Edenmouse scurried along the concourse at Victoria Station, her heart racing as she desperately searched for her mother. “MUUUUUUM!” She cried, avoiding the forest of feet that pounded the polished floor all around her. Eventually she took shelter underneath an old metal box that used to carry copies of a local paper and now just rusts in the corner.
“You’re too young to be alone in a place like this.” The voice was gentle enough to not cause her too much of a fright. She turned to see an old mouse hobbling behind her with a match for a walking stick.
“I… I lost my Mummy and ….. It wasn’t my fault, I was looking at the big electronic board over there and when I turned back she was lost, I was lost,” her voice becoming more and more desperate as she spoke. “Where did you last see her little one?” Looking around she tried to see where she had come from. “Well our train arrived at platform six.” The old mouse squinted, tilting his head to see if he could glimpse anything but it was rush hour, there was no way to spot a mouse in this crowd.
“What’s your name little one?” — “Edenmouse,” she replied, sniffing and wiping tears from her whiskers. “Well Edenmouse, I am Thomouse and I am very pleased to meet you.” The old mouse took off his hat and bowed, revealing a baldhead save for a tiny patch of fur. He stood awkwardly upright and adjusted his stance as proudly as he could. “The best thing we can do is head for the meeting point at the other side of the station, I am sure we will find your mother there.” Eden was slowly beginning to calm down.
“You aren’t from around here are you Eden?” — “No, I am from the countryside, we are here to visit my uncle,” she squeaked, her voice still breathless. “Well here in the city us mice do not walk around openly, there is no grass to cover us. We travel along the sides, on the mouse path, this way nobody will step on us. Most humans have no idea what happens under their feet or even above their heads, they are far too lost in their own worlds to notice what is around them.”
The old mouse began walking very slowly with Eden following closely behind. “I’m afraid my legs are not what they used to be, this might take some time”
He said as he shuffled along the wall. “That’s OK Thomouse,” she replied, feeling it was her turn to comfort her new friend this time.
“You know while we walk I can tell you the legend of Ericmouse, he was a country mouse that got lost in London too.” — “Did he find his Mummy again?” Thomouse looked down with a warm smile at his tiny follower, “He discovered a lot more than that little one.”
Ericmouse was from a small village a long way from London. He lived with a large family who were very close and very protective of each other. Life was good there and they were all looking forward to a trip to London they had been planning for some time. All his family were going, his grandmother Nonnymouse, his father Papamouse, his mother Mamamouse, his little sister Pennymouse, his older brother Chrismouse and even Chris’ Turkish friend, Huemouse.
The night before, the children sat around excitedly talking about the adventures they might have on their trip. “I want to see Big Bin the clock so I can run all the way up it like they do in Hickory dickory dock,” said Eric. His brother laughed loudly at him “It’s Big Ben not Big Bin.” — “I want to see the horses outside Buckingham Palace,” said Pennymouse, Eric’s little sister was obsessed with horses ever since she got to know the family of horses in the field opposite. “I want to battle Morden,” Chrismouse added.
“Who is Mor…” — “He is a giant rat that eats whole tube trains,” interrupted Chrismouse, relishing the opportunity to scare his younger brother and sister. “He lives in the tunnels at the end of a route called The Northern Line, the BLACK line.” Chrismouse was smiling and baring his teeth in as menacing a fashion as he could. “He is so big he has his own station named after him. He has a tongue as long and as black as the line itself, at least 30 miles. When he is hungry he unfurls his tongue, waits for a train to come and then swallows it whole.” — “Are… we…. We aren’t going on The Northern Line are we?” asked Pennymouse nervously. “Don’t listen to him,” said Eric, “he is just trying to scare you.” — “Oh yeah?” snapped Chris, looking through his school bag, “Then what is this?” Chrismouse pulled out a book with the title “My Magical Pony” — “That’s a book about a magical pony HAHAHAHAHA,” shrieked Eric as the other mice joined in the laughter. “What are you doing with that Chris? I didn’t know you liked magical ponies HAHAHAHA,” shouted his friend Huemouse. “Not that one, shut up!” The laughter eventually subsided and Chrismouse pulled out another book called “Monsters of The London Underground”.
