By Dave Anderson, Featured Author
Below the streets
of Markham—inside an area where the flooring rises sharply, and then dips—a
furry shape shifts in the darkness. This particular day it was caught in
Markham City Maintenance worker Tom Hanson’s peripheral vision, and was enough
to garner his full attention and cause him to cease working.
The figure outlined
under the rocking halogen lights appeared to Tom to be at least six feet
tall. From where he was standing, when it stretched its neck, its sloping head
paralleled his. Tom stepped backwards, and bubble wrap popped under his feet,
left over—he hoped—from a delivery person a hundred years ago. He
felt if he got too close to the rat the next pop would be his
stepped out of the shadows and dropped its fit, blunt body to all fours—a
mutated rat. One of life’s originals, this
rare breed was not intended for mass production, or so Tom fervently hoped. It
looked like a cheap rip-off of some 1950s movie monster. Bristles
growing from its gnarly snout provided tactile sensing even in the
dark. Its tail wrapped around a discarded soda can,
squeezing and crushing, as its teeth searched for the pliable area
under the opening. It wriggled and snagged, eliciting a high-pitched,
sonar-like screech as the can’s jagged edges pierced skin, drawing blood,
which ran in rivulets down its bottom lip onto its neck.
When the thing
turned its head to Tom, rolling its red, glowing eyes in angry blame at
the lone human, Tom picked up a rock from a pile in the corner and tossed it at
the rat. The force was strong enough to make it retreat.
“Get out of here,
Tom deduced that,
given the size of the rat, he too needed to exit quickly. He couldn’t
lift the nearest manhole, though; some assholes must have sealed it. Then
he noticed a rusty bolt lock projecting from the ceiling. As he got closer he discovered
a trap door, grabbed a crate, placed it underneath the door, and got up on it.
He abruptly reeled back when he noticed the door was black and slimy.
Tom almost made it
through the trapdoor before being pulled down by the rat, now in a bipedal
posture again. Tom landed on the ground facing a look of sly
rage, eyebrows pressed downward and top lip curled back in a sneer. It put
its left paw on Tom’s right knee and squeezed; he moaned, grabbing the rat’s
paw to try to move it, but the muscular grip was too strong!
Tom, like a Tales
from the Crypt character about
to meet his doom, screamed like a banshee and begged, “Don’t kill
me!” Terrified, he closed his eyes for a second. Tears seeped in tiny
streams out of the crevices of his eyelids, running down his cheeks. He then
felt warmth flow at his crotch, and whined, “Help me, God!”
heard, not God, but a familiar voice—that of James Wrightstown, one of his coworkers.
James, drunk on the job as usual, was using the surrounding walls for
support. The dirty lines in his face, slurred speech, and uneven gait
betrayed his state. Handed a baby to hold, the man would
have most likely kissed the wrong end.
“Hey, I could use
some help here, James!”
James pulled Tom up,
who then, face flushed and speech hurried, told him everything,
finally asking, “Where’s Jack?!”
watched James look around, hiccup, then put
his finger to his lips. “Shhh! Do you hear that?”
A rumbling sound ensued,
and out of nowhere came twenty normal-sized rats with black fur
as thick as shag.
“OH GOD!” Tom
screamed, as they surrounded him, biting at his boots and then crawling up
and covering him. He staggered along under their weight, trying to run,
but fell over.
open-mouthed, froze in place. All he could see of Tom was his right hand
twitching through a gap left unwittingly open by the rats.
At a loud
screech, rats retreated to whatever crevices they could find. James
unfroze and stumbled off into darkness, abandoning Tom. Lying on the ground barely
alive, his bottom lip just a juicy red line now, Tom knew what was coming,
and it wasn’t Jack.
David Anderson, email@example.com,
of Ontario Canada, who wrote BP #79’s featured works, “Feral Rage,” “For Sale,”
and “Last Leg,” is an avid writer of horror and gore. With an extensive writing
background, he currently works as a freelance reporter for a couple of