|Of Rats and Geese
Author: Nooseneck PM
In a logic-mocking reality, the animal kingdom is at war. After being blackmailed by treacherous geese, recluse Stephanie struggles to maintain her sanity in her quest to assassinate the King Rat in his sewer kingdom. Absurdity, violence, strong language.Rated: Fiction M - English - Fantasy/Humor - Words: 5,812 - Published: 07-08-11 - Status: Complete - id: 2930941
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Of Rats and Geese, a short story
"What do you want?"
I was laboring over taxes and check books again, not much appreciating being disturbed in my own home at this hour. Weren't people off living their lives elsewhere, while I slaved away at my grown-up work with not even a flock of cats to comfort me? My own house wasn't even safe. After successfully surviving perilous social encounters all day, I was hoping to come home and wrap myself in a cocoon of seclusion. I could turn on the TV without actually watching, sit down with a bowl of cereal, and merrily fulfill my painful, monthly obligations. These should not include socializing with unctuous neighbors like Doris, or whoever the fuck was at my door.
"Helloooo?" she whined outside.
There was no escape. It was obvious the television was playing a re-run of SpongeBob.
"Yes, what, what?" I ripped open the front door. "Doris. Hi. Yes, what do you want? It's like 6:30. Shouldn't you be eating dinner or something?"
"Oh, Stephy, you!" she gave me her widest, Southern Belle smile. "Happy birthday, darling!"
She came at me with her arms.
And hugged me before I could dodge.
"Now you come over to my place this instant. I've got something for you!"
I'm loads of fun, really. But the last thing I want to do on my birthday is be crammed in a kitchen with a dozen females and one token man, who is, of course, gay. At the same time, spitting over a bunch of trick candles and making an idiot of myself doesn't seem quite as appealing as the small talk I would be forced to carry on. Really, doing my taxes and maybe a few cupcakes would have done the trick. But my ridiculously thoughtful neighbors in their vast thoughtfulness did not realize that the thoughtful thing to do would be to kindly ignore me on my birthday or perhaps drop off some bourbon and the original edition of War of the Worlds. But they did what any nice friend would do, and threw a party. I swallowed my irritation, tried to appreciate their kindness, and forced a smile.
But most disconcerting of all was the geese. Did I mention I hate geese? I have always hated geese. And after that day, I would especially hate geese. Forever. So, as I followed Doris to her house a few doors down, I felt the small black eyes watching me, each one lifting its neck or waddling to attention, cards shuffling into a pile as I strolled down the sidewalk, pretending not to notice. And then once inside, I could not get them off my mind. If ever the conversation would stumble and become quiet, a honk would resound from outside, and the gaggle of women would break into nervous laughter and begin to chitter about the weather. It wasn't until I had left that I realized the whole party was a set-up, and the gratuitous collection of geese outside of Doris' home had something to do with me.
And it really was shit like this that kept me from leaving my house.
The geese really have been after me for some time, and being toe to webbed-toe with about one hundred geese was probably the second-most unsettling moment of my life. There was only one thing to do at a time like that. Actually, there was nothing I could do, but my sympathetic nervous system kicked in, and I found myself running. I slapped the nearest goose out of my path and sprinted for my door, but they leaped into the air and soon overtook me in a flutter of wings and feet, and the most I could hope for was waking up not feathered and tarred with goose shit.
When I awoke, I felt a headache throbbing somewhere in the back of my skull, and the strained darkness did nothing to alleviate the pain. I tried to see anything, but there was nothing except the sound of distant shuffling. There came a squawk beside me. Heavy light flooded the room, blinding me. I shielded my eyes. When I had recovered from the ocular assault, I found myself in a throne room, surrounded by more geese than I had ever seen. I shivered.
I looked around for the source of the voice, but found only close-beaked geese. I ventured a "hello" to the room. It echoed upwards.
"I am Beaxter, Lord of the Geese!" A stately goose stepped forward. Upon his little head, there perched an oversized crown, plushy and cheap, which had probably been stolen from a less than virtuous Prom King.
"You're probably wondering why you are here."
"I'm mostly wondering how to get out."
The Goose Lord let out a nasally laugh, and then ignored my inquiry.
"My advisers have deemed you a threat to Goose Land. Simply, you know too much."
