Title: Living Patterns
Notes: 100 words exactly.
His house is nothing but a house. A large house, true, but just a house. There is a tower and there’s a spiral staircase and other quantities that make seem better or grander, but it’s not big enough or new enough or clean enough.
He’s lived in this house since he was a child. Not because there’s nowhere else for him to go, but because it’s where he’s most comfortable. He’s scared of the world and what dangers it might bring to him.
Spend any large amount of time with rats and you learn their ways better than you know.
Title: Rat King
Notes: Boethius was a philosopher who lives from about 480 to 525 CE.
His castle is nothing but a house. A large house, true, but just a house. There is a tower and there’s a spiral staircase and other qualities that make it like a castle, but it’s not the right size or material or shape.
It doesn’t much matter, though. He’s not the sort of king that needs a castle, anyway.
Rat Kings don’t.
He’s seen a rat king, a blend of minds that made them a bit like him, crazed and weak and too far gone for him to command.
He would have told it to die and spare it the rest of its miserable life, but it wouldn’t have listened.
It died quietly, in a stone basement, away from its comrades and compatriots, where it couldn’t harm itself or others. It lived for three weeks after it was found.
Just as well. There can’t be two kings of rats in the same kingdom for very long.
When people come to his home, they’re always surprised at how clean it is. They expect shit and piss on the floor, teeth marks everywhere, and all the furniture ruined. There’s nothing like that. When he hears their remarks about that, he laughs.
“The ones that live with me know to do their business outside. They know I don’t like it when they get the house dirty.”
People expect him to be surrounded by rats constantly and always are amazed to learn there are rarely more than twenty in the house, and only six of them live there.
“Does a human king need all his subjects in his castle to know he rules over them?”
On his shoulder, he carries a white rat everywhere, like a crown or a scepter or a Norse god’s raven.
Rats are his ravens. Nothing can be hidden from a rat. He knows every whispered secret, every hasty meeting. They are his eyes and ears, far better than cats or dogs or, yes, even ravens. Rats can go anywhere.
No one can be hidden from a rat. Many criminals – rapists, thieves, murderers – have known the swift justice of a rat.
He is a Rat King, and thus a human king as well.
Rat Kings are far rarer, even in this day and age.
He likes it that way. He likes this life.
He remembers waking up and hearing Socrates, now long dead, speaking to him for the first time – the first time he spoke to any rat at all. His close friend, his best friend, his first friend. Boethius, many generations removed from Socrates but a direct descendant, is his closest friend now.
Rats are his friends. They are easier for him to understand than people. They make more sense then people. They are almost always kinder than people.
The scars on his face are a constant reminder of that ‘almost.’
Ben and Socrates, the first two rats he spoke to, died in their attempts to kill each other.
He learned many lessons from them, and mourns both lost companions.
His human subjects find him odd, and strange, but he is fair and just and does not favor one group over others. He is a good ruler, a good leader.
He learned not to try to be a master.