This story is by Adam Musah Boribi and won the Readers’ Choice Award in our 2022 Spring Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
Adam Musah Boribi, or B.I Adam. M.I, is a member of The Write Practice Pro. He is working on his first novel, The Teleporters, coming soon. As a graduate of KNUST in Ghana, he’s doing his national service. His short story “The Palace” was published in 2021. You can find more of his stories and essays on Muck Rack and Facebook.
Mr. and Mrs. Venas were teleporters who looked like human beings. At the same time, they were the royals who ruled the mice populace in Porterland—an underground kingdom. Though they craved children, they wouldn’t have dreamt they would one day possess one of their own kind, either by chance or procreation. But it happened that Samantha, a beautiful ten-year-old girl, negligently went hunting, then went missing into a large mouse hole with her dog, and that seemed all.
The queen rose that evening and sped into the hall to the King.
“We must meet the mice,” she said.
“Mice? You insist we introduce Samantha to them?” the king replied, standing up.
“Yes. They’re our subjects and nothing should be hidden from them.”
“You may be too desperate.”
“That’s because she isn’t willing to stay. Upon the better life, we promised her.”
“She fears. That’s why. But let’s do.”
They paced inside to first heat their chests with hot tea. The coldness arrived as the day ran out.
“You are still here? The house owners are summoning us,” a fat brown mouse whispered to a colleague, taking away from the shadows up the path. The colleague dropped the stolen keta-schoolboys out of frustration.
“What happened?” he asked.
However, that one couldn’t stay to answer. A different mouse came and gripped the meat away. Shortly, several mice walked past, quarreling along.
“Take time you don’t step on my leg,” a female mouse grimaced.
“You, are you taking time?” a male retorted.
“And do you think it’s good news?”
“I believe, I believe,” his voice became calm, “because we have barely wronged in this whole month.”
“Does it mean you didn’t hear about the missing meat of the queen mother?”
“Meat! And what did she declare about that?” he broke.
“Nothing yet,” she also stopped, “but don’t you think this meeting may be for such reason?”
“And we are attending?”
“But do you have anywhere else?”
“Of course, nowhere else,” he said, and they slid away.
“A very good evening to you all, subjects,” greeted the queen from the stage. Their hearts started pounding slowly. “It’s peace. I must first commend you for your long-standing obedience. If you should keep this, your fight with us teleporters would end forever. We are obliged to introduce to you our first-ever child, a human.” She paused to sniff her inhaler. She also carefully pulled the girl out from backstage. She had chocolate skin and long wavy hair.
“She is called Samantha. It’s better to tell you. We want peace, so treat her with care like you always do to us. Thanks,” she ended.
The king added, “I must add this. I love you all. Extend the news to whoever isn’t here. You may go back.” The mice screeched, climbing one another with discomfort, looking for spaces to move. The king smiled as they went back upstairs. He strolled back to his throne, and the queen also led Samantha inside for her to shower. Samantha never knew anything that ever happened between mousekind and mankind. But her lips were always closed fearfully.
Whilst the queen was seated alone staring and admiring the dog inside the bedroom, Fatoob and Matoob, white and black old male mice, sneaked out from under the bed in fear of the dog. Her heart jumped to see them come that way.
“You haven’t gone back to your rooms?” She looked down at them.
“That means there’s something serious, our queen,” they whispered in one voice.
“Forgive us if it would sound offensive,” mumbled Matoob. “You decide to want to keep a human here but you know about our lasting fight. They killed half our population and chased us from the earth.” He jerked to Fatoob, the white mouse. He gave a supportive nod, so he continued, “At least we would have requested you don’t welcome Samantha.”
“What do you mean? I should have left her to return?” She stood and they jumped back fearfully.
“Even that would have been dangerous,” said Fatoob.
“She would have gossiped that we hid here. And humanity would invade this kingdom.”
The queen froze, sitting back mindlessly. After some time, she said, “I already declared her my biological daughter. I have no womb. You should have known by now.”
“But compare that with losing your kingdom, us, and your husband.”
