This bi-monthly writing challenge has a slightly different look and feel to it due to the Covid situation.
Our wonderful team are able to keep the challenge going by going WEP-Lite for this month and maybe in August 2020 as well – we all have to be aware of the situation as it changes for everyone.
For more information on the changes
I would like to thank the brilliant team who always work very hard behind the scenes to make this a successful writing challenge and wish everybody, the team, the participants, readers and their support networks my very best wishes in the coming weeks and months.
Here is my take on the prompt on URBAN NIGHTMARE.
Bibi had exhausted his usual haunts, there was no food to be had anywhere, the tasty chicken skins were just a vague memory now. It was time to venture into the metropolis. His nose and whiskers vibrated as he scuttled backwards away from the strange noises. Crashing in to the wheels of a large skip he received a sharp nip on his rear end. His body revolved quickly only to face growling and snarling teeth, he gasped as sharp fetid breath took his own breath away.
‘Get off my property.’
Beady black eyes, full of hatred and violence glared at Bibi. Barda was the biggest and scariest rat he knew. Bibi dashed across the asphalt, dodging loud, cacophonous machines, he flattened himself against the edge of a glass door, Bibi’s claws scrabbled for purchase on the cold concrete as the door opened, hauling himself up several large risers, with a final huge effort and a leap of gigantic proportions, gave himself a brief respite on a flat space. Thundering footsteps and that particular smell of human kind engulfed his senses as he backed into a darkened recess.
Marka nudged him from the edges of her web before he could break any more of her carefully constructed strands. Heaving to catch his breath, her clicking scolded him, berating him mercilessly. His heart rate began to slow down, as he heard the damage he had done.
‘Flies are so scarce, let alone trying to catch anything more substantial, to be accosted by some young whipper-snapper who decided he would crash into my home.’ Bibi inched his way out as Marka’s diatribe faded away.
He scrambled up the next flight, his claws clacking on the concrete steps until he reached the top. Standing on his hind legs, whiskers quivering as he surveyed his surroundings. Four blue doors all with letter boxes and numbers. No egress from there.
He scuttled back in to the shadows as an apparition appeared out of one of doors. An odorous smell wreathed its way along the landing, exuding plumes of smoke that swung this way and that, noxious fumes tickling his nostrils, sliding insidiously down his windpipe, poison emanating from a man swinging a can emitting foul smelling vapour.
Bibi began to feel drowsy, disorientated, he struggled to move his legs, his claws could find no purchase on the unforgiving concrete, his body went limp as he slumped on to his side.
‘Gotcha, ya little varmint.’ A muffled but exultant cry came from Ted, his protective clothing garbling his words.
‘This ‘ere is for ‘umans, not rats like you,’ he spat out, showing his nicotine stained teeth protruding over his bottom lip through the plastic face covering, the spittle settling on his visor. Grabbing Bibi’s tail, he rammed him in to a hessian sack, tightly tying the opening before slinging it over his shoulder. An unconscious Bibi landed against something soft and furry, another captured rat.
His senses gradually began to return, Bibi opened his eyes to take in his surroundings. Cold air penetrated through unforgiving metal bars, blocking his view. There was just enough space to turn his body. He tried to clamber up but his feet couldn’t find any purchase on the slippery rods. Squeaking his alarm, he called out. An answering call came back from the cage next door. A mangy looking animal faced him, dull and bloodshot eyes, fur that had fallen out in patches, pink skin shining luminously from its side as the creature laboured to breathe.
‘How long have you been here?’ Bibi asked, needing to know but dreading the reply.
The answer came in panting phrases. ‘Too long. No escape. Injections. Experiments. Poison you.’ Gasping for breath, the answers came slowly, bit by bit, piece by piece the story unfolded.
A virus had spread across the world, humans blamed rodents, namely rats, black or brown, young or old, male or female, catching them, experimenting on them trying to find a cure, only succeeding in decimating the rat population in their quest.
Bibi’s heart began racing, he was trapped and powerless. Death would follow soon. He watched his neighbour breathe his last, watched the emaciated body writhe in spasms of agony. He didn’t want that. Gathering his courage, he scouted his small enclosure for any possible means of escape.
‘Tell me more, Granddad Ted, about when you were a young man.’
‘Oh, aye, my son. It wasn't fun. My job title was RAT CATCHER. All those years ago people were mighty scared of those pests. ‘Course, nowadays it’s different but back then we didn’t know any better.
People got sick and then sicker. All over. Nobody could go out. Food was scarce. Farms were mobbed and trashed as people tried to find food. Soap ran out. Hygiene was supposed to save everyone but nobody could wash.
Hospitals closed. Doctors closed. Dentists closed. Schools closed. Shops closed. Pubs closed. Restaurants closed. Everywhere was closed apart from food shops and online shopping.’
‘I bet the kids loved that, Granddad Ted.’
‘Oh aye, for a while it was fun. Then curfews began. I got the job as Rat Catcher because of my training in pest control. Nobody made fun of me then. I did a bloomin’ good job as well, I can tell you.’
‘How many rats did you catch?’
‘Well now, my boy, too many to count. They were wriggly things, you had to tie the sack up tight and as soon as it was full, deposit them in the chute of the laboratory.’
‘Did it work, Granddad Ted?’
‘Well I got a medal for me troubles and hard work, didn’t I? You can see it up there, pride of place on me mantelpiece. Your gran didn’t like my job but she liked the money I saved.’
‘So how come we are all safe now, Granddad?’
‘Well it turns out, lad, that it wasn't them rats after all.’
‘What was it?’
Granddad Ted winked at his precious grandson.
‘Nobody knows, boy, nobody knows.’
Word count: 1001
I’ll leave you with this:
QUOTE FROM LORD OF THE RINGS: