In Search of Better Stories

Rats and Men

The table is chewed through
The walls no more
Rat shit abounds. The stench is oppressive.
As I peer through the massive gaps in what’s left of the wall, I see happy rats of all shapes and sizes.
This room is home to them.
A portal to great exploits building-wide.
The gently sloping mound of food in the corner reminds them that love is here.
The gnawing instinct is strong.
The heat register was the first to go. Yanked from the wall and tossed out the window.
Their sense of smell is strong too.
The vermin are greedy
The mound of food is not enough
They try to chew into the fridge
They penetrate far. Over time these thieves will crack the safe that hides more abundance.
But then the scent grows cold.
The fridge dies — wires chewed through.
Victory! The rotting sustenance joins the pile in the corner.
One day the slave human fails to replenish the food.
No worries food is food, whether living or not.
The human is slumped over.
He is not moving.
But his toes stick out like little baby potatoes from a freshly upturned garden.
Yum Yum.

We dominate. We rule. We multiply.
The cabinet in the bathroom is ours.
Particleboard, vinyl, plastic, and glue disassembled by the never-ceasing movement of our teeth.
Repurposed for nesting.
The mattress, the clothes, the bedding, the chair — It’s all ours!
We have total dominion. Nothing opposes us.
If the pitiful human fails to provide, we snack on him until he does. We’ve trained him well.

One day another human arrives at the door. His black hat, black mask and hairy face fill us with unease. He is agitated, upset. Something is wrong.
We grab some more food from the pile and slowly make our way into the walls.
This man seems upset with our human slave.
He seems not to like us.
Now he holds by the tail one of us.
Not moving, not breathing.
Will he put the carcass on the food pile?
We wouldn’t mind.
No! The victim is unceremoniously shoved into a black garbage bag, never more to be seen.
Somehow we sense that times might be changing.
Who is this monster?
The next day we get another glimpse of the dark future that looms before us.
Just outside our window, we hear a bark, a scream, a flurry of activity.
And then a sickening crunch.
A black shoe descends with determined force hard upon the skull of one of our matriarchs.
As we look up, we see that it’s connected to him.
The monster with the black hat, black mask, and hair on his face. — His eyes are gleaming.
He has an unnerving single-mindedness about him that pierces us and fills us with terror.
We scatter into the walls.
We are undone.
Our paradise is lost.

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