the rat

The rat keeps gnawing through the bags so we keep adding more bagsdouble- and triple-bagging and onward toward what feels like a futile infinitude. We follow the rat from room to room, watch as it improbably slips through tiny cracks and crevices. At one point we corner it under a bed in a cyclindrical indentation within the floor. Bagged again, but only briefly, as it once again chews through and escapes, this time fleeing into the cafeteria. So as not to disturb or alarm the patrons we move with stealth, though our appearanceme holding a bulky bag of many layers and my team wild-eyed and sweaty with exertioncan not easily pull off subtlety. However, our thus subsequent disruption of the pleasant dining atmosphere notwithstanding, the cafeteria would in fact turn out to be the site of the triumphant final capture (and unfortunate demise) of the rat. Thus securely bagged did the now-deceased rat travel outside of the facility within its many layers of bag, held fast in my desperately clutched hands. Once outside, though, my troubles commence once again, as the only suitable location for disposal—the facility’s dumpster—appears more distant than I had remembered. In fact as I proceed toward it, the distance between said dumpster and my person actually widens with each step. What’s more, the route I follow becomes increasingly plagued with detours: security checkpoints, a sprawling road construction crew, obscure gatherings of persons whose shifty appearance suggests the need for as wide a berth as possible. Finally I can see it ahead: the bright blue dumpster with red markings, at the other end of a stretch of hot seemingly endless pavement. I can hear it now: the scrape of the side panel in its track as I slide it open. I can feel it now: the weight of the layered bags—inexplicably heavy with their sole contents a single expired rat—released, sliding from my shoulder with a soft thud onto the floor of the dumpster. I’m almost there.

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