By Nora Vasconcelos
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[You can read the first part of this story on Obinna’s Blog]
The ones who were lucky, skipped town. But they were the less. The rest of the people were still stuck in the city, ruled by the giant rats.
On April 13th, two days after the rats showed everyone what they were capable of, the local authorities made a deal with them. They would have everything they wanted: food, wealth, property and the management of the Port, which would give them the total control of the economy of the city. All of it in exchange for them to stop threatening the people of Lagos.
The conquest had succeeded before their deadline, which had been set for January 1st, 2016.
For about a month, there were no major incidents. People started to heal and the rats focused on taking over the strategic places and positions in the city.
Jeher, the leader of all the giant rats settled in a huge mansion facing the lagoon. Every day, with his enormous teeth he bit the fresh meals that were brought by ten servants, all of them people who weren’t allowed to look at him, so they had to walk with their heads down.
The rat enjoyed insulting them, showing up his power, feeling always sure that now that his kind had controlled the city, no human would ever be able to remove them from their comfortable life.
Holding his food with one hand, Jeher liked to play, holding his big tail with his other hand. This seemed to scare his servants more than any other gesture, apart from showing them his big teeth.
He liked power, power that he had got not because he was the most intelligent or hardworking one, but because he had bullied everyone all his life, even when he was a regular tiny rat running across the sewer lines across the city.
Not only humans feared him, but also the other rats. Since he had become this colossal rat that found the way to grow thousands of times his normal size, everybody around had lost part of their bodies due to the attacks made by this rat that found pleasure hurting other beings, just for the sake of it.
His second in command, Leax, had bought all her way to power, paying Jeher so he wouldn’t hurt her, on the contrary he would take her all the way up. Together they bullied everyone, and if someone dared to complain they would get rid of them, either sending them to faraway dirty manholes, where food was scarce and weather conditions would punish them badly, or making them work unspeakable tasks. Rats feared them the same as the humans did.
By August 15th, all the cargo shipments that arrived to the port were controlled by the rats. All the incoming merchandise was processed and storaged, so they kept the most valuable goods and the most exquisite food. The left overs were sold to the people in the city who had to line up for long hours before getting a putrid piece of meat and some moldy bread.
For the rest of the world, the horror that caused the story covered by the international media had passed. What became breaking news and took over the TV shows at some point, turned into an old story filed in the archive. Rats ruling a city was just another tragedy the world had got used to.
At least it seemed so to the people of Lagos who had lost all hope. They had seen all the international media leave months ago and no one else had come ever since. All the promises of help from foreign powers and friendly nations had remained as good-will acts, sometimes only performed to get a bigger space on the news.
And the rats felt happy about that.
What nobody knew was that somewhere faraway, a young man in Mexico had been working really hard to find a solution, or at least some sort of relief.
Concerned for the faith of the people of Lagos and horrified by the power that the rats had gained so easily, he spent all his spare time working in his little apartment on a series of experiments that could diminish the strength of the rodents.
Pedro was aware that poison hadn’t worked, so he designed different plans. Some of them sounded simple, some impossible, but he didn’t discard any idea. At least in the planning stage.
As the days passed by, more walls in his house were covered with notebook pages full of diagrams, equations, drawings and paragraphs. Paper cups with left overs of dry coffee were all around the place, and maps of Nigeria could be seen over the tables around the apartment with small notes and arrows drawn in different colours.
But desperation caught up with him. None of his ideas would solve the problem. After all these months, Pedro was finally giving up. Exhaustion caught up with him, and he fell asleep right where he was, covered by a pile of dirty clothes and newspapers.
Suddenly, something unexpected happened, the solution came to him in his sleep, as clear as if he were awake. But, could it be done? He wondered, still half asleep.
Afraid he would lose this idea, Pedro forced himself to wake up. It was time to implement his plan.
Jotting down all his thoughts along with formulas and lists of items that he would need, Pedro showed then no signs of fatigue. He had to act fast, before the rats could cause more damage.
One week later, Pedro was in Lagos. A backpack hanging on his left shoulder, a metal briefcase in his right hand.
As soon as he settled down at an abandoned hangar, he set all his equipment, but he still had some doubts. Was this a real solution? He questioned himself, over and over.
That same day, Jeher was particularly bored. Since the rats had domesticated the humans, so they would do all the work for them, the fun had severely diminished. May be it was time to move ahead with their plans to conquer other cities. After all, it had been quite easy, and his richness and power would be then infinite. He didn’t have to conquer the entire world, just some critical places. Then, he’d ruled everyone on this planet!
But all this thinking had made him hungry, so he ordered some snacks from his special reserve. A few minutes later, a human servant brought a backpack full of little kittens.
It had been brought by some Mexican guy who dared to come to the city, taking advantage of the almost non-existing fares charged by the few airlines that had kept flying to Lagos.
The present –the young man had said– was in exchange for the rats to let him do some scientific work in one of the abandoned areas of the airport, because his experiments were so unusual that he had already been rejected in other countries. As Jeher had no interest in science, he allowed Pedro to do whatever he wished.
Relaxing in the garden, the rat picked up one of the little kittens with his big claws, and as he was taking it to his mouth, something happened…
In a matter of seconds the little kitten changed its size, and it kept increasing it until it became impossible for Jeher to hold it anymore. The kitten, bigger than an elephant, landed all its weight over the rat …The last thing the evil rodent saw was the huge interior of the cat’s pink mouth.
Minutes later, the rest of the kittens started to pop up, growing as big as the first one, then they began to chase the rats all around the city. It took them no more than two hours to end the rats empire.
The few ones that weren’t eaten by the felines, Leax among them, ran away toward the bay, so scare of the cats that they forgot that the waters of the lagoon had been polluted with their own garbage. They died even before they drowned.
The humans couldn’t believe it! This horrifying episode had ended, but they were so traumatised by the whole experience that they weren’t sure how they would go on with their lives. May be they didn’t have the strength anymore, but they thanked Pedro anyway.
How did you do it? An old man managed to ask.
I found the way to alter the genes of these cats, so they would become huge just with the tiniest contact with the giant rats, then I left the rest to their natural instincts. Pedro answered, happy because his idea had work.
But, what are we going to do with the big cats now? The same old man asked.
That, my good friend, is something I still have to figure out… Pedro said, looking at the horizon were the enormous felines were taking a nap, after their big feast.
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* This story is part of The Crossover Mexico-Nigeria Project