A Mouse in the Noodles over Mars


by Woody Evans

Tim opens the fridge to find a mouse in his noodles.  He’s quick enough to grab the wee bastard and chunk her out of the airlock.  The mouse stiffens, bloats, and floats away.  Her rear left leg kicks hard once, then goes still but for the head-over-tail, slo-mo spin into cold darkness.

The noodles might be salvageable, but Tim doesn’t have the stomach for it anymore.  Back to the gruel-in-a-pouch while he treadmills and watches late night celebrity interviews streamed up from Jezero Crater.

Was Tim right to toss the mouse?  How do Tim’s rights and the rights of the mouse meet and interact?  There are analyses elsewhere on posthuman and transhuman rights, but here let’s look for a minute at the mouse, the noodles, and Tim.

Tim has been up there a long time, and life is hard in low Mars orbit.  He’s very often alone, and he only gets a delivery of Chinese food once every three months.  Chow mein, man, with baby corn, little fancy mushrooms, and that crispy fried tofu… How the mouse got out of its weird little lab trap, Tim doesn’t know — an investigation to be opened.  But Tim won’t get any more noodles for 2 months and 29 days.  Sometimes it’s the little things that help you get through fluorescent-white Monday night headaches.

The mouse wasn’t wrong to sniff out the noodles.  She took advantage of a fridge that had been too hastily shut and had bounced open a smidge — a crack just big enough for her to work her way in.  The mouse was hungry, and the noodles were off-gassing umami compounds.

Tim reacted very quickly to the mouse. He didn’t sit and think about what he should do, he just moved. If he’d taken time to ponder the situation, he might have put the mouse back in her lab trap, then tossed the noodles out of the airlock, instead. But he was motivated by revulsion, and his fight or flight thing started flapping: ergo dead mouse. Mice (on Earth, anyway) carry fleas and can spread disease. Makes a kind of ancient common sense to nuke them. Tim wasn’t wrong, though if he could have muscled-down his disgust he might have slowed his reactions and made a choice that was less harmful — indeed, beneficial — for the mouse. Read more “A Mouse in the Noodles over Mars”