The snippet comes from Chapter Three. Albert has jumped onto the wrong bus to escape capture by the school bullies. When he gets to the end of the line he has to wait twenty minutes for the next bus. After a while he gives up waiting and looks for another way home. Across the road from a park he finds some shops and hopes there is someone who can help him, but the shop-keepers have all put out their garbage and closed for the day. He slumps to the ground in despair as it starts to rain...
Albert was so busy feeling sorry for himself that he didn’t notice a rustling sound coming from one of the piles of garbage. He took a deep breath to clear his head and the pile of garbage rustled again. He wiped his eyes and took another breath, the garbage rustled once more.
This time he heard it.
Instant fear caused his jaw to clench and his muscles to freeze. Somehow he managed to force his eyes to look around, scanning for the cause of the sound.
There it was again! The pounding rain made it hard to identify and his brain churned through all of the possible causes. Was it a spider? No, spiders aren’t that big. Was it a dog? No, dogs aren’t that small. Was it a rat? His eyes widened. Could it be a rat?
“I hate rats,” he whispered through a crack in his lips.
Albert scanned the rubbish again. One of the bags had a split down the side and some of the contents spilled out. He saw something move, something hairless and horrible, skinny and squirming. It was a rat’s tail.
Clenching his fists, Albert tried not to scream but a grunt of disgust escaped from his throat. It rolled up into his mouth and out through his nostrils. The tail stopped moving. The rustle stopped rustling and the rat was now aware that someone else was there.
Albert squeezed his eyes shut. Perhaps the tail was a figment of his imagination, perhaps, when he opened his eyes again, it would be gone. Cautiously Albert opened his eyes and the rat’s tail had disappeared but in its place was a rat’s head!
He saw four long, yellow front teeth exposed by an open mouth, whiskers that danced on either side of the nose, black beady eyes that glinted in the streetlight and a leering smile that appeared on quivering lips as the rat sniffed the air. The smile disappeared as the mouth opened further and a stream of drool dangled from the top lip. Albert jumped to his feet; he wasn’t going to hang about with the rat infested garbage. Rain or no rain he sprinted across the footpath, across the road and into the shadowy park.
Short stories coming soon: http://www.theordinaryanimals.com/detective-oliver-mysteries