WHEN CALAMITY SCREAMS FOR THE FLAME

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: dreamscape

Roles have reversed. Man is prey to man sized rats, his world in decay. Enter Taige, the flamethrower exterminator. Is their unhinged callousness dangerous as rats? Cody returns aiding a besieged family from an attack by many rodents on their home.
Read this action packed horror to learn the outcome. 4000 words.
Sequel to 'When calamity screams for Rentokil.'

The exterminator’s helmet comes down, the face masked behind it, they’re in a room. Name Taige.

 

Were supposed to be what you crush under foot, the lowest of the reviled – instead here and now are the heart of nightmares, the plague, craving flesh, a predator upon masters of this world…man.

 

Lost and making way, stumbling through the dark. The young girl can’t fully at her age comprehend yet, a gradually rising desperation. The body is physically reacting to the psychological impact of missing her parents. They’d become separated and thinking all she had, sought re-joining.

 

Attracted by light, trudged the distance to it. If she made it, would be determined as starlight shimmering on the water surface. Desperation waned a tad. Adults are help. Assumed what the patch of light was.

 

So less scary if a way to just phone parents was on her. Left the thing where she shouldn’t – off her person. The night temperature restricted sweat despite exertion. The hair not sticky as expected either. Trudging footsteps and breathing contribute their sound. Far but know getting closer.

 

The youngster could make out noisy movement she figured a small crowd and little other lights. Eye reflections. Onward she went. Hey that water. And something more, the shapes. Four legs, a tail. Ahh. They’re not people!

 

This close the beasts charge. She in a panic and out it came out the mouth. What attracts even more – screams. They reach, jaws agape, claws extended. Prey came to them. Screams carry into the night.

 

Cheap Samsung phone, not even a smart one.

 

Growls and abnormally loud squeaks heard, are seen belonging to rats, not the ancient one tonne rodent Josephoartigasia monesi. These man sized ones scary their own way. A body this small for this many, don’t be surprised if as lion prides, turn on each other for every scrap. Vocalizations die down when nothing to eat assessed their bestial nature.

 

A stream of flame tore through the umbra. Two are lapped by it and freak out in pain. Taige’s screams of prey to attract, the planted phone on the ground emitting that female ringtone when the phone number called. Psychologically will attack fearful targets. They distracted, let the exterminator approach unnoticed, shore side of the lough, a variety of lake. Unlucky for them the blind side.

 

Three other pairs of eyes eerily reflect flame’s light. A streak anew douses the three giants. As the first pair, also thrash about and squeak or hiss painfully.  

 

A rodent or is it monster? One of the first pair, flame draped, rolls into nearby water, dousing the fire, amidst hissing and steam. Temporary salvation. The exterminator comes within several feet of the water’s edge sprays flame onto its partially exposed body. The flamethrower’s latest claim.

 

More work called.

 

Taige met adults. Whose light illuminated not only water but the dumpsite. Livestock remains included therein. Even these abominations don’t dirty their home. Didn’t bother consuming at wherever they were hunted, instead brought back. A clue to babies.  

 

Ignoring the irresistible scent of roasting flesh began a search and shortly after came upon it. A nest built of plant materials. Evidently several weeks old, size of small dogs, eight babies. Mercilessly clubbed.

 

Daylight what thought impossible as they were small once, played out. Like a rat attacking a pigeon, but swap for a hell rat and a full grown human, locked in a lengthy life struggle, on the town sidewalk. The manmade sidewalk no less. The rodent latched on to the shoulder and maintained the bite even as the human drags it around. For a while both cease moving, the rat blinks. The human tiring, the brain in the throes of stress. Clamp of its jaws barely register under the circumstance. The person thrashed around to break free, the rat as well to maintain the hold. A pause and tiredness wins. The living person is dragged away to cover of the adjoining bush. No stronger sign man’s throne endangered.

 

A pair of eyes stare.

 

Lennard clings for dear life to a ladder type fire escape of a building in town. Below on the street, cutest group of hell rats try to aggressively reach him, pacing or jumping, hissing, growling like angry dogs.

 

Tossed a stick across from him, didn’t go as far as he liked. One rat races over the short distance from the pack to it. Bends its head down to sniff a moment, disinterested, returns right back.

