Chapter 4 : The Rat Queen

Welcome to the brief series, Short stories of scares. The fourth chapter is a reflection into human nature, how we are intrigued by the scary idea of a cryptid monster. Still, sometimes an in human behaviour can make humans the worst nightmare on the planet.

Ajay and Raji were newly married. Ajay was working in an IT firm in Bangalore, and after marriage, Raji moved in with him. They had rented a fancy three-bedroom house near the lakeside. The view, the surrounding area, and the people were amicable, and soon enough, Raji was able to adjust to the new home. Raji was a fashion designer by profession, and most of her projects were home-based, which meant she was all alone when Ajay was at work. The idea of staying alone the whole day in a new city never spooked her as she was very good at taking care of herself and truly adored her self time. All seemed perfect, but there was one problem, Raji hated creepy crawlies, whether they were walking, crawling, or flying, and the biggest perk to live near a lakeside was that they were in abundance. Like any food chain, what else was thriving? There were rats, giant-sized rats that fed upon these vermin’s all day long. Raji hated Rats too.

There was no surprise that the house had a rat problem; they would sneak up from some mysterious corner and create a nuisance, and along with them, they brought filth and a foul odour and sometimes those dead crawlies that they ate and vomited. This problem was big for Raji; she was hygiene manic and kept complaining to Ajay to find a solution, and he kept postponing or ignoring because, for him, this was a small matter that could be handled by a plumber. For a few days, Raji kept trying plumbers and professional cleaners to solve the infestation issue. Surprisingly, these rats always found a way in, and so did the crawling and flying insects. The house, even though maintained clean, seemed to have been cursed by some dirt devil. Raji was on edge. She started staying up at night to hunt for the beast or an army of them as they were trying to infiltrate her safe space. Ajay always had a soft spot for all that’s living, so none of this was disgusting; though he understood the importance of hygiene, he followed his wife’s order to solve the issue. He sometimes did not know why she acted like a control freak and why she hated those rats.

Finally, it was the German-built rat trap Raji brought that did the trick. It had to work; after all, she paid the extra cost for the international shipment. It had trapped the most massive rat Raji had seen in her life; she felt sinfully excited, showing it to Ajay and telling him, “Look! I caught the monster. You have no idea what I will do to him and all of his friends going forward.” Ajay, all calm and wise, spoke, “The rat is a she; looking at her bloated stomach, it’s she, probably pregnant. So leave her alone. We know the last few days were crazy, but as humans, we have to be emphatic towards all creatures; we will find ways to seal the building so that rats won’t enter.” Raji, now furious with anger, “Forgive these devil minions, he or she, I am going to burn this filth alive so that its species will remember not to mess with me.” Ajay took a sigh and left for work, saying nothing. Raji was feeling frustrated, she spoke to the rat, “Look now what you have done! You have raised a conflict between us.”

Agitated, she lights up the fire bin and tosses the rat into it from its cage. The rat shrieks and squeaks as its body are burning; with big tearful and angry eyes, she screams with rage, “Burn you monster, burn! The room has a smell of smoke and a dead rat. Raji pours a glass of water in the bin to give a final touch to the brutal murder; she touches the rat’s burnt belly to check if it is still alive. It’s not moving. Raji has a wicked smile. She is thinking, “the fate of all these vermin would be the same.” when suddenly the carcass takes a plunge and bites on her arm. Raji throws the body, reconfirming if the creature is dead, but this time it’s over. She picks it up by the tail and trashes in the waste bin. That night she tells Ajay about her cruel adventure; Ajay is disappointed upon her act but is also concerned about the bite. He says, “We have to get it checked, might be poisonous, hope it’s not making you feel sick.” Raji laughs, “Now that one nuisance is gone, I am all good; it’s just a scratch, do not worry.” After a few minutes of silence, Ajay speaks again, “Hey Raji, promise me you won’t hurt any creatures from now on!” She sighs and says calmly, “you know I can’t promise that; look, I get it all life is important, but if they soil my space, I will fight to protect myself.”

There are no signs of rats for the next few days or any disgusting being in Raji’s house. Although she has started to feel unwell, complaining about headaches and pain in the hind bone. Even the dead rat bite has now become a severe skin rash spreading up her left arm. Ajay takes her to the doctor, and a medication course starts based on the diagnosis that the symptoms are due to allergy caused by that bite. That night both of them go to sleep early, while Ajay wakes up in the middle of the night to find Raji out of her bed. He tries to stop her, but it appears she is sleepwalking; he does not want to wake her up as suddenly to cause a panic attack. He decides to follow her; Raji walks barefoot outside where she goes on all fours and walks like an animal, sniffing for something. Ajay takes a closer look to find she has been feeding mud: earthworms, cockroaches, and maggots. Ajay approaches close to her; she is paying no attention, just feeding on the insects as if it’s her fundamental nature. Scared, he utters, “Raji, what are you doing? She lifts her head; her eyes are glowing red. She shrieks and then faints; Ajay grabs her; he is panting heavily; he takes her inside, cleans her, puts her on the couch; she appears to be at rest, fast asleep. But Ajay is unable to sleep after the horrific event.

For a week, nothing unusual happened again; even the rats were not troubling. However, stranges of all was how Raji’s health deteriorated; she had high fevers, bodily cramps, migraines, and her tail bone seemed protruded. The scratch marks were spreading through her body, and over it, tiny black pores had appeared. In the last week, Ajay consulted many doctors, specialists, and even a physiatrist to figure out her ailment, but nothing seemed to work. Ajay even admitted her to intensive care for a few days, but the hospital setup caused paranoia and rageful fits; hence the doctors suggested a home-based facility. She was looking pale and fragile and refused to eat or drink anything, her eyes bloodshot as she groaned in pain, muttering sighs.” Please save me. It’s all red. It burns. I will die.” Ajay was under a lot of stress, so he called their parent, and along with them, his younger Dev was also visiting to aid him in this unusual time. Ajay was losing hope; he feared that he would lose his wife to the unknown disease. He also wondered what if that bite inflicted upon her resulted from her bad karma, devouring her completely.

