Revolt by nightfall

by Dexter F. I. Joseph

“They kill us like we on our own aren’t living creatures! Like we have no right to live! Well, that time is long past! Tonight we shall show them our size!”

I stare, underwhelmed at how many rats are buying into this madness. Three hundred? Three-fifty? Both from my clan and two other clans just across the streets. Apparently, entitlement is a word that not just humans are afflicted by. Here we all are gathered listening to a hot-tempered, cheese-mouthed plotter such as Fredrick, spewing venomous hate against humans to whom nearly we all get our supplies from.

Maybe I should not blame because everyone has at some point a contrasting view of suffering. In their perception, if they stepped on your tail, if they screamed for a second on falling sights at you, if they poisoned their leftovers with odourless powder which would wreck your entrails till you see death kiss the redness of your lips, if they put cats at their doors to keep you out, then it didn’t matter that the house is theirs. They are oppressive. They are vile, they are hateful and should not be in the picture that even we can’t draw ourselves.

Maybe I shouldn’t blame Frederick in himself, his rancorous tone, the foul hoarseness in his chatter. He has known pain, more than once. Having lost a brother, and then a father to the hurl of a human’s boots, and the poison of their milk bread respectively, who is to say he hasn’t lost his mind too? All have lost a thing or two, breeding us for a moment as tonight. In his judgment, if they kill your own, if they trample you to your very demise, if they slid poison in their meals and pray your unquenchable gluttony lure you to have just a bite, then squeak to death, then they are oppressors.

If they pick brooms and scatter the entire rooms just because they hear you satisfactorily mutter in error whilst eating at either a buttered bread or nuts, their shoe or their house documents, then it didn’t matter that they built the house and stuffed it with your very bane, food, they are the oppressors and needed to be emasculated. Who is to say he is wrong?

As I watch them, however, I can’t but moan at the benightedness which drives them all, even the wisest of us, Fredrick. How do you tell them there is no distinction between what humans are doing and what we plan to do? How do I tell them that entitlement only is earned for that which is duly yours? How do I make them understand that it’s maybe high time we found a better, decent and a more noble source of livelihood other than stealing that which isn’t ours? How do I tell them that we fear death every night because we are on properties not our own, atop cheese and bread not our earnings, and feeding off labour not our sweat? How do I tell them we’d be led into our funerals tonight? When will they ever listen?

“…Now they make their poisons odourless! They want to wipe us all out. Who fights for food they already rejected? Who fights to kill us for our children, out of Jealousy that we do it better than they ever will at breeding?” Frederick charges on, and the chatters of everyone screech at the exhilarating power in the collective unanimity.

I am irrelevant, and so is what I know. So instead, I watch Frederick give the final morale to everyone then charge all towards the big white-coloured mansion filled with a man, his wife, children and servants. And as a foolish generation of rats chirps in hundreds, through the gutters, towards the building painted white, I feel nothing but pity. Even as I am forced to run with the others in such a frenzy, even as we raid the house and have everyone scream, cry and scamper for safety, I can’t help but feel conflicted with one possible future at the end of this skirmish.

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