The Death of a Dirty Little Sewer Rat

There was a dirty little rat that fell down a sewer pipe once. This happened because it was a sewer rat.

In the beginning the pipe was wide and it fell straight down. Then it bent into a horizontal bit. The rat couldn’t climb back up, so it kept crawling on its dirty little feet along it, hoping to find a way (sewer rats are stupid) and then suddenly in the darkness it fell again through another vertical bit. Its hind legs had slipped first, so it fell head upwards. This bit of the pipe grew narrower down, and at one point the dirty sewer rat got stuck.

It was too freaking fat to slip any further down, and its legs were all stuck so it couldn’t climb back up. It was dark everywhere, the walls were moist and smelly and the air heavy and foul, but I don’t think rats mind that.

Its legs were all bent and crooked really tight against the walls of the pipe, though, and it must have hurt a lot. I can’t tell.

It tried to move, jerk its spine around, but this only lodged it deeper and tighter into the pipe. Its legs hurt much more, and there now wasn’t enough room for its little body to swell for it to breathe.

It stayed that way for some hours. As it breathed, its weight slowly made it slip a tiny fraction down, further down, tighter and tighter.

Then came the water, because that’s what sewers are for. There was so little room around the rat that the dirty gurgly sewer water choked up on top of it and the rat was about to drown. But slowly it trickled through gaps around it and the rat could breathe again out of the water. At the time it was under the water, it had swallowed quite a bit of it, wretched creature, and some dirty food alongside that comes floating in sewer water. That’s why rats live in sewers in the first place.

This way it went for days. The dirty rat was lodged in the pipe tight enough for it to hurt a lot and to only allow very shallow, very frequent breaths, but just loose enough not to kill it. The water, when it jammed on top of it, receded through the holes around it just as the rat was about to drown. The morsels in the sewer water were just enough to keep the dirty thing alive. When the sewer clogged from below and water rose slowly up from the bottom, it used to stop just below its snout. There it used to lie for hours, the dirty sewer rat, unmoving, eyes under the dirty dark water, nostrils breathing the foul dank air.

I don’t know if it wanted to die. But even if it did, it couldn’t. It was stuck on the border between life and death, slightly to the side of life, unmoving.

And thus the sewer rat kept being, head up all the time because it had no choice. It lost all senses of its forelegs a few days down, then its hind ones. There was only impenetrable darkness all around. But there were sounds. In the day, through the hollow iron pipes would arrive echoes of the outside world. People walking on the street, the honking of cars, the scurrying of other rats around the sewer system. These scenes had been a daily routine once, and now the rat could only link them to those pictures in its little dirty head as it lay stuck in the unforgiving, unfriendly, uninterested darkness.

A few weeks down, when the dirty mite had shrunk to a thin layer of skin over its skeleton, and slipped even more down the pipe, it realized it was rotting from the bottom up. This is natural, as sewer water is very good for decomposing things. But I don’t know how it was, really, for the rat, to feel its bottom half again after a long time, as the parts inside its body that had retained sensation were now exposed and being eaten through by the same water that provided nourishment.

I think it took a week or so for the rotting to spread to enough organs to kill the dirty little sewer rat. During these days, I don’t know what it used to think all the time. You’d have to think something, I guess. Every waking moment you must think something. I don’t know about rats, but we must. I just wonder what it used to think all the time, the great unmoving time. That’s all I wonder.

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Little Dots of Light

Touch me
gently
I’m losing my hold
I’m letting go
My last fingers just curled around the tether.
Behind me, little dots
Little dots of light
Stars of yore in the cold frightening firmament.

And I am losing hold.

It’s so dark outside of me
And not a friend in sight
I look inside
for a last vestige
And it’s darker than the night.

Hold me firm, now
Whisper a lullaby
Tell me lies and calm me down.
Assure me
that I won’t be made
such a fool again.

But hold me quick
before I drift
before I let me go
Touch me now
Save me from the stars of yore,
the little dots of light.

1Life.

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