Saturday, June 27, 2015

Fatrat and the Insidiously Noisy Summer Camp by Suzanne de Montigny

This month we are beginning a new feature on the Lightning Quick Reads blog-A Guest Author. Each month a guest author will stop by and share their take on the monthly theme. Have an author you'd like to see? Drop us a note in the comments and we'll do our best to bring them in for a visit!

Now, it's my pleasure to welcome this month's guest author, Suzanne de Montigny and her camp themed short story. Suzanne is the author of award-winning The Shadow of the Unicorn series available from Barnes and Noble, Chapter Indigo, Amazon, and all other major book venues.

What can a rat do when his home is invaded by noisy kids?

Fatrat poked his nose from his hidey-hole underneath the bunkhouse and glared at the intruders with his black, beady eyes.

“They’re back! How I hate those dirty, runny-nosed kids who come every summer. They holler and scream and run around like they’re having the time of their lives, leaving smelly socks and wet swimsuits lying around, laughing up a storm like there’s something funny. Argh! Can’t sleep when they’re doing all that. I mean, who stays awake during the day? Daytime’s meant for sleeping. Darn kids!”

Letting out a super-charged huff, Fatrat twisted around and darted back into his hidey-hole, digging deeper into the earth to escape the racket. Cool and comfortable, he reminisced about the quiet days before the arrival of the annoying humans—in the hayloft, snacking on grain and hay, or feeding on the eggs of birds foolish enough to nest there. He sniggered. Little had those twittering pests known. Then there was the human woman who sometimes left the root cellar opened, allowing Fatrat to wander in and explore when she wasn’t looking. Once she trapped him by accident, slamming the door shut a little too soon before he had the chance to get out. What a feast it had been! Crunchy apples, sweet pears, tasty tomatoes! Fatrat had grown fatter and fatter. But when she came back a few days later and came face to face with him, she screeched loud enough to wake the dead. After that, she took care to close the door behind her with a sharp thud. Fatrat sighed.

But it was a good life, really, the life of a rat. And despite the arrival of the irritating miniature guests, even summer had its good points with its abundance of berries ripening on the bush, and apples falling from the trees, tomatoes growing in the garden. He loved the corn when it yellowed on the stalks, and the green beans that dangled from vines. But the kids! How he abhorred their very presence!

“Except for,” thought Fatrat, licking black, slimy lips, “the scraps--the crumbs and crusts, bits of lettuce they discard or drop by accident, sticky stuff in candy wrappers…”

‘Twas truly a feast to be had by night when the ruckus stopped. Then Fatrat would creep out of his hidey-hole, clamber up the inside of the wall, and slip through the crack that led to the bunkhouse to wander about, poking his nose under beds, and tables, careful not to wake the the boisterous creatures. His favourite leftover was the crust of peanut butter sandwiches.

“I love peanut butter—nothing more delectable!” It was the main reason he hung about the camp, tolerating the presence of the short, ape-like creatures. Only problem was, peanut butter sandwiches didn’t grow on bushes, nor did they exist in the cellar. “Children leave them behind.” Fatrat sighed. “At least they’re good for something.”

On the second night, after a particularly noisy afternoon when the little thugs played some useless game called baseball, Fatrat left his hidey-hole, climbed the inside of the wall and slipped through the crack that led into the bunkhouse, his nose wiggling to and fro, searching, smelling, sampling until he hit the mother load—an entire peanut butter sandwich that had dropped on the floor!

With glee, Fatrat scuttled to the plate. He stood on his hind legs and picked up the piece in his sharp claws. It was heavy, but smelled heavenly at the same time. He ate slowly at first, taking delicate nibbles and bites, but was soon drunk with pleasure from the flavour, devouring it in chunks and gulps.

“Oh, how delicious!” he squeaked, a little too loud. “How juicy, yet sticky at the same time… and gooey!” His voice crescendoed. “It’s magnificent, it’s delightful, it’s…”

Something clunked. His heart thumping, Fatrat wheeled about to see a large foot almost the same size as his entire body slide across the floor, and then stop. A dirty face lowered down to his level. Its eyes widened for a moment, and then its mouth opened up and let out the most hair-raising scream.

