You look the same as you did the day I met you! I have become an old woman, and yet your age does not show!
Is there any plausible explanation for this?
I believe that we are both ordinary mice...
Or are you different in some way?
Jonathan couldn't tell me that the injections he got at NIMH kept him from aging. He didn't want to be secretive--he just didn't know how to tell me. He thought that it would be too painful for me to know that he would out-live me by years...
He had always taken great care of me and the children, but then he was gone and I was left to raise them all by myself...If he hadn't been killed by Dragon, he would've looked as young as he did in my dream...In a bizzare twist of fate, I suppose, I found out Jonathan's secret from Nicodemus almost a year after he had died.
Nicodemus, leader of the rats of NIMH, has also died. He was killed while the rats were moving my home last spring, when Moving Day had come early and Timothy was too sick to leave his bed. The rats themselves have moved to Thorn Valley, a place I have never actually seen...
I remember Nicodemus's diary...the amulet...the lamp elevator...
Still, I was the only one who met them, and the children don't believe my story about their heritage. They think that I fabricated the whole thing, and now that the rats are gone and their city destroyed, there is no proof to show them. The only witness left is Mr. Ages, a hermit of a mouse who lives in the old thrashing machine, and he doesn't care to talk about NIMH or the rats at all. As a matter of fact, I can't remember exactly how the house moved. So, for all intended purposes, the rats might have never existed at all.
Only Cynthia, our youngest child, believed my tale about her father and the rats. We knew awhile ago that she would never be quite as intelligent as the other children, but I have noticed that she has other talents. She seems to be some kind of psychic, and has predicted the future before.
Martin and Teresa, the older children, are now adults and have taken over many of the household chores for me.
Mr. Ages, a white mouse who is both a scholar and a doctor, allows my younger son Timothy to study with him every day. At first I wouldn't let him go, but once the Fitzgibbons left, I thought it would be safer for him to walk there and back everyday. Mr. Ages has taught Timothy many things, but nothing about NIMH or his father. The other children know that Timothy is the most intelligent, and if he doesn't believe my story, then they will not, either...
In a somewhat ironic situtation, the Fitzgibbons were forced to move because while the rats were destroying their underground city, they struck a water main. This helped wash away evidence the rats had ever lived there, but it also caused a flood and severe damage to the foundation of the farmhouse. The children and I were naturally pleased to see the Fitzgibbons leave because they took Dragon, their monster of a cat, with them.
But Dragon came home. I don't know if the Fitzgibbons threw him out or if he ran away, but he's back, and he's hungrier, quicker, and more dangerous than ever before. Although he is less active in the day, at night he is absolutely deadly. I haven't seen him in a few days, but that could mean that he hasn't caught anything to eat, and now he will be more vicious than ever.
Thanks to this old iron pipe that Martin found, going to Mr. Ages' house is safer. If it continues to rust however, it will serve no purpose because the cat will be able to stick a paw through a hole in it somewhere. Wait... I see someone coming...
I am Teresa, the eldest child of the Brisby family.
(reading from her diary) The evening that Uncle Jacob arrived was exciting, but it was unfortunately preceded by my same old boring day.
Early that morning Cynthia was digging through the closet and making a lot of noise. I went to see what all the fuss was about, but she just yelled, "I have to find Dad's jacket...for Mom!" She is always doing strange things like this, so I just ignored her and went about my chores.
Preparing breakfast has become my duty because Mother has gotten into the habit of getting up late. She has been depressed since early summer. I think that she has begun to doubt her own sanity, and that most likely stems from her hallucination of the Rats of NIMH. She claims that they helped her last year when Timothy was sick and Moving Day came early. We didn't see them, and when we went to see this underground city that she kept telling us about, all we found was a cave. We all know that Mothers memory is defective--she can not remember anything about her life before she met Father.
Sometimes I hear her talking to herself at night, trying to remember these details she has lost. Lately she has been staying up most of the night and seems to be in a trance during the day.