Somehow, I wasn't surprised. Okay. I was surprised. Sure, I'd hated geese my whole life, and I always lightly pondered some sort of goose uprising, but nothing of this scale. Nothing serious. I didn't literally believe there were colonies of geese gathering in shit-covered castles, conspiring about who knows what, and frankly, I didn't know exactly of what I knew too much.
"And based on intense research, we've deduced that you are in alliance with the Crows."
I fed a crow once maybe.
"And the Crows report to their allies, the Rats."
Rats and crows. Interesting combination.
"Now, as you are well aware, any conscious human involvement in the Animal Territory Conflict is regarded as high treason in the Animal Kingdom. So, if you wish to save yourself, the Geese are willing to make a deal with you. You must succeed at the impossible. Kill the King Rat."
Finally, I laughed. There I was, standing in dried goose crap, while a Goose Lord delineated some sort of unholy war between the different species of the animal kingdom. And in the midst of this, a war which I had discovered two, maybe three minutes ago, I was being accused of espionage. And now, this 'Goose Lord' wanted me to assassinate the 'King Rat,' the head honcho, who would no doubt be wearing an even more ridiculous ensemble. So yes, I laughed.
The geese squabbled until the Goose Lord boomed, "SILENCE!" And all was quiet. I wiped a tear from my eye. "You find this amusing? You think you could take on my army, some of the finest fighting geese in avian history? Listen here, human. You can do this with all of your fingers, or you could do this without a few. I do not care. It is not uncommon for someone to lose a digit or two when egging on my subjects."
I suppressed my smile. "Perhaps if you provided some evidence for my treachery."
On cue, a goose nudged a cart forward. It contained a projector and a tape player. I raised both my eyebrows, impressed that the geese managed to acquire, transport, and operate a projector.
"April 4th, 1994," the Goose beside the projector honked.
A slide revealed an ordinary image of a Canadian goose in the left corner of the foreground. In the opposite corner, far in the background, there was the swing set of a grassy playground. There was a child on the farthest swing, staring wide-eyed at the goose in the foreground. The child was me.
"Oh, so what?" I said, rolling my eyes.
"August 17th, 2002."
Another slide depicted an image in which I leered at a goose from a sidewalk. The technically inclined goose pecked at the play button on a tape player. Amidst the gurgling white noise and faint background honking, my own voice pushed forward on the recording.
"I'm onto you," the 2002-voice said, and the tape ended.
"That doesn't prove anything!" I said, my arms flailing.
Really? Geese? Really?
"The words of a traitor," Lord Beaxter said. "Your defense does nothing but prove that you are guilty. However, we Geese are a rational species, and we are willing to make a deal with you. It is simple. As we previously stated, kill the King Rat, and you shall be free."
There was a flash of daylight. I stood in a soggy patch of grass between my neighbors' houses. Doris' house was to my right. It must have been the next morning. I tramped through the suburban marsh and marched up to Doris' front door. Too perturbed to use the doorbell, I banged on her door with my fist, rattling the spring wreath hung in front of the window.
"Doris, goddamn it, I know you're in there, and I know you had something to do with this!"
The door eased open, which, after watching countless movies, I knew was never a good thing. And like an obedient horror protagonist, I slipped uninvited into the too quiet house. I crept as soundlessly as I could, checking the ceilings and corners for otherworldly beasts. I didn't call out, for fear some hidden serial killer would hear me, or worse, Doris would hear me. I reached the kitchen, half-relieved. If anything were out to get me, surely it would have attacked me by that point. As I wiped the cold sweat from my eyelids, I began to think that maybe I had imagined the whole goose ordeal—at least, until I turned toward the kitchen table.
I stifled a scream.
What I thought would be my sickest fantasy was actually... pretty sick and horrifying, and I sort of felt like puking. There was Doris, slumped over the table, smeared and resting in a pool of her own blood. Gross. Maybe I could have survived the trauma if I hadn't also seen a goose perched on the table, tearing at her flesh with its ridiculous beak. I wanted to laugh in that "I'm completely out of my fucking mind, and if not, I am about to be out of my fucking mind in about five seconds" type of laugh. And when I did, the goose looked up from its makeshift meal. Really, I can't imagine what Doris tasted like, unless geese enjoyed a touch or slather of cheap perfume instead of spice, and yeah, let's not think about what my neighbor may have tasted like. But then, the goose simply got up and pranced away with Tyler Durden air that said "do not fuck with us."
I touched Doris' face. Cold. Yep, she was real. I dipped my fingers in her blood and smacked my index finger and thumb together. Also real. I picked up the old fashioned wall phone receiver and dialed for the police. On the third ring, someone picked up, but said nothing.
