Rats. I’ve always hated rats. They are disgusting.
Imagine how I reacted when I found one of them in my kitchen.
At first, I was shocked, then disgusted and finally angry. A couple of minutes later I threw the dead rat in a trash bag and got rid of it.
After that, I spent almost another hour in the kitchen to find out where the damned thing had come from. There was nothing, no holes or entrances. I hadn’t the slightest idea.
Now I know, rats aren’t too uncommon, but I live in one of the nicest areas of town. There shouldn’t be any vermin here at all.
I felt a bit awkward when I stood in front of my neighbor’s apartment the next day. I explained to him what had happened, but he reassured me that he’d never had any rat problems. In a condescending tone he told me that it might be a good idea to call the housing company.
Back in my apartment I sighed. I was about to dial the number, but then I put the phone back down. I wasn’t in the mood for all that trouble. I convinced myself that it must have been a onetime thing and that the rat most likely snuck in via a window.
Two days later I woke up in the middle of the night by a noise. It sounded like a low rumbling. Was it coming from the pipes?
Soon enough though I saw something move.
In my shock I slapped the switch of the night lamp. I saw something big and hairy to scuttle away and vanish under my bed.
I cursed, knowing that it must be another rat.
I proved to be only half right, this time it turned out to be two of them. Again, I had no idea where they’d come from. After I’d caught them I made my way to the kitchen to get another trash bag. The moment I hit the light switch, I saw more of them rush away. I screamed up as they vanished behind the kitchen cupboards and rushed out past me into the hallway. There must be at least a dozen of them.
I dialed the number of the housing company, but an automated message informed me that I could only reach them during business hours. Freaking hell, I cursed, it was barely three. I’d have to wait forever before anyone would answer.
For an hour I tried to hunt down the rats, but it was futile. They were way too fast for me to catch them. Exhausted and angry I retreated to the living room. For whatever reason none of them were there.
I tried to fall asleep on the couch, but hearing the rats scurry around outside made it impossible. I feared that they’d find some secret way inside and so I ended up laying there half-awake for hours.
In the morning I informed work that I’d be in late today due to some issues at my apartment. After that, I called the housing company. I’d to wait in line for almost twenty minutes until I was greeted by a friendly female voice.
I explained my problem and could hear an audible sigh before she asked for my address. After holding the line for another minute or two, she informed me that someone would be at my place within the hour.
I was surprised when the doorbell rang only minutes later. I left the safety of the living room behind and almost ran to the front door. Things were so much worse than I’d thought. The rats were everywhere.
A tired looking man from the housing company and two exterminators greeted me. Well, at least they are taking things serious, I thought.
The man from the housing company lost no time. He asked me when I’d first noticed the rats and how many I thought there were. While I told him, the two exterminators made their way inside.
I found out that I wasn’t the only one with a rat problem. That’s why they’d been here so quickly. They’d been in an apartment below me. Altogether four people from this building had called about rats and there’d been more complaints all over the city. The whole thing had been going on for days.
When I asked him if he knew where all those rats came from, he told me he’d no clue. He thought they might have come in via the ventilation system or the pipes, but his guess was as good as mine.
He told me that getting rid of the rats and finding out where they’d come from might take the whole day or even longer. It might be best to let them do their job and check back on things later. They’d inform me via email as soon as things were done.
I nodded. Sure, I was quite annoyed, but I couldn’t blame the guy. He was just doing his job and I could tell he was sick of it already.
I went back inside, put on some decent clothes and made my way to work.
When work ended, I still hadn’t gotten an email.
The moment the tram arrived at my station I knew that something was wrong. Even from where I was I heard the noise. Police cars lined the streets and I could see an ambulance as well.
What the hell was going on, I wondered as I hastened to the building.
Once I was close enough, I saw that the whole building was blocked off by the police. Countless people were gathered outside.
I went straight for one of the police officers and asked him what was going on. He told me that the building had to be evacuated due to suspicion of a rat epidemic. When I asked about the ambulance, he said he couldn’t give me any information.
No one else could give me a definite answer either. That was until I noticed a commotion near an older lady. People gathered around her and asked her what she’d seen.
She said she lived on the ground floor and was one of the first to be informed about the evacuation. When she was led outside, she saw that the paramedics made their way into one of the apartments nearby. When she stopped the police pushed her on, but she was able to peek inside for a moment.
“There was blood everywhere, it looked like one of those horrible crime scenes. I am sure it must have been those damned rats!”