On the front of the book was a picture of a giant rat, three times the size of a train, his fur jet black apart from a streak of white that ran like a lightning bolt from his forehead to his neck. “You can read all about it if you don’t believe me.” Eric reached out to take the book as his mother walked in. “What is this?” She exclaimed, seeing the gigantic rat on the cover. “Don’t read this nonsense Eric, it will only scare you. Why are you trying to frighten the little ones Chrismouse and where did you get this silly book?” — “It’s not silly, it says he has been seen as recently as last month and he hasn’t eaten in 50 years and…” his voice became more and more excited as he described the monster. “I don’t want to go to London Mama, can’t we just stay at home?” Penny’s eyes were now filling with tears as she pleaded with Mamamouse. “See what you’ve done now? Oh Penny my love, there is no such thing as a giant rat that lives in the underground, these are just silly stories to scare those foolish enough to read them. OK? Let’s get some rest as it’s a long journey tomorrow.” Penny relaxed a little as Mamamouse pulled her blanket up to her neck. “Goodnight kids.” Mamamouse gave each of them a kiss on the forehead. “Can you leave the little lamp on Mama?” asked Eric; the story really had scared him very much. “Of course, sweet dreams.”
As Mamamouse left, Eric whispered to Penny “Don’t worry, I won’t let any rat, no matter how big, hurt you.”
The family got off the mouse bus at the village station and walked through the tiny tunnel to the special mouse carriage that no humans are aware of. Human carriages are crowded and uncomfortable places compared to mouse carriages, there is no cheese buffet, no tail grooming service and not even a maze for the children to run through.
As they all sat noisily and happily describing the things they wanted to see and do on their new adventure, Eric was quietly looking out of the window, clutching his little leather bag with the cheese sandwiches Mamamouse had made for him. Chrismouse was enjoying a joke with Huemouse when he noticed Eric staring off into the distance. “What’s wrong with you Eric? Aren’t you excited about the trip?” Eric looked across to check his mother and sister were not listening. “Is there really a giant rat called Morden Chris?” — “Well it says there is in the book. Apparently he writes a small M with a lightning bolt through it, the same shape as his white streak of hair and if you see it you should run away as fast as you can.” — “An M?” – “Yes an M for Morden. As the Northern stretches out northwards it breaks into two lines, that’s because his tongue is shaped like a fork or a snakes’, this way he can swallow trains from miles away.” Eric’s bottom lip began to quiver as he looked up at his older brother. Chrismouse thought that maybe that was enough scaring Eric for now. “I wouldn’t worry Eric, it’s probably just a silly story like Mama said.”
A few hours later, as Eric dreamed about Morden battling magical ponies, he was woken by Papamouse gathering the family together to tell them the safest way to travel around London. “Firstly London Bridge Station is very busy, we must make sure we do not get lost. This means we must walk in a line holding each other’s tails. Mamamouse and I will be at the front with the luggage, Nonnymouse will be behind us, then it’s Hue, Eric, Penny and as you are the eldest, you are in charge at the back Chris.” Chrismouse was not happy about this “I don’t want to hang around at the back with the babies, I want to talk with Hue,” he exclaimed. “This is not up for debate Chris, you have to make sure the link is not separated, Nonny will not be able to keep up and your mother needs to help me with the luggage.” Nonnymouse then stepped forward and patted Chris on the head. “Don’t worry dear, you will have plenty of time for fun once we get to the hotel. Should you get lost or separated in any way, the hotel we are staying at is called The Stilton and is next to Kings Cross Station. On the way we get to swim across the Thames.” Everyone cheered at this news. “Remember,” continued Nonnymouse, “Try to blend into your surroundings and not look like tourists.” Eric wasn’t even sure what this meant but nodded in agreement anyway.
As the train approached London Bridge station, Eric began to notice the buildings growing in size until they were so huge that they reached the clouds. What a place this was!
The train began to slow as it reached London Bridge station and the family collected their belongings in preparation.
“Eric,” whispered Chrismouse, “I think you are old enough to be at the back now. Papa doesn’t think you are but we both know you’re a big mouse now.” Chrismouse knew to get his own way he must first make Eric feel like a grown up but Eric was not so sure. “I don’t know Chris, I am worried that…” – “Oh come on Eric, are you going to be a mummy’s boy all your life?” interrupted Huemouse “All you have to do is walk and hold Penny’s tail, it isn’t complicated.” Eric felt very pressured by the older mice, how could he say no? They would only tease him if he tried to stand up to them. “OK, I guess I could….” – “Great, that’s settled then. When Mama and Papa are not looking we can swap positions.” Chrismouse smiled, feeling very pleased with himself.
