View Full Version : Rats and Ferrets

28 December 2006, 06:46 PM
Right - the below is the beginning of an idea that has been going around in my head for quite some time...

What i'm most interested in right now is feedback about the writing style. It's a style that i haven't really used in storyform before - although if you read any of my posts here on the holonet you'll see that there are similarities. :rolleyes: But i'm not sure how it will go as the basis for telling a story - so any feedback - critical or not - will be greatly appreciated.

Oh - and if you're wondering what the point of this story is - or where the Star Wars references are - well, this is only the beginning of a very large idea which i still haven't decided will be set in the SW universe. Probably will be though.

Thanks in advance


28 December 2006, 06:47 PM
The Rat

Drops of brackish water splashed to the ground behind her in a steady, repetitive rhythm. To her ears it sounded similar to the drumming beat she often heard from the walls of the building the GleeBoys had made their own.

However, unlike those noises, this was almost a comforting sound. It reminded her that home and shelter was close by – only a few seconds scamper from where she now crouched, listening down the corridor for any sign that she might need to retreat.

But she heard nothing, save the insistent splish, splosh of the errant moisture.

Time to go then. Time to hurry up and down her run, searching for any scraps that a hapless or unlucky passer-by may have parted possession with – willingly or unwillingly. Then to take whatever she found to the station several corridors down – in the big, wide open concrete bay she feared so much – to trade for whatever food they would give her.

Most days she went hungry.

She wasn’t expecting to happen across anything today – only yesterday she had recovered an ancient watch from inside a cupboard in a room she had never dared enter before, as well as a spent rifle clip in one of the corridors.

Most of the food the kindly eyed man behind the fence that buzzed had given her was tucked safely away in her hidey hole. It would last her another five or six slumbers. He had seemed almost thrilled when she presented him with the watch – the only reason she knew it was called a watch was because he had so excitedly chattered to her about it for several minutes – as if she had any idea what he was jabbering on about. But the reward he had given her was immense – all that food, plus two new tops and a new pair of pants. The tops were big, but she would grow into them he said, beaming down at her with an almost fatherly look on his face.

She wasn’t quite sure what he meant. For as long as she could remember she had been this size. Any bigger and she would have trouble fitting in her hidey hole.

Usually after a reward like that, she would spend the next day or two resting. But the pleasure the man had shown – plus the generous nature of his pleasure – motivated her to go out and about today.

While she wasn’t actually aware of it, she was a superstitious little creature. Whenever she received a larger than usual payment for her findings, her mind would unconsciously pull her back from going out – because something bad might happen.

So it was a wee bit of a battle for her to venture away from the safety of home today. But, she reasoned, just as subconsciously, ‘if I go extra carefully, I should be ok.’

That was why, even though she was confident that no one was in her immediate vicinity, she waited for an extra minute or two before scurrying off down the corridor.

Light, as it always was, was dim or almost nonexistent in most of the paths in her usual run. But she was comfortable with that – her eyes well-adjusted to the gloom. Even so, she still hugged the walls, darting from shadow to shadow, stopping every so often to examine anything that looked out of the ordinary. At each intersection she stopped for at least a minute, peering, sniffing, listening.

At one she heard what sounded like footsteps followed by whispers, so she retreated quickly – her bare, calloused and blackened feet hardly making a sound on the worn smooth and some-places cracked concrete.

Sure enough, the steps and voices got closer. She panicked slightly – there was nowhere for her to hide – the windows to these buildings had long been boarded up, the doors locked tight, too strong for someone of her diminutive stature to burst through – and she had come too far from home to race back there now. What imagination she had – the miniscule part of her brain that wasn’t taken up with survival – could only hint at the treasures she might find in those dust-smothered, ancient and creaky buildings.

But she had to concentrate on the here and now. She could climb, and there were some ledges she could clamber onto – but they only really went up to head level, which would put her directly in the line of sight of anyone who might happen to turn her way.

