The Uncontrollable Mouse
"Don`t forget to hang the washing out when it`s dry," Claire said, and Pete followed her down the stairs to the front door.
"Are you sure you don`t want to come shopping with me?"
"Not today darling," he replied. "I`ve got a few things round the house to do."
No sooner had the door closed, than Pete ran to the kitchen, filled the kettle, flicked the switch and bolted upstairs to their bedroom.
The computer sat dejected and lonely in the corner.
Claire had begun to despair recently. Pete had been spending an increasing amount of time playing games on his new toy, and she felt left out.
"I`m a computer widow!" she`d cry, but most of the time he was too absorbed and wouldn`t hear her. But two weeks ago, Claire had put her foot down. Pete was banned from playing on it whilst she was in the house, so consequently he hadn`t switched it on for a fortnight now, and was relishing the thought of a few hours to himself, tinkering with the computer.
He switched it on, and watched as the screen flashed as the machine went through its boot-up procedure. The cursor winked at him, and he typed in the commands that would take him to his favourite game. But once the introduction and the titles to the game had finished, Pete found that he had no control over the game. His mouse wasn`t working.
Unsure of what exactly to do first, he sat back and stared at the monitor. Probably best to switch the machine off and on again, maybe that might cure it. Again he sat through the boot-up procedure, and after typing in the commands, watched the opening introduction and titles for the second time.
Nope! Still wasn`t working. Damn!
He sat back in his chair to think. Maybe a cup of tea might help, the kettle should be boiled by now. He walked downstairs to the kitchen, thinking what he should do next.
Damn again! Claire had switched the kettle of at the wall. The water was still cold. Here he was, trying to get his computer working, trying to get a cup of tea, and she was probably off driving around town.
Driving.... The driver! The mouse driver, the programme that told the computer how the mouse was supposed to work! Maybe it had become corrupt and needed re-installing. Remembering to switch the kettle on at the wall, Pete rushed back up the stairs again. Under the computer table he found two boxes full of computer disks. They were of the more expensive kind, and had lockable lids. Both of which were locked.
Where was the key?
He ran down the stairs to where he knew the key must be hanging, but even on the way he knew that it was on the bunch that Claire must have taken with her.
Fine. Things weren`t looking good, he had to admit that, but the boxes weren`t exactly burglar proof. He could get into them easily enough. He fetched a table knife from the kitchen, noting that the kettle was now boiling nicely. At least something was going right.
Upstairs once again, and he placed both boxes of disks on the bed. They were identical. Both had tinted plastic lids, which meant he couldn`t see into them clearly, both weighed about the same, and neither had any indication of what was on the disks. Now what idiot had not labelled the boxes, he thought.
Selecting one at random he began to prise apart the hinges at the rear of the box. To his immense pleasure they gave quite easily, and it was only when he tried to open the lid from the back, that the plastic split all across the front. This wouldn`t have been so bad, had that particular box contained the disk he was looking for, which of course it didn`t, so the process had to be repeated with the other box. This one must have been designed along the lines of an antipersonnel mine, for when the plastic broke the entire box disintegrated, sending small pieces of plastic and computer disks all over the bed.
Five minutes searching amongst the debris, and Pete had his disk. He rushed across to his computer and ran the install programme from the disk. A third boot-up, a third viewing of the bloody titles, which were already becoming boring, and...
"I don`t believe it! Now what?" It still didn`t work.
Now was definitely time for a cup of tea. Down the stairs, again, and into the kitchen. Cup from the cupboard, tea bag from the container, water from the kettle, milk from the... Bugger! No milk.
"Oh excellent! I`m so happy. Well fine, it`s going to be beer then," he said to himself, and took a cold can out of the fridge.
But just as he went to open it, he had a thought. If it wasn`t the computer that needed a reboot, and if it wasn`t the mouse driver, it MUST be the mouse, surely. And unless he was mistaken, he did have a spare mouse.
But where was it? Oh no. 'The spare room'.
He put the beer down and flew up the stairs. He hated 'the spare room'. Everything that didn`t have a home, or was not yet sorted out from the move, lived in 'the spare room'. It was a nightmare. And now he had to go in there and find a mouse.
He opened the door and stood there, surveying the disaster that was 'the spare room'. It was one of those jobs that was forever put off. It was cutting the grass when it was raining, cleaning out the shed in the middle of winter, pulling all the hairs out of the plug hole in the bath. Well Pete would rather have faced all of them than have to sort out 'the spare room'.
But to his utter surprise, his eyes instantly fell on the mouse box. It was, naturally, at the very back of the room, and he would have to climb over everything to get it. Laid almost horizontally across an assortment of old boxes, unwanted Christmas presents, a broken hi-fi he somehow never quite got round to fixing, and his fingers could almost touch the box. He shifted his weight slightly, grimacing as something cracked beneath him, and he had his hand on the bookshelf. Which was precisely when the shelf decided to give way.
How he managed to end up with the mouse box in his hands when the entire works of Delia Smith were crashing around his head he didn`t know, but he grabbed it firmly and quickly made his escape, firmly closing the door behind him to seal in the nightmare.
And that was when he knew the box was empty. He opened it anyway, just to confirm that he really was having the worst day he could ever remember, and yes, it was empty.
"Okay. Who`s taken my mouse!" he demanded of his empty house. But he knew really, and if he had thought about it earlier, he would have remembered that he had lent it to Dave - and if he had thought about that, then he wouldn`t have had to go into 'the spare room'.
"Well I`m sorry Dave, but this is an emergency. I want my mouse back."
So what was Dave`s telephone number?
He didn`t often phone Dave, but he did have his number somewhere..... Oh yes. It was on the computer!
"Ahhhh!" This was getting ridiculous. How could he get Dave`s number? Phil would know. What was more, Pete knew Phils number. He rushed to the phone and quickly called his friend. He briefly explained the situation, got Dave`s number, and phone him.
Ami answered the phone. "I`m sorry Pete, Dave`s not here."
"But I need my mouse! Can you bring it over?"
"Dave`s got the car."
He hung up the phone, went back to his chair and flopped in it. In a fit of rage he suddenly grabbed the offending mouse and went to hurl it across the room.
And to his surprise there was no resistance. He stared dumbly at the end of the cable - the end which should have been connected to the computer! Claire must have knocked it out when she was dusting. What an idiot, he thought. Why didn`t I check that?
Pete quickly stuffed the connection in the socket. A fourth boot-up, those agonising, annoying, irritating introductions and titles and....
A key in the door. In a panic he switched the computer off and ran downstairs.
"Back already?" he asked, thinking, again, I don`t believe this.
She smiled at him. "Did you hang the washing out?"
His mouth went dry. "Ah."
"No, I didn`t think you would. Probably been playing on that bloody computer all afternoon, haven`t you?"