Both Raji and Ajay’s parents were orthodox and superstitions. After hearing all that has happened, they strongly felt that this was a work of an evil force. They summoned the local village priest who was supposed to arrive the next day. Ajay had taken an extended leave from his work, and as their parents had come now, he had to leave his wife’s side for a day to complete the insurance obligations raised due to the medical condition. He left that day with a lot of trouble in his mind, handling the responsibility of his folks. Late evening while he still busy in the insurance office in paperwork, he gets a call saying that there was an explosion in his house, and they suspect no survivors; by the time the fire brigade had reached its was already too late. Ajay trembles in shock, fear, and pain; his home is a 2 hours long journey. Overpowered with guilt, anger, frustration, and helplessness, he transits the journey sobbing throughout the way. As soon as he reaches his place, he wants to run inside, but the police stop him; one of the officers says, “Sir, there nothing but black ashes inside, we are very sorry for your loss, we tried to help, but it was too late. We have found five burnt bodies, four elderly, and one of a younger boy. The fire department says they found a gas leak. A rat bit the pipes it seems. Unfortunately, your family did not realise the danger and probably while cooking the explosion happened” Ajay is crying heavily and consistently “what happened to my wife? She is very sick, my parents, my brother came to take care of her, now they are gone, where is she, is she alive. Please tell me? “He is in an uncontrolled pain and sobs lying on the ground.

The police took Ajay that night to a nearby hotel, and a guard is assigned to take care of him. All the investigations and legal proceedings will start the next day. Ajay is sitting on the bed facing the window, in shock and disbelief at how his life has turned upside down. In a few days, he has lost everyone he loved and how he will live through this unbearable tragedy. Suddenly there is a tap on the window; outside, it appears that his wife is standing; she looks well but in night clothes. He eagerly steps out and requests the guard to let him go outside for a moment as he feels suffocated. The guard obliges and says, “I understand it’s very tough for you, Sir, but I am only following orders. I can give you ten minutes; if you do not return, I will come looking for you. Ajay runs out, but his wife is nowhere to be seen, his house ten minutes away from the hotel. He gets this strange pull to go there; maybe he will find her; after all, police never found her body.

Ajay has reached his house; it appears darker in the night, a pitch-black space of nightmares. Here his family perished in a freak fire; it still smells of burnt flesh and sorrow. He steps in, with his mobile torch on, the area sealed with police barricades. It was once a place of happiness; now, it appears like a haunted remain. He starts crying again, calls for his wife, “Raji, I have come for you, I know you are here, please tell me you are here, please tell me you are fine, they all are dead.” He hears a large squeak from their bedroom; he moves toward it, open the door; in the corner sitting on all fours is Raji, or what appears to be her. Her face with hairy snout, a body of a monstrous rat, covered in thick dark fur, long tail, sharp teeth, and in her had is a dead kitten, she appears to be chewing and eating them like some vicious beast. Her eyes bulged, bloodshot glowing under the light of the phone torch.” The creature makes a shrilling squeak and charges toward Ajay, jumping over him. Ajay paralysed under the grip of the horror.

The creature was on him, and Ajay knew this was his end. He took courage called for his wife, “Raji, I know it’s you, you have turned into some monster, but it’s you, I know you can never hurt me, it’s me, your Ajay. “The creatures fatal eyes met Ajay’s, and it felt as if he could hear it in his mind. “it spoke, the shrilled voice resonating in a demonic monotone. “Your wife is gone, now it’s only me, the rat queen; your wife was no human; she was a monster to torture innocent creatures, so she deserved to become a monster for eternity. She rejoiced to kill my kind, so I killed hers, yes, your parents, her parents, brother, and even that priest who could do nothing. I did all that while gradually eating her soul so that she realises she is depraved. She will be my minion while I wear her flesh to punish humans kinds like her.” Ajay could not bear this mental trauma, gasping for breath. “I, I never meant to harm a being, please forgive me, let Raji go, take me instead.” The creature mocked. “you did nothing, you could have, but you were too ignorant to object to her brutality. There is no return from the hell, oh yes, I will retake you, but you are too insignificant for my purpose now, so I will let you suffer from your miserable life “.

Ajay was found in the house in shock, acting paranoid; he was declared insane by the mental institute. As he had no family history, he was taken care of by a government facility for a while, until it was difficult for them to contain him. Now Ajay is a homeless, mad man, roaming naked on streets, muttering squeaks that no one understands. He eats dirt and vermin’s that crawl on land for survival. He visits his old house but never enters inside; he makes strange gestures towards the wall as if communicating with someone. The house still stands as an old worn building, where no one goes as it’s considered haunted. Sometimes people say they see a swarm of rats all across the building, and if that happens, it’s a sign that the rat queen is visiting.

Forgive me as this chapter is longer than the others in this series. Yet I have full faith if you spare some time you will enjoy the read.

5 comments

  1. A fear of insects and vermin is fairly common, so I know this will be a scary read for many. I did not mind the length at all. It was still a short story, easily read in a few minutes time. I love how it touches on Ajay’s personal belief that all life is sacred and what would arguably be considered a perfect case of instant karma for Raji. The tie in of these philosophical ideas makes this more than just horror. It makes the reader consider their own feelings and beliefs on life, even for the creepy, crawly things. Another great edition of the series, V!

    Like

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