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Many parents tell us they like to print the stories and read them to their children at bedtime.
By Lyn Garrett
After several long conversations with her pet, Jamie was finally beginning to get over Ratty McRatt’s escape and started to feel better. Ratty McRatt told Jamie she would agree to let the babies go to their new homes if she could keep one baby girl so she wouldn’t be so sad. Jamie was about to agree, when Ben came out of his igloo and bashfully asked Ratty McRatt if Jamie would let one of the boys stay with him in his cage, as well.
Ratty McRatt could not help but love Ben even more. His eyes were lit up and he looked so happy. Ratty McRatt translated this new request to Jamie. Jamie went to ask her mother while Ratty McRatt gathered her babies around her. “I realize some of you wish to leave and start your own families. Dad and I would love it if two of you decided to stay with us and Jamie. What do you say?” George crept up, cautiously. “Mother, I would like to stay with you and Father,” he said, quietly. Ratty McRatt grinned. Her babies were so different, but each had something she admired. George was her selfless baby boy and she appreciated that quality in him.
Then Etta approached. “I would love to stay with you and Jamie, Mother. I like it here.” Ratty McRatt’s heart swelled with love and appreciation. “I am so proud of all of you. You are each such brave little ratties, and I know you will love your new homes, wherever they are.” Her eyes glistened with tears as her chest swelled with pride. She was very lucky to have known the six ratties who will soon be leaving her.
Jamie returned, and reported that her mother had agreed to keep two of the babies. Ratty McRatt told her about George and Etta’s decision, and Jamie was so very pleased.
The following days were difficult for Ratty McRatt and Ben, as every day it seemed another excited human child showed up with a travel cage, and plucked one of their six babies out of the cage and skipped away to the front door. Jamie moved George into Ben’s cage, and they promptly settled down for some sleep, curled up against one another.
Etta curled up with Ratty McRatt, too, and Ratty McRatt was so grateful that Etta had decided to stay. However, Jamie had a plan that Ratty McRatt didn’t know about yet. Ratty McRatt was about to learn a lot about science projects!
By Lyn Garrett
Ratty McRatt had just settled her babies down to sleep. It was early in the morning, but for the nocturnal rats it was just past nighty-night time. She was just dozing off herself when she heard a horrifying scream. Jamie was running through the house shouting, “Ratty McRatt! Ada! Ben Jr.! Chuck! Duncan! Etta! Frieda! George! Henry! Where are you?!!!”
Jamie’s mother rushed downstairs to find the empty cage and her hysterical child. Ben was hiding in his igloo with his paws over his eyes. This was a terrible thing to witness.
Jamie’s mother hugged her and stroked her hair. “Don’t worry, Baby. They probably just snuck out for a stroll. They can’t have gone far. They are somewhere in our house, I’m sure of it. I will look for them while you are at school. It will be OK.” Jamie’s chest was still heaving with sobs when she left for school, walking out the door after one last shout: “Ratty McRatt! Please come back to your cage where you are safe!” She waited a moment and then had to go on to school.
Ratty McRatt was holding her breath and feeling terrible that she had hurt her best friend, Jamie. Her babies were asleep and did not hear what had happened. She sat very still and thought about what she should do. If she went back to the cage, her babies would be taken away. But, under the chair is no life for them either. She was quite depressed all day and hardly slept at all.
Ratty McRatt heard Jamie’s mother searching the house. She did peek under the chair, but it was so dark she didn’t see the little rat family sleeping in a pile. When Jamie got home, she scoured the house, looking everywhere. Not finding her pets, she went to her room and cried.
Ratty McRatt was holding her ears trying not to hear Jamie’s sobs when she was approached by George, the shy one of the litter. George quietly whispered, “Mother, I think we should go back to the cage. We are hurting Jamie by staying here.” Ada approached as well, “We love you, Mother, but it’s time for us to grow up now and begin our own lives.” Ratty McRatt’s eyes filled with tears as she realized her brave little ratties were right and they must return to the cage.
While Jamie cried in her room, her mother was in the laundry room and her father wasn’t home yet. The little rat family quickly and quietly skirted the walls, reached the cage and climbed in, locking the door behind them. Ben and Rattie McRatt held paws through the bars and Ben’s eyes were glistening with tears. He was happy they had come home.
by Lyn Garrett
Ratty McRatt quietly told Ben her plan. He agreed. He loved his babies, too, even if only through the bars of the cages, and he did not want them to leave either. The fact that Ratty McRatt could let him out of his cage to visit his children was even more icing on the cake.
Ratty McRatt returned to her cage from Jamie’s warm hands. She told her babies nothing until the McMillan family was safe in bed. Then she brought her babies together and said, “We must leave. It is no longer safe here.” Questions flew at her. How would life without Jamie be safe? Ratty McRatt just repeated over and over, “You must trust your mother.”
The babies followed their mother as she hustled them out into the dark house and to a rarely used chair in the living room that had dangling fabric hanging to the floor. They went under the chair and began to set up house. Ratty McRatt spent the entire night transferring food and shavings from their cage to the territory underneath the chair. She even snuck into the bathroom and was able to reach enough toilet paper, with an assist from George who had boosted her up on his back in order to unroll a significant amount for their new “bathroom corner” at the intersection of the chair legs in the left corner of the space.
The babies were still confused and full of questions. “Why?” they asked continually. “All will be explained. I need time to plan,” said Ratty McRatt, who was most worried about Jamie’s reaction to the empty cage next to sad, lonely Ben. When the sun rose, Ratty McRatt ran to kiss Ben goodnight, and then hustled her babies down to their new lair to sleep quietly through the daylight. She was dreading what would happen when Jamie awoke.
Ratty McRatt sat, shaking, in Jamie’s warm hands. Jamie had just told her that her precious babies would have to leave. “Why can’t they live with me forever?!” wailed Ratty McRatt. “I I don’t even remember my own mother. I don’t want my babies to forget me!” If rats could cry, Ratty McRatt would definitely be crying.
