Author: Michael Michailidis

I could never forget those mice. It was the way they looked at me behind their glass tank on that first day when I administered the new substance. Their eyes, as black as pinheads and about the same size were fixed on some invisible point behind me like they could see some guardian angel, smelling his chicken wings with their tireless noses.

It was different with the Coramin; it took their fragile systems a full minute to digest, after which they ran around for another two or three until they finally rolled themselves into trembling balls. After about an hour they recovered and started to walk again, stumbling clumsily as they tried to climb over the little rock that marked the corner of their isolated little world.

In my diary, Wednesday, 16 November of 1938 had occupied the same unimportant space, a single page filled with notes and sketches, like any other. But it was the mice that kept flashing back on the screen of my mind like there was cheese stuck inside my brain’s labyrinth. Outside the lab’s double glazing, people were blowing themselves up in shockwaves of stupidity that made the tables shake. At first we thought it was a joke. The funny man shouting through his little moustache behind eagles of marble, looking with the grimness of emperors, gripping banners of red and black.

“Dr. Hoffman,” it was the maid, she had brought breakfast, a glass of milk with a marmalade sandwich. The mice seemed to pick up the smell as they started to get restless.

Five minutes had passed and still nothing. Coramin is nicotinic acid diethylamide, and when I first isolated the lygergium I felt the sudden urge to substitute for the nicotine.

I looked into the tank and the mouse that had taken the substance first looked back, not at my eyes, not exactly, but into them. I pulled back and took a bite from the sandwich, it was delicious and I closed my eyes to savour its delicate textures. But I felt watched, observed by some intelligence that I somehow knew was coming from the tank. I looked back. I saw its tiny paws, five-fingered little things with claws like a bird, pressing against the glass, perplexed by the invisible force that kept it prisoner, my reflection on its surface: a man in white robes, looking with intent behind his glasses. His eyebrows tense, observing them, observing us, and looking straight into my eyes, my tiny hands on the cold surface of a force field as powerful as a gust of wind and invisible. The sweet smell of piss from my herdmates and the sudden releases of female hormones in the air, like blooms of fire. And the man, in his white robes looking at me, vast and powerful and strange, like a God. And the sweet taste of marmalade on my lips reminded me that I had a sandwich to finish, and I looked away.

I could never forget those mice. It was the way they looked at me.