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Rabies

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A bright, flickering strobe effect illuminated the otherwise dim and dull room. The light was coming from the television set, which had trapped Pinky’s eyes until Brain was ready to leave. The taller mouse idly stomped on the remote’s button, flipping through the channels until something caught his eye. A rather violent raccoon, with crazy eyes and a foaming mouth, being leashed by two animal control officers.

“Egad,” Pinky muttered. A deep, monotone narrator shed light on the scene.

“Another animal has been irreversibly destroyed by rabies, a neurological disease which destroys the sufferer slowly and painfully.”

Pinky, being the impressionable young lad he was, was glued to the screen.

“Transmitted through bites or scratches from infected animals, the victim will first lose the ability to swallow liquid or food, or hydrophobia. This is followed by uncontrollable spasms, and eventually a coma the victim will not wake from.”

The mouse was gritting his teeth from the paranoia. It was akin to a train wreck; as horrible as it was to think about, he couldn't look away. Until the screen turned black with a static pop, and another deep monotone spoke.

“It isn't a wise choice to watch so much television. You never had too many brain cells to begin with.” Brain withdrew his foot from the remote, unrolling the blueprint to show Pinky.

“Tonight's plan, Pinky, involves thievery. We shall steal, and steal one thing alone; bacon. The American people couldn't possibly live without it, and when they learn that I was the one behind the mass disappearance of the fattening pork meal, I will force them to trade bacon for leadership of the free world!” Pinky nodded in agreement, then shook his head.

“Oh, wait, Brain. How will we steal enough bacon for people to notice? We're such tiny little things, you know. And I drank my milk, just like Mother told me to, narf!”

Brain watched him speak with a usual expression of discard, then turned back to his blueprint.

“I've already thought of that, Pinky. You and I won't have to handle any lard-laden ham, because we will train stray dogs to do it for us.” The taller mouse was stricken with anxiety.

“... Stray dogs?”

“Yes, Pinky. An almost limitless resource here in Burbank. And getting them to fancy bacon is a very easy task, even for you. We can reward them with some of it to attain their loyalty.”

“But… What about rabies?”

Brain's ears perked. It was odd of Pinky to know about, much less care about, something like rabies. “Well, we just won't let them bite us.”

The plan went poorly, and failed quickly. When Brain tried to train a dog to recognize the scent of bacon by holding a strip to its nose, the dog bit his arm rather badly. They decided that two mice were not meant to train dogs with so little preparation, and canned the scheme until Brain could work out the kinks. They went home early.

The bite on Brain's arm left his fur red, but it had stopped bleeding before it would raise worry. Yet Pinky was worried anyway as he cleaned the wound and bandaged it.

“Eugh… My dominant hand. I can't write down plans until this heals.” Pinky finished wrapping the gauze.

“Do… Do you feel anything weird, Brain?”

Brain looked up at his counterpart.

“Besides the searing pain in my writing arm, no.” The answer didn't reassure Pinky. His mind didn't wander too far before Brain spoke again.

“Would it be too much to ask if you made a cup of tea?”

“Poit! Would it make you feel better?”

“... It would, actually. Yes.”

Pinky hurried off into the lab's kitchen to make the drink. As the water brewed in the kettle, Pinky remembered that Brain always liked his tea with sugar. He scrambled into the cabinets to fetch the sugar, which was conveniently next to an identical container of labeled salt. Pinky looked down as the kettle began to screech, quickly grabbing the container to finish the tea.

Brain abandoned the book he was reading as Pinky came back with a thimble full of tea. Brain nodded a ‘thank you,’ and drank the tea, only to be greeted with a mouthful of extremely salty leaf water. He cringed and spat it out, coughing and handing Pinky back the thimble. The taller mouse watched with devastation.

“Can't… Swallow?” He muttered as Brain finished rubbing the taste away from his lips.

“I couldn't possibly keep that down!” Brain bellowed.

Pinky sniffed, taking the thimble back to the kitchen.

Although one of Brain's hands was out of commission, nobody said he couldn't use the other. So instead of writing tomorrow's plan, he opted to type it. Using one hand to type for the whole keyboard would eventually lead to cramping. Pinky’s run on his wheel was interrupted by watching Brain ring his hand out in quick snapping motions. He would do this every so often while typing, almost as if it was invulnerable. Pinky stopped running.

“Brain?” The sudden break of silence surprised the megalomaniac, who jolted at the word.

“Yes?”

Pinky assumed the worst of his spasms.

“Nevermind…”

Brain sighed and continued typing. Pinky sat down and pulled his legs to his chest while he couldn't help but ponder sad thoughts.

When the lab's clock struck two in the morning, Brain shut off the computer and came back to the cage.

“... Zort, What are you doing, Brain?” Pinky asked as the other approached the bed.

“Going to sleep, Pinky.”

Pinky jumped up and pulled Brain away from their bed.

“No, no! What if you don't wake up?”

Brain pushed the mouse's hands away from him.

“I don't like that implication, whatever it may be.” Although the most reasonable guess was death, Brain's insecurity took the sentence as a subtle jab to his age.

Pinky wrung his hands, sniffing.

“Animals with rabies go to bed and never wake up, Brain.”

Brain stared, confused, until he remembered their earlier conversation.

“What's your fascination with rabies today?”

“It was on the tv.”

Brain sighed.

“Of course it was. I don't have rabies, Pinky. I think that's something I would be aware of. Now go to sleep.” And both of them climbed into bed. Brain fell asleep at a natural time, but Pinky was kept awake, wondering if Brain's chest would fall and quit rising in the middle of the night. Eventually, the thought tired itself out, and he dozed off.

But Pinky awoke to see Brain next to him; that never happened. Brain always woke up first. Pinky shook him gently, to no avail. He set his fingers on Brain's wrist, but couldn't find a pulse. Pinky froze. He had said Brain had rabies, but Brain didn't listen. With that big brain on his head, he still didn't listen. And now he was gone. Pinky’s emotions swelled, leaving his heart thumping too quickly and his eyes stinging. At first, only a whine left his mouth, then sobs overcame him. He couldn't help but be loud. But all the crying ceased when Pinky received a sharp bop on the head.

“You clod! Don't wake me up like that!”

Pinky sniffed, and rubbed the tears away.

“Brain?”

“What?”

Pinky laughed and pulled him into an obnoxious hug.

“Oh, I thought you were dead, Brain! The tv said animals with rabies don't wake up, and I thought the men in lab coats would have to come and put you in a little plastic bag… So undignified, troz!”

Brain couldn’t process this.

“Dead? I was sleeping. We do that every night, I had thought you'd remember.”

“But I checked your pulse, and didn't feel anything!”

“Pinky, do you know how to check a pulse?”

“Well, I saw it on tv once, but… Not really, no.”

Brain sighed.

“Go back to sleep. We must be well rested for tonight.”

“Why, Brain? What are we doing tonight?”

“The same thing we do every night, Pinky; remove the television from the lab, and then, try and take over the world.”