It started with a snack.
I’m sure I didn’t finish it all. Only a bite or two, but now it’s gone.
Perhaps I ate it without realising. I’ve been distracted, working, after all.
And then again the next day, when I reached down to get the last cracker, it had gone. But there was still plenty of dip. I’m sure I balanced it better than that.
Again, I must’ve been distracted and eaten the last cracker without thinking.
But on the third day, and the day after, it started to seem odd.
I’m not that distracted, am I?
I love food too much to be that distracted with my food.
I stared at the empty Tupperware with a frown, trying to recall when I had eaten my snack. Nothing could help me recall when I had, but I did see a little trail of cracker crumbs across my desk.
Okay, I’m not distracted and messy.
The next day, I made sure to watch.
Opened the Tupperware, had some cracker and dip and then looked at my screen.
Or at least pretended to.
A small flicker at the corner of my eye, and a strange little fuzzy creature zipping across my desk faster than I could process.
My heart stalled.
No, mice weren’t that tiny, or quick, or purple.
It had gone before I could properly look, but the cracker was missing and the trail of crumbs was there again.
Tried again the next day. Brought more crackers this time. Got too hungry to let a little purple fuzzball eat all my snacks. Ate some, pretended to watch my screen again. This time I missed seeing the little creature scurry over my desk at high speed, but I heard a rustling as the cracker scraped the side of the Tupperware and another fell over as it was displaced.
Looked back, and the creature had gone again. At least I had a spare cracker.
I grabbed the last cracker and swivelled around in my chair, leaning back and nibbling as I followed the trail of crumbs across my desk, down onto the carpeted office floor, and along to the wall. Couldn’t see anywhere it could disappear to, and no sign of a little purple creature carrying a cracker that was probably too big for it.
Looked up and glanced at my coworkers. No one stirred. Didn’t seem to have noticed anything. Except one noticed when I looked their way, and we shared a quick acknowledging smile.
I turned back to my desk and plugged my earphones back in, wondering how I could have better chance seeing the creature tomorrow. I looked back at my Tupperware and thought of an idea.
Extra snacks again. That next day, I left the lid slightly on to offer some form of resistance when the creature tried to take it out.
A flash of purple, rattle of cracker on plastic lid.
My eyes met tiny yellow ones as the creature wrestled to get the cracker out, glancing my eye in a nervous hurry.
I blinked. It really was purple, and round and fuzzy and tiny, and it had a long mouse-like tail with a tiny little fuzz ball on the end.
It seemed to be vibrating, but that might’ve just been shaking with nerves.
I reached over slowly and slid the Tupperware lid off the rest of the way to let the cracker free, and the creature vibrated more visible. Definitely nerves.
It took the cracker and zipped off again.
Too fast for me to even see where. It almost just disappeared.
But the trail of crumbs was there.
Work got a little more interesting from there. Each day, I brought extra snacks. And not just crackers. Next week was blueberries and little cubes of cheese. Turns out the little purple fuzz ball likes those too.
Yellow eyes widened as thin little arms reached into the Tupperware and grabbed one of each, hugging them to its body like valuable stolen jewels before zipping off to its hiding place again.
I think it floats. I can’t see legs, and it reaches my desk far too easily to be running and jumping.
Still haven’t seen a mouth either. It only ever steals food. I’ve never seen it actually eat it.
Hopefully it’s not just storing it all in some hole in the wall for us to one day smell a foul rotten stench in the height of Australian summer.
I wrinkled my lip at the thought and turned back to my desk, wondering what its mouth looked like, smirking as I thought of several options, some terrifying.
From then on, I made it my mission to see it eat on my desk, to see if I could interact with it more. I wanted to know so much.
What sounds did it make? Could it communicate? Could you train it like a little puppy? Where did it live? Did it sleep? Did it curl up like a cat, the fuzzball on the end of the tail blending into the fuzzball body? Could I try feeding it?
I tried to ramp up the interactions. Rather than leaving the blueberries and cubes of cheese in the Tupperware for it, I left one of each on a little piece of paper on the desk and then watched.
It ran past the two I’d left out, looked back at them briefly, then floated up onto the rim of the Tupperware and reached in, grabbing its own.
Okay, so the creature prefers its own food.
Fair, probably might worry it’s been bated if left out. Like a mouse trap.
Poor thing. It’s probably experienced a few of those before.
The next day I miss the creature. A colleague is talking to me as I eat my snack, and I’m silently wishing they’d leave so the creature can return. But they don’t for a while, and I look down at the last blueberry and last cube of cheese in my Tupperware, wondering if the creature will eat it if I leave it, though it seemed to prefer its own yesterday.
‘Not going to eat that?’ My colleague says.
I shrug and distract them, and put the Tupperware on my desk, lid off.
By the time the conversation is over, I turn back, and the last of the snacks is gone.
Disappointed at not seeing it this time, I sit back down at my desk and put the lid on the Tupperware, and then put it back in my bag, wondering what other foods it might like that might make it hang around more.
There’s a little peep, and I look up from my bag to see the little purple fuzzball sitting on my keyboard with the chunk of cheese in its little hands.
Large yellow eyes look up at me, and then the fuzz splits in two to reveal a large mouth with sharp needle-like teeth.
It shoves the cheese in whole before closing up into a little fuzzball again.
I won’t lie. It was a little creepy. More Tim Burton horror vibes than the cute hamster vibes I had been expecting. But it’s looking up with cute little yellow eyes again and waving the little tail, the tiny fuzzball on the end swinging like a happy little hypnotism pendulum.
It’s hard to be angry at a creature like that. Though maybe that’s the intention.
I quickly wonder whether I might be grooming a tiny little predator before smiling at the series of ‘jhjjhjjjjhhhhhhjjjjjhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh’ on my screen where the creature’s been sitting on the keys.
I let out a snort, and it zips off with a little peep that I’m sure means back tomorrow.
I’ll bring food.