It has been awhile since I published a post, but it seems like I have been gaining followers on a regular basis recently, so if you are one of those people, thank you!
I’ve been rather indecisive about what to publish next, and I have decided to share a work of flash fiction that I wrote for a writing club I am in. We were all given the same first line as a prompt: “They say that in the city you’re never more than six feet away from a rat.”
I haven’t yet shared it with my club, so this is my original first draft, albeit edited by myself. Enjoy!
BLAME THE RATS
They say that in the city you’re never more than six feet away from a rat.
They say that for every human, there are one hundred filthy rats scampering throughout the city. They say that there are thousands of carcasses lost underground, surrounded by concrete and decomposing so slowly that their rotting flesh is polluting the very water the humans drink. The living rats infest the sewers, condemned buildings, alleyways, apartment walls, warehouses, basements, restaurant kitchens, everywhere. They say that rats are the reason sickness sweeps through the cities. They are flea-ridden creatures that have no purpose on this earth except to carry diseases; they are the harbingers of death. Children are taught to fear the rodents, and exterminators are called within minutes of a rat being spotted in an inhabited building.
But “they” say a lot of things and don’t say even more. They will never admit that it is their over-population that has contributed to the increased number of rats. Because where there are humans, there rats will always be. They created the intricate network of pipes and tunnels that rats so desire. They will never say that it is their lifestyle and unclean habits that lead to more and more diseases which then require research to tame the contagions. Their own actions and fear of what they have created has lead to their hatred of rats and the propaganda they blast within their city limits.
On a large poster is a photograph of a hospital room filled with ailing children, and “BLAME THE RATS” is printed in bold, red letters.
“Rats > Humans. NO MORE!” is scrawled in graffiti on walls and trains.
A mother and father stand above a child-sized coffin. A young woman is covered in boils. A dying dog bleeds from a large wound and a mangy rat sits on its haunches, blood dripping from its bared teeth. “Kill the rats before they kill YOU” is written on all of them.
People have been brainwashed to believe that rats are the reason cities are unclean. Rats must pay the price; as carriers of viruses and bacteria, they shall become the test subjects for cures.
No human fights for the life of a lab rat anymore. And humans will never admit that their survival and dominance over the world is because of the many rats that have died in their laboratories.
But we know what humans are; we understand their true and vile nature. They will murder us on sight. They infest the parks, the streets, the buildings, the skies, and the subways. They pollute the air with their smokestacks and car exhaust, pushing us deeper and deeper underground. But even that is not safe from the chemicals that leak from their waste. They threaten our very existence. From the day we are first nursed, our tiny bodies huddled against our tired mother in a cold, dark, and damp home beneath a city square, we are warned that we must learn to protect ourselves. Death is an everyday threat, because here in the city, you’re never more than six feet away from a human.