“A rat!” shouted the boy, jumping up on the bed and dancing a wild dance.

Within seconds, the other human brats leapt up, pushing up covers, and shrieking.

Fatrat made a dash for it. Pushing a claw into the bread of the sandwich, he tried to drag it away, but it was no use. It was far too heavy.

He looked back in time to see a tall human with a deep voice, the one they called Counsellor, race toward him, a baseball bat in his hands.

“Where, where?” the tall one shouted.

“Over there!” squealed several children at once.

The counsellor lifted the bat over his head, took aim, and slammed it against the floor. He barely missed Fatrat.

Fatrat dropped the sandwich and flew, slipping through the crack, down the inside of the wall, and right into his hidey-hole...

“That was close!” he said, his breath heaving. “I nearly got killed.”

He cowered in the dark, trembling, for a few hours. But after a time, his stomach began growling. Remembering the gooey texture of the peanut butter on the mushy bread, his thoughts grew bolder.

“Perhaps I was a bit too noisy and awoke them. They’re probably all asleep by now. Maybe I can go back, nibble more slowly and quietly, and then bring the rest of it back down here for later.”

He reflected on his plan, deeming it feasible, and then crept from his hidey-hole, back up the inside of the wall and through the crack the led to the bunkhouse where he listened with pricked ears to be sure no one walked about or tossed on their beds. When he knew the coast was clear, he scuttled to where the sandwich had been, but discovered…it was gone.

“How can that be?” thought Fatrat. “I can smell it.” He wandered about, his nose wiggling to and fro, searching, and sniffing, and following the scent until it led him to a small garbage can. His beady, black eyes searching the darkness, he gaged its height. It was tall, but if he stretched high enough, he could dig his claws in and hoist himself right inside to where the prized peanut butter sandwich lay.

He reached up, dug his claws in the plastic, and pulled himself up. The garbage wobbled to and fro, and then tipped over and landed with a loud bang. Fatrat’s heart raced as he listened for the deep voice of the counsellor. Someone rolled over, someone else stopped snoring for a second…and then resumed. But no one got up. Fatrat gave a devilish grin of triumph, then pushed his way into the garbage can and began his feast again.

“So delicious! So slimy, so sticky. Mmmm-grft-grft,” he squeaked, forgetting his plan to stay quiet. “Oh, so good.” His voice crescendoed again.

Something moved! Fatrat froze, listening intently, but when nothing happened, he continued his gluttony, tearing, chewing, munching, smacking, only this time more quietly. When he’d devoured most of the sandwich, he dragged the rest back down the crack that led to the bunkhouse, down the inside of the wall, and into his hidey-hole.

After a brief nap, he took the remainder of the sandwich in his claws and noted that most of the peanut butter was missing. “Could it have rubbed off on the floor?” he grumbled. Feeling cheated, he stored the rest away, and planned his next move.

The next day, the children’s screams and holler woke Fatrat yet once again. Fatrat stuck his nose out and eyed the small humans, a deep frown creasing his forehead. They were wearing old potato sacks and racing across the lawn of the camp! Fatrat fumed, ate the remainder of the sandwich, and then drifted off to sleep again.

When he awoke, it was dusk. Springs creaked as the small humans climbed into their beds and the counsellor called out in his deep voice, “Lights out.”

Fatrat waited until he was certain all were asleep and then crept from his hidey-hole, up the inside of the wall and through the crack that led into the bunkhouse. Wet bathing suits dripped on the floor, and sweaty clothes made his nose wrinkle. But there was something else too—peanut butter!

Fatrat crept forward. His nose wiggled to and fro, searching, and smelling in the dark until he came to a small bowl of just peanut butter! A whole bowl, and a rat-sized one at that! Overjoyed, Fatrat leapt onto the dish, sticking his long tongue out before he got there. For a split second, he saw a shadow, and then…



Award winning author, Suzanne de Montigny, wrote her first novella when she was twelve. Years later, she discovered it in an old box in the basement, thus reigniting her love affair with writing. A teacher for twenty years, she enjoys creating fantasy and paranormal for tweens and teens. She lives in Burnaby, B.C., Canada with the four loves of her life – her husband, two boys, and Buddy the dog.


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