The scratching started again last night. Just behind the wall, behind the sideboard I’d pushed there to keep it from getting inside. I didn’t dare mention it to Andy.

The last time he’d turned the house upside down for me. Then, with an irritated shrug, left for the pub.

Between the scratching and Andy’s snoring, I’d gotten little sleep. This morning I’d looked for the sleeping pills and found none. He’d gotten rid of them again.

I put my duffel coat over my pyjamas and walked to the neighbourhood pharmacy.

Rina looked up from the prescription she was filling out for the old man.

“Chloe! It’s been months. Are you okay?”

“I think there’s a rat in the loft. A big one. Those super rats they are talking about on the news.”

“What…? Have you been taking something Chloe? What rats…what are you on about?”

“Super rats! BIG ones. 2 feet long and immune to everything. We have one living in the loft. I hear it, scurrying about, scratching, sniffing”

Rina sighed. “Come on, let’s go grab a coffee. Julie, take over from me for a bit.”

She ushered me out. I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror, all wild hair and crazy eyes.

“How’s the book coming along?”

“I’m not writing anymore. That stopped after… after…”

She put a hand over mine. Her beautiful scarlet tipped nails in stark contrast to my filthy, bitten ones.

“We don’t need to talk about it. I’ve been worried about you. Andy said you didn’t want to see anyone, so I didn’t call.”

“I need to get some poison. Strong stuff. Something that will kill it. I can’t concentrate. I keep thinking about it. It’s eyes peering at me through cracks in the wall. It’s teeth waiting to gnaw off my finger…”

She laughed. “No wonder you’re a writer. Such an imagination!”

“Andy doesn’t believe me. He can’t hear anything. He thinks it’s one of my episodes.”

“Is it?”, she peered at me concerned.

“No. I’ve put all that behind me.”

“Okay. Let me see what I can find. I’ll bring it over when I’m free. Try and get some sleep darling. You look like Hell.”

I perched myself precariously on the top step of the ladder leading to the loft. Poison in one hand, torch in other. This time I would find and kill the rodent. I started to place the poison around the edges at first, side stepping the insulation. Then I threw it like grain, all around me. Blue flecks that rained like toxic snow.

That won’t kill me. You know it won’t.

He sat in front of me. Grey and large and smelly. His black, beady eyes, staring straight into my hazel ones.

I’ll still be scratching and sniffing and waiting for you.

“No, you won’t!”, I shouted, “You won’t control me again!”

We stared at one another for what seemed like an eternity. Then slowly, deliberately, I placed the pellets inside my mouth. The End.



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