Jamie held Ratty McRatt against her cheek and petted her softly. She had a lump in her throat as she fretted about how to soothe her pet and best friend. She lifted Ratty McRatt up to her face and cleared her throat. She was not at all sure what to say. “I love you, Ratty McRatt. You are my best friend and I will never tell you lies.” Ratty McRatt relaxed a little, but was still very upset.
“When I grow up, I’m going to leave my parents, too. I will go to college and live there for a few years, then get my own house, and probably get married and have babies just like you and Ben did.” Jamie hesitated and then continued, “My mom says that this is what all people and animals do. Your babies want to grow up and become independent adult rats. They want their own people, their own homes, and their own families.”
Ratty McRatt thought for a moment. “Will I stay here with your parents when you go to college, or will I go with you?” She stared intently into Jamie’s blue eyes. Now Jamie knew full well that rats only live three to four years, but this was information Ratty McRatt did not need to know. Jamie did not believe that leaving out this bit of information was lying, so she told the truth. “Ratty McRatt, when it is time for me to leave for college, you can come with me or stay here. It is your choice.”
Ratty McRatt was relieved to hear this, but was still upset about her babies. She sniffed and explained to Jamie that she wanted to go back in her cage to speak to her babies. Secretly, however, she had another plan. Ratty McRatt was going to hide her babies and keep them forever!
Ada crooned in her mother’s ear, “What shall we tell Jamie we want for breakfast?” She sat back and looked adorable while her mother sighed. “Ada, dear, we cannot be greedy little rats just because Jamie can understand us. It is not fair to your other brothers and sisters whom the humans cannot understand.” Ada frowned, “But why is it they can understand us and not other rats?” Ada asked, head tilted to one side.
“Well, apparently, I have a special gift and you were also born with that special gift. We were very lucky to be born this way, and we should try to be deserving of it, not just use it to get what we want. Jamie feeds us a healthy diet with lots of choices. We don’t need to ask for anything,” Ratty McRatt said patiently. Ada frowned again and walked away to sulk in the corner. George approached his mother cautiously, “I heard what you said, Mother, and I agree with you.” He was very serious. Ratty McRatt had a hard time not smiling at this sweet rat that was her son.
“Yes, George, we must treasure our gift and remember to share it with your father and siblings.” Suddenly, there was quite a scuffle! Jamie had rushed in and dropped food through the top of the cage as she ran off to catch the bus to school. “Bye, guys!” Jamie shouted as she ran by. Duncan and Chuck both grabbed on to the same piece of food and refused to let go. They tumbled around the cage, down a ramp and spilled into the shavings at the bottom, sending a cloud of shavings onto Etta and Frieda, who were still asleep. “Hey! You boys stop fighting! You woke us up!” moaned Etta, not at all happy.
Duncan gave up and slunk up the ramp to the rest of the food scattered on the second level of the cage. He sat and ate his food with his back to everyone else. Frieda, who was also a sweet, gentle rat, sat beside him, eating her food and nudging him for fun until he giggled. The babies were getting bigger and Jamie had been worrying. It was almost time for them to leave their mother. Jamie’s own mother had put an ad online offering the baby rats for sale. Jamie just knew Ratty McRatt’s heart would break when those babies left.
When Jamie got home, she took Ratty McRatt out of her cage and sat on the couch. She lifted Ratty McRatt eye to eye with herself and said quietly, “It’s almost time for your babies to leave to go to their new homes and make their own families.” “Leave?! What do you mean my babies will leave?!!” wailed Ratty McRatt.
The fire damage at the McMillan house had been repaired, so the family happily returned home to the familiarity of their old routines. Ratty McRatt was a little put out. The farm had been so exciting! What was she going to do to entertain herself now in this same, old boring house?
Ratty McRatt had been moping around for two days when Jamie finally asked her what was wrong. “I am SO bored!” Ratty McRatt put both paws on Jamie’s nose and peered into her eyes. Can you find me a friend to play with? Jamie thought for a moment and then had an idea. Within a day, Ben came to live with the McMillan family. Ben was a handsome, tawny colored rat. He was much bigger than Ratty McRatt, but also gentle and sweet.
Ben was a little frustrated that Jamie was able to understand Ratty McRatt when she spoke, and not him, but that didn’t stop him from recognizing that Ratty McRatt was a very special rat. In fact, it was love at first sight for both of them. That night they had their own quiet ratty wedding and vowed to be true to each other forever. Three weeks later, at 3 AM on a Tuesday, eight little hairless pink babies were born. Ratty McRatt named them Ada, Ben Jr., Chuck, Duncan, Etta, Frieda, George, and Henry.
The babies started out with eyes closed, tiny and pink and hairless, but gradually they got bigger and fuzzier. After a few days their eyes opened! Some looked like Ben while some looked like Ratty McRatt and some looked like a combination of both of them. They tumbled around the cage, fought over food, cuddled at bedtime and drove their mother and Jamie crazy with questions and demands.
From very early on, it was clear that Ada, Chuck, Etta and George could speak to humans just like Ratty McRatt. The other four were just as frustrated as their father, but their considerate siblings found themselves to be able translators.
“Can I please have a carrot?” whined Ada. “I don’t like carrots! I would like some apple, please,” chirped Chuck. “I don’t like either one. Can I please have some cheese?” moaned Etta. Jamie’s eyes were wide with both delight and consternation. What would she do with all of these demands from these babies?! George, the most considerate and shy of the babies, scolded his siblings, “You three are being rude to Jamie! Take what she offers and be grateful!” Jamie giggled. She came back with a carrot, apple slice, some cheese, and George’s favorite, a blueberry. Plus extra food for the other baby rats.
