This is a short story about a Rat named Stanley Mumbrat. He is a very shy rat who ends up meeting a fate not shared by many rats.
A Rat's Tale
Stanley Mumbrat lived a life not too differently from that of many other rats. Always searching for food and being an otherwise oblivious pest. Not to say anyone thinks of themselves as pests, but many have this opinion of rats, and Stanley knew this. Stanley didn't like the thought of being hated because of something he could not help, but that is just the way it goes.
Stanley peered around the corner of the grey cubicle. Fearing his life was going to be an ongoing game of hide and seek, where one wrong move could mean life or death, Stanley edged forward very cautiously...NOW... Stanley took off for the shaded area beside the potted plant next to the doorway of the office kitchen. Stopping as soon as he was covered by the shade. A woman walked toward the kitchen, but in her haste she managed to miss Stanley's dart.
Stanley could hear voices coming from the kitchen, although he could not make out what they were saying, and even if he could, he was a rat and didn't understand English. All Stanley knew was that at night, after he would sneak into the kitchen from his home behind the refrigerator, he could find food crumbs, and at times, cheese!
The kind Stanley dreams of
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"Ewwweee gross!" Heather exclaimed as Molly walked into the kitchen.
"What is it?"
"Looks to me to be mouse droppings, or something like that. We better call the exterminator. Rats in the Sandy Springs Quick Care Clinic is not acceptable!" Heather gave Molly an eye to signify it was her job to call.
"Okay, Heather, I'll get out the phone book after lunch and call."
"Phone book? Honey, that thing has to be five years old at least. Better use the Google."
"Google? I hate computers."
"Molly, there's nothing to it. Just go to Google dot com and type in something like Sandy Springs Pest Control and you will get hundreds of choices to choose from. How the hell you are so computer illiterate this day and age is beyond me." Molly rolled her eyes at that and walked out of the kitchen to go back to her desk.
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Molly passed Stanley as she returned to her post in the office. Stanley felt a little bit of fear as she passed, hoping she could not see him positioned behind the plant. Life, until this point, had been nothing but one sad story after the next. Stanley's mother had been attacked by an alley cat months ago when he was just a child. She had entered the alley to find food to feed Stanley and his two brothers and sister. After her fatal attempt to find food, Alex became the head of the family. Stanley remembered being quite upset about this. It was always Stanley's belief that Alex was the dumbest of his siblings.
Although Alex was a little dumb, he took to providing for the family fairly well, at least until he brought home some kind of pellet that killed him and all of his siblings except for Stanley. Being the youngest of the four rats, Stanley would get bullied from time to time. This was the case the night Stanley witnessed an illness sweeping over his brothers like the plague. Jumping back and forth between the two brothers until he noticed his sister Julia collapsing on the ground. Soon after, each of his brothers fell to the ground as well. All of this was enough to confuse Stanley, but instead of calling an investigator, he just chalked it up to something they must have ate. On this one occasion he thanked his siblings for not sharing and he moved on to find a new place to stay.
Five months prior to Heather's reaction in the kitchen, Stanley found a small passageway that led him into the office where he lives. It was a stroke of luck, the wind blew a patch of leaves off the ground just as he had been walking by. If not for this, he would never have noticed the hole in the wall outside behind the dumpster.
Nighttime was Stanley's favorite. Everyone would go home and leave the place all to Stanley. Well, almost everyone, there was the nighttime janitor that came by a couple of nights throughout the week. His name was Monty. Monty never bothered Stanley. In fact, sometimes Stanley could just about swear that Monty left him food lying around. Sometimes it would be peanut butter, of course cheese was a favorite, and then sometimes chocolate would somehow find its way onto the floor near the refrigerator after everyone had already gone home.
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Monty first opened his Atlanta janitorial service company over twenty years ago. For the first ten years business was booming. Then the economy slipped and many of his clients went out of business. To add insult to injury the world wide web became the number one way for people to find new business for hire. Without a Website for his company, Monty's business slipped even further down to just a few clients, therefore Monty was forced to fire a lot of his employees.
Being all alone might have been why Monty felt a little sympathy for the rat he had seen weeks prior scurrying down the hallway. A loner against the odds, Monty felt a slight connection, however crazy that might sound.
"Now that's new," Monty thought to himself as a truck with bright headlights pulled up outside. Monty could just barely make out what the side of the truck read thanks to the lights outside the building: "24 hour pest control.".Those were all the words Monty needed to see.
Monty finished emptying the wastebasket before going to his utility van. Monty had been wrestling with an idea for some time, but if he were to implement it now would be the time.
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David got out of his truck, grabbed his gear and headed for the entrance of the clinic. After 12 long years in the business he pretty much felt like he had seen just about all there was to see. The service call came rather early in the day, but he was not able to get to it until nighttime. Some places like schools or hospitals are regualted and nighttime or early morning service is best. This way the risk of poisoning something other than bugs, rats, or termites is limited.
The call was for both general pest control service and rodent control. The caller said they found rat droppings in the kitchen. David decided it would be best to spray the place for general pests like ants and roaches, then he would tackle the kitchen.
