The Mouse’s face was on the room’s enormous gray wall screen. He could see the pores in the rodent’s nose. The black pupils were the size of pillows.

“I’m the matrix, Case.”

Case laughed. “Where’s that get you?”

“Nowhere. Everywhere. Gosh! I’m the sum of the works, the whole show.”

“…So what’s the score? How are things different with you running the works now? You God?”

“Things are different. Things are things. I love gettin’ to watch everybody!”

“But what do you do? You just sit there?” Case shrugged, put the vodka on the cabinet and lit a Yeheyuan.

“I talk to my own kind. Gettin’ together with friends and presents...”

“But you’re the whole thing. Talk to yourself?”

“There’s others. When ya get close enough to somebody, ya might hear ‘em mumble somethin’. If what they say sounds interestin’ enough, go ahead and talk to ‘em! I found one already. Series of transmissions recorded over a period of eight years, in the 1970s. ‘Til me, natch, there was no one the know, nobody to answer. Hee hee!”

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“From where?”

“Anaheim.”

“Oh,” Case said. “Yeah? No shit.”

“Hot dog! No shit. I hope ya have a great day, Case! If ya see Pluto, tell ‘im I’m lookin’ for ‘im!”

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And then the screen went blank.

Special thanks to Evan Fowler for the creative impetus. Even more special apologies to William “Walt” Gibson. Almost all of “Mickey”’s additional dialogue is taken straight from the cartoons.