Ratty McRatt grinned. Since she had seen those baby pigs being born at the farm, she had wanted a family of her own. Ben was moved to a cage next door. Jamie just couldn’t handle a new batch of babies every three weeks! Ben and Ratty McRatt were sad at first, but soon learned to hold paws and sniff noses between the bars and they slept back to back, always touching through the bars of the cage. The babies slept all around and on top of Ratty McRatt.
Ratty McRatt sighed. The farm house was again quiet with everyone asleep and this was just when she wanted to play. She quietly opened her cage door with her tail and left the house through the doggie door.
She stayed close to the edges of the buildings as rats do in order to protect themselves. Everything was quiet. The chickens were asleep. The goats were asleep. The cow was asleep. How incredibly boring, she thought.
Then she heard some strange noises coming from the piggery. She hugged the walls of the barn and approached very cautiously. The female pig was lying down, groaning loudly. Her belly was very large and Ratty McRatt feared the pig was very sick. She approached the pig and said, quietly through the fence, “are you alright?” The pig responded with a groan and Ratty McRatt saw a tiny, pig face coming out of the back of the pig. The mommy pig was having babies!
Ratty McRatt was so very excited! She had never seen any animals have babies. How very interesting to witness this event! The first little baby came out and plopped onto the ground. His eyes were closed and he made soft grunts and rolled around in the straw. The mother pig turned and looked at him but could not respond because another baby pig was being born. This one also had closed eyes, grunted and rolled around in the straw. Ratty McRatt watched this happen seven times and was completely in awe of the process.
However, something went wrong with the eighth piglet. Instead of seeing a little piggy face, she saw a little piggy tail and the little piggy seemed stuck. The mother pig groaned again and Ratty McRatt knew something was wrong. She squeezed through the fence and sniffed the stuck baby piggy. The mother pig was groaning and straining but the baby piggy wasn’t coming out! Ratty McRatt knew she had to help! She turned around and wrapped her tail around the baby piggy’s tail as tight as she could and then pulled with all her might. The baby piggy popped out and took a huge breath of air.
The mommy pig then turned around and began to lick her babies. They all began to move to their mother and search for the milk they knew she could provide. The mommy pig was very tired but she took a moment to grunt and wink at Ratty McRatt before she flopped onto her side again and offered milk to her hungry babies. Eight little babies grabbed on and began drinking milk and slurping happily. Ratty McRatt was very pleased with herself and returned to her cage knowing she had saved the life of a baby pig. How cool is that?
It was midnight and the farm house was quiet. Ratty McRatt made up her mind, and used her tail to open her cage door. She very quietly went down the stairs and out the doggie door. There was a full moon out, and it lit up the farm nicely. Ratty McRatt hid behind a plant and looked around, and then she ran to the next plant when she felt it was safe.
She passed the goat pen. All of the goats were snuggled in a pile, happily asleep. She went by the pig and the cow. Everyone was sleeping. She was annoyed that she had no one to play with! Then, suddenly, she heard a ruckus coming from the chicken house. She sprinted to it without even thinking of her own safety.
She rounded the corner of the barn and saw the chickens jumping and flapping around their pen. She hunkered down and quickly crawled quietly around the pen. Around two corners she came upon an animal she had never seen before. It was reddish in color and looked like a small dog. She had heard about these wild animals. It was a fox! She somehow knew that foxes liked to eat both eggs and chickens, so this was a real problem!
Ratty McRatt was worried about the chickens and this made her feel bold. She stalked up to the fox and said, “Just what do you think you are doing?!” The fox jumped at the sound of her voice, stepped back and looked Ratty McRatt up and down. “Well, aren’t you a brave, little rat,” the fox said in a musical way. “I want you to leave these chickens alone right now,” said Ratty McRatt in the firmest tone she could muster.
The fox snickered. “And what would you do if I didn’t?”
Ratty McRatt thought for a moment. “I think I would scratch your eyes out with my very sharp claws.” The fox tilted his head back and laughed, showing lots of gleaming white teeth. Ratty McRatt was suddenly afraid. She chose to ignore that feeling. She rose up on her hind legs and showed her sharp claws to the fox. The fox laughed again and began to approach Ratty McRatt with a threatening gleam in his eyes.
Ratty McRatt knew she had to act fast. She leapt onto the fox’s head and raked her front claws across his eyes. The fox howled in pain and shook Ratty McRatt off. She flew into a small bush and watched the wailing fox run off into the trees. The chickens immediately calmed down and stared at Ratty McRatt with a mixture of respect and confusion. They were used to wild rats stealing their eggs. This rat was very unusual. Feeling very proud of herself, Ratty McRatt strolled back into the farm house and tucked herself into her cage, wondering what her next adventure would be.
The damage from the fire caused the McMillan family to have to move in with relatives for a few weeks. The great news was that they lived on a farm! Neither Jamie, nor Ratty McRatt, had ever been to a real farm. They were beyond excited about seeing all of the animals, how they lived, and what they ate. It was going to be so much fun!
The day of the move was dramatic. Lots of the McMillan’s clothes and personal belongings smelled like smoke. Many things needed to be cleaned or replaced. Fortunately, they had an insurance company to help them. Jamie packed up her clothes. Her mother said they could wash it all later to remove the smoky smell. She also brought along some of her most treasured items, which included a blanket her grandmother had made, and a bear made by a great aunt who had died from cancer. These things, along with Ratty McRatt, were the only things Jamie could not live without.
They drove in the family car, packed like sardines, for two hours and finally landed at the cousin’s farm. “So glad to see ye!” shouted Cousin Ernest. His short, round wife, Wilfreda, beamed with delight. They ushered the McMillans in and helped them carry their bags of smelly clothing into the laundry room. “Now, don’t you worry a lick! We will have these clothes farm fresh in just a few days,” said Wilfreda to Jamie’s mother, who smiled with relief and gratitude.
