I am being held by my tail over a crackling fire. The cats are talking. Ouch! The fire singes the remaining bits of my tail.
“Shall we toast it?” Says one of the cats.
“No, I think we should roast it.” Says another.
“I think it should be Rat Stew!”
“Oh yes! Rat Stew!”
“RAT STEW! RAT STEW!”
“You’re not going to eat me!” I mumble. Deadeyes stands on one of the taller open cages, and calls for silence. I start to sweat. Now Deadeyes is shouting into the crowd.
“Mace! Blade! Take the rat to the fresh food storage!” I gulp. The fresh food storage!?
“I take that back! Throattearer, Legripper and Ratkiller! Take the rat to the Pillar!” I sigh. Surely this Pillar can’t be as bad as fresh food storage!?
Ratkiller seizes me in his jaws. His sharp teeth dig into my flesh. The result is yet ANOTHER chant.
“THE PILLAR! THE PILLAR!” Maybe the Pillar is worse than I thought it was…
We are at the Pillar. It’s DEFINITELY worse than I thought it would be. It’s a pillar, but it’s covered in short, sharp spines. Ouch! Being tied to that would hurt! But when I look closer, I see something worse. The Pillar is covered in a blanket of fleas, mosquitoes, lice, flies…Basically everything that a lovely, clean rat who washes and scrubs himself down with lemon scented soap three times a day hates. I yelp.
“Yes, RAT! You’re going to be kept THERE!”
“Do I get showers every day?”
“PLEASE! Okay, okay! Twice a week?”
“Do I get soap? Please, please! At least a bit of soap!”
“Then a bath! A nice, warm, clean bath!?”
“Well…You will get a scalding hot bath…” I go blank.
“A HOT BATH!”
“Yes. We have decided how to eat you.”
“Rat Stew!” I gulp. Suddenly, how to keep clean isn’t my biggest worry.
The next night, I don’t get any sleep at all, so I start to make an escape plan. The cats have posted guards all around my pillar, so I cannot escape by going around. If I started digging a hole, they would hear me, so the only option is to go up. Unfortunately, that will be a very difficult operation. I start to wriggle up the pillar. Suddenly, I hear something. It sounds like someone is sawing a rope in half! Then I realise what it is. The rope has caught on one of the large, sharp spines that are digging into my back. I start to wriggle up and down, and the rope gets thinner and thinner. Finally, it snaps. I might be able to use this to do something useful, so I keep it. I clamber up the pillar, the sharp spines digging into my soft feet.
Finally, I reach the top. It is close to the ceiling, but it doesn’t quite touch it. I’ll have to jump. Silently, (I hope,) I jump up, and onto the nearest roof rafter. I feel the ceiling. It’s rotten. YAY! I punch it a few times, and the rotting floorboards crash through. Then, I hear something bigger. I race to one side, just in time to see a large draw with a terrified looking young girl on top crash through. The cats start start scratching her as soon as she lands. The girl races through the door, calling “DADA! DADA!” In all this fuss, she doesn’t close the door. The cats stream out behind her. They don’t look back. I wait a few minutes, then jump through the hole in the ceiling. Safe at last.
I poke my head out of the hole, and immediately change my mind about being safe. The small cabin is filled with the worst of the ship’s crew. The cook with the cleaver, the captain’s bodyguards, the tough guy with the dagger who Lil thought was a pirate that the captain had recruited, and finally, the thin, nasty looking boy who Clary saw torturing mice by bringing the to the cook with the cleaver, chopping their tails off, holding them over the hot fire, then giving them to a cook so they can chop the poor mice’s heads off. Oh dear! They’ve seen me! I’m doomed!
The nasty boy grabs me and squeezes me.
“This would be a nice rat for the captain’s private skeleton collection! Should I take it to Doctor Klinge so he can make it’s skeleton perfect?” A private skeleton collection?! Maybe I was better off with the cats! And my skeleton IS perfect. I think that boy is very rude.
“Hmm… I guess the captain has been wanting a rat skeleton for a very long time. So yes.”
“YES!” Shouts the boy. He grabs me, then races round the corner.
“I wonder if this rat is bouncy, like the the old tabby cat. I hope it doesn’t black out as soon as the cat did. Bouncing them is no fun when you can’t hear them wailing and screeching!” I gulp. If a cat can’t stand being bounced, then I don’t think I can either. Then I finally feel what bouncing is. The boy throws me hard at the ground. I crash down, and amazingly bounce back up again. The boy whacks me down, even harder this time, and when I hit the ground, I can’t help but screech and squeak. After a few more bounces, I faint. The last thing I hear before I pass out is the boy.
“Well, that was even more disappointing than the cat!”
When I wake up, I am in a large lab. In the middle of it, there is a huge bench. On the outside, there are hundreds of shelves. Every one of them is covered in skeletons. Some are in boxes, some are pinned into strange and unnatural positions, and still more are just sitting on the shelves. I recognise most of the creatures, but some skeletons are like aliens. (I suddenly have a vision of the skeletons coming alive and attacking the boy. Oh, and my old rat school maths teacher. Anyway, no time for hopeful wishes now!) I’ve got to escape!
Also in the room, there is a tall, ugly man in a white coat that is covered in red splodges. I think THIS is Doctor Klinge.
“A good specimen. I’ll only have to make a couple of adjustments.” He says. I shudder. Adjustments? I don’t like the sound of that! Finally, the boy leaves.
“Okay!” Says the man. Let’s put this thing into the line. He grabs me, and turns me towards the back wall. I look, and see the one thing that I have missed. Up against the back wall, there are cages. Loads of them. And every single one has a different creature in it. I struggle, and bite Doctor Klinge several times. But he still manages to force me into a cage.
“Go to sleep, RAT!” He snarls through the polished iron bars.
The next day, I wake up, and decide to converse with the creatures in my neighbouring cages. Next to me on one side is a thin badger with only one leaf in her cage. She sees me staring in disgust at the single mouldy leaf.
“That’s all you get in here.” She whispers. “Klinge knows that you don’t need to survive long in here, and he says that being thin makes your skeleton beautiful. It doesn’t actually. I think he just wants an excuse to torture us. Besides, the captain will get mad if he wastes food on us lowly creatures who are no good at anything apart from being skeletons.”
“Well, I’ll find a way out of here for all of us.” I say with a shaky grin. “By the way, what’s your name? My name’s Stanley.”
“Oh! Sorry, didn’t I tell you my name? Well, it’s Honeybee.”
I smile at her, then turn to talk to the creature in my other neighbouring cage, who happens to be a skinny echidna. The poor thing is curled up on the sharp iron bars, fast asleep. I turn back to Honeybee, and start devising an escape plan for all of us, when we hear a loud crash. All the cages tip over, and smash. Then I see what caused the explosion. It’s the cats.