Sgt. Ruffers, Whiskers, and Princess Buttercup committed mass murder under the baking afternoon heat of the summer sun, and loved every second. They loved the chase, the hunt, the taste of their victims blood. They loved the screams emanating from their victims tiny throats. Above all else, they loved their master telling them what good boys and girls they were.

Their tails wagged, their bodies shook, occasionally they snarled at each other, as siblings are wont to do. What they did not do is tire, for today they fulfilled their one passion in life, putting hundreds of rats in their mouths. 

They’d done as much yesterday, and the day before. Actually, they’d tasted ratflesh just about every day of their young lives. They wouldn’t have had it any other way, which was good, since they didn’t have much a say in the matter, what with being the property of Earnest.

Earnest, getting up there in years, was possessed of exactly the combination of professionalism and idiosyncrasy that you would expect out of a man who had dedicated his adult life to ratting. He was currently dressed head to toe in leather, despite the oppressive summer heat. He’d dressed that way for the entirety of the week he and Matthew had been working on Governor Monty’s estate. Earlier in the week Matthew had asked him why.

“Have to look professional, young man.”

Matthew was Earnest’s hired help for the week, a native of Shurbrook, the city that the estate looked down upon. Matthew was the guy who held the pitchfork, moved around bales of hay, lifted troughs, and split apart the piles of horse dung that the rats viewed as premium, five star accommodations.

At this very moment, the bottom of the pitchfork he held was covered with red-black blood. Upon closer inspection, small tufts of grey rat fur were glued to the blades with the mostly dried guts of the rodents. It wasn’t a mystery how they got on there. After destroying the home of yet another rat family, his secondary job was to whack the hairless vermin, in case the terriers couldn’t manage the job. They usually could, despite their cuddly appearances.

Matt had been introduced to the three young murderers in the early morning light of Monday, their first day of work, just outside the stables on the Governor’s estate. They’d seemed cute things, friendly even. They’d come right up to him, licked his fingers, and expected pats. Ruffers had even rolled over and insisted that Matt give his small belly a nice rub. The occasional snarling at each other was the only indication that they were capable of perhaps moderately inconveniencing a fly.

Matt had kept his skepticism to himself. Earnest’s hiring of him that first morning had effectively saved him from being “volunteered” into the army as an idle, but otherwise healthy young man. Governor Monty’s estate, punctuated by the enormous villa at the top of the hill, provided a clear and constant view of men, hands bundled together, loaded up onto horse drawn carts to be shipped up north. It served as a constant reminder of what could happen, should he displease his new employer.

Manual labour wasn’t Matt’s passion, but he was sure he’d enjoy it a whole lot less in the military. He kept even any lighthearted jab at the dogs to himself, since Earnest had already appeared to be the proudest dog Dad in all the land, and might take offense. He’d already committed one faux pa by referring to Sgt Whiskers “Whiskers.” In Earnest’s eyes, he’d earned his honorific.

After the quick, Monday morning introduction, Earnest had shoved a pitchfork in his hands, the same one he carried a week later. He was told to go shift around a big pile of horse dung. Earnest claimed that the rats like to live in there, and Matt had been skeptical of that too.

Surely, even rats have standards. Who would want a house made of shit?

To his horror, the man who had spent the past thirty years culling the herd knew all the ways of the rodent, and no sooner had Matt shifted a portion of the dungpile than a plump, well fed rat sprung out, squealing with fright. A second later, it stopped squealing, having run directly into the awaiting jaws of Princess Buttercup, who promptly chomped down on its skull. Princess Buttercup then shook, like she was drying herself off, starting at the head. Then, rat forgotten in her mouth, she had waltzed back to a cooing, gleaming Earnest.

How could that dog forget that there’s a rat in her mouth? How could she not taste it? It was marinated in manure. 

“Drop the rat. Drop it. Good girrrrllllll,” said a kneeling Earnest in the strange voice people reserve for children and stupid people. Princess Buttercup dropped the rat, then, tail wagging, craned her head back and licked Earnest right on the mouth, and he loved it.

Imagine letting that thing lick you. 