There was no option but to continue back-pedalling. So she did, noting that one of the boards nailed to one of the windows on one of the upper ledges had slipped slightly. Her heart skipped a beat – perhaps she could pry it loose and get inside.

Later though – for now her primary sense needed to be survival.

Figuring she was far enough away now from the intersection to be safe she crouched on her haunches – watching, waiting, sniffing, listening.

The voices approached – low whispers, not that anyone ever talked in anything other around here. Screamed perhaps, shouted occasionally.

Two men it was – probably GleeBoys.

She waited.

28 December 2006, 06:48 PM
They passed in the dim light – barely even looking across the junction.

Not GleeBoys. Different completely.

“It had to be done,” one of them whispered.

“I know, but he’s only….” the other replied in kind before they were past and out of earshot.

She was confused. Both had the bulk and stature of people from Above – like the kindly eyed man at the station – and both were dressed in clothing that looked thick and new. And neither appeared frightened, concerned or fearful. Usually any non-GleeBoy who came through here was at least one – if not all three – of those qualities.

However, intrigued as she was, she had more important things to occupy her attention. Like that slightly moved board over that window. She inspected the ledges carefully, tested the lower one with her body weight – it held easily – and pulled herself up. The upper ledge was just a little out of reach, but the blocks of the building were easily rough and protruding enough for her to pull herself up, hand over hand. She hoisted herself onto the ledge and found it was a lot wider than she had initially thought – easily wide enough for her to lie down on. Once upon a time, she noticed from the uneven, splintering surfacing along the edges, it had had a wall around it. Why, she could not guess. She looked out and found that she was perhaps half a normal sized person above average eye level – another fact that had escaped her notice from the ground.

She crawled over to the window – to where the gap was – and studied it. The lowermost board had slipped – only slightly – but it gave her a finger hold to work with. She put an eye to the crack – half-expecting someone else to be peering back. Dust wafted up from where her movements disturbed it and she had to stifle a sneeze.

Putting as many fingers as she could fit in the crack – three – and curling them around the board she pulled. Nothing happened. She tried again, but still nothing. Then she realized that the window had been shuttered from the inside, so she changed tactics and pushed – one hand on top of the other. It gave a little, but not enough. She readied herself to push again, coiling her whole body behind her hands….

Someone came around the corner.

She froze instinctively, petrified that she had been caught in the open like this.

The person’s breathing was shallow and quick. A quiet little sob wafted up to her from underneath her ledge. The sound of someone sitting.

Hazarding a glance down, she saw the top of a head. A boy’s head maybe. He was curled up against the wall, crying – whole body spasming from the intensity of his tears.

Like the men she had seen earlier he was out-of-place. Slightly chubby – she had never seen someone slightly chubby before – with clean, brightly coloured clothes and hair that didn’t look matted and greasy. His arms were hugged tight around his knees and his face was buried in the space in between.

He was too loud. Sooner rather than later a GleeBoy scout would see him and probably take him in. She shuddered at what that meant. She had heard the screams. Men had a chance maybe – but not boys.

Then they would search the whole area – and probably find a way into this building. Taking whatever might be inside. Her meal-tickets.
Despite her survival instinct clawing angrily at the back of her mind she made her decision. But she wouldn’t show the boy her hidey-hole. That was hers and hers alone.

Quickly and quietly she scaled back down from her perch. Stepping off the lower ledge right next to the boy.

He looked up at her – his eyes a watery, terrified mess. He opened his mouth to shout or scream or something and she flinched away – ready to run. But only a squeak came out. He cowered even further into himself.

Snorting – how much of a threat was she to him? – she raised a finger and put it over her lips, hoping that he would understand.

He just stared at her like she was some sort of apparition, eyes barely visible above his knees.

