Shadow players

Melissa Ann Howell Schier
6 min readNov 8, 2023

I like finding kool things at thrift stores and I have been on the lookout for toys and gifts for the kids for Christmas at the local thrift and vintage stores. Though I sometimes buy things for myself I am trying to use what I have to be of service to others…particularly children who seem to delight in the same things I love.

I love bright colors, tiny things, and things that children enjoy looking at and playing with, like dolls and puppets and stuffies. I like things that paint a pretty picture, like art and painted plates and colorful fabrics. And I love vintage books and games.

Recently I was at a thrift store and I found the game mousetrap. As I kid I remember my older sister spending a loooooong time putting it together and having lots of fun doing so, but all I wanted. was to see that heavy silver ball roll through the maze to make the trap fall down. I thought I should buy the game since it still looked fun so I looked inside and when I saw that all the pieces were there, I bought Mouse Trap.

When I got home though, I noticed there were no instructions to the game. I had to look up how to set up the game and even how to play the game. When I could not get the game to work properly I called on my daughter Kendall to help finish the set up. She was excited to help and said she wanted the game as a kid as well, but mainly because she just wanted to play with the toy mice. She said that the vintage mice were much cuter than the mice that are now in Mouse Trap.

We got the game working properly and the kids REALLY LOVED playing that game. I was thinking about how the person who lands on the Mouse Trap square has to NAME the player who is to be placed in the mousetrap to try to catch him. That makes a lot of sense… kind of like calling the pocket on an eight ball shot.

Now Damon was not playing the game and was watching and he wanted his job to be to just give out the cheese to the players when they landed on a cheese square. No one in the game could put him in the Mouse Trap because he was like a shadow player…and even though he was playing the game, he did not have a mouse that we could “catch”. We would have to remedy that situation.

But first, I wanted to get a mouse that was cute and so I was thinking about places where I might find JUST THE MICE. In the internet, the “mouse” is pretty active and seems to be everywhere and such activity can be traced to an IP address. Even when the computer has been destroyed, that “history” can be captured pretty easily with trained computer specialists.

Just like Damon was a shadow player, there are shadow players WITH MICE on the internet, everywhere.

I decided I needed to find the cute, popular mice because they would be more fun to “Catch”. I knew that like Damon, people who are shadow players will eventually have to get on the board, if they want to show their skill and win the game.

And once Damon realized that he was going to have to get on board, in order to actually win, he wanted to play and he had fun being part of the action. But until that happened, he also learned that he could not just give cheese randomly to people that he felt like, who did not actually land on the cheese square. He started to realize that the non player job he had chosen, was more or less rote and UN-challenging.

But my goal was to find some cute mice because the current mice were too “politically correct”, almost cowardly they were so “safe” lol. Anyway when I was driving around looking for new thrift shops to shop at…I saw an “Obamacare” sign up in a sketch, run down strip shopping center. Oh geeze.

The sign made me think even more about shadow players, where “what is on the table”, or on the board, is not what it seems. And then I thought, with regards to health care, how giving power to government to keep people alive, when it is costing them to do so, would not be in the best interests of the patients.

Normally the doctor who is caring for the patient is getting paid directly by the patient, not the government. But in government run nursing homes, patients turn over all their assets to the government so that they can be guaranteed a place to live and be cared for. Isn’t that kind of like telling the cat to take care of the mice? Doesn’t the government profit when people die quickly in this arrangement?

So back to the game of mousetrap, when I could not find any shocking or cute mice at thrift stores… it made me think of something else interesting. My daughter only wanted to play the game with the mouse of her choice. Some people will play the game with any mouse but I realized that if there was only one mouse on the board, in the game, and all the other mice were taken off the board, or eliminated, no one would want to play the game or even COULD play the game.

And though Damon as a shadow player might REALLY REALLY want ONLY one players mouse to win the game, he could not cheat and give that person all the cheese because everyone would know and people would revolt and quit that game.

In the real world, the mice do not rule the game like they do in Mouse Trap. Though internet users may try to blame things on “the dark web”, the “mouse” is being guided by a real person. And in the real world, most of the real people believe in God and in the teachings of God, good and understand how in the long run, evil destroys itself and doing good is the only real power.

But Mouse Trap the game, does set in motion a trap for the most unsuspecting mouse, and sometimes even a shadow mouse. =) And our family is having a blast and will successfully force the shadow mouse to be put on the board like everyone else, at which point he will be CAUGHT. And with little Damon…. well he has moved on to a different game. He likes pikmin. Did you know that there is a black or shadow pikmin…and it can really scare the enemies. lol



Melissa Ann Howell Schier

HoustonWorkout on YouTube, mom of five, journalist and artist and conservative who values life.