 

5 angels. Besides dark come in different colors – like hand raised fancy rats. Adults ready to tear them apart by sharp teeth and claw, exceeding a hundred pounds. Monstrous dentition, red eyes, furry, replete with vicious stare and cute noses. Looked very like a rat on steroids.

 

A stream of flame upon the ground forming a pool of fire several feet in diameter some distance from the scene. Then all see…a helmeted figure wearing a flamethrower on the back.

 

Taige is not moving away, to the contrary – toward. In the narrow alley the beasts could head straight away for them. Other hand the flame strategically a blockage left them one direction. Not hard imagining they would charge. Taige maintained a composed walk. When in range roasts the inrushing lot.

 

Lennard looks out of shape, not necessarily due to the horrors; haggard frame conspires with his advanced age. Some underlying medical condition. They’d exchanged names and are now leaning against a wall. His spirits lifted by the deliverance.

 

The town qualified as a ghost one. Man abandoned what took a lifetime to erect; signs of decay began their affliction.

 

Lennard’s spirits waned again. ‘Please let this man confess.’ Speech uneasy as it were wearing a badge of shame. ‘Something told me help but my body wouldn’t move.’  Pair of eyes that watched the human struggle for life only to be snuffed away by a rat. They’d gone seeking help. With scarce population wasn’t any to be found in the town yet before that filthy thing took them. Agonized, ‘Was too scared. I watched. I WATCHED!’

 

The eradicator doesn’t condemn.

 

Responding to a rescue request for their companion, the milk of humanity hardly flows. ‘Most predators kill fast. Hell rats too.’

 

At Lennard’s protest, ‘Not here to avenge you.’

 

With single minded focus reckons on the companion’s fate rats are pack beasts – a bunch of them a mischief. So that one must have friends. Asking where the attack transpired – none too far, the exterminator heads off, implying they’ll return. With that none promise, Lennard tucks themselves in a safe hole, like a rat.  

 

Elsewhere, someone’s point of view can scarcely look out the upper floor window. Warily parting the house’s curtain narrow as they dare, to survey the neighbourhood.

 

Taige, returning from the discreet reconnaissance, confirms a mischief. Taige knows offering their extermination plan, tough by their lonesome. Lennard, who is surprised the beasts weren’t taken out. Answer is rats would run from the culling flame. They got the room, best course is leading them to a kill zone. On top all this the fellow reveals what they up too – finding help for people under rat attack at a house – pleading does not budge Taige from a laser focus to deal with the rodents here first. ‘Beasts scream for flame,’ says the exterminator. If the Lennard wants go somewhere else. Taige will travel to the house – sense is not really to save others in need, but for the infernal rodents.

 

‘Dark heartbeat!’ is the scorn. Lennard calls them obsessed and time wasting as the nearby beasts have no one to hunt right now.

 

Laid on the ground nails or broken glass to impede animal movements leaving a safe lane in-between rats can pass. That done must in case the present fails to constrict movement, board up nearby windows of certain buildings to deny escape.

 

Lingering regret and or gratitude Lenn cooperates out of a sense of. For all the absurdity, his people may die without Taige, they’d let someone die already. Scarily are shocked when this Taige wants more - go by themselves and lure beasts over by a trick through the lane toward the waiting exterminator, risking their life as rat bait. By the way all this arduous work thus far Lenn did without so much as the exterminator lifting a finger to help.

 

Protesting feebly, willingly disappears out of sight. Not like a complete suicide mission. Given a Hershey’s caramel chocolate bar to throw at a safe distance. One bent to lick with a blue tongue. Seeing him the rodentia snarl.

 

The guy reappears in another part of town, fast as his legs permit, following round the corner, them. Many multi colored. The bait wisely scrambles up a fire escape.

 

Taige stands in full view, hard to tell if tense under the helmet. The maddening throng animalistically rush at easy prey further away. Lennard’s work performs as intended. Avoiding the sharp ground, funnelled themselves along the cleared lane. When in range and only when in range, does the thrower sing. Vocalizations heard far and wide.

 

Besieged.

 

Outdoors pet doggy is nervous but sheltered under its house.

 

Bang, bang, BANG! Within the human domicile, rats found food right here. No sign will cease banging the wooden door. Mom, ‘Holding no way.’