Ernest gave them all a tour of the farm. “We have some pigs and some goats and two cows, oh, and lots and lots of chickens because we sell their eggs!” He puffed his chest out with pride. Ratty McRatt was on Jamie’s shoulder, but Ernest and Wilfreda tried to pretend she didn’t exist. Wild rats are surely not welcome on egg farms.
Ratty McRatt settled beside Jamie’s right ear and commented very quietly on each animal, to which Jamie giggled in amusement. “I don’t really understand the purpose of goats,” chirped Ratty McRatt. Jamie repeated this to Cousin Ernest as if it was her own thought. “Well, Jamie. Goat cheese has become mighty popular and we certainly cashed in as quickly as we could,” muttered Cousin Ernest. He cast a glance at Ratty McRatt and quickly looked away in disgust. “Of course, we do have to deal with the local pests when it comes to our business,” he added coarsely.
Much later, dinner was over, the dishes were clean and everyone had retired to their appointed bedrooms. Everyone settled down and the farm became very quiet. This is when things got interesting for Ratty McRatt.
The McMillan family vacation was over and now they were home. The house was both inviting and foreign at the same time. It seemed like they had been gone a whole year, instead of just two weeks! The McMillan family, and Ratty McRatt, settled back into their familiar routine. Jamie still had two weeks of summer left before school started, and there was a rush to buy her school supplies and new clothes. Jamie’s mother was surprised to see she went up an entire shoe size! No wonder Jamie had been so hungry lately.
The third night home was like any other night. Jamie sang during her entire bath, while Ratty McRatt listened and smiled her ratty smile. She just loved Jamie so much. The McMillans settled into their beds for the night, and Ratty McRatt was tidying up her cage. She had her food buried in the right front corner and her bathroom was in the left rear corner. Ratty McRatt slept in the right rear corner sometimes or up on the second floor in her green igloo house if it was a cold day. She was just finishing up and was about to decide what adventure she could invent when she smelled something odd.
She opened her cage with her tail and crept towards the smell. It was coming from the furnace door. No one ever opened that door so it was strange to smell anything coming from there. Usually smells came from the kitchen. Ratty McRatt was even more confused to see a white, cloudy mist coming out of the crack in the door. Suddenly, orange and red things jumped out of the crack in the door and got bigger very fast. Ratty McRatt knew what this was. It was fire! They had had a fire pit at the beach while on vacation. Ratty knew fire was OK in a controlled area, but it shouldn’t be happening without adults around.
Ratty McRatt raced up the stairs, climbed Jamie’s bed skirt and hopped onto sleeping Jamie’s chest. She howled, “JAMIE, WAKE UP!” as loud as she could. Jamie jumped awake, saw Ratty McRatt and whispered, “What’s wrong?” “FIRE!” shouted Ratty McRatt. Jamie leapt out of bed and ran to her parent’s room shouting, “FIRE! MOM, DAD… FIRE!!” The McMillan parents jumped up. Mrs. McMillan grabbed Jamie’s hand and dragged her downstairs and out the front door with Ratty McRatt riding on Jamie’s shoulder. Mr. McMillan ran for the fire extinguisher and thankfully was able to put the fire out quickly.
Fortunately, neither parent asked Jamie how she had been able to get her rat out of the cage during the fire. You know parents. They would never understand if she told them that their lives were saved by a talking rat that could open her cage with her own tail.
The hard part about this ride was that Simon and Ratty McRatt couldn’t see a thing under the dark seat of the taxicab and it was not a good idea to go creeping around. Simon was quietly visualizing the turns and listening to the directions the man was giving to the driver.
They stopped suddenly, the door opened and the man exited the taxicab and slammed the door behind him. Simon and Ratty McRatt looked at each other, horrified. They were trapped! Fortunately, the driver got out to remove the luggage from the trunk and he left his door hanging open. Simon hissed, “get out!” and they did. They skirted along the walls of the closest building and hid in the shadows.
“Where are we?” whispered a very worried Ratty McRatt. She had noticed the sun was coming up. They were running out of time. Simon peered at the moon and looked at the buildings around them. “This way,” he said, gruffly. Ratty McRatt worried that they were lost and that Simon was afraid to tell her. They rounded a few corners, hugging the walls and avoiding street lights, but it was getting lighter and lighter as the sun rose. Ratty McRatt was about to cry when Simon lit up and hissed, “There’s your hotel, across the street! Run!” They dashed across the street and Ratty McRatt followed Simon as he traversed a familiar route to the alley behind the kitchen. They passed the infamous dumpster and scampered through the hole in the wall. Once safely in the quiet, darkened kitchen, Ratty McRatt turned to Simon and entwined her tail with his. She stared into his eyes for a moment and said, “I cannot repay you for what you have done for me, but I will never forget you.” She had tears in her little ratty eyes. If a rat could blush, Simon would have. Instead, he said, “Madam, you are running out of time. Take the north staircase, it will be fastest.” He then grinned his ratty grin and took off quickly through the hole back into the alley.
Ratty McRatt did as she was told, squeezing under doorways and racing upstairs to her floor. She had to silently avoid a maid’s cart, but made it to the McMillan’s room. At least, she hoped it was the right room. All of the doors looked the same! She held her breath, squeezed under the door and saw two beds occupied with sleeping people. Up on the dresser was her cage! She quickly climbed up the curtain, hopped on the dresser and silently entered her cage closing the door with a quiet click.
She had just settled into her green igloo house when she heard a quiet voice say, “So, Ratty McRatt, did you have an eventful night?” Jamie peered in, her eyes shining. Ratty McRatt came out of her igloo, yawned and stretched. “Not really, just relaxing while on vacation.” Then she gave Jamie a quick wink.
