The rats in the cemetery (Henry Kuttner) Second part: Rodents provoked as much revulsion in Masson as respect. He was aware of the danger in his gleaming, sharp teeth. But he did not understand the dread that the abandoned houses and invaded by rats woke up in the old. He had heard rumours about horrible creatures that lived in the depths and that, thanks to the power they had over rats, had formed large armies.
According to what the elders said, the rats carried a message between our world and those caves of the deep. There was still talk of corpses stolen from their graves to prepare banquets underground. The story of the Pied Piper of Hamelin was actually a legend, which metaphorically covered something horrible and pagan; According to them, the darkest hells had expelled disgusting beings from their bowels, which had never been born.
Masson ignored all of this gossip. He always strayed from the neighbours and, in fact, tried hard so that no one discovered the rat problem. For if they had known each other they would undoubtedly have carried out investigations, and opened many graves. Then they would find the leaky coffins and the holes for which they blamed the rats. But they would also find some dead bodies with missing parts, putting Masson in a delicate situation.
False teeth used to be made of gold and were not extracted upon death. Clothing is obviously different, since the funeral home used to provide a simple cloth suit, so it can be recognized despite the time. Not gold.
Masson also did business with certain unethical medical students and doctors, who required bodies no matter where they came from. Until then they had managed to prevent them from investigating. He flatly denied the rats’ presence, even when they had taken his booty from him. He was not interested in what happened to the corpses after stealing them, but the rats dragged them completely through an opening that they themselves opened in the coffin. The size of these holes was impressive.
The most curious thing was how rodents pierced the boxes at one end, never on the sides. As if they were acting under the command of something more intelligent.
At that moment he was in front of an open grave. He had barely removed the last remnants of dirt, adding them to the mound next to his feet. A freezing and constant drizzle had not stopped falling weeks ago, transforming the cemetery into a quagmire, in which the tombstones swam like irregular stones.
The rats had returned to their nests, not a single one remained. However, Masson’s bony face showed concern. He had just lifted the lid of an oak casket. They had buried him days ago, without him being encouraged to dig it up earlier. His relatives still came to mourn him, regardless of whether it rained. But being so late and night, they were unlikely to arrive, no matter how great their pain was.
With this thought, Masson calmed down, sitting up and abandoning his shovel…
«The rats in the cemetery«