Chapter 9Mature

It was nearing 2:00 AM when Daniel started to look ill.

Of course, to Yuri, Daniel always looked sick, but to drunks, they all looked the same.

Daniel was stumbling around in the dark night club, pale and stuck in a cold sweat. He was constantly running into to people, and getting on their nerves immensely. Even other drunken patrons were starting to have a problem with him.

He stopped trying to walk for just one moment, making an attempt to talk to a young girl near the bar. He stood swaying awkwardly, threatening to fall over at any second. Yuri wasn’t far behind, waiting to catch him if it happened.

The girl stared disgustedly at Daniel as he tried to speak, words slurring into an indistinguishable mess.

“Daniel, come on…” Yuri muttered to his friend, touching his arm gently. Daniel abruptly turned around, a distressed look clouding his face.

“Yuuuuuuuurrri! I’mm…trying to have a drink…” He hiccuped. “…With this nice lady…”

The girl rolled her eyes.

“No, you’ve had enough to drink, Daniel…Come on, let’s go home-”

“…No!” He shoved Yuri away, just before vomiting all over the floor between them.

The girl jumped back like something had bitten her, looking as if she were about to vomit herself. The people at the bar, and a few near the dance floor looked over in surprise, and revolt.

Daniel wiped his mouth on his sleeve and looked up at Yuri.

“I…don’t…feel good…” he said lightly.

“No shit…” Yuri grabbed his arm.

“Get that asshole outta here!” someone at the bar yelled at them.

“Working on it!” Yuri countered, dragging his friend toward the back door.

“…No, Yuri, I want…to dance…I’m hungry…” Daniel said a few other undecipherable words before falling into a sleepwalking state.

Yuri opened the door and shoved his friend outside into the dark alley between the bar and the next shop. The place was drenched in shadows, and didn’t smell much better than the bar.

Yuri could hardly see his own hands in front of him, but could just make out Daniel’s shape in the dark, leaning over to vomit again. Yuri took a step back, escaping the smell, but nearly tripping over a bag of garbage.

He felt himself step on something soft and squishy as he caught himself. There was a sharp crunch as something broke beneath his shoe.

It was too dark to see what it was, but Yuri had felt like he’d stepped on an animal of some sort, and became nauseous himself at the idea. By the size of the creature, it was probably a tiny kitten.

It was then he remembered Daniel carried a lighter in his back pocket, for those occasions he felt like smoking instead of drinking to make the pain go away.

Part of Yuri didn’t want to see what he’d done, but if it wasn’t actually an animal he’d stepped on, he’d like to know, so at least he could get some guilt-free sleep.

“Hey Danny, let me get your lighter for a sec’,” said Yuri, approaching is swaying friend. Daniel did nothing to stop nor help his friend dig through his pockets in search of the zippo.

“Hey man…Don’t touch me there…” he mumbled as Yuri dug around his right back pocket.

“Shut up…” He finally felt the cold metal against his fingers and lifted it out, snapping it open and lighting the small flame.

It wasn’t a wonderful source of light, but with it, at least Yuri could see where he was putting his feet.

He approached the spot where he’d stepped on whatever the object had been and gagged at the sight.

While it wasn’t a kitten he’s stepped on, it was an engorged black rat. It’s entrails were oozing out it’s mouth, and one of it’s eyes had fallen out of it’s socket, hanging by a mere nerve. It’s entire body was flattened by Yuri’s footfall.

The rat must have been old before Yuri had stepped on it. Patches of fur were missing, and the creature had many pustules and scars along it’s crushed body and skull.

A noise from a few feet away stole his attention.

Something was moving near the dumpster in front of him. The light from the zippo did not reach far enough to expose it’s surroundings, but something was definitely moving.

It didn’t take long for Yuri to match the sound to a few swift moving shadows, running from the dumpster along the walls and under the litter of the alleyway, heading straight for him.

He took a step back nervously, then relaxed as the creatures came into the light of the zippo.

Just more rats.

He sighed in relief, unsure why he had suddenly been so jumpy.

Then they started to eat the corpse at his feet.

