She scampered quickly across the shiny linoleum, hid beneath the cupboard and waited, breath bated, silently for the crumbs to fall. This may not be her night. Most nights were not her night, but she had faith: it had to be her night soon. The food always smelled so good, so very, very good. She tended to eat the leftovers in the trash but this was getting difficult: she wanted it fresh, as fresh as she could get.
He was normally so ridiculously clean and neat and altogether immaculate with his food preparation that there was nothing left over. If anything fell he swept immediately so as to deter any vermin from entering. He hummed while he cooked, a tune he composed when alone one night watching a documentary on the evils of hunting. The tune was upbeat, jovial and seemed to hint at mass murder committed against those hunting for sport. She was happy with this; if he felt that way about animals then she should be safe from his wrath. It was no excuse for being careless though. She needed to keep calm, collected, and move only at the right time.
He was cooking vegetables tonight, some sort of Mediterranean medley marrying marinades mainly, much more mycelia meeting medium mass marrow than any real recipe structure. Luckily, she loved marrow and mushrooms as do most Muridae, but not as much as she loved tea. Oh, tea. The dangerously addictive, sensual, hypnotic Indian leaf. Brewed or chewed she didn’t mind. You see Tara, a rat, didn’t care too much how the food was prepared or how her tea was made. She loved to eat. And drink tea. Or eat tea.
He hummed harmoniously, happier, healthily, hankering for days when hunting would be outlawed. It was when he reached a particularly notorious octave that it happened. The doorbell rang. He was so surprised he jumped, only a little, but jump he did and jump just enough to cause his freshly plated meal o’ Mediterranean medley mess to shift perspective and allow gravity to take hold and drag it floorwards. A look of horror swept across his face and he reached to catch his plummeting shiitakes as they tumbled down, ever vertical to greet the luscious linoleum. This action, so undignified yet in keeping with the nature and character of this actor/writer/director/activist, resulted in a back leg extended for balance flicking out and kicking over a jar of freshly purchased Indian leaf. The shatter of glass and crumple of body simultaneously against the floor caused Tara, a rat, to take cover lest she be struck by sharp shards of pointy glass or remnants of crockery shrapnel. By changing her hiding place to beneath the chair she avoided his gaze and thus remained anonymous for longer, hidden by a surreptitious lack of detection.
The man, jolly in his stature albeit healthier than in years previous climbed to his feet, muttering and cursing all the while. Bellowing expletives at all and everyone and no one because he lived alone apart from his cat, he made his way through his expansive, expensive and undoubtedly well-earned palace towards the front door, leaving a trail of blue atmosphere in his wake.
Being a rat, Tara seized her moment. She dashed out from beneath the chair and began stuffing her fluffy little cheeks with vegetables and intoxicating tea leaves aplenty. It tasted so good, so otherworldly delicious that she soon forgot herself, lost in an obsessive orgy of opulent oral fixation until she could barely lift her head. Luckily for our heroic rodent friend the man was extremely handsome and desirable and was currently being accosted by his legion of female followers who had tracked down his address by hacking his internet provider and traced his microblogging social media site rendering him temporarily unable to clean his kitchen mess. The ladies were saying things like:
“Oh Mr. Gervais please take me upstairs and show me that Christmas dance.”
“Oh Mr. Gervais I am so please that your hair isn’t really a wig.”
“Oh Mr. Gervais can I go upstairs and use your bathroom please?”
“Oh Mr. Gervais do you keep Karl in a jar, or is he in your cupboard?”
“Oh Ricky, you’re so fine, you’re so fine you blow my mind, hey Ricky! Hey Ricky!”
Tara, a rat, could not understand why any of them wanted to go upstairs with him. She had seen him upstairs in two rooms; in one he made very bad smells when awake and in another he made very loud angry noises when asleep. Rather than guessing the motivations for human idiosyncrasies she began to massage her stomach in order to faster digest the food therein. Escape would be possible if these women could hold him off for just a few hours more, just a few, just a…
Alas! The homeowner, Mr. Gervais himself with his lady entourage came bumbling through the kitchen door, crashing the mahogany door against the wall. A shriek, a scream, another shriek, an expletive: the ladies of questionable intent saw Tara, a rat, on the floor resting upon her back, legs akimbo digesting a relatively small amount of Mediterranean medley and Indian leaf.
Before Tara, a rat, could react Mr. Ricky Gervais had begun to sing:
“There’s a rat in ma kitchen what am I gonna do?”
This did not amuse the musophobic not-men-but-women, and they promptly exited the premises whilst screaming inanely and waving their arms wildly above their heads as they fled somewhere over the horizon in mini-skirts and high heels to drown their sorrows with bottle after bottle of Italian sparkling wine and irritate the bar staff by leaving their sticky lipstick all over the rim of the glass.
Now Mr. Gervais could finish his song, and in fact he had not missed a beat, quite unperturbed by the manner in which the women fled his abode. Tara, a rat, could only see Mr. Gervais upside down on account of her positioning on his luscious and shiny linoleum. He was wielding an oblong object and was bringing it down with some force towards her until it covered her and blackness was the only thing she knew.
The next time she saw light she saw bars also, and a plastic wheel positioned upright. She was laying in a sawdust covered tray beneath a ramp leading to a level above. Mr. Gervais was staring back at her lovingly from the other side of the bars.
“Oh my pretty thing. I hope those ghastly ladies did not disturb you! If you choose, you may remain here. You may have all the Mediterranean medley and Indian leaf you desire. It is not safe for you alone. I have always wished for a pet. Karl loves rats” He cooed. At that moment, Karl popped his head from the cupboard and confirmed with affirmation the statement Mr. Gervais made about Karl’s preference for rats.
Tara, a rat, did not know how to argue or gather any real form of cognition and as such she lived out her days well fed and happy until she died of starvation five days after Mr. Gervais and Karl died of old age, because she was a magic rat that never grew old but needed to eat to stay alive.
© Kris Blackburn 15/07/2015