We ride across the coastline on Parsley. The bushes and grass flash past us, and once or twice, I even see a wild cat looking at us in complete dismay. The third time I see a cat, I wave to it, and stick my tongue out. The cat stares, open mouthed, and I throw a large and sharp rock at it. My aim is true, and the cat rushes off, meowing in pain.
I suppose that you think I am a bit harsh, but the truth is, I recognise this cat. It’s Bloodfur.
Parsley looks back at us, tongue lolling, and says
“This is my favourite thing to do!!!!!!”
“Not mine!” Mr Wombat replies, turning green “This is like being seasick, except worse!”
“Nonsense. It’s NOTHING like being seasick!” I say.
Finally, we’re at the harbour. It’s rat paradise! (Apart from the thin, grey and ginger tabby cats that patrol the jumbled streets of the harbour, of course. But I guess they’re no danger to us, with Parsley at our side. Cats hate and fear dogs, especially large black greyhounds like Parsley!) I find part of an onion that someone has dropped. Eeeeewww! I hate onions! Then I see a piece of a carrot. YUMMY!!! I eat most of it, then scamper off to ask Wilfred if he wants any. He says he doesn’t like carrot, so I keep it all for myself! Mou ha ha ha haaaa! (That is meant to be an evil laugh, but if it doesn’t sound like one, I’m sorry.)
“Quiet! we’re almost at my house!” whispers Parsley.
“Won’t you’re owners not like having two disgusting, filthy rats and a family of equally disgusting and filthy wombats in their lovely, clean home?” I say. I am not a big fan of Humans, especially the fancy and posh ones. Once, one of the posh ones trapped me in a rat trap. It took me days to find my way out! Luckily, this particular Human had a very bad memory, and didn’t remember to check the rat trap for rats.
“Yes!” says Wally. “They’ll eat us! They’ll kill us!”
“Nonsense!” says Mrs Wombat, though I notice that even she looks uncertain.
“Err… Maybe we’ll go to a different place.” says Parsley.
“But where?” we all say.
“Hang on… I know the perfect place for you to spend the night!” says Parsley. “Follow me!!”
We march down the jumbled streets, and get to a section where the house’s windows are all boarded up, the doors are falling into the house, the windows are cracked, the chimneys are crumbling, and you can hear the almost constant clatter as countless tiles fall off the crumbling roofs.
“Um… Are you sure we’re in the right place, Parsley?” I say.
“Yes Stanley! Follow me!” We run into what seems to be the most tumbledown house in the whole harbour. “This isn’t it. It’s just a shortcut!” says Parsley. We all back up against the rotting walls. And that’s when I notice it. In the wall behind us, there is a tiny hole that is framed with the words “Way In”, and I can see a warm, golden light coming from it!
Parsley sees me staring at the hole in the wall. “Yes Stanley! That’s it!” We all jump into the hole… And find a rat paradise!
The floor of this large, low chamber is covered in bouncy gold and green mattresses, the ceiling covered with mini light bulbs, and the walls painted to look like a hot, humid jungle. On the other side of the hole, the words “Way Out” are written in gold lettering. The words are surrounded by a perfectly painted green vine, complete with veins, patterns in the silver bark, and even tiny wrinkles on the glowing golden berries. There are mini beds, mini chairs, and even mini bathtubs! The bathtubs, bed sheets and the cushions on the chairs are either gold speckled with green, green speckled with gold, or like a jungle, matching the walls. There are also tiny tables, made out of a beautiful golden wood. On the tables, there are mini cups, plates and bowls all gold with green specks or green with gold specks. The cutlery is made out of solid gold and silver. But best of all, the place is teeming with other rats!
Rats are very social creatures, and I am a particularly social rat. So don’t be surprised that when I see all these other rats, I get up, and go speak to them. When me, Wilfred, Mr and Mrs Wombat and Wally have finished talking, (at least for now) Parsley pokes his nose through the hole. “Welcome to the Rat Hole!” he shouts proudly. Then, as he sees the blank look on my face, he says in a much softer tone, “Stanley, I found this place, named it, and styled it up for the harbour rats. Now I’m kind of their hero.”
“WOW! So you MADE this place?”
“Yes, Stanley. And now you can enjoy the Rat Hole as well, I would very much like you to do it!”
“Wow Parsley! Wow wow wow!!”
“Stanley, the other rats are waiting!”
“Alright, Parsley.” I race over to a large grey and black patchy rat, and start to finally catch up with my social life.
In the evening, a large Italian looking rat with ridiculous curly hair and a fake moustache waddles up to us.
“Bonjourno. Scegli il tuo letto.”
“Oh. Sorry. You don’t speak Italian, do you?”
“No. Anyway, can you please translate that for us?”
“Sure. ‘Bonjourno. Scegli il tuo letto’ means ‘Good day. Pick your bed.”
“Any bed.” I pick a bed with a jungle on it, right in the very corner of the long, low room. Wilfred picks the bed next to me on one side, and Mr Wombat sleeps on the other side. Wally is next to Mr Wombat and Mrs Wombat, tucked in safely between them. We sleep, knowing that at least for now, we are safe.
In the morning, we have to leave. We walk down to the harbour with Parsley, and start to pick our boat. I think we should take a large green sea boat named Wavebreaker, Wilfred likes the look of a small dark blue boat called Starlight, While Mr Wombat fancies a black one with stars painted on it, called the Nightwhale. Mrs Wombat and Wally like the look of the Seaworthy knot. We just can’t decide!
Finally, we decide to do it the old rat way. Rat snout, you’re out!
I start to explain to the others.
“Okay, this is how you do it. I go “Rat snout, you’re out” around our paws, and then the person who it lands on doesn’t get their choice of boat, and when there’s one rat or wombat left, that one gets their choice of boat!”
“That sounds great!” says Mr Wombat. “Let’s do it!” So we do.
Eventually, Wally is the last one left.
“What boat did you choose, Wally?” I ask.
“Seaworthy knot” he says shyly. So Seaworthy knot it is!