As he looked down at them, he realized something wasn’t right.

Their eyes were a milky white, and they too were covered in scars and red, raw flesh. He could actually see the bone of the spinal column protruding from the back of one of the rats, pink flesh on either side.

Behind him, Daniel was mumbling to himself, walking up the alley the other way. Yuri kept an eye on the rats as he backed away, following Daniel.

His foot collided with a trash can behind him, sending a loud clang echoing through the alley.

The rats all looked up at him, milky eyes unfocused and red-veined; but he could tell they were looking straight at him.

His heart skipped a beat as the broke into a run toward him, covering the distance before he could even try to escape. They tore at his shoes and pants, clamoring for a chomp on his flesh.

He kicked and ran, shaking his legs furiously to free himself from the rabid creatures. He could hear them squealing angrily behind him.

He caught up to Daniel, grabbed him by the arm, and pulled him along through the alley.

“What the fuck, man…? Who we runnin’ from…?” Daniel asked, stumbling over the garbage, but fortunately not tripping.

“I don’t know, bud, just run!”

He had no idea rats could be so loud. More must have come from somewhere, because the shrieks filled the alley like a siren’s wail.

They turned right at a T in the alleyway, nearly colliding with a mass of trash just around the corner. Daniel shouted something Yuri didn’t understand.

They were approaching the street, Yuri could see the light at the end of the alley.

Daniel let out a shriek as one of the smaller rats caught up to him and bit through his pants, drawing blood and soaking the fabric around it.

They had made it. The friends burst out into the welcoming openness of the street, the street lamps flooding them with a warming glow.

But the rats still followed.

Yuri always thoughts rats that lived in the darkness of alleys despised the light, but these guys kept coming, bounding along the sidewalk in a black, furry frenzy.

His heart was beating faster than it ever had, except for the time a girl had tried to rape him at the bar.

“Fuck this, Yuri…my leg hurts…”

“Run, Danny!”

There was no one on the streets at 3:00 in the morning; no one to save them. All the shops seemed to be closed.

Except the bar! Yuri thought suddenly. He turned right at the corner, dragging his poor drunk friend with him all the while as they headed back to the nightclub.

The rats skidded around the corner, following them like hounds.

Yuri could see the neon lights outside the nightclub. They were close.

The rats nipped at their heels. Yuri could feel him inadvertently kicking them away as he ran.

Daniel let out another shout as one of the largest rats lunged and sunk it’s teeth into his calf.

Somehow, the drunk man kept running, slightly sobered by fear. The rat fell off as they reached the bar’s front door.

Everyone in the main lobby of the nightclub turned to stare at the duo as they rushed inside and slammed the door shut behind them.

A few rats managed to slip in through the gap; others were smashed in the doorway, spurting blood onto the tiled floor.

The few that made it ran toward the patrons hungrily, their feet pattering through the blood of their brethren mindlessly.

The people at the bar screamed, jumping onto the bar stools or bar itself to avoid the tiny snapping jaws. The rats soon gave up, turning on the others.

The dancers didn’t even realize the varmints weaving between their steps. It wasn’t until one young woman let out a frenzied shriek that everyone looked around in panic and saw the small shadows running around their toes.

As the rats started biting, people started stomping. Their were screams, crunches, and squeaks, all making melody with the music.

The rats outside the the nightclub clawed at the door, their tiny nails grating against the glass door and wooden threshold.

“What in the fuck is going on? Where did those rats come from?” a red-face, angry bartender shouted over the chaos. “Why are they attacking people?!”

“Call animal control!” yelled a woman, huddling on her barstool.

“Fuck that, call the police!”

“Rabies! What if we catch rabies!”

As the last rat was stamped flat, the patrons evacuated the bloody dance floor and headed for the front entrance.

“No!” Yuri shouted, holding his arms out. “There are more out there! Someone needs to call the cops and have these things killed!”

The overweight bartender ran into the back room.

The rats were still clambering to get inside the club. Some people were mortified by the imagery of the rats, and escaped through the clubs back door into the alley.

Yuri hoped all the rats were outside the door now, or those people were screwed.

The End

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