"Hello?" I said.
A distinct honk resounded from the other end of the line. I hung up the phone.
As I stepped outside, a car went by. A goose stared at me from the passenger's seat. Geese stopped tending to their gardens. They stopped walking their dogs. They all stared at me as I shuffled back to my house. Once inside my once safe home, I found the Goose Lord.
"Please," he said. "By all means, go back to your daily routine if you are not afraid. Seek out the King Rat and kill him, or else your world will disintegrate. You have been warned."
What a loquacious goose. I never would have guessed. "Not to uh, impugn your honor, or anything, Beaxter." My voice was shaking. "But why haven't you vanquished the King Rat if you know... You can disintegrate my whole world?"
He laughed. "My dear. Politics are a bit more complicated than that."
"Okay, say I want to take on this Rat. Where do I find him?"
"You will have to journey to a far-off land. The trip may be perilous, and you may lose your way. Few have ever I encountered that know of a land so strange. The ever-elusive... Manhattan."
"Manhattan... Like New York?"
"Ah, so you've heard of it!" the Goose Lord ruffled his feathers in approval. "You know. I've even got a position for you in the Goose Militia, should you be successful."
"I'll keep that in mind."
At the train station, geese sat and read the paper in eerie silence. When my train screeched into the platform, a goose dressed as a conductor stepped out from the train. He watched me as I boarded, and later cut my ticket with his beak. All of the passengers in my car were geese who did nothing but stare at me with their beady death-ray eyes. After four hours, the train rolled into Penn Station, where the geese, so enamored with me, watched as I left and were too stunned to move from their cushy train seat nests.
I breathed the stale, subway air of New York. It was stuffy and refreshing. People jostled past me, new tourists in awe at the "report any suspicious activity" signs. And best of all, no one was a goose. I looked behind me, and the train was already pulling away. I still hoped I was imagining all of this. But first, I realized I was hungry, so I entered the first decent food chain I could find and purchased a sandwich. I tried not to look at the cashier, who had a large, beakish nose protruding from between two, tiny eyes. It only reminded me of my ridiculous quest. I scurried out of the mall, sandwich in hand, and stopped.
What was my plan of action? Sure, I was in New York, but Manhattan was huge. I guess I was expecting some sort of Goose Emissary to greet me with a sign of my own name, and lead me to the King Rat's citadel. Maybe I wasn't even on the right side of town. I looked around. People. Just people. No geese, no rats, no crows.
I wandered into Central Park. Surely, I'd find someone there. But I didn't see any rats of course, and the geese must have been in some other park for the day. After acquiring a snow cone, I slouched onto a bench. This was insane. I could have imagined all of this. Even the blood. I could have imagined the blood on my fingers. I looked to where the tips of my fingers were stained red. Maybe I had killed Doris. A pigeon landed beside me. I looked at it, and then I glanced around. No one seemed to notice either me or the pigeon. Crouching to the bird's eye level, I whispered to it.
"Do you know where I can find the King Rat?"
It tilted its head, cooed, and then flew away.
"I know that you know what I'm talking about!" I shouted after it, chasing it several feet.
I looked around again. No one had even noticed.
I meandered in the general direction of the pigeon and found myself back on the streets. It was starting to get dark. And then I saw a rat scurrying through an alleyway. As I stepped into the alley, I felt the deep burp of metal as my foot hit a manhole cover. I took a step back and looked to the ground.
A rusted-out circle revealed a back-alley sewer entrance. Embellished upon the cover was a crown, which looked more like a knock-off burger joint logo than a royal crest. At least, I assumed this was the entrance to the King's City.
I wheeled the covering back, and dropped into the tunnels. My feet hit the stone floor with a delightful splash. I groaned, wondering why I was surprised. There was nothing to guide me but damp walls and dark echoes. I eased myself in one direction and strained to hear anything, even the slightest squeak. I heard nothing,save for the dull rush of sewage. As I made my way through the sewer with comical purpose, I felt silly. I was alone, beneath Manhattan, searching for a Rat King, waiting for some sign, presumably from a rat. I slapped my forehead and laughed. Had I gone mad?I stumbled, still laughing as I turned around, hands on my knees. I felt my foot slip, and then my whole body followed, sliding down, deeper into the sewer, and it took me so abruptly, that, in the midst of laughing, I couldn't tell if I was terrified or amused.