I shuddered and walked back to the police to ask how long the building would remain blocked off like this. The officer told me it was an indefinite period of time and it’d be best to find another place to stay.
I ended up staying at a friend’s for the next couple of nights.
There wasn’t much on the internet about the whole incident. What I discovered was that five apartment buildings had been evacuated altogether.
All that because of rats? Where the hell were they even coming from? Had they really attacked people?
It was a week before I got a notice that us residents were allowed back into our buildings. The email explained in detail what had happened.
The rats had been breeding unnoticed in the old sewer tunnels. These tunnels were located not only below mine but many other buildings in town.
For reasons yet unknown, the rats had started to dig their way up from below. That way they’d created countless tunnels that led not only to the surface but all the way up through the walls of the buildings.
As I kept reading, I found out that there were dozens of tunnels that wound through the outer walls of the building. That’s how the rats must have made their way up into my apartment. There must’ve been holes somewhere behind the cupboards or the cabinets. I’d never checked there.
For now, the email said the tunnels had been closed off and we were allowed back into our buildings. It was only a temporary solution though and the building would need to be renovated in due time.
I somehow couldn’t feel at home at my place. I knew they’d said the tunnels were sealed off, but I thought I still heard things in the walls. It must my imagination, I told myself.
While going through the local news sites, I found an article that talked about ‘The Victims of the Rat Epidemic’. As I read on, I found out that at least three people had been found dead in their apartments and many others were still missing. People had died?
For a moment the image of waking up in the middle of the night and being swarmed by dozens of rats came to my mind. I imagined them scurrying all over my body and tearing at my flesh with their tiny mouths. I quickly pushed it out of my mind.
That night, as I lay in bed the thought of the rats in the walls, didn’t leave alone. Each time I closed my eyes I feared they’d be pouring from holes in the walls to devour me. In my mind I saw them scurrying over my body and tearing at my flesh with their tiny mouths. It took me more than an hour before I drifted off into a light sleep.
It was not even two in the morning when I woke up. I heard the same low rumbling I remembered from before. From the night all those rats had appeared in my apartment.
I jumped off the bed and put my ear against the wall. There was nothing, thank God. Then the rumbling started again. It was over in a few seconds, but I could tell that it was definitely not the pipes.
I didn’t get to think about what it was as a skittering erupted in the wall next to me. Weren’t the tunnels closed off?
It got louder and louder until it seemed the wall was reverberating from inside. I fled from the bedroom to the safety of the living room. There had been no rats in here so I hoped I’d be safe.
There was suddenly a loud noise and then one of the cupboards started to shake before it fell forward.
I cringed back in shock, afraid to see hundreds of rats rushing towards me.
As if to answer this fear a rat sprang from the wall and ran in my direction. It didn’t get to reach me. Only moments after it had escaped the walls, something caught it and dragged it backward.
The rat squeaked and tried to get away desperately only to vanished inside of the wall again. What the hell was going on?
The moment I hit the light switch I saw what had caught the rat, but I couldn’t understand what I was seeing. It was a formless, slithering mass of flesh that pushed itself through the tunnel in the wall. I saw dozens of openings all over it, some filled with misshapen teeth others were nothing but gaping maws.
As I stood there. I saw how lumps of disgusting flesh pushed outward and formed into eyes that focused on me.
An indescribable sound escaped the monstrosity in front of me before it burst, no surged from the wall. Bits and piece of plaster vanished, as the liquid mass of flesh pushed itself into my direction.
Here and there it tore apart momentarily only to fuse back together. At one point I saw a screaming, half-digested rat burst from the slithering mass of tissue just to vanish again.
It was the sight of this rat that brought me back to reality and made me run the apartment. Behind me I heard the roaring of whatever this thing was as it crashed forward.
I was out in the hallway, then on the stairs and then made my way outside. I heard the ground rumble once more. Screams and noises erupted from the building in front of me. More and more people streamed from the building. Everyone was in a state of utter panic.
People screamed and cried about monsters in the walls, as the ground below rumbled once more.
At that moment it hit me. I’d heard this rumbling first when the rats appeared.
Had it really been the rats who dug those tunnels? Or had the rats just used them to flee from those things? Was that why there had been none in my living room? Because that’s where the tunnel had ended? Had they just tried to get away from whatever was down below our town as possible?
My thoughts returned to the bloodied apartment, to the killed and missing people. Could it really have been the rats?
No, I thought, those people must have fallen prey to these otherworldly masses of flesh.
And now, as it rumbled yet again, I knew that these things kept digging their way up into my town.