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Bart The Rat in 'One Scary Night'

by

Michael A. Nielsen

One day Bart was very hungry, and very bored. He paced around the dirty hole his family called a home. His stomach grumbled and growled but every time he thought he could get away with sneaking into the pantry, his little brother Jerry would yell out, "Mom, Bartís heading for the cheese!"

Needless to say Jerry would receive a quick slap to the head and a sock to the gut, but the result was the same, Bart would be back to pacing and thinking of food. "Bart, why donít you go outside and play with Roger Fieldmouse and leave your little brothers alone!" came Motherís yell.

Well his friend Roger was gone to his grandmother's and Farmer MacGregorís Cat was on the loose. But it was only after another half hour of stomach pain that Bart finally decided going out was the only thing to do.

Keeping low and in the grass, Bart scurried past the old tire swing and down by the rusty pickup truck. The whole time he kept his nose to the ground searching for even the slightest scent of old rotten food. To his despair there was nothing to be found. Suddenly an idea popped into his head, ĎWhat about the sewer pipe?í

Now Bartís mother had forbid any of her children from playing around the old sewer pipe. She said it was dangerous. She said that deep down inside lived the sewer monster and it preyed on young curious rodents. Sure the pipe was scary, but it drove Bart nuts with the alluring smells of food and at the moment Bart was so hungry he would even risk the monster. He immediately changed his course and headed straight across the cornfield.

Halfway there he came to a clearing and was surprised to see Gwendolyn Brownmouse and her snotty friend Chelsy Mole having a tea party near the Coke bottle.

"Where you headed, Bart?" Gwen asked.

"None of your beeswax." Bart huffed and then belched in Chelsyís direction.

She bowled over but somehow kept her teacup in hand. "Youíre fat and disgusting Bart!"

"But kinda cute..." smiled Gwendolyn beneath her pretty brown fur. Bart continued on until she yelled out, "Wait Bart, want to have some of this cake?"

He stopped dead in his tracks and spun around, his beady eyes narrowing on a large clump of carrot cake resting on a penny and suddenly drool formed on his lip. But just as he came near, just as his greedy rat hands reached out to tear into the tasty pile, Chelsy Mole grabbed for and took the entire morsel swallowing it in one amazing gulp. Both girls began to laugh out of control.

For a moment it seemed that a tear might form in Bartís eye. The pain in his belly was excruciating. He fled from the clearing, swearing that Chelsy Mole was the devil and Gwen her evil handmaiden.

Twenty feet from the pipe Bartís hopes suddenly began to rise. The smell of rank food was thick in the air and it drew him like... well like a rat to rank food. His little legs began to move faster, hurling him across the clumps of grass and rocks, a giant grin spreading across his chubby rat face. He leapt full stride against the pipe, thrusting his arms as high as he could and barely caught his sharp claws at the edge of the hole in the top of the pipe. Pulling with all his might and calling upon a sudden surge of adrenaline he performed a feat that could never be repeated... he pulled
himself up. From here he could peer down into the darkness. A blast of odor hit him warm in the face and Bart began to cry. Giant, wet, tears of joy.

He glanced around at his surroundings. It had taken him some time to get here, already the sun had reached its full height and was slowly making its way to the western hills. "I will make this fast," thought Bart. "A quick chunk of corndog, or a fine meat stew and then I will be out and heading home." He lowered himself into the warm, slowly moving sludge. It was like climbing into a large vat of gumbo soup. Bart dipped his face half into the soup, opened his mouth wide and began to swim, inhaling as much as he could without choking. "I am in heaven!" he thought to himself as his plump rat body floated downstream, further and further from the exit. With each yard it got darker and darker but at the same time Bart would come across bits of burrito and old melon and random balls of soft brown substance and it was not until he was in complete darkness that his little, smorgasbord-retarded brain finally clicked and he realized he was in danger.

It was dark, too dark to see and the flow was beginning to pick up speed. He turned upstream and began to swim as hard as he could. Clumps of food and sewage bombarded him and it was all he could do to thrust it aside and keep pumping his hind legs. And then a sound rumbled up from the darkness and Bartís heart sank to an all time low. It started out as a gurgle like something trying to yell with a full mouth of oatmeal, but quickly turned into a long, blood-curdling howl. Every hair from Bartís neck to the tip of his tail stood on end. His heart skipped a beat as he raked forward with his claws into the liquid darkness. Looking over his shoulder he thought he could see it moving up the pipe toward him, its long slime covered snout barely capping the sewage, its dark glossy eyes glaring at him as he madly paddled
away. The sewage monster! It was real!

The creature began to close the distance, the walls pounded as its tail lashed about, dirty brown water erupting from its wind pipe in a cloud of spray. Bart began to sob, his eyes welling up with tears and sewage. His arms were heavy and tired and his left leg formed a sudden cramp. He cried out like a little girl, like Chelsy Mole when she fell at school and broke her little toe and just then he turned the corner and there before him not more than thirty feet away was the hole in the pipe. It was dusk outside but it still offered a slight glow which washed across Bart in a sea of hope. He began to make promises to the Great Rat that if he could just muster the strength to make it to that hole, to be able to pull himself to freedom that
he would never beat up on his little brothers again. He would never steal cheese from the larder, he would say hi to that little crippled kid, Horace, and he would even smile at Gwendolyn Brownmouse, although that last promise was no real big deal.

The prayer seemed to work and he found sudden strength in his limbs. The sewer sludge became his playground and he was the bully as he pulled his body with long powerful strokes. The sewer monster roared as its prey found new strength. Bart could hear it splashing behind him, slowly, slowly gaining ground. Something banged against the wall just to the right of him. He felt spray and saw droplets forming on the surface of the water behind and to the side of his head and still he vaunted on, until right as he closed in on the exit. Just as his form moved into the tiny circle of moonlight as it glistened brightly on the seething tide, Bart felt a large, powerful tentacle wrap around his little rat leg, his screams of terror muffled as he was
pulled beneath the surface.

Bart kicked and punched and clawed until he could do no more and finally went limp, clenching his eyes closed as he waited for his doom. The creature pulled him to the edge of the pipe and climbing up it held Bart out over the liquid, obviously sizing him up before it swallowed him. Bart was already weeping and in that moment of terror he could not hold his bladder and began to wet himself. But the creature didnít eat him, instead it began to laugh, a big jovial, belly-shaking laugh. Bart forced his eyes open and found himself face to face with Old Man Mole.

"Why Bart, it looks like you have peed yourself! Perhaps I should take you home and let Chelsy clean you up!" Old Man Mole was chuckling, a long evil chuckle. He lifted Bart out of the hole, hauling a large sack of assorted morsels for the entire Mole Family. Bart sheepishly said thanks and took off for home, promising himself and the Great Rat that he would never return to the sewer pipe again.

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