Matt, now very aware of his still wet fingers, was then ordered to continue moving the shit around so they could get more rats.

It had been a week of this, albeit with less face licking. One miniature battlefield fell way to another. First the stables, then the pig sty, a dozen little garbage piles, and today the chicken coup. The first rat had been lucky, Matt soon learned. A puncture to the skull kills quickly, and neither Sgt. Whiskers, Ruffers, or Princess Buttercup had any desire interest in a quick death for their victims, they just liked biting things that squealed. Sometimes they even bit the same rat all at once.

One death in particular had stuck in his mind. The dogs had cornered a chubby little squealer in the pig sty. Buttercup had bitten its throat. Ruffers got its hairless tail. Then Sgt. Whiskers grabbed it by its midsection, and they all started twisting and shaking their heads. The rat exploded, but death took it a full moment later. Chunks of flesh rained down upon the pig sty to a chorus of doomed screeching.

The dogs had loved it. Earnest was thrilled. Matt found himself breathing a little heavier, eyes frozen open. He had no more love for the hairless pests than anyone else, but he questioned whether the punishment truly fit the crime.

While not nearly as gory, the rat currently looking at Matt right now, on this Friday afternoon, was arguably dying a more horrible death. Sgt. Whiskers handiwork was evident in the discolouration and bleeding along its midsection. It had bite marks along its body, and at least three of its legs were broken. Matt had watched it attempt to escape with some sort of weird, sideways limp. It had given up after just a few minutes, but its abdomen had risen and fallen with laboured breathing for over an hour.

Doomed, but not yet dead, it looked at him with a silent plea for help. In this moment, he appeared to it as a God, although whether of mercy or death only he could know. If he had a choice, much though he hated rats, he would have chosen for it to live. Chosen to let it frolick amongst its favourite midden heap for all its days.


But the only choice he had was between a mercifully quick death, and long, prolonged suffering, so he brought his pitchfork down on the rats skull so hard that he heard a pop as its skull shattered.

“That’s about it.”

Matt was looking down at his pants when Earnest spoke. His mercy had been surprisingly messy. Small flecks of the rat brains were splattered on his pants up to his knees.

Doesn’t matter.

Extra work clothes could be found in a side room at the villa. He’d planned on a change regardless, maybe even a quick wash. After all, the best part of his day was about to begin, and he wanted to look sharp.

“Finishing up the house then?” Matt replied, trying to hide the eagerness in his voice.

Every day ratting at Governor Monty’s had been spent the same way. From sunup to just before dusk, they worked the outdoors area of the estate, as the terriers needed natural light. In the evening they moved into the mansion at the top of the hill.

Matt had never actually met Governor Monty, but felt justified in describing him as a “typical rich cunt.” He kept such sentiment to himself, lest he travel down the hill instead of up, and join the army “volunteers,” being carted away as little more than slave labour for the war effort. That was a wise decision on his part. Despite this prudence, he would find himself loaded onto one of those carts by the end of the week, although he didn’t know that yet.

All he knew was that this weekend Governor Monty was throwing some sort of “typical rich cunt party,” as Matt would put it. Masks, music, wine, food, the works. Earnest had been paid to make sure that none of the important people at said party saw so much as a mouse scurrying about in the shadows, lest their poor hearts fail them. That meant terriers and pitchforks in the fields, poison and elbow grease in the mansion.

On the evening of that first day the Butler, Christoff, took them on a tour of the gargantuan villa. Christoff had carefully explained that their work was merely “a precaution.” They simply didn’t have a pest problem inside the mansion, but “only in the fields.”

Earnest had responded by laughing right in his face. “Rats, mice, they ain’t making themselves known willingly, Matt. This dolt thinks that because he never seen rats, they ain’t there.”

Matt wasn’t one for fine etiquette, but he’d been taken aback that Earnest had said that right in front of the butler, shaking his head as if that was the funniest thing in the world. He couldn’t blame Christoff for storming off, and wished he could do the same. Earnest’s eccentricities had already worn thin. 