Around noon, Martin and I went out to get some firewood. (This is another one of my dull chores) Nothing unusual happened other than we saw Jeremy hiding from someone. He was in quite a hurry, but said hello to us anyway. We got back home in the early evening, and just as we had finished putting the firewood away, Timothy came running in the door screaming.
So NIMH was real after all...does that mean Mother's stories are too?
It was past 9 o'clock when we brought Jacob home. We put him in Mother's bed since it is the most comfortable...As soon as I saw him, I could tell that he was Father's brother...we had so many questions to ask...about NIMH and Father...we also wondered if there were any more mice like him...the strangest thing about him though was that he knew Martin's name...does this mean he is psychic?
Once we got him home, he fainted again, leaving our questions unanswered...Mr. Ages examined him and said that he had bruised a few ribs, but he would be fine with a little rest and some medicine for the pain. After Jacob fell asleep, Timothy and Martin walked Mr. Ages home, leaving Cynthia and I with Mother and our guest.
...we climbed up the airshaft, holding onto the thread. Then suddenly, the intake fan cut on, and all the mice, except for Jonathan and Ages were blown into the blackness of the shaft.
I saw the whirling fan as I fell towards it, and then I blacked out.
When I awoke, hours later, I felt a stabbing pain. I searched for it's source, and realized that my tail was gone. I was one of the lucky ones, though. Around me I saw patches of bloody fur and dismembered bodies of the other mice. As I sat there, mourning my friends and wondering if my brother had escaped, I heard someone calling my name. It was Kyle. Somehow, he had managed to survive without a scratch, the lucky son-of-a-gun.
We decided to hunt through the shafts in case there were anymore survivors. The only other fortunate one was Sebastian, and he lost his right foot in the ordeal. That was it, just the three of us.
We snuck into a storage closet in the basement of NIMH, and there we found food. It was the same old processed stuff we had been eating for years, but we were so ravenous, we didn't care. Kyle and I treated Sebastian's injury the best we could and we all lived in the basement together.
I soon discovered an unused wiring pipe on the wall, and followed it to it's source. It lead me to the lab where we had lived for so long. There I saw the scientists and their assistants desperately looking for the missing rats. I guess they had managed to escape, and Jonathan and Ages, too.
After Sebastian and I had recovered, we talked about leaving. Naturally, Kyle wanted to go the very minute we felt better, but Sebastian talked him out of it. He wanted to stay and collect information on NIMH. He was sure that the scientists would try to repeat the experiment, and that we should stay to help the animals escape. I was glad we were staying--not that I liked that place, mind you--but because without my tail, it is hard to keep my balance when I climb.
One day I discovered that the humans had blocked off the air conditioning vents, so I guess they realized how we had escaped. Seeing this ruined all hopes Kyle and I had of ever leaving, Sebastian somehow managed to keep our faith alive. Every time we started to give up hope, he told us a story that made us feel better. He also kept reminding us that we needed to get some of the other animals to safety, even if we couldnt get out of the building.
After a while, the scientists decided to retry their experiment, using new mice. I guess it was easier than trying to track down those of us that had managed to escape. Sebastian saw this as an opportunity to increase our number.
Shortly thereafter, the three of us came up with a plan. You see, the scientists are not the brightest people on earth--they did not realize quite how fast their injections worked. Kyle and I would sneak into the lab every night and switch these smart mice with ones that were being prepared for other experiments. We were very careful to swap mice with similar coat colors, and even took the laboratory collars off the intelligent mice and placed them on the new ones. The scientists never noticed the change, because they breed so many mice, that they don't even bother to count them!
Naturally, after we switched the mice around, the experiment was not yielding the results the scientists expected. They could not figure out why the injections were not working, so Dr. Schultz lost his funding from the government, and that was the end of the experiment.
During the time we had been switching the mice, we managed to rescue 17, and took them to live with us.
Six months after the experiment was terminated, a few of us noticed an unusual change to our bodies. Our senses (except sight) were becoming super-sensitive from living in the pitch darkness of the basement. Another thing I became aware of was that when I walked along a certain place inside the wall of the lab, I'd feel something like a shock run through my head. This baffled me completely, so one day I took a closer look at the spot and realized it was a computer cable that ran up to the lab!
