Chuck was doing something with Black Friday tweets.  I’m doing something with this rat that ran across my path in Venice.  Just a little something – about 500 words.

The Sinking Ship

Rats don’t desert sinking ships.  We get off earlier.  So I’m stuck here – a very pleasant ‘here’ – people strolling through this park area, stopping to eat food, and leaving some for me, in bins if not on the ground.

They’re tidier here than other cities.  Neat barrels for waste, and nothing much in the streets.  On the west side there are more dogs in the houses, and more waste in the alleyways.  My mates clean that up.  You have to be quick-footed to avoid the traffic.  Not those nasty horseless carriages, although horses in other places had lots of spare food, and great barns of hay.  I miss that.  I remember one place… but I won’t reminisce, it always makes me feel teary; it doesn’t do for a rat to look teary in public, you never know who might get the wrong idea and think we’re carrying disease instead of emotion.

They cram the houses close together here.  That’s fantastic for rat-kind.  Roofrats never come down, just clear tall buildings in a single bound.  The gaps between them, that is; they’re not super-heroes.  They don’t have much contact with us tunnel rats, which is just as well because tunnelling here has special hazards.


It’s everywhere, and it’s not good to drink.  Tastes salty.  Even the shiprats shun it.  It fills most of our tunnels twice a day.  The people on top paddle through it, or walk on great wooden bridges they sling across the square. I don’t let them see me, or the authorities would have to do something about it.  That means us, not the visitors.  Here we are, regular law-abiding citizens, and its the tourists who can drive us away.  Not fair!

This water in our tunnels is becoming a problem.  We hold councils about it once a year.  Either the water is rising or the city is sinking.  Nobody’s heard of a sinking city before, but we’ve heard legends of towns sinking beneath the waves.  Perhaps this is another.  Will we hear the bells of the churches, clock towers and campanile ringing in the storms a hundred years from now, reminding us that once a great city lay here?

I’m thinking of moving.

I look at the big ships that come into port and wonder if I could run up those chains as easily as I could once run up a rope hawser.  Maybe not.  I’ll have to find another way to leave.  Stow away in some luggage?  Hide in a box of fresh fruit going aboard?  It looks a cushy number on those big ships.  Nice and clean.  But then, clean doesn’t always make for good living.  No easy pickings – except for the waste bins.

Maybe I’ll wait it out.  Maybe there’s no such thing as climate change, or isostasy, or icebergs melting, and the other arguments people make to explain the daily floods on the square.

Maybe I’ll wait around a little longer.  Oh, look, that kid’s just dropped a gelati.

I told you life was good here.

(c) J M Pett 2015

Friday Flash Fiction | The Sinking Ship
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3 thoughts on “Friday Flash Fiction | The Sinking Ship

  • 4 December, 2015 at 4:19 am

    Oh my! Even the rats know…and this one seems to have been around for a while. Great little story 🙂 Hope you enjoyed Venice. I do sometimes envy you European types for having, well, Europe at hand!

  • 4 December, 2015 at 9:00 am

    How nice to meet a rat with a bit of education. So erudite. Let’s hope the water levels don’t get too high for him.
    xxx Huge Hugs xxx

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