in search of sustenance, without knowing why, sometimes they would turn their heads and look behind them.


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