Word count: 499
He had lost his vision. Not in the plain old way. Not in the ordinary sense that his eyes had stopped working. Lester’s eyes worked just fine. It was his inner vision that had abandoned him—the dream, the ambition to attain a goal. Just up and vanished, like a candle extinguished in the night. Lethargy and melancholy replaced the verve and optimism Lester was known for.
Aspirations of a higher order had driven him above and beyond anything expected of him. Certainly his mother and father never thought he would become CEO of his own company. Even his best friend thought his determination to build a better mousetrap was nothing short of a pipe dream.
But Lester had had a vision. In the spirit of the Pied Piper, he saw a world that did not lose precious resources to vermin. A world where people did not go hungry because an infestation of mice devoured grains and produce. Where rodents didn’t foul the living quarters of the poor or elderly. Lester had made that dream a reality when he produced the first and finest multi-mouse trap, designed to cleanly catch and dispose of ten mice at a time. And he made it affordable. Easy to use. Once people saw it in action, it wasn’t long before the Mighty-Mouse Eliminator was flying off the shelves in every hardware and Walmart in the country. The private, two-stall-garage company Lester had developed sky-rocketed on the stock exchange once it went public. Lester even envisioned an expansion.
Then, just as quickly, his world began a downward spiral. Accusations of animal cruelty abounded. Picketers hounded him day and night, sometimes camping outside his home, blasting recordings of mice squealing in pain. Some went so far as to dress up as cute little mice, carrying signs with slogans like, “We deserve life,” or “Mice have feelings, too.”
At first, Lester laughed it off. Every successful operation has its detractors, he told his parents. Then the hate mail started and the controversy hit the internet with such vehemence even Lester couldn’t ignore it. Protestations of his innocence fell flat. Before he knew it, the value of his company plummeted. His family was forced to flee, like so many mice, driven out of their comfortable home by threats both verbal and physical. What had Lester perpetrated? Where would it end?
Thinking back, Lester tried to figure out where he had gone wrong. It was a perfect product, successfully doing what it was designed to do. It wasn’t until the last message found him, despite his alias and covert relocation, that he understood. Big Business was behind the entire smear campaign. The Mighty-Mouse was too effective. Grain was no longer in short supply. Cereal companies, owned by mega-corporations, could no longer charge exorbitant prices. They offered to buy him out, planning to eliminate the mousetrap.
His mother always said helping humanity was the way to go. His good intentions had backfire, though. Vision gone, Lester took the buy-out.