Thursday, May 17, 2012

Day Two Hundred-Nine: The Grim Hand of Mystery

I… should not have waited. To see the rats again. I should have gone back last night.

This appears to be a common trend for me, diary. Somebody insists I do something NOW, but I decide, instead, to do it later. How much can go wrong in one night, after all? Really? Not that much, says I.

Yeah. I was wrong. Lesson learned. I'll try not to procrastinate anymore. No doubt that promise'll be shot to hell the next time I'm feeling lazy, but at least the sentiment's there. Y'know?

Kierkegaard seemed kinda wary of me today while we were hunting. He kept asking me little questions about what I do after work. He'd jab my neck with his spurs whenever I failed to give him a good answer, and since he didn't learn anything, that was a lotta jabs. I'm feeling a bit weak from blood loss. Nothing new in my life, that.

The damned penguin let me go after only five hours of hunting. We'd had almost no luck catching any rats, leaving Kierkegaard in a bad mood. He invented a few new swear words based on my name - Twatomir was my favourite - then shambled off to the Beefiary to get some food. As soon as he left, I rushed home and grabbed you, diary, intent on taking you right to the rats.


Maybe rush is a strong word.

I might have gotten some food for myself.

And a drink.

And I mighta stopped for a nap in one of the rain barrels on the eastern wall. It's been really warm lately, and the rainwater's been warming with the weather. I strip down, climb into the barrel, and snooze for a bit. Works wonders for the skin. You should try it some time.

Or maybe not. That would be bad for all your pages. Sometimes I forget you're just a diary.

EVENTUALLY I managed to drag myself back to my house. Libby was already home, playing with Barrel in the living room, so I guess… they're… acquainted, now? The things that go on behind my back. She'd built him a wooden framework for practicing his precision flying, 'cause he's still not that great. Gotta wonder what happened to 'im to muck up his flying so much… he looks more than old enough when he's big to be able to fly anywhere he likes, no problem.

As soon as I walked in the house, Barrel zipped past me and out the door. Turned into a dragonfly right away. I scooted in, grabbed you, diary, gave Libby a peck on the cheek, received a quick swear word in return, and fled. My darling wife didn't ask for an explanation, and I wasn't forthcoming with one. I love our relationship.

Run run run, sneak sneak sneak, spelunk spelunk spelunk, I'm back in the underground world of the rats. Barrel seemed to lead me down different paths this time, so I'm not sure if I could find my way back out of the depths without him. It's like the tunnels change each time, or… something.

Hrm. Hadn't thought about that before. What a disturbing concept.

The rats were the same as yesterday, all lined up outside their buildings and watching me. This time, though, I noticed that they were all… cringing, I suppose. Very low to the ground, and not moving too much. If they had less fur, I mighta called them pale. I guess they were like that yesterday, as well, though I was too overwhelmed by the circumstances to notice.

Once I'd been surrounded by rats and their little leader came out to confront me, I set you down, diary, and let the rat go at you with its self-writing messages. I've ripped out the parchment and set it here, so everything's in the right order. Here's our conversation:


You should have come back last night. Many of us have been killed overnight. We are much weaker, and have little time left. We must leave soon, or our collective will be destroyed for good. We cannot let that happen, as we're the only ones with full knowledge of what's happening here.'

I tugged on my hair in frustration. I'd heard this kinda nonsense before. "Okay, fine, then tell me what you wanted me to know. I'm here. 'n skip that destiny nonsense."

'We can't. Through the mistakes of your birth, you were fated to aid us in driving back the darkness. Though you have also done much to aid its course.'

I imagine my expression at THAT was not pretty. I jabbed a finger at the rat. "What?! Bugger you, the lot of you! I've done everything you asked in a more or less kinda timely fashion! You owe me!"

Every rat in the place sighed. It was a weird sound.

'There is no time for squabbling. We lack the energy to continue like this. We have been repressed for months, and the power arrayed against us grows as we get weaker… and as the hole gets deeper.'

The hole. Down to the meat of the conversation. "That's just a mining hole. Jeffrey's a war-mongerin' sod, is all. What's it have to do with you lot? How's a stupid hole supposed to, like, repress a civilization of intelligent rats? And do you have any idea how silly saying that made me sound?"

The lead rat rolled his eyes. Never seen vermin do that before.

'You cannot still think it is a normal hole. It forces obedience. It… it is…'

The writing stopped. Every rat shuddered, their tiny coats shaking gently. The motion reminded me of a breeze across the plains, tickling the grass - though the rats didn't look to be enjoying the touch of a spring wind at all. They were in pain.

I lightly poked the lead rat. "What? What's the matter? Hey, y'all aren't gonna die on me or somethin', are ya? That'd make my job much simpler, 'n probably get me a promotion, but…"

The lead rat pushed my finger away with its nose. The rat composed itself, rubbing its head, then pointed back to you, diary.

'There are things we can say and things we cannot. The one that feeds on the hole's influence limits what we may reveal to you. It… he… he has been… guiding everything…"

The rats shuddered again. The lead rat collapsed backward, squealing and writhing in the dirt. The writing didn't stop, but each letter turned jagged and uneven, etched into existence with painful slowness.

'He… will move soon… and his woman… will… be the first… stroke… you… must… le… the makers didn't… they didn't want this… to… the door…'

That was it. The writing stopped. The rats collectively sighed again, all flopped onto their bellies or overturned on their backs, breathing hard as one. The lead rat, I saw, was twitching painfully on the ground… and when I poked it, it didn't get up.

A few minutes later, several of its fellows dug a shallow grave for it and held a small, quiet funeral. They did the same for at least two-dozen other rats.

Poor little guys. Hope the one that came with me to Goblinoster wasn't included in that lot.

The rats are super-sluggish, and they haven't moved much beyond grave digging. They all look really weak. Barrel hasn't made any sort of move to take me outta here, though, so I suspect they've still got more to say… they just can't say it yet. Once they do I'm sure they'll pick some new lead rat to write in you. So I guess I'm staying here for the night.

I don't understand what's going on, diary. Who's keeping the rats from talking? And why? And what does this all have to do with that bloody hole?

I said it last week and I'll say it again: Why do I get the feeling that this will turn out to be a very bad thing for all of us?


Dragomir the Rat… Something


  1. Nooo, not Boss Rat!

    Boss Rat was awesome. He was a rat, but he was also a boss! But not a Rat Boss. That just sounds like a boss who's kind of a douche. Definitely Boss Rat.

    Rest in Peace, Boss Rat.

  2. Perhaps the real cunning mastermind of the entire thing was the one who we least expected: Princess Celine, for not ever paying attention to her after her dance recital and so she just continued to plot and scheme. She's the one who invited Kierkegaard to the castle to entertain, and Grylock to be the ambassador. SHE is the true puppet master! She is the one killing the rats and controlling Driscol. And all because she hated everyone for despising her performance and was so disgusted by the fact you left her to be just a simple plot device. So now she's back with a vengeance, Die Hard style...

    1. HA HA! Somebody actually remembered Celine! That's awesome. And also a partial thumbs-down, as she's set to appear in two weeks. Maaaan, I thought I was gonna slip her existence past everyone until then. BOO to your attention to details!

      As for her being evil mastermind, no comment.

    2. HA! You may have well just showed me the the placement of your battleships...consider yourself sunken, my friend.

  3. By the way, decided to drop the "Anonymous" monicker...