Worst of the Worst

Damn it! I wasn’t gonna write today, but then I got this friggin’ plot-line in my head and 30 minutes later…

“They say the house is haunted,” the Realtor stated.

“More than likely rodents,” the buyer returned.

“No. We fumigated the building, so there shouldn’t be a rodent or insect in sight.”

“Either way, I’ll take it.”

Withing the month, he was moved in and starting to get settled. Geoff Mueller could not believe his remarkable fortune, finding an 1890’s 12-room Victorian mansion in the middle of nowhere Nevada, and though the house needed a number of repairs, ownership of such a prize thrilled him.

The middle of the fifth week and the strange noises began to emanate from the walls. As he sat in what had once been the library, he heard the scurrying of rats moving about, so he got up a banged on a nearby wall. The sounds dropped off.

This continued throughout the week and by Friday, Geoff drove to town to purchase as much rat poison as possible. Having returned home, he moved from room to room depositing the small, but deadly boxes along the molding along the floors.

It was Sunday evening and after a lengthy day of tearing out the floor and repairing the sub-flooring in the kitchen, Geoff grabbed a cold beer and retired to the library, which had become his favorite room in the old mansion. As he sat in his recliner, noted that the endless scurrying sounds had ceased.

Next he was shocked to see a large rat, the size of a Maine Coon, watching him from the far corner. The animal’s eye’s caused him to shiver, they looked so human.

He slowly closed the book he was reading and chucked it at the giant rodent, which retreated through a hole in the wall. Not hesitating, Geoff went to his work area and got a piece of discarded drywall and returning began the job of patching up the opening.

Twice more he saw the rat, with it’s seemingly human eyes, as it stared at him and twice more it escaped as Geoff threw something at it.

Finally, he drove into town and purchased a 22-caliber rifle. Five days later, having satisfied the state’s waiting period, he returned to pick it up.

“Hunting rabbits?” the clerk asked.

“No, rats – big ones,” Geoff responded, “Tried poisoning them but it didn’t work and there’s this huge one that’s as big as a small dog.”

The clerked looked at the address on the registration form, “Your the one that bought old Marshal Williamson’s place.”

“Yes,” Geoff answered.

“Legend has it Marshal Bart Williamson never took prisoners, they think he killed a couple hundred, maybe more as a lawman. S’posedly he took on the worst of the worst with orders to only bring’em back dead. He’s dead nearly a hundred years. The old house has been empty for nearly 40 years save for a few brave souls like yourself who’ve tried setting up housekeeping there.”

The clerk went on the tell Geoff how every tenant of the old building had abruptly moved and how it was rumored that an entire family of nine had disappeared back in the 30’s and were never heard from again. Ever the skeptic, he thanked the man for the information and the conversation, then with his new rifle under his arm, he left the store.

That night, Geoff sat in his accustomed spot, the weapon loaded and a round in the chamber, ready to shoot the giant rat, should it appear. It was nearly three in the morning when Geoff jumped awake after having fallen asleep in the recliner.

The noises come from behind and in-between the walls had become commonplace and Geoff had learned to sleep through it. However, it was suddenly quiet, a silence Geoff, whether conscious of it or not wasn’t accustomed to and he awoke.

He sat there in the dim light as the antique wick lamp sputtered to remain lit. He twisted the knob, pushing the flame higher, only to see the glow of the huge rodents eye’s staring, unblinking at him from the far corner.

Slowly and deliberately, Geoff lifted the muzzle of the rifle and aimed. The muzzle flash filled his eyes leaving him temporarily blinded and he had to wait to see if he’d earned his prize.

Within a minute, Geoff was standing over the cooling form of the enormous rat. He poked it with the gun barrel, then certain it was dead, picked it up by its tail and tossed it out the front door.

Satisfied, he closed the door and returned to the library to retrieve his chimney lamp and head up stairs to bed. He stopped in his tracks and his blood ran cold as he realized he wasn’t alone.

The lamp fell from his hand as he watched a hoard of vermin swarm him through the blaze that had begun from the spilled lamp oil. He screamed and writhed in terror and pain as they bit and gnawed his flesh away, before he was overcome, falling to the floor.

As the flames engulfed the library and then the entire Victorian, Geoff Mueller couldn’t help but think he’d made a mistake in killed the big rat – Marshal Bart Williamson – the only thing keeping the other rats – his dead prisoners — at bay.

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