‘How’d you expect it to?’ father says. ‘10 freaks hungry for us.’ Barricaded with some collection of items cobbled for the purpose. Rattling each impact.

 

Hortense nuclear family: father, mom, teen daughter holding baby. As one in a fight of their lives. They in one room, predators the other.

 

What on the surface looks an appealing middle class neighbourhood – closer inspection reveals rat signs: claw marks, gnawed, poop, digging, prey remains. Smell of them, sound of them. Beasts forced abandonment. Any mirth torn asunder.

 

‘Running is how we live,’ says Cody, unrelated to the Hortenses. Fair skinned and a somewhat thick and busty body, early twenties wrapped in an attractive package. ‘The barricade is too scanty.’

 

Everyone starts heading to the nearby door but her. ‘Mustn’t by yourself,’ urges mom.

‘Close the door behind you. Find stuff we fight with and barricade with. Open when I call. Go!’

 

They disappear behind the door. She smelled rat odour. Cody stooped. Prepared at her feet a pot of water, mixed in was bread slices floating and something else. Much of the barricade collapses. Not long now. Familiar to her was the door broken down. First of the wretches enters. Cody tossed a bread slice to her front and side. The side it hoped made less likely to make a beeline her way.

 

Upon devouring it the beast rolls onto its back violently as if in seizure, flays the legs wildly, whole body a tremor, froths at the mouth and stops moving.

 

By now others were bursting in including a single hairless variety. A second ate the next slice. Suddenly stood bipedal on hind legs, thus man height, with forelegs best described as resembled rubbing its chest, wheezing and fell over limp.

 

Not her first time dishing lannate. Her old tried and true poison trick – good fortune let her have foresight to bring some. And she used up the bread, all that remained was in the pot. Anyhow getting up, fled. ‘Open up,’ at the door which does and she slips inside the next room, their kitchen.

‘You made it,’ dad says in sigh of relief.

‘Put two to rest.’

 

Aftermath to a harrowing escape on her own from a rat, scoured the land looking for civilization. Cody bumped into the family and stayed. Survival odds rose – that was before all this, upside experience let her assume today can happen, said experience turned the young woman a leader to the small nuclear family, who hadn’t so far left all behind like neighbours, a thread of psyche made them still hang on.

 

‘Over there is?’ pointing.

‘Utility room,’ he answers. They can hear the wretches – not far away mind you. One brought its cute nose to the door’s bottom and smelled, then growled knowing prey was a room away. The pot knocked over accidentally by another.

 

Mom and dad per instruction gathered some things and laid what collected so far atop the table. Cody instructs mom to hurry and get whatever handy out the utility room, to Mr. Hortense help her barricade the damn door and daughter boil as many pots of water as she can.

 

What made these rodents a match for man. The iron force that drove them. The greatest predators would give up the hunt. Not here. Still on the outside wanting the people, persistence and rage more honey badger than renowned lions. Making it out alive will take the extraordinary.

 

The teen quieted the baby’s cry by comforting. The door has a tougher barricade in the interval. Bang, bang, bang. Rodentia wanted a repeat of before. Dad stares mesmerized at the door. Squeaks, growls, whistles came through. Cody’s firm hand on his shoulder snaps him into the here and now. ‘They will not get the better of us.’

 

The little group must improve defence. Improvised hot iron, broken off mop handle a jagged edge, ice pick, ironing board held vertically a makeshift riot shield.

 

Cody is willing to risk all again. ‘I’m going to slow them down. What we got I don’t want to have to fight those things with.’

Instead of stopping her, mom looks at baby, ‘We don’t stand up today there is no tomorrow.’ The infant symbolized figuratively and literally a generation to carry on man’s species.

‘I trust you,’ said father.

‘Make some noise.’

 

That the parents do. The stimulant actually reignited the waning banging and aggressiveness to previous level.

 

The girl carries two boiling pots of water, passing through a third door permitting an end run, aka circumvent their sight and enter their room by unexpected direction.

 

By the almighty, they’re disgusting.

 

Dousing two with scalding water – one from each pot. The first taken unawares, the second as it charged. They cavort in pain. She walks backward a bit and then turns to speed off.  Before she got back the bangs reduced a lot. From experience under no illusions this the end. At least 6 were out for blood.