“Come,” she said, the word exiting her mouth in a throaty mew – so little did she use her voice box. She could talk – having spent enough time at the station to pick it up – but she so rarely did and never in more than one word sentences. The kindly eyed man had once offered to take her somewhere and teach her, but she had run away at the very thought. People were best avoided – she knew, where was Mama now? – unless one absolutely had to interact.

At first it didn’t seem as if he understood. She tried again – this time pointing upwards. “Come,” she repeated, again in that raspy whisper.

Then she climbed onto the ledge and up to the wider overhanging – quick as a rat.

Yan Kai
30 December 2006, 06:10 AM
I read the first section, and I love the way you wrote it. The animal comparison to a human (or so I assume). Keep on writing!

30 December 2006, 02:36 PM
Originally posted by Yan Kai
I read the first section, and I love the way you wrote it. The animal comparison to a human (or so I assume). Keep on writing! Thanks for the compliment Yan. Hopefully i'll have a bit more written up soon - if work stays as slow as it is :D

7 January 2007, 06:18 PM
Right - here's some more - and please - any compliments, criticism, suggestions, other will be accepted and mused over. There's not that much this time - but work has been a wee bit busier today :)

Thanks in advance again...

The Ferret

“We had our orders.”

“I know we did, sir, but it still doesn’t feel right.”

Jackson Pollard melted back into the darkness of the corridor as the two men passed through the intersection. With the typical arrogance of those from Above they didn’t even bother taking note of their surroundings. Pollard spat into the darkness behind him, his distaste for all things Above evident in the snarl creasing his gaunt, rodent-shaped face.

Even so, he knew better than to attempt to take his hatred out on the minions they sent down every so often to ‘mingle’ with the wretched here in the crypt. Knew from the last time he had tried. The ribs still ached when he ran from the steel-caps and his left eye had a permanent flicker from the shock the stun batons had delivered to his cheek. Set on low, the man had said as he held him down in a headlock while his buddy worked him over with his feet.

That had been long ago and Pollard was an older, wiser survivor now. He had been young then – and new to the dank darkness of Below.

While one wouldn’t think it to look at him, Jackson Pollard was a proud man. His permanent hunch and ripped, baggy clothes– which only accentuated the skin-and-bones frame he had – along with his various scars, told one nothing of the man inside. The man who had survived for twenty-five years down here; who had managed to avoid forced induction into any of the territorial gangs; who had also managed to avoid death at the hands of those very gangs; who had never had to beg for food from any of the stations.

Once upon a time Pollard had attempted to travel the dense wasteland of Below, but soon he discovered that that was more trouble than it was worth. Every area had a dominant gang and each group worked differently. So each new place meant learning new survival skills – and each successful foray meant that disaster was ever closer.

So eventually he settled on this region. The GleeBoys were just a bunch of simple thugs and a few of the lazier scouts kept Pollard in enough food and drink to live on if he brought them useful information.

And two suits from Above was definitely useful information. That usually meant fresh meat. And the GleeBoys loved fresh meat. Most new arrivals were allowed to keep whatever valuables they could carry and were given an ample – by Below standards – food pack. That was good news to the GleeBoys, but that wasn’t the real reason they would get excited at the scent of a new Fallen.

Not that Pollard cared to dwell on their other reasons. He had heard the screams – just like everybody else who dared scrounge about in the GleeBoys habitat.

The old maxim: Survival of the strong. Or in his case, he thought to himself with a certain smugness: Survival of the very smart.

He poked his head around the corner and watched the two fade away into the distance.

10 January 2007, 07:50 PM
The Prince

“Come,” the dirt-stained waif of a girl rasped at him before disappearing with rapid speed up the wall.

Shock – plus the tears smearing his eyes – made everything blurry for him. All he wanted to do was curl into a little ball and maybe Opa or Oma would come and pick him up and hug him close and tell him that everything would be okay.