Since it was the middle of the night, very few people were on the streets so no one saw a big, black dog with two rats on his back dashing through the city. Ratty McRatt and Simon were hanging on with their claws as Buster bolted down street after street. Simon was giving directions and Ratty McRatt was translating to Buster since Buster only heard Simon squeaking. Simon was not at all happy about that.
By the time they reached the Bus Station, Buster was panting and in need of a nap. He settled down in a quiet corner. Simon leaped off Buster but Ratty McRatt walked off slowly in a dignified manner. She approached the face of the panting, exhausted dog. “I cannot tell you how much I appreciate what you have done for us. I want to repay you but I don’t know how.” Buster simply panted at her, but he seemed to be smiling. Simon squeaked a bit and Ratty McRatt added, “Simon says the trash can here has wonderful food from the vending machines. People aren’t allowed to eat on the bus so they throw their food away, half eaten, as they run to catch their bus.”
Buster nodded but his eyes were already half closed. Ratty McRatt and Simon walked to the other corner to await a taxicab. What if none came tonight? What would they do? Thought Ratty McRatt. She had no idea how far away the hotel was. She and Simon settled down for a bit and Ratty McRatt was surprised they ended up cuddling. It was nice.
Ratty McRatt, being nocturnal, was usually perky at night but this had been quite an exciting evening and she actually fell asleep next to the warm being that was Simon. She awoke abruptly when a bus pulled into the station very loudly. People exited the bus and went into the station. Ratty McRatt hoped and hoped that someone would phone the cab company for a ride. Twenty minutes later, two cabs pulled into the lot. Simon nudged Ratty McRatt and they raced towards the cab. A woman was entering the backseat while the driver put her luggage in the trunk of the car. Unfortunately, the woman saw the rats and started screaming.
Ratty McRatt and Simon reversed direction and went for the other cab. The man who was entering the backseat was so distracted by the screaming woman that he didn’t notice two rats jumping in and hiding under the front seats.
Simon jumped, and scampered into a pile of trash. Ratty McRatt was about to do the same when she had a thought. “Hello there!” she said in her most polite voice. “You are just who I am looking for.” The dog stepped back and cocked his head. “You can talk? I’ve never met a rat who can talk!” The dog sat down, quite stunned. Simon crept up beside Ratty McRatt. “Of course we can talk,” sniffed Simon indignantly, but all the dog could hear from Simon was squeaking.
“I can understand her, but you are just making rat noises,” said the dog to Simon. Simon was quite miffed by this revelation. “Oh great,” Simon turned to Ratty McRatt. “Now you’ll have to translate for a dog!” Ratty McRatt ignored Simon and turned to the dog. “My name is Ratty McRatt, and his name is Simon.” She used her tail to point to Simon. “What is your name?” she asked the dog. “My name is Buster, and this is my place. I think you two ought to be on your way now.”
“Well, we both want the same thing but we will need your help.” said Ratty McRatt, taking a moment to scratch her nose. “I do not help rats,” barked Buster. Simon pulled himself up to his full height and squeaked loudly at Buster. Ratty McRatt grinned but ignored Simon once more. “In order for us to do as you ask, we will need a ride. You see, I am not a wild rat like Simon. I live in a cage and my owner, Jamie, will be very frightened when she wakes up and finds me gone. You don’t want to scare a little girl, now, do you?”
Buster considered this for a moment. “What’s in it for me?” he said quietly, and cocked his head. Simon began squeaking loudly again. Ratty McRatt tried to make her sweetest face. “Simon says he will take you to a place where you can get the most wonderful treats… far better than what you can get here.” Buster stood up and paced. “Hmmm… That may work. Where do you need to go?” Ratty McRatt looked stricken. She hadn’t realized she had no idea where the hotel was! Simon squeaked quietly for a few moments. Ratty McRatt translated to Buster. “Simon says the bus station is close by. If you can give us a ride there, we can sneak into a cab and go to Hotel Row. Simon knows which hotel we came from.
Buster sighed. “Hop on, then.” He crouched down, and Ratty McRatt walked delicately up Buster’s tail and settled down behind his right ear. Simon sat on his haunches and squeaked loudly. “Simon has chosen to walk next to us,” said Ratty McRatt. “I think he might be afraid of dogs,” she followed, in a whisper that she did not want Simon to hear. “That won’t work, little guy,” Buster barked down to Simon. “I plan to run, and you won’t be able to keep up.” Simon considered this for a moment, then he also sighed and stomped up Buster’s tail to settle behind his left ear. “Hang on! It’s going to get rough!” shouted Buster, and off they went.
The engine noise and beeping was the trash truck! Simon, who had apparently done this before, raced up the hill of trash bags and leapt onto the edge of the dumpster. Ratty McRatt tried to follow but she could not make the leap. She jumped again and again but could not reach the edge. Simon shouted, “grab my tail!” and turned around. Ratty McRatt jumped again but still could not reach Simon’s tail. She was trapped!
The beeping got closer and the dumpster began to jiggle as the arms of the trash truck prepared to pick it up and empty it into the truck bed. Simon was running around the edge shouting encouraging suggestions to Ratty McRatt. Nothing was working! Ratty McRatt shouted against the engine noise, “Simon! Jump off! I will be OK.” Simon shook his head, took a breath and leapt back into the dumpster next to Ratty McRatt just as it was being lifted into the air. “Rat code of honor, my dear. We never leave a rat in trouble,” said Simon with a smirk.
The dumpster turned upside-down and two shadowy rats dove headfirst into the sea of trash bags in the back of the trash truck. They quickly leapt out of the way to avoid the cascading bags of trash raining down on them, and huddled together in the corner, miserably. Ratty McRatt was shaking. What would Jamie think when she found the cage empty this morning? Simon began pacing, “You know, life at the dump might be very pleasant indeed!” He stopped, facing Ratty McRatt, his eyes glittering with excitement. “Not for me,” wailed Ratty McRatt. “I want my Jamie!” She layed down and put her front paws over her eyes.