 

Owl, serpent, fox – nature’s population control seen as prey to the ravenous. Their small brethren spread the plague Black Death in a swath over Central Asia then Europe. Settle on your pestilence. Which is preferable, facing them or the ones here?

 

In the rat room a Hershey lands on the floor, intricate hearing drew them to it. One picked it up in baleful jaws. Seeing no one nevertheless trace the scent sniffing, took them outdoors. 

 

Hairless brought its head down eyeing trembling doggy delicately, no longer under its house.  

 

Mom twitches her nose, ‘Don’t tell me smoke.’

Cody, ‘My hot water wouldn’t do that.’

 

What's in a rat’s mouth? A fluffy dog. The scent belonged to Lenn, who as doggy was bait, who yelled at the exterminator mind the house. Two vermin wreathed in flame, but so was a small portion of the structure. Hairless and reminder rush back the way exited, back inside.

 

Taige burns the rats’ entryway. ‘Merciful God no!’ laments Lennard.

 

Smoke fairly thick in the air somewhat obscuring eyesight, the crackle sound of flame unmistakable. ‘What the hell’s going on?’ asks Mr. Hortense in a cough.

‘Run for the semi basement,’ mom implores – rejected as the flame will be atop them in upper floors.

 

Maybe salvation is through the attic to reach the terracotta roof. From this height they can take in the neighbourhood’s scale. 

Ultimately danger remains not because from outside the unspeakable creatures repeatedly, relentlessly try to climb to the roof – Taige set exterior windows and doors around the building ablaze, to Lenn’s horror setting multiple fires. 

 

Lennard thought this exterminator the answer. His head rapidly turns side to side as anxiety gripped. Fire is spreading. Hell rat squeals, hisses, screams and the bruxing teeth gnash emanate.

 

Almost stumbling, rushed to the abandoned neighbour’s property, tried to carry off the ladder, so heavy forced to drag it. His body sore. Exterminator meanwhile diligently kept watch for any pesky rodent escape.

 

Finally the ladder placed not on the home of course but a close by tree; from there the innocents reached safety.

 

Taige has no guarded moment. ‘If rats allowed to live, your house their nest,’ matter of factly.

 

‘Memories in that house,’ father laments. Mother holding baby put an arm on his shoulder, they hug which teen joins.  

 

Lenn asked of Patrine, the one left to their fate, his face sinks as his shoulders.

 

Snapped awake. Cody in bed, the window outside shows the pristine dark. Cody manages a joke and calls herself an action star. Takes herself back to the first dream where she faced a rat on all alone. ‘The rats returned nastier than before! Never seen so many. This one just took things to level 10!’

 

Picking the up her tablet, a touch activates its screen, bathing the room dimly in light. Was reading a horror novel where people unwillingly partake in deadly trials and dozed off. The nightmare fuel rodents a part. She affirms, ‘That’s it, I’m writing both dreams down.’

 

 

author’s note – sequel to When calamity screams for Rentokil. Along with more in the Kindle collection Adventure Season.

 

Speaking from experience writing a part two of something tends to result in a bigger bang. Rentokil was a single white female. They turn out more ambitious, imagination blossoms all the more.

 

Find the lead up to screaming girl clever?

 

Dangerous as the vermin, leaving Taige’s sex up in the air stirs a reader’s imagination. Cody is named after a real young lady I asked the name in the pet store of my employ over half a decade ago. 15 January 2020.


Submitted: January 15, 2020

© Copyright 2021 dreamscriber. All rights reserved.

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Comments

Robert Helliger

A well written short story.
Rats are dangerous creatures.
It has a James Herbert feel to it.
I liked reading it.

Thu, January 16th, 2020 5:09am

Author
Reply

First review from you sir, I feel positive when you are. Writing is a craft.
Someone enlightened me to Herbert after penning the last story - saved a Wiki to his novel ever since.

Thu, January 16th, 2020 2:19pm

hullabaloo22

Arghh, you got me with this one, dreamscriber. Man-sized rat mischief! Some excellent descriptions of their antics and appetites, and of the fight back.

Thu, January 16th, 2020 9:04pm

Author
Reply

Grace me again Hula - in all this Lennard is an examination of human psyche. The baby is a direct reason spoken of to as you say fight back.

Thu, January 16th, 2020 2:25pm

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