The family stepped onto the platform at London Bridge in the order that Papamouse had told them but when no one was looking the children swapped positions leaving Eric at the back, tightly holding onto Pennymouse’s tail.
“Stick to the sides kids, that’s the mouse path,” shouted Papamouse as they shuffled through the station.
The noise made Eric’s head spin, the further into the station they went, the more confused he became. Wave after wave of people swept past, his tiny paw was struggling to keep a hold of Penny’s tail while his little legs could barely keep up.
Suddenly he heard a clattering noise fast approaching, before he could turn he was hit by an empty can of cola one of the many human feet around him had accidently kicked. As it struck him he lost grip of Penny’s tail. “ERRIIICCCC!” cried Penny, watching him tumble out of sight. “PENNYYY NOOOOO!!!!” He cried back “PAPPAAAA PLEASE WAIT!!!!” but with all the noise, no one could hear. Eric ran after them but it was no use, set adrift from the family and the mouse path he could not move past the crowds of people with any speed. Suddenly a pain ripped through his tail as one of the human feet came down carelessly on him. “MAAMMMAAAAA!!!!” he squeaked but his family were nowhere to be seen.
Eventually Eric found a resting place at the corner of the station where he would be safe.
He could barely breathe, what was he to do? His family were in the station and would surely realise by now he was missing but the building was huge, even without the thousands of humans in the way it would be impossible to find them. “The Stilton,” Eric said out loud, “Kings Cross, just across the river. All I have to do is look for Kings Cross.” Eric ran towards the exit, hoping to see Kings Cross a gigantic metal cross that belonged to the king but only found more chaos.
The noise of the traffic took his breath away. If he thought the crowds of London Bridge Station were frightening, the noise of these machines, some as big as human’s houses, left him in shock.
It was all too confusing, how could he find Kings Cross from here? He didn’t even know what it looked like.
Tentatively he made his way along the side of the street until he found a set of stairs where the noise of the traffic became less intense. By the time he got halfway down them he saw a sight that took his breath away. “That’s the Thames, I’ve seen it in pictures.” Of course as a mouse the sight of water calmed him greatly. Humans are very strange; they live on a planet of mostly water yet they are not strong enough swimmers to get across a simple river like us mouse can.
Eric stood on his hind legs at the edge of the wall and dove in, paddling as fast as he could. It took some time and he had to be careful to avoid the metal boxes humans call “Boats” but he soon found himself on the other side.
Wiggling and shaking the water off his fur, he looked at the bridge above him. “London Bridge” it said, it must be the bridge in the nursery rhyme that falls down. Worried it might fall down on top of him, he decided he had best move away from it quickly.
As he turned the corner he saw a road sign with an arrow that said “Bank” and “Kings Cross”. Enthused by his swim and the fact he was heading in the right direction, Eric scampered up a road called “Pudding Lane” but was disappointed to find no pudding there. In fact there was no food of any kind.
“Oh well,” he thought, “I still have my cheese sandwich, I’ll find a quiet place to sit and eat there.” This was no easy task, however, the traffic and noise seemed to surround him at every turn. It took him at least ten minutes to find the right spot, where men in suits ate their lunch and talked on their phone about selling items Eric could not understand.
Not wanting to look like a tourist as Nonnymouse had said, Eric sat in front of the bench with his little legs dangling over the kerb. He opened his small leather bag and began to eat, filling his cheeks and looking up at the men, while pretending to be on a phone. “Yes I want to buy some cheese and sell some of those things please.” It was the best impression of those around him he could do.
It was his legs swinging over the kerb that brought his presence to the attention of one of the men who did not view the little mouse as a fellow worker. “Damn mice everywhere,” he said and lifted his foot to squash poor Eric. Eric dropped his tiny sandwich and ran as fast as he could, looking to find somewhere underground, away from the viscous feet of humans.
He soon found a set of stairs and headed down them, hoping to find sanctuary but only found more humans, hundreds of them. Instinct told Eric to keep heading further underground until he finally found himself alone.
It wasn’t until he stopped running that he realised he was in a tube station called Bank and Bank was on The Northern Line.
Eric stood perfectly still; he felt he was in terrible danger here. Was he standing on Morden’s tongue? “No,” he thought, “Chrismouse said the he lays his tongue out like the train tracks, as long as I stay off them, I will be fine.”
