Doctor Rat

Chapter 84: Crawling out from under all this…



   Crawling out from under all this rubbish and smoldering rubble. The bastards burned the laboratory down. I’m lucky to have gotten out alive. But Doctor Rat is made of tough stuff, my friends. I felt an awful tugging on my tail there for a moment and thought I was a goner, but I held onto a bound set of old Newsletters.

   Pushing debris out of my way, crawling up over this pile of broken bricks. We’ll have to requisition some funds in a hurry and rebuild the place.

   Okay, Rat, just slip under this smoldering timber and . . .

   . . . out in the moist night air. On the rolling campus lawn. It’s awfully quiet out here. It feels so still. Kind of an eerie feeling. I must make note of it for my Displacement Behavior Paper.

   There’s the Central Exercise Drum in the ruins. Still spinning around. No rats in it; it’s just clicking slowly over and over, running down. Still some signals from the intuitive band though. I’d better tune in and see what’s become of the revolution.

   Good heavens!

   Gone? All of them? They couldn’t be. I’d better change the channel. Pick up a stray dog somewhere and bring him back for the heatstroke study.

   Panning the globe, from place to place. Piles of dead animals. Basic models in great heaps, already starting to rot. Get busy with the pickling solution, gentlemen.

   This is remarkable. I can’t find a single cur anywhere. Let’s just focus down this Chinese alleyway, behind that restaurant, maybe we’ll find a cat or two to put in the chow mein . . .

   Empty. Not a puss anywhere.

   Changing channels again . . . switch to India, they’ve got loads of monkeys there . . . in on Delhi, check out the trapping agencies . . . trappers pulling out their hair, wringing their hands, tossing ashes in their eyes . . . dead monkeys everywhere . . . not a tail stirring.

   Try the education network—Learned Professors looking around dumbly . . . graduate assistants registering shock . . . stupefied stares. Every rat, every cat, every dog, every rabbit, every mouse, every mole, every chimp, every guinea pig dead!


   No answer. The line is dead.

   Exercise Drum coming to a stop, its momentum gone. The signal is fading away. Just a faint little blip in the middle of the screen, getting smaller and smaller, like a satellite disappearing into space.

   Surely there must be a titmouse somewhere. Let me just spin the drum once more and see what I come up with. . . .

   Empty. The place is deserted. There’s not an animal anywhere on earth. Old Doctor Rat is the only one left.

   Crawling over the stones, and into the shadows. The silence is rather unnerving (cf. Musgrave and Hamilton, The Extinct Species). Over. Kaput.

   I hear people talking on campus; they sound unusually quiet. Humanity is still functioning. But no scurrying little feet in the grass. No softly sliding feline shadows. Not a single meow, not a chirp, not a solitary bark in the whole of creation. You can feel the emptiness out there: the Final Solution gives you a sort of lonely feeling.

   And I haven’t even got a place to live. Maybe I can find an old gopher hole somewhere.

   Going along the sidewalk, dragging my tail.


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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, events, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, businesses, companies, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.


Copyright © 1971, 1976 by William Kotzwinkle


Cover design by Open Road Integrated Media


ISBN 978-1-4976-2063-6


This edition published in 2014 by Open Road Integrated Media, Inc.

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