But as soon as he thought it he tried to flee from their faces. Because he couldn’t picture them calm and comforting and radiating with warmth and parental affection. All he could see when he closed his eyes was blood and bulging pupils and cords biting into necks and pale, waxen cheeks and all he could hear was the sound of him screaming as he reached for them and then pulled away, hands slick with blood as he wiped them on his sweater and he was shaking and … he opened his eyes. Breath was coming fast and shallow. More tears than he thought possible fought their way through his swollen ducts and down his cheeks and neck and chest.

“Come,” the girl said from above him this time, insistent in her strange little voice.

Images were still flashing in his head – even with his eyes open and staring at the wall across from him. It was dark – so dark here – maybe it was night time. He had no idea how much time had passed between then and now. Between the stern, cold-eyed men grabbing him and pulling him away and then the back room of the police station with a big, burly, bushy-eyebrowed man who stared down at him with pain in his eyes as he nodded and handed over some pieces of paper to the two other men. And then the bag over his head and it was hard to breathe through the sobs and the cloth fabric stuck to his mouth whenever he tried to suck some oxygen into his lungs and it smelt like Papa sometimes smelt after coming back from the gym but it wasn’t rough on his skin and if he tried really hard he could make out blurry shapes through the weave. As the men propelled him along, occasionally speaking in hushed voices, changing direction often, at times stopping abruptly and then lifting him off the ground to the sound of running feet and he knew he should fight back because somehow these men had killed his parents but he couldn’t because he was too scared and his stomach felt like jelly and so did his legs and he wet himself as the fear finally caught up with his body and he was suddenly embarrassed and this brought on a new wave of tears inside the bag.

“Hurry,” the urgency in the girl’s voice arrested his racing memories and he blinked twice, trying to clear the wet from his eyes. He didn’t want to rub them – though his hands almost subconsciously did so before he pulled them back – because he was sure there was still blood on his palms and fingers and if Oma or Opa’s blood got in his eyes then he would always be guilty because he should have been there to help, he should have been there to save them.

The girl hissed with impatience and he finally looked up. She was crouching on a ledge almost directly above him, looking like a coiled spring about to be let free. He stood slowly – mind happy to be distracted by something even as it fought to implant more images in front of his eyes – and walked along a few paces so he could get a better view. There was a window up there, he noticed – vision still hazy from his sobbing – that was boarded up. It looked old and dangerous. He had never seen anything like it before – well, except maybe for that abandoned factory on 43rd Street, but that was clean and white and smooth – not dirty and rough and black like this.

She darted over to the boards and pushed them lightly, then darted back and looked down at him. He stared at her blankly and she hissed again, pointing at him and then at the boarded window. Finally he understood. She wanted him to climb up there and help her get inside. But it was so far up. With uncertainty creasing his brow he looked at the bottom ledge and then tracked up to where she was. He couldn’t get up there! He took a couple of steps back and new tears threatened to do battle with the ones already conquering his face.

“I can’t,” he managed – more of a high-pitched squeak than a voice, suddenly ashamed of his fear and the wet spot at the front of his trousers and the quavering in his legs.

“Try,” the girl rasped and then moved to the other side of the ledge and looked down briefly before returning.

‘It’s ok,’ Opa would say soothingly when he fell while trying to master his two-wheeler – so long ago, ‘just get up and try again.’ And then Opa would follow him around their little garden, hand secure on the back of the seat and laugh and encourage and sometimes pretend that he wasn’t holding on and that he was on his own when really he was still there until he felt confident enough to try again. And now he knew no fright when scooting up the narrow passageways behind their house and darting along the pedestrian avenues as the old ladies tut-tutted at him when he made their skirts flutter in the wind and the old men looked at him with slight approval in their eyes and everybody else just generally tried to ignore him as they walked.

The girl was agitated – moving with increasing urgency to the boards and back and then stopping and putting her head up and sniffing the air and cocking one of her ears towards the corridor and then looking back at him with that slightly animal stare she had.

He had to do this for Opa and Oma.

