RMCA Fiction:
The Mouse Knight II: Squibble's Story

Cutter Hays


The Prophet Squibble

My Last Entry
(Copyright 2006 Cutter Hays)

You noticed my journals went from summer to winter rather quickly. Much time has passed since I last wrote. I have been busy.

On my spare time (scoff) I tried to send my stories out, my plethora of short stories, to get them published, but no one ever called or wrote back. I tried getting Amazing Mouse, my comic book, published, but it turns out that anything you send to a comic publisher these days ends up belonging to them, no matter what the contract says. So many hours of work, so much effort, and so little came in return from the world that I stopped for while, discouraged. They make it so difficult. It doesn't need to be that hard. I think there are just too many people in the world. Too many who want to be famous, rich, successful. The editors and publishers have a hard time distinguishing the masses from those who love to write, because every morning there's a pile a mile high on their desks of stuff to read. Out of that pile every once in awhile, one gets chosen. Only one. But let's not kid ourselves. It's all about the money in business. Just what will sell. Not what's well written. I have a personal beef with that, but hey, I'm a mouse, and money doesn't mean much to me. It will someday, but not now.

I began to think that if these journals you're reading were ever to be published, it would be after my demise. That was fine by me, but on principle it bothered me. I was given every reason in the world to stop trying with my stories and artwork - to leave the apparently corrupt, foul industry and never darken its doorstep with my beloved tales, but it didn't feel right to quit. So I decided not to give them the satisfaction. I'll keep sending submissions and self publishing The Adventures of Amazing Mouse, handing them out on street corners if I have to. Just like there are kind humans, there must be kind publishers who will give an unknown mouse a fair chance. Someday I'll succeed, and that day might be sooner than later. A new, struggling publishing company contacted me (that never happens - it's always the other way around and they never call you back) and said they're interested in my journals. It seems the owner of the company, one L. O'Grady, read my master's book and... well, it sounded like she actually believed it. Her letter mentioned that they were willing to publish what the public wanted to read, whether the author was a mouse or a man.

Then I thought, if she believes my master's tale, others aren't far behind. Sooner or later mice are gonna slip up, show some sign of advanced intelligence, and someone who's read the book is gonna see it happen. At that point, the piss is gonna hit the fan. And it is for this day that I prepare.

I haven't gotten back to her yet. But I think I will.

As for the rest of my stories, I'm no quitter. I'm not much of a writer, either, really. I just love to write. I love to tell stories. No one's gonna stop me from doing that, and if people like my stuff enough, they'll take it if I find some way of getting it to them. I love my hobby. I'm not going to call it just because things are hard.

Steven agreed with me. I finally met him. It was in a dream, at a book signing - I went right up to him and told him his books rock. He thanked me, picked me up and put me on the table where he kept signing things and we talked for hours, sharing coffee and scones, laughing and blabbing happily away. He said I did right by sticking to my guns. He said he was proud of me, that I was going to be a published, successful author someday. It made my whole year to hear him say that. He gave me an affectionate pet, signed a book for me, and we both woke up. The funny thing was, when I went back to look at that book (I finally finished the entire series, just as I always hoped to) it was signed. I can't recall if it had been signed when the kind human brought it to me or not.

That Steve. He's like Nemo, I think.

At the Atelier, I take art classes where I am taught personally by Jeff and Ron. They know I'm a mouse. We're all dreaming of course, but it's still really happening - just not on this plane. I've learned a lot. I wonder what they think when they wake up and remember teaching art to an enthusiastic mouse. Every step of the way through these journals I've been illustrating my stories. You've seen my art go from childlike crayon scribbles to what it is now. Looking back all that way, I am amazed at how far my skill has come. And how far it has yet to go.

I've gotten decent at painting. I did a self-portrait for you. See how it makes you feel. I thought it was very accurate, but more important by far, I enjoyed doing it. I heard a really awesome quote the other day. It went like this: "Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up." I had to ask Nemo who said it. Pablo Picasso. Every word is more true than most people ever know.

I have succeeded in combining magic and science. That's all I'm going to tell you of my grand scheme. Well, okay... I'll tell you just a teeny bit more. I've gotten good at telling the future. Nemo has taught me all kinds of tricks. Hypnosis, prescience, heck - Branch even taught me how to control the weather. Having spent half his life in China, he's coming back soon. Percival will too, once his quest fails.

I received a package from Percival on an overcast day in January. Within it was the Holy Avenger, Excalibur. I reunited it with its lonely sheath back at the house, weeping the entire way. The burden had become too heavy at last, even for him. When I looked for him on the astral plane I found him, still chasing the black shadow, driven by righteous rage, ever over the next dim horizon. The enemy doesn't have a clue that Percival no longer carries the sword. He just runs. It is Percival's wrath he flees now, not the holy light.

I have foreseen Percival's return, when he realizes his holy quest is not to be fulfilled so far from his homeland. I feel so deeply for him. Half his life spent chasing a phantom, and nothing to show for it but age and weariness. Before him the black mouse will return, having circled the globe. But by then I will be ready for him. And I'll have help.

