the Queen of the Sewer Rats

After quite a bit of bad navigation and bickering on the parts of Tom and John the four travelers came out of the dark back alleys and emerged into a bright intersection that was jam packed with people. Harold made his way through the hustle and bustle as easily as a fish swims through water while Dorothy, John and Tom were doing all they could to keep from drowning in the crowds. Once they emerged from the throng Harold pointed the way to the Empire State building, it was just on the other side of an immense forest of glass and metal. The towers jutted up into the sky, the tops of some disapeared into the clouds. All Dorothy could do was stand and stare, she was impressed by the towers when she first arrived in the city but now that she saw them up close she was blown away by their immense size. She couldn't take her eyes off of them so she walked forward with her face to the sky, it worked well for a while but all of a sudden her feet stepped on nothing but air and she found herself falling down into the bowels of the city. She heard someone call her name but the hole that she had fallen through was becoming but a small circle of light and before she knew it she had shut her eyes and was just waiting to hit the ground.

            When Dorothy opened her eyes again she could hardly see a thing. She tried to stand up but immediatly fell back down again because of the overpowering stench that surrounded her. Dorothy felt the ground beneath her, she had landed on something soft, an old mattress by the feel of it. As her eyes adjusted to the darkness Dorothy could see that she was lying on an old mattress in some kind of stone tunnel under the ground. The walls were a filthy brick that made the dark alleyways of the city seem like a wonderful place to be. Beside her was a river of filth from which the smell was coming from. Above her was a wide circular tunnel that went straight up and ended in a bright hole of light. Suddenly the shape of a head appeared in the circle of light. "Dorothy!? Are you down there?" John's voice called down to her.

            "I'm here!" she shouted.

            Dorothy heard John talking to Tom and Harold, "She's down there!" he said.

            She saw the shape of Johns head being pushed out of the circle to make way for the shape of Tom's narrow head. "Are you alright? Can you get back up?" Tom called to her.

            "I'm fine." she yelled, as she looked around she could see that there was no way for her to climb back up the hole. "I'm afraid that I won't be able to get back up."

            The shape of Tom's head gave way to that of Harold's. "I-Is there a way for us t-to get to you?" he bellowed.

            With a feeling of despair in the pit of her stomach she realized that there was no more of a way for her friends to get into the hole as there was for her to get out of it. "No, not unless you jump." she called up sadly.

            She heard Tom's voice at the top of the hole "Good idea!"

            "that's not what I meant!" she yelled, but it was too late.

            Before she knew it the light had given way to Tom's silhouette coming down the tunnel. She scrambled off the mattress just before Tom landed on it. Tom stood up and dusted himself off and barely managed to avoid being crushed by John falling down the hole after him. The two of them scrambled out of the way, expecting Harold to come falling right after them but after a minute or so he still hadn't appeared on the old mattress. Tom ventured to the opening at the bottom of the hole. "Are you coming?" he called up to Harold.

            "N-no, I c-can't. I'm much t-too afraid." yelled Harold.

            Dorothy and John came to join Tom at the bottom of the hole. "But you just have to come down!" yelled Dorothy.

            "There's a mattress at the bottom, it's perfectly safe!" Shouted John.

            Harold was about to say something about not being able to do it but just as he leaned over the hole the concrete under his feet crumbled and sent him falling down into the tunnel with the rest of them. John, Tom and Dorothy barely escaped being crushed by Harold as he landed on the mattress with a great, FWUMP!

            As he sat on the dirty old mattress in his no longer clean and crisp suit hyperventilating Harold was finally reunited with the rest of the travelers. "You did it! Congratulations!" shouted Tom.

            "I-I'm alive..." stuttered Harold "But... What i-is that smell!?" he held his nose and came to join Dorothy, John and Tom.

            "It's coming from that river." said Dorothy who was also holding her nose.

            John and Tom looked at each other in confusion. "What smell?" asked Tom.

            "I don't smell a thing." added John.

            "Oh! I think I know why we can't smell anything!" cried Tom. "I have so much metal paste up my nose that I can't smell a thing and you are probably so used to being around garbage that you don't even notice the smell anymore."

            "Hm you are probably right." Said John.

            Unknown to them, this was the first time that the two had ever agreed on anything.

            "Can we please get out of here?" asked Dorothy

            "Yes, P-please." added Harold.

            They had only been walking for a few minutes before Dorothy couldn't stand the smell any longer and collapsed. As John, Harold and Tom rushed to help her Harold started feeling dizzy as well. "You go and run and find an exit as fast as you can. We will carry Dorothy and catch up with you." insisted John, who was already gathering Dorothy into his arms.

            "A-are you sure?" asked Harold, who looked plenty ready to leave.

            "Yes, and I'm also sure that if you collapsed I wouldn't be able to carry you out." Answered Tom who had grabbed Dorothy's bag with Toto out cold inside it.

            "I-if you are sure. I will wait f-for you at the exit." And with that Harold took off down the tunnel as fast as his legs would carry him.

            John and Tom were completely unaffected by the smell so they continued down the tunnel taking turns carrying Dorothy and Toto. After walking for quite some time they found the cowardly lawyer passed out in a place where he was close enough to see the exit, a set of stairs leading up to a hatch in the street. "How unfortunate, what will we do with him?" asked John.

            "I'm not sure, we can't just leave him here that's for sure." replied Tom "We should get Dorothy out of here first though."

            They headed towards the exit but just they were about to reach the steps a sewer rat came scurrying under their feet and chasing after it was a seven foot crocodile! Tom pulled out his metal covered ax prop, which he had strapped to his back after he was freed at the park, and struck the crocodile over the head with it. De-capacitating the beast. "Well that's not something you see everyday." mumbled John, who had been frozen with shock.

            All of a sudden they heard a small, high pitched voice. "Thank you so much for saving me!"

            The two men spun around but saw nobody but the sewer rat. John chuckled, "For a second I thought that rat was the one talking to us."

            "I am the one talking to you!" huffed the rat as it stood upright on its hind legs and walked over to them.

            Both John and Tom jumped  back in surprise. Tom turned to John, "Maybe the fumes are getting to our heads." he hissed "Because last time I checked, sewer rats don't talk."

            "I am no ordinary sewer rat, I am the queen of the sewer rats!" squeaked the rodent. "And as a reward for saving me I will do you a favor."

            All that John and Tom could do was stare at the peculiar little creature. John finally spoke up, "A reward? like what?" he asked.

            "Well I can start by moving your large friend over there." She gestured to Harold.

            "That would be nice, thank you" Tom had found his voice again and was as straightforward as ever.

            The queen of the sewer rats clapped her paws twice and suddenly legions of sewer rats cam streaming out of the cracks in the filthy walls. They swarmed around Harold and with surprisingly little effort they lifter him up and carried him out of the stinky tunnel. The queen clapped her paws again and the rats all returned to the sewer walls. "Thank you very much ma'am." said Tom with an exaggerated bow.

            "You are very welcome." she squeaked " It is the least I can do to repay you for saving my life."

            With that she scurried off into the shadows.

            When they emerged from the tunnel with Dorothy and Toto in their arms Tom and John could not believe what they saw. Towering in front of them was the Empire State Building in all its glory. As they sat down on the bench where Harold had been placed John turned to Tom. "Did we really just meet rodent royalty or was that just the fumes?" he asked.

            Tom thought for a minute before looking back to John. "Fumes." they both said in unison.

The End

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