Because as far as I'm aware, cartoons and popular belief aside, mice would rather eat fruit than cheese. Today's Fiction Friday offering is a little bit sci-fi, a little bit weird, and definitely on the shorter side, but I hope that you will enjoy it anyway. It's totally unconnected to anything else I've written, but it's words and that's what counts today.
As for other writing news, well, there isn't any at the moment. Story ideas continue to pile up inside my head, and story words continue to refuse to be put on the page. It is a very frustrating situation, which I really did not need at this point in time, given the frustrations involved in all other aspects of my life. But no one out there asks if you need or want these things. They just arrive.
With that in mind, please enjoy today's Fiction Friday offering. Leave a comment if you like, and I will approve it as soon as I am able. Thanks, as always, for reading, and I hope to hear from you soon!
The mouse crept timidly along the floor of the maze, twitching her nose to catch the scent of the sweet, delectable bit of apple which awaited her at the end of her run. Two turns to the right, three to the left, and she should be there—
"WRONG!" thundered a voice as she placed a paw around the corner which had surely been the correct one only the day before. "GO BACK AND TRY AGAIN, AND PAY ATTENTION THIS TIME!"
"But—" the mouse started to squeak in protest, then sighed and pulled back, retracing her steps. Now that she looked up, she could see that the colors of the walls had indeed been changed here, muted blue where they had once been a bright red.
"AND IF YOU HAD BEEN LOOKING WHERE YOU SHOULD HAVE BEEN, YOU WOULD HAVE KNOWN THAT," the voice battered at her. "BAD MOUSE."
"Yes, yes, bad me," the mouse sighed, shaking her head to rid herself of the ringing in her ears. "But looking up for the colors takes so much time, and you shout at me if I take too long to run the maze as well!"
"OF COURSE I DO." The voice sounded smug. "HOW ARE YOU EVER GOING TO LEARN IF I DON'T SHOUT AT YOU?"
"It might help if I knew what you wanted me to learn," the mouse muttered, finding the proper turn and taking it. "Other than 'do what I want, when I want it; don't bother me with questions, but do it the way I want it done or else; if there isn't a way to do it, make the way, and find your own materials, I'm not in charge of getting you things...'"
The voice either did not hear this, or did not bother to respond.
Notes on Experiment 11878: Constant Frustration
In repeated tests where learned patterns were changed without notice, though with cues and solutions available if the subjects performed complex behaviors which are not natural to them, a small percentage of subjects thrived, but the vast majority responded in one of two ways:
Slightly more than half of subjects became afraid of all choices, even ones which were quite familiar and had not been changed, showing reluctance to make any choice before checking and rechecking for given cues. This adversely affected time and efficiency statistics, as well as decreasing the number of tests which can be completed with these subjects on any given day.
A minority of subjects, but still a significantly large number, began refusing to leave their area of comfort without the application of negative stimuli and, when placed forcibly into testing, exhibiting passive resistance behavior which indicated that their desire for the reward of food no longer outweighed their dislike of the testing process. In extreme cases, a few subjects have withdrawn entirely from contact with the outside world.
The effects of constant frustration on mice would seem to be almost entirely negative.
But of course, mice are not humans.