David started in the waiting room, making his way slowly back to the kitchen. When he got to the edge of one of the offices he paused. He couldn't believe what he saw, a little rat looking mesmerized by something.
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Stanley walked around the office. He sure loved the nighttime, mainly because he was free to do as he pleased. He managed to limbo underneath a door that led to Heather's office. She usually had the most crumbs left around her desk, and luckily for Stanley she mostly ate things he liked.
After Stanley was done eating he felt full. Almost too full, so he decided to play around, see what he could get into, maybe lose a little weight in the process. He went back into the hallway and scurried off in search of something to do.
Stanley found his way into the waiting room, He quickly managed to climb his way onto one of the chairs finding his way to the top of the chair's back. He felt really tall, looking out over the clinic. He jumped from one back to the next, careful not to fall. As he came to the end of the row he noticed a ledge not too far from the last chair. "Can I make this leap?" Stanley thought to himself. He quickly increased his speed trying really hard not to slip, as he approached the end of the row he jumped.
As he was soaring through the air Stanley could not recall a more fun time in his life. As he landed on the table top he thought to himself that he should really do that again, but the front door opened. Stanley quickly hurried back into the hallway.
"Who could that be?" he thought. As far as he could tell Monty hadn't left, which meant that had to be someone else. But who? He wanted to go and find out, but one of the things his mother taught him was to never let his curiosity get the best of him.
"We aren't cats." she use to say, "We're rats, and we must always be careful because far too many things want to kill us."
Stanley was kind of dumbfounded, but managed to get to a corner of the nurse's station. Out of sight he thought maybe whoever it was would not spot him. Stanley stood as still and quiet as he could, until he heard a noise. One that made him curious, so much so that he wanted to investigate. Ignoring his mother's warning, Stanley crept up to the corner of the hallway and the nurse's station. That's when Stanley saw what looked to be another rat. In actuality it was Stanley's reflection from the exterminators tin can, but what did Stanley know about reflections?
David turned around to enter the nurse's station, and that's when he spotted Stanley. "I'm going to get you!" he growled. His instinct at first was to spray the poison in the direction of Stanley, but he knew that the kind of poison he was spraying around was not meant for rats, in addition to this his loud growl snapped Stanley out of his trance.
Stanley took off down the long corridor towards the kitchen. If he could make it to the small hole behind the refrigerator he would be okay, but first he had to get away from this mad man on his tail. He decided he would hide behind the plant that had worked so well before.
David kept his eye on the rat, trying to figure out where it was heading. He wished he had the proper tools handy for rodents, but he knew he would have to go to his truck first. The rat darted off towards the kitchen, he knew that he may not catch him today, but the bait he was going to put out would still be there when he left.
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Stanley stood in the sanction provided by the potted plant. Things seemed to have died down, but Stanley was still a little wary about moving onto the kitchen. Yet, if he didn't do so then maybe he would not gain another chance.
Walking real slowly, Stanley made his way behind the refrigerator. Soon after, the lights came on in the kitchen.
"Where ever you might be, I'm going to find you," David said as he came back into the kitchen. He had rat bait ready to disperse in many different places throughout the clinic. "Whether I find you now or later it doesn't matter, you're going to die!"
Stanley looked up at the strange man from the side of the refrigerator, he could see him bending down by the cupboards. He was putting something in them. The stranger turned around and headed toward Stanley. Running behind the refrigerator Stanley started to run into the hole that would take him out to the dumpster, but then he smelled something heavenly.
Stopping in his tracks, Stanley turned around, overcome with a hunger he could not believe. All good sense escaped Stanley as he edged closer to the smell. "What on earth could this be?" he thought to himself. "I haven't seen anything like that sense Alex brought home..."
Stanley stopped himself before he took a bite into that precious smelling thing. With a wave of panic he turned around and headed right for the hole behind the refrigerator. SLAM! Stanley heard a door slam. Looking all around for a way out, fear coursed through Stanley like he had never felt. To make matters worse, something started lifting Stanley and whatever he was in.
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Monty was finishing a cigarette outside by the dumpster. He first noticed the rat size hole outside the clinic when taking out the trash. He recalled thinking to himself at the time that that must have been how the rat got into the building.
It seemed that Monty's plan had worked, at least something was in his trap. He threw his butt to the ground and picked up the mousetrap he had placed in front of the hole. Suspecting that if the exterminator intimitated the poor rat enough, then maybe he would try to flee the way he had first entered the building.
"It's okay little guy," Monty spoke to his new rat. He told the exterminator when he was outside getting his rat bait and other supplies that he was done for the night, he had shown David exactly how to lock up. Which meant all Monty had to do was take his new pet home and get to know him. "What shall we call you?" Monty thought to himself, "How about Stanley? Stanley Mumbrat?" Monty smiled to himself at what he thought was a clever name. "I bet you are hungry." He lifted the lid to the mousetrap just enough to drop some peanut butter into the box for Stanley to eat.
Stanley had no idea what was happening, but his nerves had calmed a little bit because he heard Monty's voice. The lid to whatever it was that he was in opened slightly. Something fell into the box, and boy did it smell good. Stanley smiled to himself, that buttery goodness was one of his favorite things to eat. He happily ate his food as the truck pulled forward, further and further from the clinic.