Rats : A Finny Story (Part 9 of 10)
Rats : A Finny Story (Part 9 of 10) postapocalyptic stories
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ferp2
ferp2 Old, well, old-ish.
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Annie and the rats have a Meet & Greet.

Rats : A Finny Story (Part 9 of 10)

Saying goodbye to Casper and Worms, who had 'things to do', Finny and Onetooth helped Anneka all the way down to the ground floor and then led her out to the back yard.

The orphanage didn't have the budget to spare to be able to produce a lot of waste, but what there was sat very low on the Union refuse service's list for collection. Hence the smell.

Eager to show off anything in their home that Anneka showed any interest in,

Finny and Onetooth lifted Anneka so that she could see down into the large rectangular skip of kitchen waste and assorted trash. From the window above, Silja crossed her fingers.

Kirsten would not be best pleased if she returned Anneka wearing last week's lunches. She needn't have worried.

These kids were well versed in helping each other over obstacles designed to keep them out of the places they wanted to be. Anneka was in safe, if not always clean, hands.

When her eyes started watering, Anneka asked to be let down. Back on the uneven, sun-baked ground (that turned into a quagmire when it rained), Anneka got the full tour.

The chicken pen was the visible first port of call. It would be true to say that there were prisons that were less well secure than the orphanage chicken pen.

But then, unsecured food didn't last very long. Then there was 'The Shed'. This was big kid territory and neither Finny nor Onetooth had any real idea what went on in there.

After the shed, and taking up the length of the back wall was what had once been a small playground with a swing and a climbing frame but was now a vegetable garden.

Strangely enough, the vegetable garden had no security whatsoever and yet the inmates never set foot in there.

And that brought them full circle back to the other side of the back door where a low rectangular something was covered by a well-worn piece of tarpaulin.

Onetooth was excitedly keen to show what lay beneath. Anneka bent down to grab an end and help but Finny held her back. Onetooth whipped the tarp away.

"TaDaaa!"

The sudden removal of the tarp caused instant panic in the half-dozen rats Onetooth and Finny had caught early that morning.

The rats threw themselves at the chicken-wire cage, biting the mesh, the wooden frame and each other in their desperate attempts to escape.

Anneka sought safety behind Finny's legs from where she gaped at the eruption of noise, teeth, claws and flying fur, all the while holding tightly to Finny's dress.

Finny explained to Anneka.

"See, these are rats. There's, like, gazillions of them all over the city."

Anneka slowly came out from behind Finny and edged towards the caged rodents. Onetooth was poking at them with a stick, keeping them agitated.

"Onetooth, stoppit. Let them be so Anneka can have a closer look."

Reluctantly, Onetooth sat back on his haunches and let Anneka come and squat beside him.

Finny glanced up to the first-floor window where Silja stood quietly watching the proceedings, then Finny joined Anneka and Onetooth, standing close behind Anneka 'just in case'.

'Just in case' happened pretty much immediately as Anneka reached out a finger towards the chicken wire. Finny bent down so that their heads were level.

"Don't touch, Annie. Rats bite."

Anneka's hand shot back to her lap.

"Why?"

"Why what?"

"Why do they bite?"

"Well, because... They just do. They're rats."

"I bet they wouldn't bite if you were nice to them."

Finny and Onetooth exchanged looks. Onetooth shrugged, so Finny fielded the implied question.

"You can't be nice to rats, Annie. They steal food an' bite babies an' give you germs an' wee on everything so that it smells bad."

Anneka watched the rats. Now that they weren't getting poked with a stick, they had settled down a bit. She noticed the ugly hairless tails and the almost human-like clawed 'hands'.

Their fur was patchy, and scabby where there wasn't any. Most of all, Anneka noticed the eyes, little black beads which just seemed to stare at you like the eyes of her dolls.

They were aggressive, too, launching into ferocious fights should one rat even brush against another.

Finny folded her dress under her rump and sat down next to Anneka.

"If you ever wake up with a rat in your bed, don't jump up sudden or it will bite you for sure. Best thing is just to get up slowly and try and shoo it away.

If it won't go just get your blanket and find somewhere else to sleep."

Anneka imagined there being one of the rats in her bed with her. She didn't think she would like that.

"How does they get in your bed?"

"Um, well, they come up the drains an' they dig holes in the floor or in the wall an' they come in looking for food."

Anneka looked up anxiously.

"Do they live in my house?"

Finny didn't want to scare the little girl by telling her that rats lived absolutely everywhere.

"Probably not in your house. Cos Joe, I mean your Poppa, pays to have poison an' traps an' stuff, an' to fill in all the holes so they don't get in."

Anneka looked suitably relieved. Bored by the lack of fun being had, Onetooth climbed to his feet.

"Can we kill 'em now Finn?" He was already reaching for the cage door.

Finny doubted it would be a good idea for Anneka to see even rats having their necks wrung. A glance up at the window where Silja was emphatically shaking her head confirmed it.

She stood up, taking Anneka's hand as she did so.

"Come on, Annie. Let's us go an' see if we can get some juice or something."

Finny shepherded Anneka through the door back into the building.

By the time the door swung shut behind them, Onetooth had happily broken the neck of the first rat, tossed its corpse into the trash and was reaching for the next.

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