He slowly made his way back in the direction he had come from, tiptoeing backwards so as not to wake Morden and all the while keeping his eyes on the train tracks.
Not looking where he was going led him to bump into a gang of rats that were feasting on a discarded bag of chips. “Watch where you’re going Mousey!” Shouted one of them. Eric stood speechless for a moment. “What’s wrong Mousey? Cat gotcha tongue?” The other rats laughed although Eric wasn’t really sure why.“ I… I was trying not to wake Morden,” he spluttered. “Morden? HAHAHAHA, you idiot, Morden doesn’t exist. I bet you believe in the Loch Ness Monster as well don’t ya?” The rats were now surrounding him. “What have you got in your little bag Mousey?” – “I haven’t got anything left, I lost my lunch.” This answer didn’t satisfy the rats at all. “In that case I shall just have to take the bag then.” The big rat snatched the bag from Eric’s hand. “Nooo! Mama gave me that, you can’t…” – “Who’s gonna stop us Mousey? You?” He snorted.
Suddenly everything became dark as a giant shadow covered them all. “I’ll stop you.” came a deep booming voice from behind Eric. No one moved for a moment, all the rats had their mouth’s open and a look of terror in their eyes. “Drop the bag, now.” the voice was steady and carried all the more threat by the fact it was calm. The rat dropped the bag and they began to back away. “Are you…. Is your name M-M-Morden?” asked one of them. It was then the giant figure stepped into the light revealing the white streak of fur that spread from his giant forehead to his neck. “RUNNNN,” they screamed, falling over themselves to get away.
Eric still hadn’t moved, let alone turned around to look at the giant presence behind him. He hoped he was too small to be seen.
“Well, what are you waiting for? Pick up your bag.” came the deepest voice Eric had ever heard. “Are you going to eat me?” he closed his eyes as he waited for the answer. At first there was silence and Eric imagined a cavernous mouth opening with a growl, ready to swallow him whole. It was only when he heard a quite different noise that he realised enormous figure was laughing at him. “Eat you? No little mouse, you would hardly constitute a snack. I could use you as a toothpick I suppose.” Eric yelped, “NO,” and the laughter grew louder. “I was only joking, calm down. You really do make me laugh little mouse. What’s your name?” Eric began to turn; he might as well see what all the fuss was about with this Morden. “I am Ericmouse”. Suddenly Eric was face to face with a giant black mirror, he could see his reflection in it perfectly. It took a few moments to realise that the mirror was in fact an eye, an eye twice as big as Eric himself. He let out a gasp. “Ah don’t worry Ericmouse, I am not going to hurt you. Why would I? I saved you from those idiots didn’t I?” Eric contemplated this, it was true, he had.
“Well Toothpick, I am indeed Morden, but don’t believe all you read.” Eric took a good look at the rat, he was hardly the size of a station and as huge as he was, he certainly could not eat a train, or even a human. “OK, thank you for helping me Mr Morden.” Eric was not scared of this huge creature; he could see he had very kind eyes, even if they were bigger than him.
“Goodbye then Toothpick, stay away from underground stations, there are many others like those around here.” and Morden turned to walk away. “Wait, can you help me?” He didn’t think Morden was a friend exactly but he was the nearest thing he had to one around here. “I have to get to Kings Cross, can you show me how?” – “Well you can walk under the tracks, it will take you a few hours but a little mouse like you, I doubt you would last very long. Best to stick to the streets and don’t move away from the mouse path. Just follow the road signs. Good luck.” Eric did not like the sound of that, he had been stepped on, attacked by a human, attacked by rats and he had only crossed the river so far. “I…I don’t suppose you could take me? I lost my family and I am scared to go so far alone.” – “You’re breaking my heart little mouse,” replied Morden sarcastically. Eric’s bottom lip began to wobble again, he didn’t mean it but this was a sight that could break the hardest of hearts. “Aw come on, it’s not my fault you’re lost” Morden felt a huge lump in his throat, how he hated that. “You aren’t my responsibility Toothpick.” Eric was doing his best not to cry but as much as he clenched his jaw, the tears just kept flowing. “Alright, alright! Listen, I’ll take you as far as the next stop OK, then you’re on your own.”
Morden attempted to sound angry but in truth he was trying as hard to be mean as Eric was to not cry and they both failed. The trouble of having such a big body meant he also had such a big heart but he wasn’t going to allow anyone to know that. “If you tell anyone about this I WILL use you as a toothpick,” He threatened but Eric already knew Morden wasn’t that scary at all.