Simon thought for a moment. “Well, then we need a plan, don’t we?” Ratty McRatt looked up at him in amazement. Here they were, trapped in a trash truck on the way to the dump, and he was not worried in the least. Simon began pacing again. “When we get to the dump, we will just have to see what options we have. There is a solution to every problem. Right now the most pressing problem is my growling tummy. Let’s eat!”
Ratty McRatt did feel better after a little snack. She had no idea how they were going to get out of this mess, but she had hope. The trash truck went up a hill, down the other side and then slowed. The beeping started again as the truck backed up a short distance. Then the back of the truck began to tilt. “Get as close to the rear edge as you can and jump out and to the right before the trash bags come tumbling down,” roared Simon over the very loud noises. Ratty McRatt did as she was told and both rats were off to the side when the trash dumped. They immediately dashed off and hid in a pile of trash many feet away from that noisy trash truck.
“Now what?” exclaimed Ratty McRatt. Simon stood up on two legs and looked around. “We need to find a ride,” announced Simon. “A ride?” said Ratty McRatt, incredulously. “A ride to where, and how?” she barked, rather irritated with Simon’s incredibly positive attitude. “Well, we will have to see what we have available. There are always options, my dear. There are many in every situation. The hard part is picking the best one.” Simon turned to his right and found himself nose to nose with a very big, black dog with very long teeth and a very loud growl.
Ratty McRatt froze. Someone is in here, she thought. She crept around the corner of the center kitchen island and peered through the darkness to where the voice had come from. Rats see extremely well in the dark so it was no trouble to see the figure sitting in the corner with glittering eyes staring expectantly back at her.
It was a dark grey male rat. His fur was a bit tousled and he didn’t look completely clean. “My! Aren’t you the fancy rat!” he said with a smirk. “Do you want help or not?” He began to lick himself on the side of his belly for a moment and then focused back on her. Ratty McRatt still had not been able to find her voice. “So, it appears you have never been in a hotel kitchen before, nor have you met a wild rat.”
“A wild rat?” Ratty McRatt said in a quavering voice. “You don’t have a home?” She was beginning to feel sorry for this scruffy stranger. “Sure I have a home!” He appeared indignant. “Right here is my home, and the back alley, and the dumpster! The whole world is my home.” He sat up and puffed his chest out, very proud indeed. “I did not mean to offend you,” Ratty McRatt replied meekly. She hurried forward on impulse. She felt badly for insulting him.
“I am so sorry! This is all very new to me. What is your name?” She approached hesitantly and stopped a few inches in front of him. “My name is Simon,” he said. “Do you want help or not?” He sniffed, still a little put-out. “Yes, indeed, I want help” Ratty McRatt admitted, as she moved closer and smiled as much as a rat can smile.
“Well, they sometimes leave the trash inside, but tonight they took it to the dumpster, so there is no food we can get to in the kitchen. Want to go out to the alley?” Simon asked devilishly. Ratty McRatt was afraid. She had never been outside without being cradled safely in Jamie’s arms. “Is it safe?” she asked in a whisper. “Of course it’s safe! I do it all the time. If any cats show up, I know what to do.” Simon again puffed up his chest with pride.
They squeezed through the small hole in the wall and Ratty McRatt followed Simon through the walls, and through another small hole, into the alley. The air was crisp and smelled of many foods because the dumpster was right in front of them. Simon scurried up a wooden pallet that was against the dumpster and dove in. Ratty McRatt followed tentatively and hovered at the lip of the dumpster. “Come on in! The food is great tonight!” shouted Simon from somewhere in the dumpster. Ratty McRatt took a deep breath and jumped.
“My goodness, all of this food in one place?!” shouted Ratty McRatt as she wiped pasta sauce from her snout. There was spaghetti, Caesar Salad, garlic bread, pastries, hamburgers, steak, French Fries, chicken and half a pancake complete with butter and syrup! “Yep, we will be well fed tonight!” giggled a happy Simon. “Well, Jamie fed me dinner, so I am not that hungry, but a snack would be nice.” Ratty McRatt took a bite of the pancake and marveled at the wonderful flavor. “Jamie has never fed me this before!” she announced with a giggle. “Thank you for bringing me here, Simon.”
Before Simon could reply, there was a loud engine noise and a beep, beep, beep! Simon jumped and raced toward Ratty McRatt. He tapped her with his paw as he ran by. “We have to leave NOW!” he shouted. Ratty McRatt dropped the pancake and raced after him. But, how would they get out?
The McMillan family was on vacation, and Ratty McRatt was absolutely thrilled by the excitement of the trip until beach day. Jamie carried Ratty McRatt’s cage onto the sand and Ratty McRatt saw the giant waves crash on the beach and scuttled into her green igloo house, completely terrified.
When the family was settled and Ratty McRatt’s cage was sitting under the umbrella, Jamie peered in and became concerned. “What’s wrong?” she whispered. “I’ve never seen so much water,” whispered Ratty McRatt. “When it comes up here, I won’t be able to swim because I am in a cage!”
Jamie smiled, opened the cage and lifted the igloo off of Ratty McRatt, who backed up against the cage wall. Jamie gently lifted Ratty McRatt and placed the rat on her chest. Ratty McRatt squeezed her eyes shut. She didn’t want to see the water. “Ratty McRatt, The water will never come up this far. Look at the waves and the wet sand. Do you see that line that separates the wet sand from the dry sand that we’re sitting on up here? The water never goes past that point. You are safe here. Even if I am swimming, Mom or Dad will be here with you. You will never be alone. Look at the water. It’s a gorgeous day!” Jamie stroked Ratty McRatt, and the rat bravely opened one eye as Jamie turned and gestured towards the water.