It didn’t help that, before the butler was out of sight, Earnest had set the two of them to moving around furniture. He had a bounce in his step, somehow having more energy than his twenty year old hireling. Like he took pride in finding every smatter of rodent droppings in the entire house. Like he was stumbling upon nuggets of gold. 

An hour later, they uncovered one particularly large and particularly disgusting pile of filth, hidden underneath an ornate clock in one of many unused yet dashingly elegant rooms. Earnest had turned to a sweaty Matt with a gleam in his eye. “No replacement for hard work, my boy. The butler don’t understand. Most people don’t.”  

Here’s some more words of wisdom, old weirdo: Out of sight, out of mind.

Matt kept his thoughts to himself. An eccentric employer and a dirty job still beat out the glorified slave labour that awaited him in the military. Unfortunately for Matt, there was more than one way to end up on those carts below. Less than two hours into that first night, his particular brand of trouble arrived in the form of the boss’s daughter. 

Illuminated by candlelight she had appeared, as if conjured, walking down one of the many luxurious halls of her family’s estate. Upon her face, roughly his age, lay full lips, a smile too white for this world, and high, aristocratic cheekbones. Her long, shining honeyblonde hair, had been done up above her head, so as to better show a graceful neck adorned with sparkling diamonds. She was wrapped tightly in a black dress that her figure shone through, where it was not being outright revealed. 

Matt had done a double take, stumbled, and nearly dropped a piece of furniture worth more than his life upon first contact with a woman who inspired poetry. 

“Careful with that,” had come a buttery smooth feminine voice, accompanied by a small, arrogantly white smile, and the slightest arching of her brows. She never broke stride, brushed past him in just seconds, and left only the lingering scent of her flowery perfume, perhaps mixed with condescension. 

That first glance had been enough to imprint her onto Matt’s brain. Even still, he made sure to watch her from the back as she strutted away, so as to soak in all the details. It was possible that he would need to describe accurately her long white gloves, low cut dress, the way that her golden hair swayed as she walked, or the way the enticing way her dress shifted with her moving form. 

My age, yet with the elegance of an eternal goddess. 

So committed to admiring her form was Matt, that he hadn’t noticed for a long moment why she had stopped walking, just a short ways from him, at a mid-hall corner. Then their blue eyes locked. He wore an expression of guilt and fear. She, of excited triumph. Then she was gone.


“You’d have to be crazier than me to mess with a girl like that.” 

Matt nodded gently in agreement with Earnest, as the two of them got back to work. There are some women who are off limits, even for looking. And yet, he couldn’t pretend to regret seeing a view like that. 

Spectacular. No, stop that.

There was a small, but surprisingly strong voice inside his head that told him that trouble was more fun than celibacy. It needed to be ignored, one way or another. 

After brief consideration, he decided that cunt was probably sour anyway. Only a prostitute would prance around showing so much skin, and this one had probably seen more cocks than they would at the chicken coup. And she wore too much makeup.

It’s easy to be beautiful if you paint yourself a whole new face.

That jewelry she wore. It had to be worth more than his entire life’s earnings.

How anyone could be so self-centered is beyond-

“I thought you two could use some water.”

Matt heard that same buttery, feminine voice, this time coming behind him. She’d waited until they’d put down the table, a mahogany piece that weighed entirely more than it ought to have. When they were done she started talking, her pretty blue eyes locked on Matt’s, and introduced herself as Bella and asked for his name.

“Matt,” he said, and it was the last cogent thing that he uttered for a good, long while. One look at her face and his strategy went out the window, rolled down the hill, and ended up directly onto one of those carts. He was smitten, completely, and in his state it was a minor miracle that he didn’t start giggling. The voice of reason, so strong in his head just a second ago, was replaced with the voice that men hear in the presence of a truly stunning woman. A voice that said “do what it takes,” softly, and “DON’T FUCK IT UP,” loudly.

The fear he had felt upon fearing punishment for lusting after the Governor’s daughter had been replaced with a paralyzing nervousness that she might not fancy him. He was reduced to a shadow of himself, capable only of nodding and uttering the base agreement to whatever Bella said.

