I’m watching a documentary about rats and this guy is like “they say there’s a rat for every single person in New York City” and I know he’s talking about like population numbers but it kind of sounds like he’s trying to tell everyone in New York that they have an individually assigned rodent friend and I think that’s beautiful.
The next big thing in fandom: Rat Soulmates
Well I’m here, when do I get to meet my Buddy Rat?
As I approached the near-empty parking lot that practically hung out over the Hudson, I took my 78th look at the pamphlet that had arrived on my doorstep yesterday: my 16th birthday. The pamphlet said,
Congratulations on the 16th anniversary of your birth.
Please report to:
Rodent Assignment Terminus
#1 13th Avenue
Honest to God, I had no idea there even was a 13th Avenue on Manhattan but here I was. After about two minutes of look around, I spotted the ramshackle little kiosk in the corner of the floating block of asphalt and pavement. It was surrounded by mini traffic cones forming an impromptu runway that led right to the small window carved in the side of the slanted hut. I knocked on the window sill and waited.
The tiny window slid open and the wizened face of an old lady appeared. By my rough estimate, she was approximately 170 years old. “Name?” She croaked, taking a drag off her cigarette with shriveled lips.
“Uh… Addison. Addison Sharpe.” I held up the pamphlet with my eyebrows up, letting her know I also did not know why I was here.
The window slammed shut and I heard the bustle and groaning of the old lady getting up out of her seat.
To my surprise, she appeared outside the kiosk with a metal wire hanger-looking device with a hook hammered into the end. She shuffled three feet to a tiny, manhole cover and slipped the hook through one of its holes. I rushed forward to offer to do it myself but to my utter shock, she lifted the manhole up and to the side with no more effort than it took her to slam the small window of her kiosk. She removed her cigarette with one hand and cupped her mouth with the other. “Addison Sharpe!”
A low, unholy sound emerged from the depths of the hole in the ground. It sounded like 8 million chairs squeaking across a poorly-waxed floor. It sounded like 32 million claws clicking and clacking their way across a cement car port. It sounded like the asthmatic breathing of a mass of nightmares. It got closer… and closer to the top of the hole.
A single rat, about the size of a small chiuahua, emerged from the hole.
“Look, he got dressed up for you,” the old lady wheezed affectionately, and casually moved the manhole cover back into place.
The rat in question appeared to have a pink bow on his head, stuck there with what I can only assume (and hope) was gum. He regarded me, whiskers twitching, beady eyes staring.
“I like your bow,” I offered.
The rat hobbled towards me, latching onto my pant leg with sharp little claws and climbing until he reached my hoodie pocket, where he settled with a decisive sigh.
I turned to thank the old lady, but she slammed the door of the kiosk in my face.
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