But do not despair, reader. Percival's life is far from over, and he may yet have his revenge. It's part of my plan. How could I leave him out after what he's been through?

Along with the sword was a simple note in elegant script. It said,


You are the last of us. It is up to you now. Prevail.


No pressure or anything.

I've been spending a lot of time in the city. At labs. Yeah. Labs. Funny, huh? Once I was deathly afraid of them. Now I practically live there (I picked one I am most fond of). At night, when no one suspects, I work, and work hard. It's fun. The area of my work is an ever-open, beautiful field in the sun, waiting for me to come play in it.

I know most of my journals are not a happy story (not many real ones are). I know it's hard to read. If you've made it this far, you've got guts. And I thank you for caring enough about me to share my pain, and my victory.

I suppose after all this you're hoping for an explanation that will make all the horror and suffering you've read about seem worth the trouble. Some reason for it all.

Believe me, I'd love to give you one, so I'm going to try. I gave you Michael's reason, Nemo's reason, My master's reason... even Lucifer's reason. But not my own.

I know why I made my choices. It was the right thing to do (although that 'fear not' part was just about impossible). I don't know why I was born the way I was, wanting to be a great hero, yearning to make a difference, wishing to be like my beloved master. That's just who I am. There is a core inside all of us, the person we were before we were born, that will never change, no matter how many lives we live, no matter how much damage we take. That's as much reassurance as I have for you, I'm afraid, because why everything had to happen exactly as it did, I have no clue. Nemo could probably tell you, but good luck getting it outta his furry hide.

I feel bad telling you this sad, profound, often beautiful story of my life without some sort of ending that makes you go "Oh! Oh, it's all okay then. I get it!" The problem is, even I don't get it yet.

However, since I am who I am, and I'd want a good reason if I were you, I'm going to try. I'll do my best and fear not. So here we go.

The Story of the Caterpillar

The other day I happened upon a beautiful, exotic caterpillar, trying to cross the black street on a scalding summer day. He was unique - I'd never seen a caterpillar like him - absolutely gorgeous. However, he'd picked one hell of a place to cross. The street was burning hot. It was the middle of the day, and there was heavy traffic. He was sure to die a horrible death if he wasn't squished first.

I was on the side of the street he wanted to get to, and my immediate instinct was to save him. I started out into the road while there was no traffic. With my mousey speed, I could grab him, rush back to my side of safety, and everybody would be happy.

Or would they?

I looked with my prescience into the future before I set my bare feet on the burning asphalt. I saw the two most likely outcomes. The first was obvious: I don't help him, and he will most likely die. But the second choice shocked me. I help him, carry him to the far side of the street he seeks so badly to reach, and the guy cusses me out!

It appears I ruined his holy quest and meddled where I wasn't welcome. His entire life had been spent getting to this street, to cross at this point, at this time. And then I run in, take over, and win the game for him. He was pissed.

I could understand that. If someone had blown in on me at my most sacred moments, then I would have learned and gained very little. It wouldn't have been me anymore. I would never know that I had been the winner, and the victory wouldn't be mine. Although in my hardest times I would not have refused help by a long shot, had I gotten it I would never have developed into the mouse I am today. I might still be a child inside.

However, if I didn't help the guy, and risk his wrath, he most likely dies. My mind reeled with the dilemma. I had only moments to decide. The street was too hot. The traffic was coming back.

I thought about what my master would do. What he did do. He let me go to the city when I wanted to. He let me risk my life, because it was mine, and not his. Nemo had done the same thing. The kind human had let go in a similar way as well, to all of us at one point or another. Now I had a bare taste of how difficult that had been.

So I watched, sure I would see the brilliant colors of his spikey hide smeared all over the animal graveyard called a road. It was his choice, and I reluctantly respected it.

His feet began to burn and he got fast real quick, but not fast enough. He was tossed and tumbled by passing cars, tires missing him by inches, sometimes millimeters. He was beat up badly. He took what must have been the beating and burning of his caterpillar life. It took only two minutes for him to reach me, but by the time he did, he had lost most of his legs, was bleeding from many wounds, and had become a wreck. His colors dulled, his spikes gone, and his skin ruined. He was barely alive. And yet he had made it. And that, because it was so unlikely, I had not foreseen.

I lay my hands on him and gave him enough chi that he would live, and have some energy to crawl to safety. This he accepted with gratitude, and made his limping way to the bushes at the other end of the sidewalk. I never asked him why. We did not speak. I just watched him go and climb up into the branches.

I walked away, thinking about what I had seen for many weeks. Even in the middle of my work it would intrude. Why had it been his fate to suffer so? (Copyright 2006 Cutter Hays)

On a warm day in February I got my answer. I walked past those same bushes on my way to my work when suddenly there was a great, sweeping wind from behind me, and massive shaking of the trees and plants. When I turned I saw the most stunning butterfly I had ever beheld. Made of luminescent golds, night blues, silky black and spots of ruby, I knew by its colors this had been the caterpillar. It was my friend who crossed the street to find his haven, his safe place to cocoon. He was perfect, not a single scar marking his lovely body, free of earlier damage that didn't matter anymore. He hovered to show me his glory, and I marveled.

