(Inspired by Daniel Keyes' classic science fiction short story "Flowers for Algernon" - RJ)
"Freedom!" squeaked Brie as she spotted an opening in the wires and dashed out. She felt a little badly about taking advantage of the carelessness by Rigor, Dr. Tesla Steampunk's assistant - he always treated her well - but she saw escape as her duty, and this was the first opportunity she had seen.
Rigor saw the escape out of the corner of his eye and moved quickly for a big man, but he was too late. In a blur, Brie was gone. Dr. Steampunk would be angry. She scampered across the laboratory, darting to and fro, moving quickly and erratically to prevent the now-frantic assistant from tracking her progress. With a final burst of speed, she moved through the open door of the laboratory and skidded to a stop on the stone steps leading to the main floor of the house.
Catching her breath, Brie considered her next move. Her heart rate was slightly elevated, but she knew she could run without serious effort much farther than she had come. But. But. She sighed. She could run, but she wouldn't. To gain her freedom, only to turn her back on everything that was still going on in Steampunk's laboratory would weigh heavily on her conscience. She had to go back and do what she could to disrupt the operations of the lab, even at the cost of her freedom.
As quick as her escape was, Brie's return was slow and stealthy. She assumed Rigor was still looking for her in the laboratory; certainly, she had not seen him follow her out of the lab door and up the stairs.
Brie was one of the white mice in the lab. She couldn't really complain about the food, which was plentiful if bland. She wasn't happy about the accommodations - the cage, the newspaper lining - but they weren't so bad. No, her complaint was in the experiments that Rigor, under Dr. Steampunk's direction, conducted. She watched helplessly as one mouse after another was snatched, injected, and returned to a separate cage, vital signs carefully monitored. Some died quickly, some slowly. Some lived, altered in a way that Brie could not know. None ever returned to the main cage.
Then it was Brie's turn. Rigor gently scooped her up and placed the syringe against her stomach. She tried to bite and scratch, to no avail. The liquid coursed through her, cold but otherwise seeming to have no effect. Brie stood rigidly, waiting for something to happen. Slowly, imperceptably, she realized that she was more aware of her surroundings. She could sense the other mice, anxiously awaiting their turn; Rigor, carefully watching Brie for any change in her behavior; the test tubes bubbling over burners a short distance from the cage; and the smell of fresh air just beyond the laboratory door. She became aware that she and the other mice were there for the Omnipotent One's experiments (except that she could now make sense of the gibberish that the Omnipotent One and his assistant had been speaking and knew that the Omnipotent One was named Tesla Steampunk and that his assistant was nicknamed "Rigor," and that this was a form of humor). Finally, she knew that she and the other mice would be used for those experiments until they met a sad and likely painful end. Self-preservation had always made Brie look for ways out of the cage, but now she had been given the gifts of perception and analysis to figure a way out. When the opportunity came, she was ready.