We walked through the night, sure the hunting grounds would be bountiful, fully expecting the sun to rise over miles of billowing grasses reaching to our thighs. We knew beneath the surface we'd find what we were looking for - mice!
We'd had no luck when we started out in town, mostly losing cheese to the bigger mice like the Pirate Mice that occasionally follow unwary hunters returning for more cheese or better equipment. Everyone in town had been helpful, suggesting that we try our hand in the meadow, using a low grade cheddar that would likely only lure the weakest mice while we learned the techniques that would make us truly great mouse hunters.
And so, we walked through the night, hoping to set and bait our traps in the morning, so that we could leave the area surrounding them still and settled before the mice came out at night. We had heard that they were clever, recognizing the presence of humans and waiting a time before cautiously approaching, and we hoped that our plans would prove more clever than they.
As we watched, we scanned the undergrowth, looking for mouse sign, hoping to spy a few that would promise us good hunting the next day, but we saw none. We walked into the field as the sun began peering over the mountains, bathing the meadow in its rosy glow, and then we saw it: what must have been the biggest zombie mouse ever seen munching on the remains of someone's rat terrier. His owner must have run away, terrified by the mouse's enormity.
The four of us hunkered down, hoping we hadn't been spotted. Zombie mice were solitary animals, few hunters ever caught them back to back, and they were known for their ferocity when cornered. Hunters had lost fingers to zombies that weren't fully incapacitated by the trap. We'd even met one smelly old man who claimed the empty socket on his left side had been left by a zombie. They were tough cookies, and we didn't want to find out how tough.
As we watched the zombie mouse ripping the flesh from the terrier's dead bones, I became aware of a warm, stench filled breeze blowing across the meadow. I turned to glare at Mike who had eaten pickled herring and onions for dinner so that he would back away from my position, only to see the mother of all zombie mice glaring back at me.
The others were gone, I hadn't heard a struggle, and I'll never know what happened. Just as the zombie opened his cavernous jaws to rend flesh from bone, I heard the winding of the king's horn! The hunt was on, and the zombies were fleeing. As I stood from my position, crouched on the edge of the meadow, I watched in stunned horror as hundreds of zombie mice fled.
I knew in that moment that I would need a bigger trap and a lot more friends.
*MouseHunt has many various instantiations, one of which is a Facebook application that I play a bit too much (I checked my trap four times during this writing).