Unsteadily, fearing he would fall with every movement, he climbed onto the bottom ledge. That window was also boarded up. Maybe we can get in here, he thought and began feeling the weight of the boards. It reminded him of the time that Alex and he had found that loose plank in the fence that cordoned off the fruit store’s back yard and they had pushed it in and crawled through and then got scared that they might get caught and ran back home as fast as they could.

“No!” the girl said, with such urgency that he stopped short and looked up at her. She was jabbing her finger angrily in the direction of the window on her ledge.

“I don’t understand,” he replied. “What difference does it make?”

“No!” she repeated. “Here!”

It sounded like she was like most of the girls in his class at school – always right and not to be argued with. He wasn’t sure he could balance on the tiny outcroppings of brick that laced their way up to her. But there were other outcroppings he could grip as handholds on the way he reasoned and the little girl seemed to know what she was doing and where she was.

He automatically held his breath as he shuffled one foot onto the closest projection of brick, face against the wall, back to the corridor. It felt like he was about to lose his balance and he snatched at a higher piece and snagged it with his fingers. The dried blood actually helped – it made the fingers stickier. His stomach brushed against the wall, reminding him of his chubbiness and the taunts that some of the kids in class threw at him.

Slowly, ever-so-slowly, he began making his way across. Every step felt like a mile and he was sure that the pieces would give out under his weight. But they didn’t and he only slipped once, but didn’t fall because he was holding onto another outcrop. Finally he got to the ledge – expecting the girl to help pull him up. But she had backed as far away from him as the small space allowed and her animal eyes studied him intently in between looking past and around him for a quick escape route. Summoning up his remaining energy – he was beginning to shake all over now – he hauled himself up onto what had once been a window box and collapsed, panting.

The girl watched him for a couple more seconds from her crouch and then darted around him to the boards.

“Open,” she said – her voice sounding slightly smoother now than it had when she had first spoken to him.

He could barely lift himself – the adrenalin had subsided into intense weariness and the shock that had kept him moving and crying was replaced by an empty pit of despair.

“Give me a minute,” he returned, managing to haul himself onto his side – barely aware that his legs were dangling over the edge.


A pause while she glared at him.


There was no reasoning with this woman was there, he thought as he tried pulling himself into a kneel.

29 January 2007, 08:13 PM
The Entrepeneur

Smoke from a hand-rolled cheroot wafted lazily up towards the ceiling. Varley Holt watched it spiral, one foot splayed over the armrest of the ancient rocker chair, neck comfortably resting on the headrest.

He was proud of his handiwork.

A square-ended guillotine sat on the table, surrounded by the off-cuts of the cigars he had just finished making. It was an art form that he was slowly beginning to master. Barter for tobacco and tobacco leaf from the short, skinny man who skulked around every month or so – always wearing the same faded brown shirt and ridiculous grimy bow-tie – pay him with information on the comings and goings of this little section of Below, then painstakingly make the goods – adding a couple of secret ingredients of course – smoke a couple himself and then sell the rest on to the other Boys, who were always looking for something to get them high.

It was a good little business. And nobody cared where the stuff came from as long as it was good. Most likely Frozan knew what the deal was for Holt – but he hadn’t called him out yet. Likely he suspected the same thing Holt did – that the information he gave the weasel-man was nothing more than passing curiosity for certain people from Above and that they thought paying in illegal goods would mean some sort of indebtedness to them.

Well, that might be partially true, he contemplated as the mild hallucinogenic he liberally sprinkled thru the cigars took hold. And he wasn’t going to tell anybody where he got the extra additives from – not even on fear of death. A good businessman had to have some trade secrets.

The tinkling of numerous bits of metal on metal chimed from the room out front. Holt smiled lazily as he pulled himself from his chair. Nobody had yet found a way to evade his alarm system – a doorway covered from head to foot with thin plastic strips, each connected to a handmade bell. It was a good system – simple yet effective. He yawned and stretched his arms out behind his head, the relaxing clouds of colour meandering through his mind.