Lucky for him, she had lots to say. Even though it was in one ear for him and out the other she didn’t seem to mind. Maybe she thought he was a good listener. Maybe even he was. After all, if he hadn’t been so attracted to her, he, a man who spent his whole day ratting under the baking sun and all night moving heavy furniture, might not have expressed so much sympathy at her having to spend ALL DAY getting her dress fitted. 

“So, I need a man’s opinion on something.”

Her comment snapped him out of the routine of nodding and grunting that he had slowly wrapped around himself as a social blanket.

“Well, there are two of us here,” he responded.

Bell ignored his comment entirely, and continued looking only at him. “My father is throwing a party at the end of the week, and I need something that makes me look nice.” She spread her arms out, white gloved palms upturned, and cocked her head slightly to the side. “What do you think?”

I think I’d fuck you if you were wearing a burlap sack.

Matt thought that, but a shiver of fear had once again allowed logic to enter his consciousness. The voice that warned of imminent danger was, once again, louder than the voice that sang of beautiful women. 

“I think you look… nice.”

“What about the gloves specifically?”

“I think they’re nice.”

“I mean the length. Should they be shorter or longer?”

“The length is nice.”

“Oh it’s nice. What about my shoes?”

“Honestly, I hadn’t really noticed them.”

“I know, that’s precisely why I’m asking for your opinion.”

“The shoes are nice.”

“Black shoes with a black dress isn’t uh, you don’t find that boring?”

“Definitely not.”

“So, you find it exciting.”


“Do you like the dress that I’m wearing, Matt?”

“I do.”

“What do you think of it?”

“I think it’s very nice.”

“But it’s not, it’s not great.”

“No, no it’s great.”

Shit. Shouldn’t have said that.

Bella turned to the side, showing off her lithe figure. “What about the split in the side. Do you like that, Matty? Oh you don’t mind if I call you Matty do you?”

Why did she have to bite her lip after saying that?


“No you don’t like the split?”

“No, I don’t mind if you call me Matty.”

“So do you like that I’m showing my leg here, Matty?”

“I think it’s very fashionable.”

Nice one. 

“Matt, I’m not sure you understand what I’m getting at here. If I wanted someone to simply criticize my clothes I could have simply asked any number of women, and they’d know what they’re talking about when it comes to dresses and shoes.”

“I’m sure they would.”

“But I asked for a man’s opinion.”

There was a brief silence before Matt responded. “I’m not sure I understand what you’re getting at.”

“Oh, I think you do, Matty.”

Why did she step closer while saying that.

Deep down inside, Matt knew that he could simply say that he didn’t feel comfortable describing he boss’s daughter in sexual terms. No one could blame him for that. Despite knowing better, he pretended that he would get in trouble for refusing this poor, sweet girl’s simple demand that he be honest with her. And honestly, he wasn’t getting tired of the way she said “Matty,” like she was trying to fuck his name. 

“So,” she continued. “Do you like my dress, Matty?”

“It’s… good.”

“Good is nice. How is it good?”

“It’s good because it’s, because it’s feminine.” 

“Feminine like ‘grandmother sewing circle,’ or feminine like… ‘enticing’?”

Stop stretching your hands over your head and pushing out your tits you fucking sexy harlot.

“Um. You know.”

“So not the sewing circle.”

“No, not the sewing circle.”

“So, how do you think I look, Matty?”

Again, Matt knew the ways and methods of aborting this entire situation. But she had looked down at the floor, then up again at him just before saying “Matty.” And really, he was just a man.


Her eyes light up. He grinned without knowing.

“You don’t think I’m showing too much cleavage, Matt?” She spoke with mock concern. 

“If anything,” he let the words hang a moment, “not enough.” And he was rewarded with that bright smile of hers. 

“Oh my,” she said as she stepped closer to him, close enough that he could feel her body heat. She put her finger under his chin, looking at his mouth like she was considering something, before her blue eyes flicked to his once again. “What flattery.”

