The man had grown weary from running, and let himself collapse against a brick wall, heavily breathing. Pale moonlight shone down from the sky, briefly outlining his ragged black hair. His breath came out in sharp, painful gasps, and he clutched his chest like it was a life-line, and not currently trying to suffocate him in between his wheezes.
The alley he had dragged himself into was a small one. Folks on the street often avoided it, due to the rather astonishing rat population one would find if they wandered into it. The man did not mind the wretched creatures, though, even as they scurried over his bare feet, tails wet from what he probably did not want to know. He was like them. He was a condemned creature. And so, he sought company amongst them.
The rats were quite used to him, and how he frequently rushed in at ungodly hours hardly peaked their interests anymore. Perhaps they understood each other, different as they were. Ordinary people were hardly fond of the rats, and even raccoons seemed to recoil at the sight of the man.
And so, there they were that particular moonlit night, the vermin seeking company in one another. The rats, who normally wouldn't bother the man, were watching him rather intently. Perhaps they had sensed that something was out of whack, or perhaps they were just extra bored. Whichever one it was, the man was rather uncomfortable having all of their eyes on him. He didn't feel bashful, no, he had long since grown out of that feeling, but their looks sent chills down his spine.
It wasn't just another night, he was sure of it. So he sat in the alley, waiting for something to happen. The rats waited with him. Silence befell the strange acquaintances, other than the occasional chitter of a younger rat. Then, the ground vibrated. The rats jumped at this, whilst the man looked them on in confusion. He could not feel the tremor in the ground. A tremor that meant that someone was coming.
The man finally sensed this, and dove behind a cardboard box, praying to whatever entity had gotten him into this mess in the first place. He couldn't remember. Actually, he wasn't even sure if he was a he. What distinguished the two sex's from one another? That, he had forgotten as well. He sounded right though, so he supposed that was probably what he was.
He had bigger problems than his sex, at the moment. The rats scurried into separate corners, as a few people entered the alley. Three of them, to be exact, and one of them was dragging a child behind them. The child's hands were bound, as they were pulled rather roughly behind the three adults. The man could see them from a hole in the box. He hoped they couldn't see him.
"Ah, all the reports say that he frequently comes here, but I see nothin' but a bunch of dang rats!" One of the mysterious people said. This enlisted a chuckle from one of their companions, and glare from the third. The glaring one picked up an unfortunate rat by the tail, scowling at it.
"Nasty creatures. Suppose Quinn finds them as good company though." They sneered, the other two choking with laughter. They pulled a knife from their belt, which glistened from the moon, it's shine seeming to taunt the man behind the boxes, before they sliced the rat down the middle, dropping it on the ground.
The rat gave a few squeals, desperately trying to stand, and slipping in the increasing pile of its own scarlet blood. It did not try again. It did not have the chance. The strangers seemed to take delight in this, the rats who were hiding recoiling in terror. Even rats feel horror at the murder of one of their own, you see. Humans do not always. That is why the man behind the box felt at that very moment that perhaps the rats were superior to the likes of people.
The child, who was behind the adults, bent down as far as the ropes binding their hands would let them. They placed their hands on the dead rat while their captors were focusing on other matters, for a moment. The child whispered things under their breath, things that sounded so familiar to the wretched man, but he couldn't quite place it.
There was no time, though, as the captors had noticed what the child was doing. The first hit the child across the face, ignoring the child's pained gasp. The child did not cry, however, instead staring solemnly back at them. The man behind the box stiffened, and that slight movement was what alerted the three of his presence. All of their heads swiveled his way. The box was removed from in front of the man. He didn't protest.
Maybe at one point in life, he would have. Maybe he had. His memory was foggier than the night sky during rain.
"Theodore Quinn, you are under arrest for crimes against the school." Theodore Quinn. Theodore Quinn. Why did the name sound so familiar to the man? Was he Theodore Quinn? The man's eyes widened, as he recalled his name. His name brought back more memories. He fell to his knees in shame.
"Theodore Quinn," The person in front of him smirked, "Think of how much we'll get paid for him and the kid."
"What was the kid for again, boss?" One of the others asked. The boss smiled at them.
"Last of the poster kids. Also has a rather interesting relationship to one… Isaac Cohen?" The child struggled, trying desperately to rid themselves of the ropes.
"Ah, yes, the Cohen kid. This… They're it, aren't they boss?" The other person asked hesitantly.
"You know they'll be more, but technically, yes. These two are the last."
The child and Theodore Quinn made eye-contact. Theodore Quinn didn't understand the word. What did the last mean? Then, both he and the child were pulled out of the alley of rats. Just like that, the air untensed, and a calm quiet fell over the alley. The rats were not calm though, as they scurried around their fallen comrade.
The man did not return the next day, despite the rats waiting. Or the next. Or the next. Or ever. They found the child though, a month later. They stumbled into the alley late at night. There was blood dripping from their lips. Despite the rat's feeble offers of comfort, the child did not live to see the morning, drowned in their own blood.
There were no more indignant cries from the streets, or yelling and gunfire. Theodore Quinn and the child were truly the last. And with them, died the hope of millions. Turns out, when left to their own devices, people made short work of one another. And themselves.