“You must leave now. Out now—disrespectful!” she yelled. The mice sprinted off. Samantha, inside the washroom, also rushed out, unable to cover her body properly.
“Don’t be scared. I meant those stupid old mice,” she said, but Samantha still had heartbeats. She immediately showed her everything, especially what to wear. Then she slipped off to meet the King again.
“What is amiss?” he said first, noticing the grimace on her face.
“The house mice are proposing something rude. It’s time to rather throw them out before Samantha.”
“Did they say Samantha mustn’t stay?”
Then he sighed deeply. “That’s not a good idea. Not bad too.”
“Are you behind them? Why would you say that, knowing we never had children? Samantha is our own, my king,” she sobbed, turning to leave. But he pulled her back.
“Be careful how you conclude things. What the mice are saying is right. She’s a bigger enemy. A cat and mice can’t stay together.”
“She isn’t a cat.”
“But you know it is impossible to harbor both here? They are our subjects, but also refugees. Mankind’s too impatient with them.”
“But they proposed we kill her.”
“Kill her?” His face changed.
“Yes, your highness,” the two mice chipped in from nowhere again. “Our reason is if she either stays or goes back scot-free, mankind will likely invade your kingdom because of us. Our fight hasn’t ended with them.”
The King nodded, unaware. “That’s true,” he intoned and declared them to go back.
“Wife, they are right,” he said, sprinting out. She also rushed out through a different door to show Samantha the escape route, quicker. Her heart pounded when she saw traces of blood. She followed the trails outside and sighted the dog was hung, still alive. She glided to the right and perceived Samantha was also tied to a large baobab tree to be executed.
She immediately turned back to look for the king, but bumped into him right there. Her temperature rose before dropping.
“See the number of mice her dog killed,” he said, “and you also know the law, right?”
“Nope. Then execute me first.”
“You still can’t get it? Losing just her or losing all of these. What is most? They are our world.”
She wheezed, “You are right,” and fell due to asthma exacerbation. They rushed her inside for treatment. Seated by her, the King sent for Fatoob and Matoob, looking at her condition, afraid she would die.
“I want a way out instead of killing Samantha. It’s difficult, though.”
The two mice watched themselves and sighed. They drew heads together for a few minutes and Fatoob said, “we knew her before. Her father is the king of the earth. He’s difficult. To convince him perhaps, let’s sign a bond by sending him a letter through Samantha and see.”
“But are we sure she will come back? What if troops follow her back here?” snorted the king.
“We are taking a huge risk, but let’s keep her dog behind. She loved him,” suggested Matoob.
“Well.” Then he rose after they left. But his wife held him. He turned and helped her sit up. “We are sending a letter.”
“I heard everything,” she whimpered. “Just do.”
He stepped out. Shortly, Samantha was beautifully dressed. Then the queen whispered into her ear and she left.
The world was gathered on the savannah belt, preparing to go on a thorough search, when Samantha appeared in the crowd. Her parents rushed over and embraced her. “Thought I wouldn’t see you again. You look beautiful. This mustn’t be hunting.”
“Yes, mum. It’s Porterland.”
“Which people live there?”
“The mm . . . m-mice,” she finally whispered, “and their queen mother, a teleporter sent this.” She handed over the letter.
“The mice, still alive? We must find and kill them . . .”
“No, Dad. Everything is in the letter,” she said, and the orator read it to the crowd. Afterward, the King sighed. “We shall pay a visit.”
All the guards were armed. Even the King kept a dagger as they arrived back in Porterland via the mice hole.
“What’s happiness afterpains? No creature is perfect. No one is. But I believe we can become one. I never thought about this, ever. You showed me love after I demonstrated hate to you. You could have wiped your anger with my daughter. You didn’t. I shan’t offer love. I shall offer peace. That’s happiness after a war.” Everyone, including the mice, cheered with deep claps.
“On behalf of my folks, I accept and appreciate your offer in good faith,” vowed Mrs. Venas. “I promise they will be with me and never return to dig into your rooms again.” Then Samantha left with her family back to earth.