Where Angels Fear To Tread

by - December 11, 2011

There are certain jobs worth avoiding at all costs.  The problem is, avoidance doesn't solve anything - it just prolongs the inevitable.

We didn't really believe the extent of the damage an ugly little beast could create.  Classic denial.  It just couldn't be that bad.

And now the snow flies.  And the floor is freezing.  And it just can't be forgotten.  There's no sidestepping frozen tile on an early morning.

Rats.  A thousand curses on their beady skulls!  Killing them all was only the first step.  How they mock us now from their blighted coffin beneath the floor...You poison us? - we'll show you - we'll pull down every little piece of insulation, tear it up, poop in it, make you think you're safe through the sweet waves of summer, make you forget, make you avoid and then BAM - winter, bet you didn't know linoleum could feel like ice, did you?   Bet you thought you'd won.

I am a sight to be reckoned with: my father's coveralls, rubber boots, hair tucked up into a toque, bandana over my mouth and nose, hood tied tight against any invader, work gloves - pretty is for the birds.

A deep breath and a decent into the bowels of Queen Street hell.

Here is the cork of joy.  Here is some wily demon erasing all things bright and beautiful.  Here is solitary confinement.

The work lamp pierces shadow and scatters ghosts.  Dust dances in the beam, filthy pirouettes of mocking delight.  It smells of dirt and emptiness - this place never touched by sun or love.  There is less than two feet.  I am restricted to my back or my belly and I move slowly, replacing insulation that is salvageable and awkwardly stuffing garbage bags with what is not.

I feel them all around me.  I feel their eyes.  Their whiskers.  The tickle of their ghosts.  I have disturbed this, their holy ground.  I hum to kill their hold and I hold my own until a fat, scowling carcass falls, bouncing off my stomach to rest, staring at me through empty sockets leaking nightmares.

I recoil.  Backpedaling.  I hit my head on a beam and lay straight back in the dirt, my breath causing the dust to roil and laugh.  My heart races, wild and off-beat, and I find my own rigor mortis - frozen here on this bed of earth, this grave of the countless horde.

When I am calm, I can carry on.  When I crawl I can hear a snap and pop and I know I've just put my knee on another one.  It breaks apart beneath me - nothing but bones and fur.  I feel it's fury in every shiver on my spine.

This is the ugliest place in the world.  I miss the sun.  I miss the living.

And when I am resurrected - birthed from the trapdoor in a burst of tearing eyes and coughing - I count my blessings in a scalding shower, burning the fibreglass from my pores, steaming death from my lungs, sucking sunshine from the window and feeling the kitchen the floor that is a little less cold now that I've descended into the darkest pit where even angels fear to tread.

More rat stories?
Look Who Wears The Pants Now
Massacre At 212 Queen St S
Where Angels Fear To Tread Part 2

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© Alanna Rusnak