Fables for the 21st Century and Beyond: The Lion and the Mouse

    One day, a Lion was working on his computer when his mouse stopped working.

    “Darn it all to hell and back, with lots of traffic!” shouted the Lion. “This always happens when I’m in the middle of something very important.”

    The Lion was indeed in the middle of essential matters. He was the head of a large publishing group named Jungle Books.

    A little background:  Jungle Books had become the most successful publisher in the animal kingdom after distributing their runaway bestseller by a fine Lion writer, What I Ate for Breakfast:  You. Though it was protested by the smaller, tastier critters, their cries of injustice only brought the book more attention. After riding on the food memoir’s wave for several years, Jungle Books published a magnificent work of fiction, entitled “Nuts! Up a Tree and Back Again,” written by Squirrel. (This was later discovered, amidst much controversy, to be his pseudonym. He was actually a Fox. A very insecure, confused Fox.) Their most recent bestseller was of course the critically-acclaimed “Evolutionary Woes,” a historical fiction by an Elephant.  Though the Lion was quick to remind the world that Jungle Books had never published a failure (the truth in this was shaky), they had not had a success in several years. If pressure were a predator, eager writers would be its prey.

    But enough about the company. This tale focuses on the animal behind the name:  the Lion.  For some reason, and to the irk of many of the employed animals, instead of using the title CEO as per usual, he required that he be referred to as “King.”

    Thousands of lesser animals anxiously waited each and every day to see if they had struck a publishing deal. And each and every day thousands of animals learned that their story would not be the best new thing on the reading list.  If any part of the Lion’s workflow faltered, he would not be able to ruin the dreams of hopeful writers. And that needs to happen.

    Back to the yarn. The Lion was quite upset at the state of his mouse. He was actually reading something quite good (possibly Jungle Books’ next hit), so he had his attention fully devoted to the task at hand. This small disruption interrupted his focus, which could have disastrous effects — both literary and otherwise — for the writer, an Antelope.

    “This is such a thorn in my side!” screamed the Lion. He had a very short fuse. And he could. He was King, after all.

    The Lion called in his secretary, an Orangutan.

    “Orangutan, I need a new mouse.  Mine just broke, and I have important work that needs to get done,” said the Lion.

    “I’m sorry, but if we order a new mouse, it’ll take a week to come in,” replied the Orangutan matter-of-factly.

    “But I’m King!” roared the Lion. “And I need my mouse! Take a mouse from someone else if you have to, but get me one.”

    “Okay. I’ll see if someone can spare theirs.”

    A few minutes later, the Orangutan returned to the Lion’s office, where he still sat moping. He had not moved an inch.

    “I’m afraid you can’t have anyone else’s mouse,” the Orangutan stated.

    “Why not?” demanded the Lion.

    “Because all the mouses are broken.”


    “None of them are working.  Everyone is simply sitting at their computers, staring at screens filled with work they can’t do anything about.  The Chimps have reverted back to monkeying around, the Shrews are getting obnoxiously mad, and the Lizards are running around chasing their tails. Which have fallen off due to stress. And the Pandas…It makes me shudder just to think of the state they’re in. ”

    “That’s their own fault. Tell me, who bought these mouses? Fire him immediately.”

    “You bought them. All of them.”

    A long silence began, only to be ended several seconds later by the Lion with a simple, “Oh.”

    Because Jungle Books could not sort through the thousands of submissions they received that day, the writers revolted.  And whenever writers go on strike, the world collapses into a manic frenzy. Cats began chasing Dogs, Frogs turned into Tadpoles, Mockingbirds began coming up with original songs. With no more authors submitting their work to the publishing company, and the readership having gone berserk, Jungle Books crumbled. This fateful turn of events obliterated quality literature in the animal kingdom for years.  The Lion was no longer King.

    Moral of the story: Don’t buy cheap electronics.


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