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Adventures at the Town Dump

Every few years, the small Texas town was overrun by small creatures as spring became summer. In some years, it was locusts. Perhaps in another, it would be crickets.

By C. L. NicholsPublished 2 months ago 3 min read
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Every few years, the small Texas town was overrun by small creatures as spring became summer. In some years, it was locusts. Perhaps in another, it would be crickets. Benjamin well remembered walking downtown streets, shoes crunching the insect skeletons that covered the sidewalks two inches thick.

This year, it was rats.

They were everywhere. Every time you turned over a large rock or piece of lumber, there would be at least one that scurried away with amazing speed. Benjamin dreaded when they did, afraid they would climb a bare leg into his athletic shorts. He could blame Oliver for instilling that idea into his brain. Once you let that stuff inside, you could never flush it out. Still, they spent many of their hours during the aimless days of summer vacation, flipping rocks and boards, makeshift clubs held high, ready to smash their little heads in before they could climb a leg.

Their preferred battleground was the town dump.

City dump trucks would arrive most mornings and sometime in the late afternoon to rid their bellies of the town’s accumulated trash. Every two or three days, a dozer would come to smooth out the garbage and junk that people dispose of without thought.

Among all that refuse, rats scurried within that man-made reptile heaven. This year, they’d multiplied almost beyond belief. They were everywhere. Every couple of weeks, firemen on the town’s sole fire truck would watch as fires were set. The rats really jumped and squealed then, adding their own special burnt smell to that of the collected debris of human existence. It was horrifying yet fascinating in its own unique way.

Oliver’s laugh was especially demented and maniacal. Benjamin wasn’t sure if he was just being his usual comedic self, or if the mass destruction set off some sort of strange emotion that would one day lead him to do some cold-blooded, inhuman thing that would be on the evening’s seven o’clock news for days on end.

Benjamin realized with some adult way of thinking that Oliver just might bear watching.

Today, the dump grounds were empty. The two of them walked the two miles from home, strode in alone together, ready to do some major damage. Ben sometimes made himself some kind of movie hero, overturning the rule of empire, striking saving blows or whatever. He wondered if that’s how Ollie thought of what they were doing, or if to him it was just killing rats before they could bite or climb. Simply a test of reflexes, to see who was quickest, man or beast.

They stepped onto the heaps of trash, careful not to fall through the upper layers. In places, fires still burned underneath and odors still emanated into the air, wafting into their nostrils. Often a strangely sweet smell arose, and Benjamin wondered whether it was the aroma of cooking flesh. Perhaps it was a confusing bouquet of acrid fragrance. Definitely, it was nothing he’d smelled anywhere else.

Ollie reached down, flipped over some object no longer recognizable, and began to step back to raise his club. The rat was quicker. It jumped into the air and landed on Ollie’s thigh. Ben raised his stick higher and hesitated. He couldn’t strike it while it was on Ollie. The rat climbed higher. From his thigh to his waist. Then it was inside his tee shirt.

Ollie squealed. Ben choked back a nervous laugh. He was helpless to come to Ollie’s aid. He could see the rat moving under the shirt. For only a second, it came into view at the neckline, head in plain sight, then it submerged again. Ollie screamed.

“My nipple!” The rat had latched onto the first protuberance it found. The front of Ollie’s white shirt was suddenly stained red.

Ben swung his stick, whacking where it appeared the rat still was. His friend fell over backward on top of the hot garbage.

The rat finally gave up its grasp, and Ben watched it run out from beneath the bottom of the shirt and bury itself in the trash as it escaped its would-be killers.

Ollie was crying, trying to lift himself from the heap he was in.

Ben couldn’t help himself. The adrenaline rushed out and he began to laugh.

“Shut up!” Ollie said, as he stood and looked down at his bloody shirt, obviously in pain from his injury. “I need a tetanus shot.”

Ben suddenly wanted to throw up. “Let’s get you home,” he finally said.

“Yeah,” Ollie said. “What are we gonna tell my mom?”

“The truth?” Ben said.

“No way,” Ollie said.

Horror
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About the Creator

C. L. Nichols

C. L. Nichols retired from a Programmer/Analyst career. A lifelong musician, he writes mostly speculative fiction.

clnichols.medium.com

specstories.substack.com

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  • Catherine Murray2 months ago

    Funny, true-sounding ending

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