The basement at Maple City can be a dark and scary place. Rows of shrouded shelves entomb ancient records. The hulking guts of pipes and furnace ducts obscure vision and force a posture of defense. Even the most adventurous members of Maple City’s staff hesitate to brave the basement and when they do, they go in pairs.
On this Thursday in early April, however, the tomb is far from the mind of James. He enjoys bright spring sunshine in his backyard garden. This Thursday is his day off. A person who consistently works fifty and sixty hours a week needs a day off.
Unfortunately, James’s job description as medical director includes lawn mowing and toilet plunging. James receives a call from his terrified staff.
Several staff members are on the phone together, panic infecting their voices. James must leave his garden and come to the office immediately. Staff members have discovered an invasion of mice in the basement crypt. Worse yet, the mice are in the process of masticating crucial medical records.
Like any good administrator, James delegates as many responsibilities as possible, but he can’t delegate this task. The basement is spooky enough, but a basement full of scurrying, skittering mice is a domain fit only for the highest tier of the organization’s bureaucracy.
James arms himself with bait, traps, a broom, a rake, and a spade. He dons gloves, heavy pants, and sturdy shoes. He kisses his wife, reminds her of his love, updates his will, and departs to do battle.
At the side of the fire house that serves as the Center’s headquarters, James unloads his artillery near the dank steps that descend into the basement’s yaw. He trudges down, unbolts the door, and fumbles for the light.
Before he can locate the light switch, however, he hears eerie thudding and scrapping sounds. The sounds come not from the floor of the vault, but from the ceiling above. James shivers as he foresees rodents dropping on him, landing on his head and back.
But instead of a rodent onslaught, the sounds segue into distinctly female laughter. James retreats from the basement to discover that his staff have all exited the kitchen above the basement and have arrayed themselves around the railing that encircles the basement stairwell.
Looking up from the basement pit, James is greeted by his guffawing audience and hearty greetings of “April Fool!”