The Strange Birth of Skatemouse
Antennae. Two of them. Poking out from the crest of his baseball cap. He had felt a strange tingling, and then pressure at the top of his head, and his reflection in the bathroom window now confirmed the latest in a series of bizarre mutations that had turned Nubs Ruban, junior copy editor at the Shreddtown Daily Monitor into Skatemouse, the Toxic Surf Rodent.
Just in time, too. For a strange build-up of waveform nano-toxins in the atmosphere (generated by the heavy over-rotation of WHAM videos on MTV and Much Music) had frozen time, as it were, in the summer of 1986, threatening to stall western culture indefinitely in an age that had yet to know the release of Metallica's groundbreaking Master of Puppets album, and plunging the entire planet into a dark age the likes of which had not been seen since the disco era.
Left-leaning pundits blamed the Regan administration and it's reluctance to sign the Pop Music Proliferation Reduction Treaty that would help limit exposure of the population to damaging micro-vibrations from glittering top-forty music icons like Boy George and Falco. But Skatemouse suspected a deeper conspiracy, and his newly formed antenna only reinforced the sense of unease.
What or who could be behind this nefarious plot to keep the world stuck in the year 1986? Over the past months and weeks, as tiny grey hairs gradually started to cover his entire body, as his once attractive ears grew to monstrous proportions on his head, as his incisors lengthened and his nose and mouth, day by day, elongated into a cute little snout, and as a long, flexible tail sprouted from his backside, Nubs Ruban had had to reconsider his position in the universe, his very reason for being, and his future career prospects.
He couldn't phone in sick to his job at the Monitor indefinitely, and he had serious doubts as to how he would be received by his coworkers and boss if he tried to return to his desk in the editing department. Afraid, even, to go out onto the streets, he had been living off of pizza delivery for weeks and now had a strong hankering for a variety of cheese other than mozzarella.
Nubs had had to wrestle with the common emotional stages laid out by P.D. Bunting in his best-selling self-help book, "He's OK, I'm a Mutant", and after passing through denial, anger procrastination, anger, confusion, dizzying euphoria, heart-crushing depression and weird impulses to burrow beneath the chesterfield, Nubs had come to settle upon something like acceptance of his new place in creation.
"Maybe I mutated into a super-powered rodent-humanoid for a reason," he reasoned. And then, when the time freeze started to make its effects felt, and people started wondering if re-runs of A-Team and Blue Thunder were as good as night-time television was going to get, and the world of high-fashion ground to a shattering halt with pouty models stuck in neon T-shirts and acid-wash jean skirts, and when the movie going public threatened to riot when Crocodile Dundee and Top Gun headlined at the cinemas for the fourth week straight, Nubs decided that the time had come to act.
Rummaging through his storage closet, he was delighted to find an almost forgotten friend from his youth...his old skateboard! The dayglo graphics had been all but worn off from countless curbslides and grinds executed on the ledge behind the Photomart. Ahh, skateboarding. He had nearly forgotten the joy, the freedom of surfing the concrete tides of the city, locked as he had been for the past few years in the daily grind of working, sleeping and what passes for entertainment for the thirty-something urban male.
A contender for the Shreddtown Open Skate Cup in '84, Nubs had had to give up skating when he blew his knee out attempting the handrail in front of his old high school. Nubs had walked with a limp ever since. But somehow, his mutant transformation into a mouse/humanoid had repaired and strengthened his muscles and joints, and he now felt more capable than ever of busting out the old moves.
Yes, the time had come to act. Nubs would get to the bottom of the entertainment industry's strange stall; the Earth continued to spin while culture had ground to a horrible halt! But it was not Nubs Ruban who would plumb the mystery. His newly mutated form required a new name. And so, musing over the possibilities, Nubs grabbed his slightly de-laminated 'board, tucked his ears and antennae into his ball cap, laced up his Converse All-Stars and headed for the door.
"What about 'Manmouse'?" Nubs thought to himself. "Naw, too obvious. 'Grey Guardian'? Sounds like a drug store. 'Shredder'? Hmmm...."
Just then, in the hallway outside of his second floor flat, Nubs stopped fearfully in his tracks. In his enthusiasm for his newly found mission, he had temporarily forgotten the main reason for his being holed up in his room for the past weeks.
There, before him, blocking his route of egress down the stairs to the front hall and out the door to the street, hackles up and claws and fangs bared, stood Buttons, the landlady's cranky Siamese cat. Nub's grip tightened around the front truck of his skateboard as he considered his options. He had always hated that cat, but now something deep within his hybrid mouse/human heart recoiled at the very sight of the creature. All the same, he'd be darned if he was going to scurry back to his room. There was only one way out, so Nubs braced himself for battle as the Buttons lunged towards his kneecaps.
"So," Nubs declared even as the cat flew through the air towards him, "you want a piece of me? Then you want a piece of...