Anyway, one thing bothered me, so I decided to research it a bit. I used to see the scientists referring to an old manila folder with a red bordered cover. One night, I snuck out and opened it. Inside was what I had been looking for--proof that this experiment had been tried once before! I tried to get the name of the person who had attempted it, but the file said that information was stored in the computer. I thought that if I could understand the computer's language, then I would be able to get an answer to my question. So I went to the cable everyday and tried to read the signals. About a year later, I was finally able to understand the electronic pulses.
I'm afraid not. The data that I needed was not on that particular computer. Theoretically, I would have found the answer if I had been able to access the other machines on the network. (You see, all of NIMH's computers are connected to each other via telephone lines.)
In order to get one machine to 'talk' to another, I would've had to go inside the lab and actually operate the computer. As much as I wanted to, I couldn't do this because there are security cameras that watch the lab 24 hours a day, and I certainly did not want NIMH to notice a mouse tapping away on a keyboard!
[note from Ken... secrity cameras are placed to watch the computer consoles of the lab.]
I should say that I did not fear for myself, Kyle, or Sebastian--we had already been through just about anything NIMH could throw at us--but I feared for those which we had liberated.
Anyway, our number increased little by little, but we are still living in the same narrow storage closet in the basement. Kyle, Sebastian and I became the leaders of our new society and we made rules and kept everyone to them to prevent us from being discovered. When troubles came--as they do--Sebastian became the mediator, and surprisingly enough, everyone obeyed him.
Four more years passed. Five other mice discovered that they (like me) could read computer signals.
And all this time, I never forgot about my brother and the others that had escaped...
Soon after we started switching the mice around, Dr. Schultz left and took all of his assistants with him. We don't know where they went--perhaps they were fired--but at that point that I gave up all hope of ever seeing my brother again, since the only people who might have been able to track him down were gone.
Then, one day last spring a young female from our group who watching the lab heard an interesting discussion among the scientists. She said that they were planning to send an investigation team to a farm early the next morning because someone had spotted a rat hole under a rosebush. I'd heard such a story before but this time I got a strange feeling--I guess you could call it a hunch. For some reason, I was sure that this was the group that had escaped with Jonathan. I also knew that "investigate" meant gassing the rats, because that is the way it had been done before.
I wanted to go to the rats and tell them of the danger that they were in, but I could not get out of NIMH. All that I could do was wait to learn what the team had found--or killed.
That afternoon, after pacing the floor all day, I finally learned what they had found. Apparently, the rats had disappeared and their hole had been flooded. Naturally, I was relieved when I heard that. I had thought that the rats might have prepared themselves for such a case, but that news definitely made me feel better.
I must say that they did find one thing--actually one rat. I was anxious to find out, and got the answer when I saw the body being prepared for an autopsy.
I figured that as odd--that Jenner's body was just left lying around somewhere, but then I overheard some the people on the investigation team talking. It seems that they were about to give up the search on the farm when the family's cat came running home with Jenner hanging out of his mouth. They guessed that the cat had dug it out.
As unusual as that sounds, I can only say that it gets much stranger from here.
One thing I found strange was that the scientists could tell immediately that the rat they had just retrieved was not a normal one, but one that had escaped from their lab. I wondered about this because I couldn't tell and I wanted to know how they had us marked.
Once they had done the autopsy, I got my answer. Apparently Jenner had a computer chip implanted in his brain.
No, it wasn't that advanced. The scientists hadn't planned on us escaping. I think the chip was part of the preparations for the next phase of the experiment. See, the chip was really just a way to record how many times Jenner's brain was stimulated or stressed. So the scientists hooked Jenner's head up to their computer to read out the record of the chip. Once they threw the switch and the current started to pass through Jenner's brain, an amazing thing happened.
I was sitting on that computer cable was, so I could feel what was going on, but nothing had prepared me for what happened next. The electric current somehow revived Jenner's consciousness, and that consciousness managed to run itself into the main computer! It didn't even take a second!
To be continued...