“Wait here, I have to do something first” Morden walked up to the tube map and drew a small “M’ with a lightning streak through it. “Why do you do that?” – “Well, I have a reputation to live up to.”
The two walked through the underground tunnel in silence for a moment with Eric’s little legs trying to keeping up with Morden’s. Eventually Eric had to catch his breath. “Here!” Morden offered Eric a bottle of water but it was bigger than he was so he poured a little in the bottle’s cap, It was still too large for Eric to hold but he could lean over the edge of it and drink. “Thank you Mr Morden.”
Eric looked at him curiously for a moment “Are you from Morden?” – “I didn’t say you were allowed to talk Toothpick!” but Morden’s reply wasn’t going to stop Eric. “Is Morden close to Kings Cross?” This time Morden didn’t answer. “Is it true you haven’t eaten in 50 years?” Morden was playing with one of his toes, ignoring Eric’s constant questions as best he could but Eric wasn’t letting up. “If you don’t eat trains, what do you eat?” – “If I answer you, will you shut up?” – “Yes”. Morden sighed, “I am not from Morden, I have never even been to Morden. I prefer the centre of London and mostly live around London Bridge but I travel elsewhere so I can keep up my reputation. I like people to be scared of me, that way they leave me alone. I eat everyday and have never eaten a train, person, mouse or rat. Now climb onto my back, we will never get there if we walk at this pace.” Eric pulled himself up the rat’s back and nestled comfortably on the rat’s white streak of hair.
“So why do you want people to be scared of you? Haven’t you got friends?” – “No and I want to keep it that way.” Eric thought about this for a moment “But that’s really sad. Aren’t you lonely?” – “Yes, sometimes but people are scared of me because of my size, they assume I will eat them or crush them or harm them in some way. It’s just easier if I keep my distance. I am happy to be alone”. Eric could tell by the way he said it that it wasn’t true. “Well I think you are my friend. You saved me from the rats, are helping me find my family and you gave me some of your water,” Eric said proudly. “Only because if you are drinking you can’t be asking questions.”
After a half an hour Eric began to see a light in the distance. “Is that Kings Cross?” – “No, that’s Moorgate. There are a few more stops before Kings Cross.” – “Are you going to leave me at Moorgate?” Eric began to feel afraid again, Morden could sense this by the way the little mouse was holding onto his fur “OUCH! Not so tightly Toothpick.” – “Sorry.” Morden knew he couldn’t leave the little mouse here, he wouldn’t survive very long and as much as he annoyed him, he was growing quite fond of Eric. “OK, I will take you to Kings Cross but no more questions!” Eric began to dance on the giant rat’s forehead “YESSSSSS! OK I promise, no more questions.”
“Morden?” – “Sigh, yes Eric?” – “Why have you got a white streak on your head?” – “Jesus Eric, do you ever stop?”
On went the journey like this for a while, Eric asking questions, Morden pretending to be annoyed but all the while enjoying his new friend’s company. They barely noticed passing Old Street Station such was the fun they were having.
“So why are you called Morden if you have never been there?” – “Why are you called Eric?” Eric thought about this for a moment, “I don’t know.” — “Actually my name isn’t even Morden, a human named me that when he invented the story of me eating trains. I kept it because I prefer it to my real name.” As soon as he said this he regretted it, he knew what was coming next. “What is your real name then?” Morden tried to think of a lie but something about this little innocent mouse encouraged the truth from him. “Mickey and if you want to live you will never repeat that.” Eric tried to stifle his laughter but couldn’t prevent the odd snort. “Shut up Toothpick.”
“OK, the next station is Angel, the one after that is Kings Cross.” — “Angel? Are there real angels that live there?” Morden laughed, no, not exactly.” – “Then why is it called Angel? Did there used to be angels there?” – “Ummm yeah, if you like.” chuckled Morden. “Were there Knights that lived in Knightsbridge?” – “I would imagine so a long time ago.”
Eric thought back to the guidebook he read over and over again at home, he always wondered how the places on the tube map got their name.
Suddenly they were bathed in the light of Angel station where they decided they should stop for some food and water again. Morden pulled off a small corner of bread for Eric from his enormous sandwich.
