Slab Waves, a sculpture by Sarah Franzblau.

The Cheetah and the Mouse

by Xuzhou Ren

audio: read by the author

The cheetah was running across the prairie when he spied a group of mice who were chipping away at a branch that had blocked the entrance to their burrow. Seeing their plight, the cheetah ran over to help them. He devised a malicious plan at the last second.

“I’ll help you,” he said, “but I’ll charge a price.”

“Ok, what do you want?” inquired the desperate leader of the mice.

“Starting from tomorrow, I will need one mouse delivered to my residence every day during each meal time,” the cheetah said, “This way, I will no longer have to hunt my food.” He was pleased with his brilliant idea.

The mouse was horrified, so he tried to bargain. “We do not have enough mice as it is. We cannot handle losing three of our kind per day. Please, we can do anything else: build your home, lead you to water sources, show you optimal hunting spots, or help you do anything you want. You cannot ask us to kill ourselves.”

However, the cheetah, recognizing his advantage, pressed on, “The deal I offered is final. Should you accept, you may have at least a chance at survival. You will surely die if left outside of your den, whether it be by another predator or by the weather.”

Knowing that he could not convince the cheetah otherwise, the mouse reluctantly agreed. After the cheetah removed the branch, the mice retreated back into their den to discuss their course of action. They, in the end, decided on three mice to sacrifice to the cheetah for the following day.

This continued for a while, and the cheetah was satisfied because he no longer needed to go out to hunt. He gradually grew fat and lazy; the consumption of mice was the only activity that he did. This continued for a month, during which the mice population slowly dwindled. At last, when the governing mice had no others to sacrifice to the cheetah, they decided that they would make a run for it.

The cheetah was enraged when the sacrifices stopped and decided to set out after the mice to punish the few remaining. However, he discovered that he was too fat to move now, so all he could do was lie there, fuming about his short-sightedness. In the end, he was eaten by a lion because of his immobility.


I am a freshman. I like math a lot. I hate combo though. I cannot do combo.

Do you write sporadically or regularly?

I write sporadically.

What was the most difficult part of your writing process for this work?

Coming up with a title was the most difficult part.

What is your ideal writing environment?

My ideal writing environment is in class.