[personal profile] lesmisloony
Last night I decided to rewatch the entire POTC trilogy before I went to bed.  Around 3:30am I saw Will and Elizabeth reunited after ten years, heaved a conflicted sigh, and set off toward the bathroom to refill my water bottle and brush my teeth.

That was when they attacked.


I heard lots of shuffling noises in the kitchen--big ones, like someone was cooking in there.  Our kitchen is part of the living room, the only communal space in the apartment and also the space where Gordon currently sleeps.  I was confused as to why he would be cooking in the dark at 3am, but decided to go investigate.

Of course, Gordon was fast asleep on the pull-out couch bed.  The window at his side was cracked for fresh air.  And behind me, in the kitchen area, the noises continued.

This was the first time I've seen the rat in person, though I've been listening to him scuttle around inside the walls shrieking for weeks now.  Rodents as pets are something I'm pretty cool with, but any sort of vermin with a history of living in sewers is not the sort of thing I want to see crawling up the front counter of my kitchen or balancing on top of the old grocery bag we were using as a trash can.  I groaned and went into the bathroom.  When I came out, the rat had cleared off and I took the trash out to discourage it.  The trash cans are just across the lobby and out on a landing in the courtyard of our building, visible from the back windows of our first-floor apartment.

I returned to my room, sighed at the noise the rat was still making in the kitchen, and decided to settle into bed on my little floor mat.  Of course, when every stray sound in a Harlem apartment building translates to a big, angry rat in your head, it's hard to relax.  Suddenly I heard something rustling in the closet that's about four feet from the foot of my pallet.  I sat up, glaring at the closet in the light of the courtyard, and was relieved to see nothing.  Just to be sure, I used my foot to edge my stool across the floor.

At the sound of that noise, I distinctly saw a rat slightly larger than the length of my hand (tail not included) slip out of my laundry bag and run across our bedroom floor, passing right by my mat and disappearing under my roommate's headboard.  I was on my feet in an instant, holding my breath.  My closet backs up to the kitchen.  They had a way of getting in.  A second later I heard what sounded like a shampoo bottle being knocked over in the bathroom.  Rats can walk through walls.

To my relief, a light switched on in the apartment and I heard Juan's door open.  I jumped off my pallet and threw our door open, meeting his sleepy face with a hissed, "It's the rat!"  I quickly tried to explain what I'd seen, but was interrupted by another thud in the bathroom.  Juan opened the door and a startled rat scurried right between us and into the kitchen.

Of course the two of us scattered and started yelling in shock, which woke Sophia and Gordon.  We tried to explain what was going on as Juan crept into the bathroom only to discover--another rat was scrambling around in the tub.  He retreated and I had to cope with the fact that there were now two rats in the equation.  After a lot more rustling he edged the bathroom door open and then began shouting in panic, asking me, "Did you see that?  Did you see that?  Tell me you saw that!"  I hadn't.  He said that the rat in the bathtub had just scaled the entire plastic shower curtain in an instant and leaped from the bar.  "I'm not gonna deal with this," he muttered, and disappeared into his room only to return a moment later with an aluminum baseball bat.

Sophia was fully conscious at this point (she'd been feeling sick and taken a dose of Nyquil before bed) and tried to encourage him not to bash a rat's head open on our floor.  I asked if he was okay cleaning the mess in the event that he succeeded.  He wasn't.  We opened the bathroom door again, scattered as the second rat ran to join its buddy in the kitchen, and Juan traded his baseball bat for a coat.  He announced that he was going to find rat traps and stormed out into the rain.  It was 4am.

Sophia and Gordon tried to go back to bed, but every time we got still the shuffling rat noises began again.  The lights were off, but I couldn't bring myself to lie down.  The noises from the living room were so loud that I wondered how Gordon could even think about falling asleep.  I was sitting on my stool staring at the door, waiting for Juan's return, when I heard a massive thump, a shriek, panicked scuffling, and a long, low groan from Gordon.

Sophia sat up in her bed and before she had to ask I crept out into the hall.  Gordon was sitting up blearily on the pull-out couch, squinting at the wall behind his head.  "I- I think I killed it," he murmured, disbelieving.

"Can I turn on the light?"

