It finally happened. My pet mouse, Mikey (not Mickey) was depressed. More than depressed. Stuck in the throes of existential despondency. Riding an upsurge of seemingly interminable misery. In short, he was not his usual cheerful self.
Let’s back up. I’d originally chosen Mikey from a batch of mice at the pet store because he appeared to be chortling at the antics of the other mice. I named him after an old Life Cereal commercial (“Hey Mikey, he likes it.”) Once I brought him home, he took to his exercise wheel with joyful abandon, not only running inside of it, but standing outside of it and spinning it like he was on Wheel of Fortune. He careened through his toilet paper tubes, over his faux red plastic igloo, and through piles of sawdust shavings, squeaking and mouse-chortling with rodent glee while tiny food pellets flipped like tiddly-winks in his wake.
But it couldn’t last. One day I found him lolling inside the exercise wheel, sighing and moaning. I picked him up. He looked away from me as if to say, “Life is short and oh so hollow.”
I tried to talk him out of it. He avoided my gaze. I quickly realized that this was a serotonin issue, and that nothing but gene therapy would resolve it. I inserted a protein called P11 into a virus, and injected my creation into Mikey’s brain, smack dab into his nucleus accumbens.
Within seconds he was back to his old self. I breathed a sigh of relief and gave myself a little shot of P11 for good measure. Crisis averted.