PREVIEW: Always pay the piper

“I am the child who was left behind. Who abandoned me? Who knows? Who cares? I know only what I knew when I first became conscious, which is nothing.

“The rats were my friends. I was the child the other children left behind, the one with the sharp face and the ragged clothes. Well, we were all ragged, but I was unwanted, and they knew I slept in the gutter, with only the rats to keep me warm. To the other children, I was vermin just as much as my friends. I had grown up with the rats and never feared them, why should I? For as long as I could remember the sound of their swarming in the darkness was a comfort, just like the many rough pelts surrounding me helped me to endure the long night’s chill.

“As I grew older, so used were the rats & I to each other that I found I could communicate with them – sometimes it took merely a look, or a nod, or a gesture; and sometimes a feral sound emerged from my throat unbidden and I wondered where the boundaries lay, between rat and man. Unlike any human acquaintance, the rats always understood my meaning and an alliance developed between us. As I grew older, I realised that this odd skill could perhaps benefit me. Meagre scraps and leftovers were all I knew, but I wanted to know more.

“It was easier than I ever imagined…”


See Enchanted Times #3 (coming soon!) for the full story


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