Red Bellied Brown

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Chapter 15: The Nursery

Once I had been bathed they took me to a hall where I could see more rats. All of them were seated having a meal at long tables as if I was at a German beer hall. They sat me down and soon had food in front of me. It smelt delicious.

‘Go on,’ they said, ‘it’s ok, it’s not human.’

I sniffed at it, the smell overwhelmed me and before I knew it I had already started eating it.

‘Poor thing,’ I heard one say, ‘they shouldn’t have to go through such a thing.’

‘It’s the only way,’ replied another one.

‘Says who?’

‘You know who,’ replied the voice.

‘It’s barbaric,’ she insisted, ‘are you ok dear?’

I nodded feeling like I was beginning to regain my sanity. At least my ability to think.

‘We’ll need to take him to the nursery.’

They led me out of the mess hall, down a corridor and into a room that felt eerily like a kindergarten. A woman, at least I guessed her to be a woman. It was hard to tell by the face. Each one looked the same to me. Based on the eight bumps on the creature’s chest I gathered it was a she. They were covered up by a lab-coat.

‘Oh hello,’ she said then checked a clipboard she was holding in her hands, ‘detective Johnson. It’s nice of you to join us.’

‘I didn’t have a choice.’

‘No, well, it’s too bad you feel that way.’

‘Make me human again,’ I said.

‘That’s not possible,’ she said, ‘well not for a child anyway.’

I frowned at those words, what did she mean?

‘I’m an adult,’ I asserted, ‘I have a child of my own.’

‘In your past life yes,’ she replied, ‘but here you are a child, it’s easier that way.’

‘Easier for who?’ I asked bewildered by the moment at least it explained why I seemed shorter than everyone else. I took a proper look at my body, ‘then I am a child.’

‘Yes, you’ll be going through puberty soon enough, got to make sure you eat plenty and get rest.’

Thoughts of Takeshi and the rescue team digging up the street made me smile. Soon they would be here, soon I would be out of here. Then I could be human again. She hadn’t said it was impossible, just that I needed to grow up first. This would be over.

‘They’ll be here soon,’ I smiled.

‘Oh, is your family joining you too?’ she chirped.

‘Stay away from my family,’ I said.

‘Oh but you must let them join you, we could really do with a doctor.’

‘Stay away from them,’ I repeated although I knew I had no power here.

‘Of course, it is always a choice you alone must make, I’m sure you’ll agree that this is the best life for them though. We have everything you need to live a happy contented life.’

‘Except for the life I had before,’ I replied.

‘Don’t be silly,’ she said, ‘you’re on the right side of history here. Humans are a sick corrupt species unable to change, until now that is.’

‘They’ll be here,’ I laughed, ‘they are coming.’

‘The police?’ she asked, ‘here perhaps I should show you.’

She led me by the hand out of the kindergarten through the corridor past more rats. The place was surprisingly clean. I hadn’t seen any doors since the hotel room. I felt the floor steadily go up until we reached a ladder. She pointed at it.

‘Go on,’ she said encouragingly.

I began climbing the ladder until I reached a hatch. While holding onto one of the runs I wound the wheel to open it. I was greeted by hot air and the smell of dirt. She had really taken me to the exit. Pulling myself out I noticed the soil around the hatch was red. My jaw dropped when I looked at the view before me. Vegetable and fruit rows stretch out to the horizon. The female rat joined me.

‘It’s a shame we lost the brewery, that was a good drop of beer,’ she said patting me on the shoulder.

‘Where am I?’ I asked.

‘You’re home.’

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