Sunday, 16 February 2014

Foolish Warnings?

“Albert come back!” his mother shrieked as her son ventured away from their grassland home to the cultivated field nearby. Albert cast his mother an impish grin and continued on his way.
Throughout the colony several of Albert's friends and relatives raised their heads and looked alertly around. What was all the excitement about? Aunt Bessie called to him also, but he ignored her. Meanwhile Dalen and Hank, two of his old time pals saw that Albert was being brave and adventuresome and decided to join him on his trek.

“The enemy approaches!” squealed several alarmed voices. Albert froze and looked around.
“Maybe we should head back,” Dalen suggested in a low voice.
“Those 'enemies' are just boys,” Albert retorted, “They bring no danger.” Hank didn't look so sure but he trailed along behind his friends. As they approached a low rise in the cultivated field, they noticed the boys drop to a kneeling position. The movement startled them and they scurried away, but Albert, ever the most daring was soon inquisitive again.
Every day they came closer to the boys inspite of the repeated warnings of the adults and some of the most cautious in their own age group.
“I don't know why they are so mousy,” Albert said,”The boys seem friendly enough.”
That night Aunt Bessie pleaded long and earnestly with him, and he soberly considered what she said and left off exploring for several days. It was true that Uncle George had vanished, and didn't come around anymore. It was true that others had sickened and died from some unknown ailment when they got too close to the cultivated land which the old fashioned grownups liked to call “The World'.
Albert's fear wore off, but by then he had taken a pretty little bride. Sometimes they discussed the “Cultivated Land'.
“It seems much more attractive out there, “ his wife Mary observed thoughtly.
“And much easier to make a living.”
“I think the old folks are just scaredy-gophers and don't know what they are missing. I don't think life was meant to be this hard.”
Meanwhile 'The Boys” had managed to tame some of the younger rodents, and Albert and Mary watched curiously. They were becoming quite immune to the shrill cries of the 'prophets of doom'.
One day Albert's foot slipped and he found himself trapped. He squealed and fought frantically and much to his surprise was actually humanely released. In his agitation he hadn't noticed the quick injection of a foreign substance that flowed into his bloodstream. In the coming days several of his buddies and their wives also were snared but were always released, serenely unaware that they had been injected with a slow acting substance.
“When are you ever going to leave the cultivated fields behind?” his mother asked, teary-eyed. "There is plenty of good grass over here.”
“Oh Mother, there's nothing to worry about. You should come see for yourself.”
“But you were caught!”
“Sure, but I won't get caught again. And besides they released me. They released everyone of us.”
Mother fell silent as she and Dad looked at each other. She didn't say so but had noticed a difference in those that had gotten caught. They smelled different. Had they been injected by the poison that some of the older grandfather's warned against? Whether they had or not, many of the more concerned ones noticed they had changed. There was more of a self-assurance about them. They were bolder about trying new things that the sentinels had always warned against. Were they poisoned by

“The World?”