When the sewage slide flattened, and I was flung from my joy ride, I found myself in a tall, circular room, dimly lit by with eerie candles, which lined an aisle to the center of the room. The room was surprisingly clean and had thick, plum-colored drape swathed across the walls. All of the room revolved around a single throne, ornamented with bone, which at this point in my journey, must have been human bone. Or hey, maybe we could even go for dinosaur bones pilfered from a local museum. Really, if we're being weird here, we're being weird.
"So, you've come to kill me."
Then from beneath the shadows of one of the drapes, a figure stepped forward, and I braced my stomach for the largest rat I would most likely ever encounter. But as the light focused in on the King Rat, he was revealed to be not a rat at all, but a man.
"I can't say I'm terribly surprised. In fact, my sources reported that another goose assassin would be sent soon. Though, I was hardly expecting a human."
He was far from rat-like. Tall, much taller than a rat, medium build, and ashen brown hair. The only seemingly rat quality he appeared to possess was a thick, fur cloak. Being the Rat King, I doubted it was rat fur. Or rather, I did not want to think of a rat that large. His accessories were a bit more gruesome. A collar piece made of finger bones. Spinal pieces clack around his wrists. Even his cloak was clasped with a rib, and any other part of his outfit that could have been fitted with gems was instead inlaid with bone. And of course, his crown too was capped with bone.
"It is strange that they attacked," he said, advancing toward me, "but I hear the Geese are actively pursuing territory in the suburban-Boston area. They want to claim their land. They're becoming too aggressive."
He stopped a foot short of me, and I could see he had blue eyes, intense and calm. He really believed all of this. I watched his teeth while he spoke to me. They were large, but not sharp. I expected he didn't want to eat me, or he would have already, and I also expected I must not be palatable, especially after my tromp through the sewer. I thought of Doris, then. I wondered how many other people the Geese had ripped apart to gain control of my town—that Doris must not have been the only casualty. I knew I hated Geese.
"What is your name?" he asked.
What kind of cannibal would live in a sewer, anyway? How many humans could he possibly encounter to eat? Or perhaps, he dragged his victims into the sewer to devour them in private, away from any authorities, anyone who might see. More than anything, he was probably insane. The fact that he so quietly seemed to accept this animal world as his own, to rule over it. He was waiting for me to say something, but what?
"Your name, dear. I'd like your name."
I stared at him longer. Should I give my real name? Was I supposed to be someone else? He was expecting me. Perhaps he already knew my name, and this was a test. I'm not a big fan of tests, not under this kind of pressure. There was no one else around to see what they were giving. There was no one to call up and ask what they put for the second question.
"Well, what's your name?" I asked him.
He looked surprised, as if no one had asked him this in a very long time.
"Basil," he said. "I usually go by Basil. At least, when I'm out and about in the city."
I must have looked puzzled, because he laughed.
"You can't expect me to stay down here all of the time." He chuckled. "No, but enough questions. Let me show you."
I wasn't exactly looking forward to facing the real world while soaked in sewage. Hell, sewage or not, I wasn't looking forward to facing the real world. If there existed a Rat Kingdom, surely I smelled like I had been to it. Basil provided me with a set of clean clothes, though I would have preferred a shower. As we strolled the streets of New York, I thought maybe I should have tried to kill this guy.
"I've booked a room for you here," he said as we stopped in front of a hotel. "Feel free to wander. I'll come find you tomorrow."
A chill swept through me as he walked away. That meant my location was accounted for at all times. The whole city was watching me. This all could have been avoided if maybe I decided to not turn on the television, or if I had not answered the door, or if I had gone out with Maria instead of choosing to stay alone in my home. It wouldn't have made a difference. They would have found me, because they had been watching me for my whole life. But who else were they watching?
I looked up and saw a crow, failing to be subtle, sitting upon a wilted branch near the hotel entrance. I called to him in a hoarse voice.
"Hey. Hey you, crow! I know what you're doing!"
The bellboy tried not to stare. I was far beyond caring what minimum wage workers thought of me. But when I approached the crow, it darted off into the sky.
"Don't play stupid with me!" I called after him. Fucking birds. I needed a drink.
There was a bar inside, where thank God, no one resembled anything close to a goose. Their noses were fatter or round or even pointed, all on long faces with wide round eyes. The teeth of the people at the bar seemed a bit strange, though, large, sometimes crooked. The suburbs seemed like a distant nightmare, but the city was even more surreal with faces I couldn't remember for more than a few seconds. I ordered a beer and set to reclaiming some sanity, alone. People everywhere, and no one harassing me. What a relief.