He nodded, still shifting around and trying to see something beneath the couch.  He eventually got to his feet and pulled the couch away from the wall.  "Yeah... yeah, it's dead.  I just wanted to scare it, so I slammed the couch against the wall and I heard it shriek... its friend went out the window."

Juan came home at last and passed me a box of sticky traps.  When he saw the bloodbath behind the couch he recoiled, making everyone curious.  Sophia peeked at the scene and all the color drained from her face.  I was too afraid to look.  "It's like a crime scene back here!" Juan exclaimed.  "Its nose fell off!  It's bleeding out its nose!  You crushed its skull, man!  That's a lot of blood."

I passed Gordon a fresh roll of paper towels and left him to clean up the evidence of his murder while I took the dead rat out in a plastic bag, then went about setting the sticky traps.  I left one under the sink, then, remembering the sight of a rat slipping gracefully down the side of my laundry bag, I headed to our closet.  Sophia followed, providing moral support as I pulled out first my laundry bag, then an extra quilt.  We needed the floor clear before we set down the latest trap, and the only thing left was a clear plastic tarp bunched in the corner.  I shook it tentatively, then firmly, and, assured that it was rat-free, yanked it out of the closet.

I was wrong.  A third rat had been crouching beneath the plastic, and now that I had smoked it out it panicked, ran across Sophia's bare feet, and headed straight at me.  I whirled around and tried to escape down the hall, lifting my feet high lest I wind up with socks caked in more rat blood, and felt its body colliding with my heels until I was even with Juan's room.  I went back to place the sticky trap in our closet, but Juan intercepted me.  "I know where it is, dude!  Let me see the trap!  I can do it!"

He ran into the kitchen and dropped the sticky trap next to the wire shelf where we keep our groceries and, with a shake, startled the rat out of its terribly-conceived hideout.  I watched it try to clear the sticky trap and fail, its back foot getting stuck and the whole trap traveling with it across the kitchen floor.  The more it tried to escape, the more stuck it became until all four feet were buried in the goo and all it could do was flail and shriek pitifully.  Juan scooped it up in a plastic bag and through the frantic shouts that were coming from Sophia and myself made it clear that he wasn't so heartless as to leave it to starve in the trash and planned to try to suffocate it in the bag.  He took it out to the trash.

Sophia, Gordon and I returned to the living room where progress was being made on the bloodstains.  Gordon was using plastic bags as makeshift gloves to avoid getting blood on his hands.  He was still bleary-eyed, his hair disheveled from sleep, and only dressed in his underwear.   Sophia pursed her lips.  "Well, if it's any consolation: Gordon, you have a nice ass."

"You guys... Juan's out there suffocating a rat right now," I reminded them.

I don't know who had the idea first, but the next thing I knew I was dashing into Juan's empty room to get a view of the action unfolding by the trash bins, aware that the others were doing the same in my room.  There he was, unaware that he suddenly had an audience, illuminated by one streetlamp and the light rain.  The bag was on the ground by his feet.  I saw Juan steel himself, touch the wall at his side for support, then leap directly onto the bag.  I screamed and ducked away from the window, unable to imagine what he must be hearing.  When I stood back up he was examining the contents of the bag, sighing, and dropping it at his feet again.  I ran out of the room before I had to see his heavy boots crush the bag again.

After that, the tone of the night simmered down.  We quietly watched Gordon fill bag after bag with bloodstained paper towels, the solemnity punctured with frequent giggle fits from myself at Sophia as we relived what we had just witnessed.  Juan returned, his expression distant, and he incredulously said, "I curb-stomped a rat tonight."

That was it.  We stayed up until Gordon had cleaned most of the blood off the walls, then went into our separate rooms and tried to find a way to fall asleep.  It was past 5AM.

Epilogue
I woke up this morning with a rat in my hair.  We've had a maintenance man come to patch the holes but he was unable to find any and announced that the rats must have come in through the open windows, and that they don't live here.  He then opened the cabinet under the sink to be met with a small rat, who he believes is the shuffly fifth roommate who has been singing us to sleep for the past few weeks, and is (hopefully) the one in my hair.  An hour later an exterminator arrived to scatter rat poison and pass me a handful of cheap sticky traps.  We think that only the little guy is left, and our whole apartment is now booby-trapped in an effort to get rid of him.
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