The sound of footsteps in the distance ended their encounter abruptly. Bella said goodbye, smiled, waved, and left, all in a flash. Once again she left behind the scent of her flowery perfume. This time it lingered upon a confused young man with a heretofore unnoticed erection. 

“Back to work, son.”

Matt turned to Earnest, nodded his agreement as he set his back into it, and that was it for that night’s entertainment. 

Every day Matt had both hoped for and against another run in with Bella. Every evening they had come back to the mansion, and he’d end up feeling cockblocked, but not entirely disappointed. He saw Bella every night save one. She’d even make sure to give him little looks, like there was some inside joke only the two of them knew. Unfortunately, she was never alone. 

Matt wasn’t stupid, or entirely inexperienced and naive with women. The Monty residence had plenty of gigantic mirrors, and when he caught a glimpse of himself, he thought he looked as dashing as a grunt could. But a man’s opinion of himself doesn’t mean much. Like most young men, his mother had told him many times what a handsome man he was. That didn’t mean much in and of itself. 

The difference was that a few girls his own age had echoed those sentiments. So he knew that Bella wasn’t acting like any girl he’d ever been around. Most of them had been nervous. She looked like she was playacting at nervousness, and not doing a good job. 

What was she after? He had mulled over this question ever since meeting her. It was clear that she was a bored, rich girl, who wanted a little fun. The question was, what kind of fun was she looking for? Did she want fun with him, or at his expense? 

Worst case scenario, she enjoyed dangling the carrot of her cunt above the heads of the serving men for a laugh. Maybe she even liked getting them in serious trouble with her father. It wouldn’t be hard for a man like Governor Monty to disappear a man like him, especially in times like these. 

He spent the majority of his time thinking about the best case scenario, which had been laid out quite clearly for him in many of his daydreams involving Bella. Not so much the ones where they had imaginary conversations, although those were charming. More the ones where she said nothing, because her mouth was wrapped around his cock. Or simply moaned, body shaking, eyelids fluttering, breathing his name as she climaxed. 

One way or another, Bella wanted some fun with him, and he intended to find out exactly what she had planned. 

“Going to the house” Matt said again, to Earnest, while using his gloved hands to pick up the last of the rats by their tails, throwing them on the counting pile.

“We’re done.”

“I’m sorry.”

“They need to prepare for the party.”

“But, we haven’t covered the entire house.”

“I’m not happy neither.”

You’re not happy because you have an obsession with getting rid of rats. I’m not happy because I’m being denied the quim of the Gods. 

But there really was nothing to be done. They packed up, and made their way to the mansion one last time, as Earnest needed to get their pay. 

Matt was crushed. He’d been holding out hopes that something like the first night would happen again with Bella. He didn’t have any concrete plans, but to have even the hope taken from him was too much. Besides, he’d found himself growing attached to the girl.

In the grand tradition of crushes, he’d decided that Bella had every possible positive attribute and then some. She loved animals. She was kind. She would be a good mother. She was a virgin, yet was interested in threesomes. She had told him all this in his mind’s eye.  

It was true that he had every intention of fucking the girl silly, but he could have settled for a parting conversation. Now he wouldn’t get even that.

Or will I?

“Earnest, you said what kind of party they were throwing before. What was it again?”


“Are you sure that every guest is wearing a mask?”


“But you’d still need fancy clothes to get in, right?”

“I guess.” 

Matt’s cock was piecing together the beginnings of a not particularly well thought out plan. He knew from working in the villa that there were rooms in the house with spare clothes. Nice clothes. All he needed was a mask. 

Maybe he didn’t even need that. There would probably be more than a few extra hired hands helping with such a party. There’d be too many faces to keep track of. There’d be chaos. Above all else, there’d be Bella. 

A giddy grin made its way unannounced onto his face. A part of him couldn’t believe that he was doing something so dangerous, yet he realized that the decision had already been made. 

What is the purpose of life, if not to live it?

Matt was excited, yet also calm, and as he walked up with to the mansion with Earnest he thought there was something mysterious on the warm afternoon wind. Something promising. 


The men in the stationary cart at the outskirts of Shurbrook were silent, Matt included. Their hands were bound. They looked in front of them, at nothing.  