A man had sat next to me. He looked bizarrely normal. I turned my back to him and rolled my eyes. Really, I thought I had been projecting this "please don't talk to me" body language, but people always seem to mistake it for "hi, how are you, and how is your cat and isn't the weather great, I'm so happy to see you." I can see how they could get confused. Really, I do. People adore small talk. Some people adore being hit on at the bar. I don't.
"I'm Stephen," he persisted.
"Hi, I'm not really interested."
"Cute, truly," he was smug, "but I think we can both do better. That's not why I've come to speak with you."
I sneered. "Is this about Basil?"
"What's his deal?"
"He's the King Rat."
"Yeah, I fucking noticed." His curtness irritated me. "What's up with him? Is there some strange coronation tradition that I haven't heard about?"
Stephen smiled. "Actually there is. I'm guessing no one told you."
"Of course no one told me."
"Last guy got three days," he yawned. "And that was it."
"What, they killed him?"
"Listen, I'm not the best at small talk, so let's just get to the point. What is the deal with Basil? Why isn't he a rat? And what is going on, seriously. I think I've got the rules down—conscious human interference is grounds for treason. Then all of a sudden, I see this guy in a serious power position. What is that about?"
"Well, first of all, no one outside of the Rat Kingdom knows the King isn't actually a rat. And second, there is a strange coronation tradition. It's simple. Whoever kills the King becomes the King. Third, the Geese sent you on a suicide mission. It's near impossible to kill the King Rat. And frankly, I'm surprised Basil managed to kill the last one. I thought he would have died from loss of blood."
The way Stephen spoke of the previous king made me believe that it truly was a rat, and I imagined Basil wrestling a giant rodent deep within the sewers. I looked down at my flimsy arms. I doubted my ability to kill a giant rat, let alone a man who had killed a giant rat, and I couldn't exactly see myself outwitting him in hand to hand combat. Maybe he had a gun, or a knife. Maybe I didn't want to kill anybody. I didn't really. I also didn't want to be eaten alive by geese. Or rats.
"He'll probably try to seduce you, too. Then he'll kill you."
"Seduce you. You know, charm you, beguile you, enchant you."
"I know what seduction is," I snapped.
"The smell would say otherwise."
I glared at him.
"So what should I do?" I said.
"Kill him, obviously."
"I mean how do I kill him? Poison?"
"Ding, ding, we have a winner. And here is your prize." Stephen pulled out a small bag from his pocket. Some sort of crushed seed. "Strychnine. Put it in his food, his wine, just make sure he ingests it. All of it. And make sure he doesn't taste it. He'll know. People have tried to poison him before."
I took the bag and put it in my pockets.
"Have you tried to poison him?"
"Me? Of course not. Then I would be the King. It's not like you actually have a choice."
He made it seem so appealing, but I was done with sarcasm for the night. I could be killed within the next few days, or I could poison the King, become the King, and be killed sometime down the road. I really didn't feel like killing anyone. It made me nauseous. The thought of myself dead did nothing for me either. I really didn't feel like dying after coming all that way. Stephen stood up and saluted me.
"Be sure to set me free when you're done."
Then he disappeared in the bar crowd. Tomorrow would be fun.
I slept more than I had expected to sleep. The thought of killing someone doesn't settle too well with most people. But... well it hadn't exactly settled with me, either. I sat in my bed for an hour in the morning, even after I was well awake. I decided to not turn on the television. That only led to bad things last time I did that. Soon, though, there came a knock at my door. I realized a crow must have seen me awake through the window, and notified Basil. Comforting.
I rolled out of my bed and found even more clothes in the closet. I pulled on a shirt and a pair of jeans, and then I opened the door. Basil had ditched his rather horrifying royal raiment and donned some slacks and a button down shirt. Also, he was smiling. He looked like a perfectly normal, high-functioning White male. Also, he was the King of the Rats. But aside from that, adequately ordinary.
We made our way downstairs, and then in the basement, there was a charming breakfast cafe. When was the last time a man took me out to breakfast? Seemed like never. He started to ask me questions like what I do for a living and who I live with, even though we both were pretty aware of my whole life story. You know, the animal surveillance. He ordered eggs Benedict, and ate civilly. This was the Basil that must have existed before the Rats and the sewers and the Animal Territory Conflict.