Eric looked behind him and saw the tube map on the wall. “So why is Finchley Road called that then?” – “I don’t bloody know, go and visit a tour guide!” Morden snapped. Eric looked up at him, a little hurt by him raising his voice so angrily. Morden felt very guilty all of a sudden and muttered under his breath “What is it with this mouse?” Silence fell between them and Morden decided he might as well make something up to satisfy the little mouse. “OK, well ummmm…. Before maps were invented, people would use finches, the birds, as landmarks. ‘Where are we?’ they would ask, “Why we are East of Finch – Lee,” they might reply. Lee, however, never really settled in the area and decided to move to Swiss Cottage, thus the road to Swiss Cottage from Finchley was named Finch-Lee Road, which eventually shortened Finchley Road.” Eric laughed very loud at this story.
“Then why was Swiss Cottage called that?” – “Well ….. This was an era when houses were mostly made of wood and straw. Following a huge fire, these resources became scarce so a foolish Prince decided to build a palace made of cheese. He made the roof from Swiss cheese and floor out of cottage cheese. Of course with all its holes, when the rain came the palace became flooded. ‘Once the rain subsides I will have the finest palace in all of London’ he declared. Unfortunately another fire melted everything.” – “HAHAHAHA! Is this true Morden?” – “Yes of course it’s true,” he said with a wink.
“OK then….” Eric looked at the map to try and find another. “Burnt Oak?” – “Oh that’s an easy one. Many suspected the fire to be caused by mice. For weeks huge swathes of mice arrived with jacket potatoes and toast, with all that cheese on offer who could resist? With all that fat burning, however, eventually the fire spread north and engulfed the village of Oak.”
At this point Morden was really enjoying himself, he always did fancy himself as a storyteller having cemented himself in legend as “Morden – The train eating giant rat”.
“Obviously this made the former residents of Oak very angry at losing their home. They eventually settled in the town of Brent which firstly changed its name to Brent Furious, then Brent Irate then finally calming down to become Brent Cross.” He said pointing at Brent Cross tube station.
Eric was laughing so hard at this point he nearly wet himself “Stop it!!” He cried, “I can’t breathe I’m laughing so much.”
“OK Eric, let’s get moving again. “Eric smiled “That’s the first time you haven’t called me Toothpick.” Morden grinned, a little embarrassed at his accidental show of affection.
“Will you come and meet my family when we arrive Mr Morden?” – “Just Morden will do Eric. It’s probably not a good idea, I rarely go above the underground.” — “Why is that Morden?” — “Well a little mouse like you can travel around without fear of being noticed but when you are as big as I am it is very difficult.”
“What hotel are they staying in?” Eric had to think a moment “ Ummmm ….The Stilton.” Morden knew he couldn’t leave him to cross the busy road by himself. “I will take you to the door and leave you there OK?” Eric really wanted his family to meet his new friend but understood the rat had already done so much for him so nodded in agreement.
Kings Cross Station was even larger and busier than London Bridge and Eric was very grateful he was sat upon Morden’s head. “Don’t be nervous Eric, I won’t let anyone tread on you.” Morden had to shout this to be heard over the noise. Eric really did hate the noise and crowds but Morden soon had them out of the building and into the noise and crowds of Kings Cross. To Eric’s disappointment there was no giant cross to be seen.
“There it is! The Stilton Hotel!” Eric suddenly missed his family more than ever; he couldn’t wait to see them but it was then he realised he was going to have to say goodbye to his new friend. As they reached the other side of the road Eric was reluctant to climb down from Morden’s head.
“Look at the size of that rat!” The voice came from behind them. A group of people were pointing and looking at Morden in disgust. One of them picked up a stick and began to approach them.
“Listen to me Eric, you see that phone box over there, run for it when I say, I will make sure they don’t see you.” – “Noooo, I don’t want them to hurt you Morden.” The human swung the stick at them, just missing Morden as he backed away. “Run Eric!” Eric slid down the rat’s back and tumbled to the floor. Now he had no choice but to run for shelter in the phone box.
Standing on his hind legs Morden blocked the view of the humans, they never even caught sight of the little mouse, but they took this as an act of aggression and he swung the stick again, catching Morden on the side of his leg. “Leave him alone!” Screamed Eric but Morden was not finished yet, he launched himself at the man, biting his hand, causing him to drop the stick. “OW! You viscous swine,” he cried. The crowd took a step back, allowing Morden to make a run for it in the only direction he could, the road. “MORDEN!!!!!” Eric cried as he covered his eyes with his little paws, there was no way his friend could survive the busy traffic, he had gone and Eric felt his tiny heart break in two.