It was that little scrawny, wizened old man, what was his name? Jeffy, Jonnie, Jackson? Yes, Jackson was it.

“Come, amigo,” Holt said, expansively gesturing at the ancient wooden stool next to the table, “sit, take a load off.”

Jackson looked him over for a few seconds, the suspicion on his brow etched in colours of pink and orange. Then he must’ve realised that Holt was sampling his own wares and he visibly relaxed – the pink and orange replaced by traces of blue and green. Still, he kept a wide berth as he hurried to the stool – hunched like always – and allowed his rear to rest ever so slightly on the seat. It wobbled at his touch and he darted away from it. One of the legs was shorter than the other by a good inch, and Holt melted into uproarious laughter.

“Beautiful,” he stuttered, in between guffaws, almost doubled over with the hilarity of it all. “Absolutely beautiful. Man, I shoulda taken a picture. Whooo, you were like, whooo and then bam! across the room like a startled dog.”

Holt collapsed into his rocker, still giggling and wiped a tear from his eye.

Jackson said nothing – face surrounded by lines of red and brown.

“Angry, are we?” Holt lifted his hands, palms outward, in his best approximation of innocence. “At me? Come now, abuelo, I meant no harm at your expense.”

Holt closed his eyes, watching kaleidoscope patterns dance on the back of his eyelids. Everything felt so right. He knew the feeling wouldn’t last, but it was just so, so beautiful. Like an ocean breeze on a hot, sunny day, caressing his face, gently brushing his cheeks. His hand mimicked his thoughts and he opened his eyes carefully, suddenly morose. How he wished to see the ocean again – but he never would. Not down here. He remembered what it had been like, sitting on a carefully constructed beach, feeling the filtered sunlight warming his skin. So long ago. Another tear rolled from his eye – not from mirth this time and then he remembered his visitor.

Who was just standing there watching him impassively, no expression evident in his beady little eyes.

With an embarrassed grunt, Holt pulled himself upright and turned to face Jackson.

“So what have you got?” he asked gruffly.

Jackson looked at him a moment more then said, in staccato fashion, “Two heavies went past on their way to the tubes about twenty-five minutes ago. Left someone down here – I heard them talking.”


“And I came straight here and told you.”

Holt growled and took a step forward. Jackson flinched, just as Holt knew he would. Feeling satisfied that he had stamped his authority on the situation Holt sat back down.

“In the cupboard over there,” he said, motioning towards the far corner of his workbench. “Grab one bag and get out of here.”

The old man nodded, was over to the cupboard in three steps, had it opened and bag out and closed in 10 seconds and was gone in even less time.

Shaking his head to clear the residual dust, Holt gathered up his wares – not noticing that he was three short – stuffed them into his sack and left for HQ. Frozan would want to know this and quickly.

31 January 2007, 12:38 PM
Authors Notes:
Hmmm.... I've decided to take this in a non-SW direction - this has been an idea rattling around in my head for something like 8 or so years and i was initially thinking of ironing some of the kinks out with a SW-like short story. However, i now want to follow this through - it may take me another eight years ;) but it is up there on my to-do list.

I've enjoyed having what i've started - in it's non-edited form - up here on the Holonet and getting a little feedback and some people (maybe) reading it. But i know this section is for SW-based fan fiction and while i would like to continue posting what i do up here i don't want to tread on any toes or set any precedents.

If the mod's don't mind me continuing to post i would love to do so, but i'm quite happy to adhere to whatever decision they make. So i'll leave it in their capable hands....



Yan Kai
9 February 2007, 05:37 PM
It's a really well-written story with a very interesting style. I hope you write more of it. :)

Jax Nova
15 February 2007, 08:03 AM
I don't have a lot of time so I didn't read over everything in great detail but skimmed through it and read the first part.

I really like the styl you are using here and the story line sounds very interesting as well. :) Nice job and nice writtin. Keep it up!