And then breakfast was over, and I hadn't made the move. I hadn't the chance.
"So," he said, as we walked back to the hotel. "When are you going to kill me?"
He was cheerful.
"I don't think I can kill you," I mumbled.
"Nonsense!" He laughed. "Better hurry up."
I didn't like being reminded of killing him. I didn't like being out in public. Though, I liked pretending I had a friend. Especially a friend who had interesting things to say, who bought me ice cream from expensive vendors, who took me to art museums, and who relished in the novelty of a two story McDonald's. And so when Basil excused himself to the bathroom, I was left with his Big Mac in front of me and the strychnine in my pocket, and all of the badness that comes with killing one of your friends. Everyone's been there.
My hands shook as I pulled the small bag from my pocket. Shit. That last guy got three days. Maybe I could put it off. Maybe he wouldn't want to kill me. We were getting along so well... But Stephen said Basil would do this. He would try and charm me, beguile me, enchant me. And then he would kill me. I was going to die. Or he was going to die. How dare he? With my weak resolve, the mantra how dare he echoing in my mind, I pulled apart the zip-lock on the bag, lifted the top bun of his burger, and sprinkled the strychnine into the first bite, and poured some mayonnaise over the powder.
He came back after another minute and we began to banter about how small the bathrooms were. Even for a men's room, they were small. He could barely open the door without knocking into the sink. That was how small they were. I laughed and shoved some fries into my mouth to choke any strange sobbing sounds that might emit from my throat. He reached for his burger. I looked away.
"Too much mayonnaise in this bite."
And he kept eating. Nothing happened until we left. He doubled over in the middle of the sidewalk, and cried out. I wanted to run, but I kept walking, hoping that no one would notice me fleeing. I held back any tears that wanted to barrel through my eyes. If I cried, someone might notice. People soon realized Basil was dying. None of them knew it was me. But all of the crows and rats and pigeons and other animals watched me, and they knew that it was me. I had killed the King Rat, and that meant that the crown now rolled into my possession.
I returned to the hotel, unsure of what to do next. The bar had just opened, and sure enough, there was Stephen in the same place I had met him the previous night. He beamed at me. My crooked posture and grim stare must have cued him in to my victory. I took a seat beside him. We sat in silence for a moment, and then I cried like I have never cried before. Stephen attempted to comfort me, but what would we say? Hey, sorry you had to kill that guy, but you like, had no choice. Congratulations on your first murder, by the way.
"So... About being the Rat King... Rat Queen?" Stephen said finally.
"What the fuck am I supposed to do now?"
Stephen shrugged. "Go tell the Goose Lord you've succeeded?"
He grinned at me.
I returned to Boston the next day. There was still one set of clothes left. Three sets total for three days. I forced myself to smile at the morbid victory. The train ride was quiet. There were no geese this time. Only people. And the hundreds of rats who now followed in my shadows. News had surely reached the Boston suburbs by that time, and I fully expected to be greeted by jubilant and shocked geese. No such thing occurred, until I reached my home. Everything seemed normal, but I now knew to expect something strange around every corner, and Lord Beaxter looked a bit displeased when I entered my kitchen for a glass of orange juice and did nothing but nod to acknowledge him.
"You're alive!" he cried. "All of the animals are a-flutter with the news that you vanquished the King Rat!"
"Yeah, I know," I said, drinking.
"But—but no one has... That's impossible!"
"Are you saying you sent me on a suicide mission?" my voice was hard, though there was some part of me that found this banter amusing.
"What? I mean... N-no. We just were not expecting..."
"Listen here, Beaxter, if that is your real name, there's one little thing you didn't know about the Rat coronation tradition." He looked very afraid by that point. "And that-"
I lost my eloquence there, in the middle of my triumphant oration.
"I am the King Rat!" I cried.
Then, the rats swarmed into the room and consumed the Goose Lord. He honked for his brothers, but there were too many rats. Rats from the fields crept from their places, and rats from all over the area skittered into my yard, chasing and tackling Geese in a glorious blood bath. And then the crows dove from the sky to peck out their eyes and pick at the corpses. The rats and crows circled my house and then paraded into the neighboring towns to wreak havoc on all Goose territory. Basil may have kept such a war from breaking out, but I embraced it. They made a mistake when they ripped me out from the comfort of my living room. They made a huge mistake.
And it really was shit like this that kept me from leaving my house.