Then behind him came his family. Hundred and thousands of the same astounding butterflies, rising like a great cloud, until the sky was full of them, halting humans and their traffic with the wonder of them. They danced in the air, frolicking upon anything they pleased, immortal and omnipotent in their moment of birth.

They washed over me for long minutes, stopping the world with their beauty. Even the wind held its breath. Then, at last, when they had all risen past the skyscrapers and tiny world of men, one returned to circle above my head by only half an inch, saying goodbye, and thank you.

Then they were gone.

Do you see?

I thought my childhood lost forever. Replaced by this mature, responsible, boring fellow with no time for fun and no taste for excitement. It was my worst fear as a child, losing my spirit. I now realize that though we change and it cannot be avoided, nothing can truly destroy our spirits. Our spirits are immortal. Invulnerable. Bigfat says that when we die, all our damage sloughs off us like mud in rain. We remember it, but it doesn't hurt anymore. That sounds nice. After watching every fear I ever had come true, that last thought is quite comforting.

I may have aged, but no one ever made me grow up. I never did. I'm Peter Pan, and I may have lost my happy thought for awhile, but I've found it now, and I'm never losing it again. Because I refuse to believe in some dark, grown-up reality where everything sucks.

So, as I take it, life is an experience. A huge set of self-chosen, intense experiences, meant to teach us, but also meant to entertain us. That's right. Entertain us. Our spirits cannot suffer fear or loss. We don't ever really lose anybody - our mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers and friends never die. They never fade. They just go home and wait for us to come join them, and then we all have a good laugh over the incredible play we all starred in. After all, we wrote the script.

The experience is really the whole point. In the end, it amounts to that. Now that is rather separate from leaving a lasting impression. What we leave here for others matters. It determines how the play continues.

Well, by now, I've left quite a bit. The plan is working perfectly.

I came back to the safe house yesterday afternoon from my lab and my journeys. I am old now. I feel the arthritis in my bones on cold mornings. The kind human is gentle with me, and lets me sit on his lap to watch TV while he shares his dinner with me. I have no company that can relate to me any longer. Scratchy is usually gone on adventure and his son Tommy goes with him; though I took the kid as a squire long ago, he most often prefers the company of his dad, and who can blame him? That midget is a great hero.

Scratchy left a letter here at the safe house asking me to be the one to knight his son. I left my reply: Any day you wish, my noble friend, it shall be done.

After thinking it over for a year, I think I finally know why Scratchy was put into my life, and why my reaction to him was so poor. He was there as a divine guide to show me my way - to be an example of how to behave and how to act. That mouse was impeccable. Perfect. Even with all his handicaps and crippling disabilities, his integrity never failed once. He was my muse. I just didn't know it.

I was jealous, of course, because he reminded me that I was constantly goofing off and procrastinating. But Nemo was right all along. Scratchy and I were the same. He was crippled physically, and I emotionally. It was our only difference.

I wish I saw him more often, but when I do, it's always a grand time. A great adventure.

I rarely see Nemo any more, though I saw him yesterday. The climb up to his cage isn't as easy as it used to be, and he is quite sick. But we speak often in dreams, where we are both immune to the ravages of time, and sometimes other spirits we know join us.

My daughter and Stompy are best friends. They are always off on adventures, living the good life. I've warned them of what's going to happen. I've told the knights they need to prepare for the worst. I even told them to stop wearing armor - to act like normal mice, but they are too many now and too proud. There are over a hundred knights these days. No one but a few close to me, my daughter, Stompy, and a few others, listened. I knew they wouldn't, but I had to try. You know. For the record.

My sight is almost gone. I rely mostly on smell these days. I go about my business, occasionally stopping to tell stories or show young mice fancy magic tricks.

It took me quite awhile to do what I needed to, didn't it? It took me a lifetime. And now that lifetime is almost over.

So that brings us back to the beginning then.

(Copyright 2006 Cutter Hays)

I am standing at the grave of my mother. She died of cancer. I was never able to come to this place, but at last I can. I came to say goodbye.

My master's grave sits beside her, though no body lies in it. The tombstone reads:

Thank You, Master Spritely, for all you have

given to rodentkind. You were the first of

the mouse knights, and the finest among us.

I made the stone and carved the words. I think it says it all. Nobody told me what to say. I did it all on my own.

So goodbye, momma. Goodbye, Spritely. I shall see you both soon enough, though you, master, sooner than her.

I had a dream last night, you see. I dreamt I was in a field, standing before a village of field mice. In the center of them was a tiny white mouse, an orphan adopted by the tribe.

It was you, master. You kept your promise. You're being born again as I write these words.

And I'm coming to see you.

One last time.

(Copyright 2008 Cutter Hays)  (Copyright 2008 Cutter Hays)


Squibble's Story is 613 pages, over 200 illustrations, some in color. Limited editions to 100. Signed on request. $30 plus shipping.
Book with a sketch in it is $35; or $55 with an inked drawing.
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