“Jamie, time for sun screen” chirped Jamie’s mother. Jamie kissed Ratty McRatt and put her back in her cage. “Everything will be fine, baby. You’ll see.” Jamie said quietly and went off to be sprayed with sun screen. Ratty McRatt opened both eyes and watched the waves crashing on the shore for a few minutes. The waves were actually not that big, and what Jamie said was true; they never passed the wet sand line. After a while, Ratty McRatt realized that all this bravery had made her sleepy. Besides, she is nocturnal and it is bed time after all.
When Ratty McRatt woke up, the McMillan family was back in the hotel room and getting ready for bed. She ate the food Jamie had placed in her cage earlier and watched the family interact and talk about their day. “Good night, Ratty McRatt!” Jamie reached in and stroked her pet. They all got in their beds and settled down.
Very soon, Ratty McRatt was incredibly bored. “I kind of hate being nocturnal, she thought. They are sleeping right when I am ready to play!” She made an instant decision and opened her cage door with her tail. Just a brief tour of the hotel would be such fun, she thought. She climbed down the window curtains and squeezed under the door. They were on the third floor and there was nothing but doors and an elevator. Ratty McRatt knew getting in the elevator was impossible, so she found the door to the stairs and squeezed under it. She flopped down each step until she reached the bottom.
After squeezing under that door, she saw the lobby to the right and what looked like a restaurant to the left. “Hmmm. A restaurant has a kitchen and kitchens have food!” She giggled to herself, hugged the wall and sprinted through the empty restaurant. “Everyone has gone to bed, so I can play!” she thought to herself. The kitchen was dark, but moonlight came into a window so Ratty McRatt could see there was no food on the counters. “What a shame!” she said out loud. A voice from across the kitchen said, “Don’t worry. I can help.”
The McMillan family was going on vacation, and they chose a pet friendly hotel so that Ratty McRatt could come as well. After many hours in the car, they arrived. Ratty McRatt was very excited. She had never been on vacation before!
They parked, and were heading towards the hotel. Jamie was in charge of Ratty McRatt’s cage, and her parents were struggling with the luggage. At some point, Jamie realized she had left her prized possession in the car. It was her first purse, which she had received as a birthday present. As her parents struggled to get the luggage through the glass doors, Jamie turned, carrying Ratty McRatt’s cage, and leapt off the curb in front of a moving car.
Ratty McRatt couldn’t help herself. She screamed, “JAMIE, STOP!!” Jamie did. The car stopped, too. No one got hurt, but Jamie was scolded by her parents for jumping in front of a moving car. Apparently, they did not hear Ratty McRatt, or if they did, they didn’t say anything about it.
Later, in the hotel room, Jamie took Ratty McRatt into the bathroom and set Ratty McRatt on her knee. Jamie stared into Ratty McRatt’s eyes and said, “That was not my mother’s voice who told me to stop.” Ratty McRatt shook her head, as if to say no. “It was you, wasn’t it?” Jamie stared intently at Ratty McRatt. Ratty McRatt was afraid Jamie would reject her just as the breeder had done. She took a large breath of air and slowly nodded her head up and down.
“Why haven’t you told me you could talk? Don’t you trust me? You know I love you,” said Jamie, with tears in her eyes. Ratty McRatt made an instant decision and she spoke. “Yes, and I love you too. I was afraid you would freak out.” Ratty McRatt said, quietly, and backed up on Jamie’s knee. Jamie asked why, and Ratty McRatt told her the entire story of how one day, as a very young rat, she once said a simple ‘thank you’ to the breeder who had filled her food bowl, and the man was so overcome by the jitters and muttering to himself, that he finally dumped her at a pet store the next day.
Ratty McRatt was deathly afraid of rejection. “Jamie, I’m happier with you than with any human I have ever met. I just couldn’t risk losing you,” Ratty McRatt said with tears in her eyes. She had never felt more vulnerable.
Jamie picked up Ratty McRatt and held her close to her chest for a moment. Then she pulled Ratty McRatt to her face. “I love you, Ratty McRatt. You can always trust me with your secrets.” Jamie placed Ratty McRatt on her shoulder. Ratty McRatt snuggled up against Jamie’s ear. “I love you, too, Jamie.” She whispered.
Ratty McRatt had two choices. She could turn around and run, or be bold. She chose to be bold, ducked her head, and ran between Oscar’s front legs, under his belly and shot out under his tail as he leaped into the air in surprise. The chase was on as Oscar bolted after her. She ran through the kitchen and dining room, climbed up the curtains and leaped on to the top of the piano.
Ratty McRatt carefully weaved through the framed family photos, but Oscar knocked them all over as he chased her off the piano and up the stairs. Both of them slowed some as they raced through the bedrooms full of sleeping people, and Ratty McRatt made another bold move as she jumped through the slats of the banister on the stairs several steps up from the bottom.
This gave her a moment to consider her next move. It seemed taking the high ground was her only hope, so she jumped from the kitchen chair, to Jamie’s toy kitchen, to the computer desk, and dug her nails into the hanging speakers to get to the shelf where her family kept the computer supplies.
Unfortunately, cats have claws too, and Oscar followed her every move. He, however, was not as graceful as Ratty McRatt, and he knocked the printer paper onto the floor. It fell in a cloud of gently wafting papers which landed almost silently on the floor.
Now Ratty McRatt was getting angry. This house is hers and Oscar is just a rude guest. She decided their chase was over, so she stopped and reared up on her hind legs. Oscar skidded to a stop and also reared up, but more surprised than poised for attack. Ratty McRatt started to run past Oscar and, on impulse, grabbed a bite of his hair. The cat yowled as a chunk of hair was pulled from his belly and he jumped sideways. Ratty McRatt rounded the corner and jumped into her cage, closing the door with her tail. Now, that was something Simon couldn’t do; open a cage door!
You can imagine Jamie’s surprise the next morning when she found a chunk of gray hair on the floor of Ratty McRatt’s cage.
