It was a cloudy night. The winds blew rapidly and the orange leaves followed it. Robin Hyde just looked ahead. He just wanted to get home early. If he got there too late, it would get too cold. It would be very unpleasant.
His leather boots hit the ground on each step. His scarf surfed along the wind. His jacket wasn't long enough to surf with it. His eyes stared emotionlessly ahead at the dark street.
Squirrels wrapped with each other in their nests up on the tree holes. Small birds chirped happily as they flew. A mother called her children inside as they played on the piled up leaves. One of them waved at Robin. He nodded at him softly and went on.
The moon was not at the center of the sky, so Robin decided to take a break. It was still a long walk until he made it home. He sat down at a bench at the corner of the street. A small rat looked over from the opposite side of the road. It seemed curious about Robin for some reason. Robin noticed it as well. It seemed like a normal rat, though no rat ever looked as curious as this one.
The little rat ran across the street towards Robin. Robin looked at it normally. It was a rat, not a person. Not to mention rats were hated by almost everyone he knew, so not giving the little rat a warm welcome wouldn't make a difference. Rats lived short lives. This little one would soon die and this entire event would be lost to everyone unless Robin decided to tell anyone about it. There was no need to waste energy with his mask on a little rat.
The rat looked up at him. Robin curiously looked down at him. The rat's little eyes looked straight at him. Robin lowered his right hand and made a little platform for the little creature. It was clearly a young rat, young enough it could fit on his hand. The critter claimed on his hand. Robin lifted the little one towards his lap. Looking closer at the rat, he realized the rat's right eye was a bright blue. The other eye was a darker blue. The fur was actually light brown, darkened by the night. The little rat just sat there looking at Robin calmly.
Robin understood why everyone hated rodents. They could be annoying at times and spread diseases, but not all of them were the types that lived in sewers. Some could be runaway pet rats or not even infected at all. People had no trouble helping stray dogs and cared for them, but once it came to rats, these were the Devil himself. Dogs too could spread many diseases. Dogs could also bite. Dogs could in many ways be far more dangerous than rats. And yet, the dogs were loved and cared for while rats were hated and feared.
Robin had never hated rats. He never hated anything in general. He couldn't.
He had owned several rats as a child. If they were quiet enough, they made very good company. One of the few companies Robin never minded. The little critter did remind Robin of his childhood. His parents who lived far away. His old school. His high school friends.
The little creature suddenly gave a scream. Robin looked back at it. Before he could react, a wooden plank crashed at his hand. He yelled in surprise and pain. The little creature jumped off one millisecond before. Robin looked up and saw another man. He wasn't looking at him, but at the rat. The rat ran as fast as it could to a woman's yard. The man followed it and jumped over the fence. He looked around but soon returned to Robin.
Robin, knowing most people hated rodents, came to the conclusion the man hated rats as well. That would make complete sense.
"Sorry about your hand," he said, "is it broken?"
Robin moved his fingers a little. He was in great pain. His hand felt numb.
"I think so," he replied.
"I'll take you to the hospital. I'm very sorry."
"There's no need," replied Robin. He wasn't afraid of the "evil strangers" his mother always talked about, but he didn't trust a man he just met, much less who had just broken his hand.
"Are you sure?"
"Yes," he said standing and walking away.
He wanted to know nothing more of this man. He wanted to relieve his pain and get home.
"If you ever seen another animal with eyes glowing like that," the man yelled in the distance, "stay away."
"Staying away is what you should have done," Robin said angrily as he turned one last time.
The man froze.
His mask slipped. Realizing it, he turned away and left. It wouldn't make a difference if a rat saw him without a mask, but a person would.