Against the wall was propped up a row of different pieces of card, cardboard and paper. Some of them were filled from top to bottom with letters, some were with images, others with curious symbols. Looking over them was a group of rats. The den they were present in was dimly lit, to allow one to see the symbols and writing, but not too bright or hot to accidentally burn everything in the den down.
One of the rats seemed to be scribbling down his own symbols, as if notes, scratching his head in frustration, as if he was just about to reach an epiphany.
Finally one of the rats spoke.
“So we agree, the Tall-Ones use these to record information, but how can we begin to understand it?”
Another rat pointed at a section of one of the cardboard pieces that were present before them.
“Yes, and sometimes they use pictures to make it easier to identify what might be in a box.”
“Then why do some boxes use different symbols even though they have similar pictures?” the rat then motioned to two smaller pieces of cardboard. On both them were almost identical portrayals of some fruit, but the supposed names were different.
“Upon closer study we found similar symbols being used in both cases, most likely to describe similar things, but there are always differences.”
“Not only that, but sometimes the Tall-Ones pack very similar things in different ways. Based on our own… sampling, the taste is similar, but sometimes they look just slightly different.”
One of the rats began rubbing his eyes. “Why must the Tall-Ones make this so difficult to understand? How do they manage to understand such a complex language?”
“Well, they thought it up.” pointed out another rat. “Yet… remember the records we found, with even more complicated symbols? It’s as if a Tall-One at first used his own tongue and then tried to communicate with other creatures…”
“Which ones though? There is no other intelligent life other than us and the Tall-Ones.”
“Maybe the birds?” pointed out a rat.
“Birds, sure. And prowlers can fly.”
“Well there was never any evidence to the contra-“
“Oh just shut it.”
“No! You let me- hey!”
And the rather straightforward discussion turned into a heated argument. The only one that did not seem to be involved in it all was the rat that was furiously taking notes, and looking over what seemed like numbers. While the den was filled with shouts, as well as some whisker and ear pulling, the scribbling rat finally exclaimed.
“Aha! I got it!”
Everybody froze. All the rats that were just beating each other looked to the scribbling rat and then gathered around him.
“What did you find out?” asked one of them curiously.
The scribe motioned to a few small pieces of cardboard that were laid out before him, and which he was studying for a good portion of the day.
“This is how the Tall-Ones record weight.”
All the rats present began to study the scribbler’s notes closely, then the pieces of cardboard, murmuring to one another.
“Care to explain?”
The scribe then began to point to the numbers and symbols the Tall-Ones used.
“You see this? The numbers of course represent amount, but the symbol here represents weight. And… look here…”
The scribe then pointed out one of the cardboard pieces. “This one shows that there is “10” of something, and each one weights “10 g”.”
“So the “100 g” means how much a full box would weight?”
“I believe so. But then, we have some boxes use “kg” or “mg”. And these are just greater or smaller weights of “g”.”
The rats seemed to nod, agreeing to the theorem, until one of them spoke out.
“But what does this “g” mean?!”
“Ah, I do believe I have an answer for that too. You see…” the scribe took out a slightly larger piece of paper, that he had folded previously and spread it out for all to see. He then began to look through it, seeking something. “Aha! Here… Look closely.” and all the rats indeed gathered a lot closer.
“It says here… “100 grams”. It might mean that this symbol, “g” also means “grams”.”
The gathering looked in awe at the revelation. It also seemed like they were on the edge of a great, marvelous discovery.
“But… how much is a gram?” finally came a question. “What does it weight?”
The scribbling rat shrugged his shoulders.
“I guess we will have to continue our search and find out.”
And so the rats of Mega Burg returned to their tireless work of trying to understand the mysterious language of the Tall-Ones. For they believed that by understanding their tongue they could replicate and imitate everything that the Tall-Ones themselves have created, thus not only matching up to them, but perhaps even surpassing them.