Ratty McRatt was sound asleep in her warm green igloo when she heard a ruckus near the front door. “Catch him!” someone shouted, and then Jamie’s mother calmly responded, “Don’t worry. He will settle down soon.” A strange voice sounded exasperated, “Well, thank you for taking care of Oscar for the weekend, Jamie.” “I’m sure it will be fun,” Jamie chirped in her happy way.
Ratty McRatt peeked warily out of her igloo doorway. She saw something gray streak by. Ratty McRatt backed all the way back into her igloo and pressed her back end against the farthest wall of the igloo house. A minute later she ventured to the doorway again and saw large green eyes staring straight at her. A cat!
“What was Jamie thinking bringing a cat into our house,” wailed Ratty McRatt silently in her head. Cats eat rats, don’t they? Ratty McRatt had quickly retreated to the back of her green igloo house and was thinking hard about this problem. “I just won’t be able to leave my cage for the entire weekend, “ brooded Ratty McRatt.
Jamie’s sweet face appeared in front of the cage and peered into the igloo. “Don’t worry, Ratty McRatt! I will keep you safe from Oscar.” Jamie waved her hand, picked up the gray cat with the huge green eyes and walked away. Ratty McRatt was in a huff. “I know I shouldn’t feel jealous, but Jamie is MY human,” she sniffed. Ratty McRatt stayed in her igloo and wouldn’t even come out when dinner was served. Jamie placed the food in the usual place and closed the cage door. “Poor Ratty McRatt,” Jamie said, but she walked away from the cage to check on Oscar.
As the sun went down, Ratty McRatt got really hungry and ventured out to quickly grab her dinner of turkey and peas and drag it into her igloo house. She ate her dinner and waited. It got darker and darker and quieter and quieter. The McMillan family had gone to bed, but where was that cat? Sometime during the night, Ratty McRatt became stiff and sore from lying down in the igloo house for so long. She peeked out of her doorway and saw the gray cat curled up on the couch, asleep.
This could be my only chance, thought Ratty McRatt. She carefully opened her cage door with her tail and quietly slipped out onto the floor. Noiselessly, she inspected the house as she always did. It was her job to protect the McMillan family and make sure all was as it should be. Ratty McRatt felt confident that all was well and was returning to her cage when she turned a corner and walked right into old green eyes!
It was the middle of the night and Ratty McRatt was bored. The entire McMillan family was asleep, but being nocturnal, Ratty McRatt just couldn’t sleep at night.
So, she did something rats aren’t supposed to be able to do. She unlatched her cage door with her tail. It fell down like a ramp with a soft thump. Ratty McRatt looked around the darkness carefully. Rats can see much better at night and nothing looked dangerous. So she wandered around the house. She crept up to Jamie’s room and watched Jamie’s chest rise and fall. “I wish I could wake Jamie up to play with me,” thought Ratty McRatt.
When she had checked on her people-family, she went back downstairs and moodily stared out the window. “I wonder…,” she thought. She used her front paws to unlock the window, pressed herself between the wall and the window ledge and pushed with all of her might. The window slid open just enough for Ratty McRatt to climb through. She was outside! She had never been outside before. “This may be a very bad idea,” thought Ratty McRatt.
She crept very quietly around the large Pepper tree that was in the center of the yard. She heard a noise and froze. It was a rustling sound and a faint “peep”. “I hope that’s not a cat!” she worried, but she went that direction anyway because Ratty McRatt was a very brave and curious little rat.
At the base of the tree she found a baby bird looking very forlorn indeed, sitting near a broken bird egg. The baby bird must have fallen out of the tree! It would die if Ratty McRatt didn’t help it, but she knew she couldn’t touch the baby bird. If the mother bird smelled another animal scent on her baby, she might push it again out of her nest to protect her other babies. Ratty McRatt thought hard and came up with a solution. She took the large half of the empty egg shell and scooped the baby bird into it. Then, she began her slow ascent up the tree, carrying a quietly peeping baby bird. Ratty McRatt reached the nest. There were 3 more eggs in the nest but no mother. Mother bird must be off hunting for food. The eggs were beginning to crack and Ratty McRatt heard rustling inside them.
She carefully tilted the egg and the baby bird flopped into the nest where she seemed much happier. Ratty McRatt then took the shell in her mouth, scrambled down the tree, through the open window which she securely locked behind her and bolted to her cage just as the sun was coming up.
Can you imagine how Jamie felt finding that egg shell in Ratty McRatt’s cage in the morning? Fortunately, most people like souvenirs, and apparently so do rats.
by Lyn Garrett
Jamie loved animals. She would have owned dozens of them in every shape, size and color, but her parents were allergic to many. Fortunately, Jamie found one animal so special, it made up for her parent’s allergies. Jamie had Ratty McRatt and that rat was special.
Ratty McRatt was white with a beige hood and a white blaze down her nose. Jamie knew she was special right at the pet store. When the store employee opened the cage, Ratty McRatt crawled right out, up the lady’s arm to her shoulder and stopped. She looked right at Jamie and Jamie saw those rattie eyes that seemed to say, “take me home, please,” and so Jamie did!
Jamie also knew Ratty McRatt was special because she had no fear. Jamie was sure Ratty McRatt thought she was a giant Blue Whale rather than a tiny, furry rat. Now, since rats are nocturnal, sleeping during the day, Jamie only got to play with Ratty McRatt after her homework was done. Usually, Ratty McRatt would wait patiently on her green igloo house until Jamie could open the cage. The strange thing was that Jamie always found odd things in the cage. Like today, Wednesday, there was a half a wild bird eggshell hidden under Ratty McRatt’s running wheel. How in the world could that get there?
Fortunately, Ratty McRatt knew exactly how it got there and wanted to tell Jamie all about the exciting things that happened while Jamie slept. Unfortunately, rats can’t talk, or can they?