Matt’s face had seen better times. His left eye was swelled shut, although he saw well enough out of his right. Enough to see Governor Monty’s estate in the distance, turned golden in the pre-sunset hour.

So stupid.

His clothes were torn, and he had lost his shirt in the mansion, being caught changing. He had learned too late that, while big parties do indeed have many helping hands, that means extra eyes watching, and seemingly unused rooms of the mansion being suddenly, horrifyingly, filled. 

I guess if it were easy to slip in and out of these things these cunts would get assassinated at every one of their parties. Wouldn’t that be nice.

They’d found him, smacked him around a little, and asked him what he was doing. For a second, he thought he had to admit to trying to sleep with the Governor’s daughter. Then he just said that he wanted to slip into the party. They’d asked him why. He’d told them he wanted to try the food and hear the music. He wasn’t important enough for them to bother learning more. A few punches here and there, hands tied with rope, and he was marched out.

On their way to the back door they ran into Bella. He’d called out her name, before realizing that she was walking with some strapping man he’d never seen before. Didn’t look like her brother either, considering the way she was draped over him.

I guess our time together meant more to me than it did to you. 

Even worse than laughing at him, she’d looked like she was sort of embarrassed for him. At that point it didn’t matter so much that two guards seemed to get a kick out of roughing him up on the thirty minute long walk down the estate, and straight into the cart he currently resided in. 

How humiliating. 

His new life. His new future. Death on the frontlines, or perhaps simply a lifetime of menial service. He wasn’t sure what was worse. 

He looked around again at his fellow passengers. A few normal looking men. A few men who looked like they really did whatever they were accused of. All silent as the grave.

“So, what did they put you guys in for.”

The men remained silent, and for the rest of the night, so did Matt.

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  1. Nice. I liked it. Well done. Can’t wait to see where you go next.

    I remember someone in a seminar saying that in regards to creative writing… “Everything is a Reply, a reply to everything you’ve read, the life you’ve lived. A story is a Reply to all the stories you’ve read, a reply to Mother Nature. The Novel is the only artistic medium where the first work was perfect and everything that came after Homer’s Illiad – even the Odyssey – was a “just a reply”.

    1. Kind words. Of course it could be much improved, and I might come back to this later and do a draft 2.

      1. my pleasure – really – nicely done.

        re-reading my comment – it may have come across a bit more ruthless and cruel than intended. I meant to say – don’t put yourself under too much pressure – it’s about the journey not the destination, etc… But this is good. The technical aspects are all correct. Pacing, flow, description versus development versus interesting dialogue – all good. Decent setup, interesting twist and resolution, clear and eloquent execution. You have the pre-requisite skills, experience and subject matter will provide style. Once you can accurately reflect how you’re feeling, you’ll learn to call those emotions into the story. More important than “what you want to say” to the audience is “how you want them to feel”. A Tom Clancy book feels a lot different than Dan Abnett. Hemingway and Cormac McCarthy didn’t start out the way we see them now. Victor Hugo didn’t publish Les Miserables until he was 70.

  2. keep writing fuck the haters

  3. I finally got around to reading this short story. It was worth the time to read. The main character learned too late about being more cautious with the female because their initial encounter meant nothing more than teasing/flirting to her. In real life this has played more times than one can count.

    1. Thank you. Kind words. It is also just a rough draft, and I’ll probably be returning to it fairly soon.

  4. Obvious room for polishing in a few places, which you seem to be aware of.
    I thought the two principal characters were well-crafted. Matt, the typical horny teenager, is perhaps not that original. I thought you struck exactly the right balance with Earnest the mad ratter; weird enough to be funny but not too weird to be believable.
    A few minor quibbles:
    – the story gives the sense of being vaguely Victorian in era (though obviously not a real world setting) and the description of Bella (in particular the dress) seems a bit too modern and out of place
    – I was sure you were setting up some kind of ratting mishap as part of the climax with the detail on how messy and disgusting the job was, and how the job was cut short at the last minute. But then, the climax is just that Matt got caught by some goons.

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