Back to IndexWritten September, 1998

"An interesting object, isn't it?" Said the professor.
"Curious." Said John. "I found a lot of them on the surface."
The professor fingered the plastic square thoughtfully. "Does it hold some religious significance?"
"That's my hypothesis; we found them virtually everywhere we went, I have to conclude that they serve some ceremonial purpose."
"But is it some sort of religious icon?"
"Frankly, who knows. It would not be the first extinct culture we have discovered with some sort of overwhelming religion; and this certainly seems to qualify - it permeates almost every area of their society."
"Any bodies near them?"
"Curiously, no. When the plague struck you would think that they would have wanted to pray. But none of the skeletons were found near these objects."
"Hmm." The professor scratched his beard thoughtfully and stared down through the ship's viewport, the planet below stared back at him. "How many of them did you find in each domicile?"
"That varied." John replied. "Some homes appeared to have hundreds of the things, others had only a few." He paused. "Professor?"
"What's bothering me is the composition of the squares. Most religions are the products of primitive cultures, but this icon is composed of a number of complex polymers."
"What do you think that signifies?" The professor asked, neatly turning an answer into a question.
John stuttered for a moment. "I would think that it would indicate that besides their technological advancement, socially these people were very primitive."
"Precisely. This must have been a very primitive and paranoid culture, hence the plastic squares with images on them. We can probably conclude that they used them in the same way that some races might use stained glass windows."
"I think its time I moved on." Commented the professor. "I've got several other digs to look at today." He touched a panel. "Bridge? Take us to the gamma site."
"I'd better depart." Said John, shaking the professor's hand.
"Yes," replied the professor, "oh, by the way - do we know what they called these religious objects?"
"We're definitely calling them religious, then?"
"Of course! They're too abundant to be anything else. We've even located catalogues which distribute the things - some even free. It can't possibly be anything other than religious."
A rat scurried across the floor of the ship causing the professor to frown briefly. "We'll have to vacuum the ship later." He murmured thoughtfully.
"But what did they call them?" Asked the professor, snapping his file shut.
"Ah, yes. Mousemats."

This is probably the shortest story of any quality that I have written. The idea for it came when I ordered a few extra components for my computer by mail-order, when they arrived they came with free...mousemats. This led me to count the number I actually had.
I have nearly twenty mousemats. It struck me as something of a shock.

Oliver Pell