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The Trap – Piece 4

February 18, 2011

There were plenty chances to see humans along the rat trails. Often the paths crossed areas where shafts of light and tight corridors connected areas filled with humans. Neesum had little idea what the humans did in these places. But in one place it was all too certain. They feasted. Roasting vegetables, stewing meats, myriad tempting scents wafted along the floors of the wide open area and filled the rat thoroughfares. It always tempted the rats, but it was always unavailable. While the scents were around there were too many humans. And when the humans went away, so too did the smells. So the rats eventually left the place alone and instead targeted the scraps left outside. Neesum, though, wanted to change this.

There was the large hall where all the people sat down on tables and ate their meals, but the strongest scents came from the kitchen adjacent to this. The route was easy and mostly in darkness. He went to it, at first winding away from the main hall in the ducts, spaces, and pipes underneath the buildings. Soon the concrete became damp and a layer of brown, metallic dirt lay on top of it from decades of rusting pipes and supports. These pipes were perfect for travel and led the way to the kitchen. A multitude of cracks had been worn through them over the years and most were just the right size for the rats. Even over the sharp, moist smells beneath the buildings, the heavy scent of cooking food found their way down here and without previously being here, a rat could be led along by his nose alone.

A crack in the pipe he was running through entered onto a corridor between the large hall and the place where the food was cooked. The humans passed the food from the kitchen across this corridor, and occasionally people waited in or walked through it. The jagged crack allowed one rat at a time to squeeze through. If any human were there it would be easy enough to be caught or trodden on. Neesum checked, heard nothing, and squirmed out into the space. Without delay he ran to the left and in a few meters bounced into the safety of a one foot drain pipe that connected this corridor to the kitchen.

Now the clatter of the kitchens was right next to him. Black shoes shifted back and forth, music crackled loudly on a radio, and the humans spoke their language. None of the words besides “meat” and “rubbish” could he make out.

The rats had made it this far at night, but had found out that the food was unreachable to them. The effort and risk of getting here did not justify the rewards. Neesum knew where the food was. It was in the many “pantries.”

Neesum poked his nose out of the pipe and into the kitchen. Either side of the pipe were two of these wooden pantries. The pipe, however, was not hidden. A space was left between the pantries so that the kitchen staff could mop water straight into the drain. It would take no more than a second for Neesum to get from the drain and under one of the cabinets. But, now was not the time, not while the humans were about. Taking care, he returned the way he came and back to the den.

That night, while the rats went about their nocturnal activities, Neesum set about on his own errand. He returned to the kitchen, now nice and dark and empty and set about chewing a rat sized hole in the bottom of each of the pantries. It was not a job for one night, but he returned diligently each night to the kitchens, working little by little at each of the five pantries.

In the daytime he committed himself to the pack. To the other rats, their minds beneath such things as suspicion, life was perfect. The big brown screwed away, and so did the other males when they had the chance. They played and they ate and they screwed. The cycle continued until Neesum managed to gnaw through all of the pantries.

The next step of his plan then went into effect. Each night he went back to these pantries, crawled up inside them, and explored the foods. Some had grains and seeds. Others had bread, sweet things, salty meats, and a plethora of odds and ends. A rat buffet if there ever was one. It was hard, but Neesum would not eat anything. He would run around all the foods, lather all their sublime scents upon himself, and then return to the den.

The effect was immediate on the other rats. Their noses, a rat’s major sensory organ, ran over Neesum like little hoovers. The new smells, dozens of them, made them not only curious, but hungry.

Every night Neesum did the same thing; make sure he was alone and not followed, return to the kitchen, and douse himself in the smells of the luxury foods. Soon, it was not only curiosity and hunger the other rats felt, but something akin to jealousy. After around two weeks of these new scents, the rats started to take their frustration out on Neesum. If they were hungry and Neesum wafted the smell of honey and peanut butter around them, they were apt to show their consternation with violence. And still, this reaction was not enough for Neesum. He needed to make sure they would follow him. He had to be certain their greed and jealously would make them follow him past any of their fears.

He started to bring little bits, just tiny savoury morsels back from his secret place and leave them in the den when no other rat was around. Every-rat got a taste and in this way Neesum goaded them. Proving to them that it was just not smells, but actual food. It fired their lust. They persisted in trying to follow Neesum. But Neesum, his plan still fomenting, led them astray. At night he led them in different directions. Sometimes up among the stacks of old, musty books. Then along the wide empty corridors. In places the humans were or had recently been. This behaviour might baffle them, but the other rats, even the big brown, got used to following him, just for the chance of reaching the mother-load.

This reaction is what he needed. Just as he was trained, he was training the rats as well. When the time came, they would need to follow him when it counted. All he had to do was keep the myth alive by returning to the cabinets while they slept and bring proof to them. His plan was coming to completion and all he had to do was wait for the right time to execute the final stage. He did not have to wait long at all.

 

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