Pete the Rat 2
Pete the rat swam slowly and thoughtfully through the waste water, he was hungry and knew he would have to leave the safety of the sewer and take his chances with the cat in the big garden. Only two days ago it had killed his brother Kevin and eaten his hind legs, he missed Kevin and did not want to die like him, but he had to eat.
He gently pushed a floating turd aside with his nose and stealthily inched his way through a crack in the pipe until he could see daylight ahead. He had dug this tunnel a week ago and the cat hadn’t spotted it yet, but it would, it always did.
Pete lived in fear of the cat, a huge ginger tom with ferocious teeth and claws. He ruled the garden with a rod of iron and even the dog, a dopey Labrador kept out of his way.
Pete wanted to get to the compost heap on the far side of the garden where the owner often left fresh vegetables and even the occasional whole carrot.
He sniffed the air his pink nose twitching, took a hurried look left and right and dashed for the herbaceous border. From there he moved cautiously from clump to clump, pausing only to eat a delicious young worm, before carefully approaching the compost heap.
Suddenly a flash of ginger and Pete was running with the cat on his tail, he dodged and dived but the cat stayed with him along the fence through the hedge and back towards the house, where Pete realised too late that he was trapped against the wall.
The cat approached savouring the moment green eyes glistening with malevolent anticipation.
Then a door opened and the man of the house called out, “Tilly, what is going on”.
Pete took his chance, dived for the gap and ran into the house. He was in the kitchen, he ran up the cupboards onto the work surface and over the kitchen table laid for breakfast still followed by the cat scattering cups, plates and cereal. A woman screamed and the man tried to hit Pete with a rolled up newspaper but thankfully only succeeded in hitting the cat.
Pete jumped to the floor and ran just as the man’s trouser leg flared open and seizing his chance Pete dived into the gap and scrambled up the man’s leg, inside the trousers. The cat, afraid Pete would escape leapt onto the leg digging his claws in and biting where he thought Pete might be but instead he missed Pete and clawed and bit the man who was yelling and screaming. He was beating his leg with the newspaper trying to hit Pete and knock the cat away at the same time.
By now Pete was exhausted and thought it was all over, he was trapped, there could be no escape, but out of the corner of his eye he saw something fleshy swing from the man’s boxer shorts and fearing he was about to be attacked he bit it, hard. The man shrieked even louder and ran into the garden pulling frantically at his trousers try to drop them. As the trousers dropped the cat hurled himself into them, taking advantage of the distraction Pete dropped from the boxer shorts and ran. He made it across the lawn and dived into his tunnel and from there into the sewer pipe, just out of the reach of the furious cat.
The cat reached in with one paw and groped for Pete before finally giving up and stalking away.
In the calm below ground Pete floated quietly along the main sewer his heart beating furiously and thought, “Perhaps it’s time I moved to a new sewer”.
The man’s wife called the Doctor.
© John Trott
Old Tusker stood in the deepening shadows, soon it would be night, he raised his trunk sniffing the air and listened intently, he knew they would soon be back. Stumbling he recovered himself and limped forward following the trail left by the herd. He paused catching his breath and gently using his trunk to try and ease the pain where a bullet had lodged in his shoulder the last time the men with guns had found them. Since that day he had struggled to keep up with the herd but knew what he must do. The matriarch would lead them when he had gone but he had one more duty, he must protect the herd. He came to a slope and an involuntary groan rumbled from his belly as he struggled up the hillside, he must keep going. He paused and once again touched the shoulder with his trunk, he could sense the smell of death he’d carried with him for too long. The hyenas no longer feared him and only the younger elephants had saved him the indignity of having to fend them off. They knew he was not long for this world.
Then he heard it, the sound of an engine, it was the men returning and he knew they would slaughter the whole herd and remove their tusks if he couldn’t stop them. He had seen another smaller herd after the men had finished with them, seen the vultures feeding on the blooded carcases and the jackals and hyena ripping them apart. He would not allow his herd to suffer as they had.
The trail left by the herd was obvious so summoning his strength he stumbled further up the slope and found the perfect place to make his stand. He backed into a group of trees and acacia bushes and waited, the engine was louder now, and he could hear men’s voices calling to each other and laughing with the excitement of the hunt.
Trembling Old Tusker waited for the right moment, as the vehicle came into view its engine labouring up the slope, patiently he waited; the herd was depending on him.
Old Tusker blended perfectly into the shadows and waving branches broke up his outline, the men had not seen him.
Waiting until the men in the vehicle were no more than fifteen feet away he gave a shriek of pent up rage and fury and hurled himself down the slope smashing into the side of the vehicle and crushing some of the men in the back. Lodging his mighty tusks under it he threw it into the air turning it over and rolling it down the slope. He saw a man trying to crawl away and crushed him with one foot while falling forward to kneel on those still inside.
Then suddenly a shot and a burning sensation boring into his gut, then anther hitting his hip. Roaring he struggled to his feet and turning saw one man with a gun, a flash and another shot hitting his skull a glancing blow. With one more outraged scream he swiped the man with his trunk sending him smashing into a tree. Then turning he took his last few steps, men were still shouting and calling from inside the struggling to get free. In one final desperate act he fell onto the vehicle trapping and crushing those inside as slowly his life ebbed away. For now, his herd would be safe.
© John Trott