“Well that’s the end of him,” said the human proudly as he rubbed the wound on his hand. “Did you see me, I hit him really hard with that stick.”
Eric sat outside the hotel for some time, all the joy of finding this place had gone, and all he had now was a sadness he thought might never leave him. The tears fell steadily but he barely made a sound. He looked across at the entrance of Kings Cross Station and saw an M with a streak of lightning through it on the map. How he hated London now, the noise, the traffic and the sheer size of it all.
He wasn’t sure what he was going to tell his family when he saw them, he didn’t want to talk about it, and thought Chris and Hue wouldn’t believe him anyway. He longed for his bed and Mamamouse to comfort him.
Looking up to the sky he saw it had begun to rain and there was a chill in the air. He got to his feet, looking into the road and the cruel unforgiving traffic that had swallowed up his friend. “Why?” he asked, “Just why?” Eric turned to walk up the steps of the hotel.
“Are you still asking questions?” The voice made him jump; he hadn’t expected an answer. He turned with hope in his heart and saw, with his nose lowered to the floor, his friend smiling back at him warmly. “MORDEN!” The delight he felt at the sight of the big rat made his voice and paws shake. He threw his arms around his face but was only able to get a grip on his whiskers. “Hahahaha, stop it, it tickles,” laughed Morden.
“How did you survive the road? Are you OK?” – “Oh I have lived in London all my life, I know how to cross it. The good thing about living in a big city is even a rat the size of me can disappear easily if he wants to.” – “Is your leg OK? He hit you very hard.” – “Ah just a bruise my little friend, no real harm done. Come on, climb on my head and let’s meet your family.”
“Number 23b, that’s the room,” Eric said excitedly. “Morden, could you do me a favour?” Eric leaned across his head and whispered into his ear.
Morden knocked on the door “Message for Chris and Huemouse.” The door swung open with the two mice poking their head around it. At first all they saw was black fur, it wasn’t until Morden lowered his head that they saw his white streak and enormous eyes. “Arrgghhh! It’s Morden,” they screamed and ran inside looking for Mama and Papamouse. Mama, Papa and Nonnymouse came to the door, wondering what the noise was all about. Their jaws dropped when they saw the huge rat standing there. “I have a delivery for you,” he said and lowered his head to reveal Eric sitting on top.
“ERIC,” they cried, “We’ve been so worried about you!” Eric slid down Morden’s forehead and landed in their arms. He had never had so many kisses in his life. Penny, Hue and Chrismouse all joined in too
“Mama, Papa, everyone, this is Morden, he is my friend.” The family invited Morden in and Eric told them, in great detail, the story of his adventure.
After a few hours Morden said his farewells and headed for the door. “Morden wait, I …. Will I ever see you again? Will you come to my village to visit?” Eric looked up pleadingly. “I’m afraid I’m a London rat my little friend, I don’t belong in the country.” Eric felt very sad again, he was going to miss his new friend so much. “But any time you are in London, just look for an M with lightning through it and you know I will be close by. We will definitely meet again Toothpick”. Eric hugged Morden as tightly as he could. “Goodbye Ericmouse, my friend.” And with that Morden headed back to the streets of London.
Edenmouse was so enthralled by the story she had become unaware they were almost at the other side of the station.
“So did Eric ever see him again?” She asked hopefully. “Well he returned to London very often after that, he still comes for his holidays with his family to this day and yes, he spends lots of time with Morden. Some say Morden moved away from London but I know this isn’t true.” Edenmouse frowned. “How do you know that Thomouse?” The old mouse stopped for a moment and pointed above his head. There it was, an M with a streak of lightning through it. “The underground is still Morden’s home.”
“Eden, there you are!” Eden’s mother was waving frantically from underneath the meeting point sign and Eden ran towards her as fast as she could “Mummy!” Her mother squeezed her so hard she thought she might pop. “I’m so sorry I got lost Mummy.” – “It’s OK darling, I am just happy to have you back.” And she gave Eden a huge wet kiss.
“How did you get here?” Her mother asked curiously, “Thomouse helped me find the…..” Eden turned around to introduce her mother to the old mouse but he had already gone. Eden felt sad she couldn’t say thank you to Thomouse after all he had done for her.
“Mummy, have you ever heard The Legend of Ericmouse?”
©Copyright Dean Stephenson 2014