A Rat Problem

📅 Published on April 15, 2020

“A Rat Problem”

Written by Seth Paul
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Aleksandra Mokrzycka
Narrated by Otis Jiry

Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on CreepypastaStories.com are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: Scary Stories Told in the Dark – Podcast (Standard Edition) | 🔑 Podcast (Extended Edition) (feat. Otis Jiry)

ESTIMATED READING TIME — 12 minutes

Rating: 8.67/10. From 6 votes.
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I bought an older house, with no basement.  All I thought at the time was that I would own my own place, at long last; I didn’t think how inconvenient it would be to have just a simple crawlspace.  It doesn’t go all the way under the house; the little flap that leads to it is out back, behind the house, and the space is barely big enough to get into.  You have to climb down, get down into a sitting position, and slide into it feet first… unless you’re small.  Then you might be able to go in there head first, like normal people.  But even then, it’s unfinished, so crawling in there leads to nothing but diving into dirt and muck.

But I have another reason not to go in there.  As of the last month, I have heard scratching under there.  And little tunnels have appeared near the bottoms of my outer walls.

I have rats.  Big ones.  I can hear them in my crawlspace, digging around and burrowing in the dirt.  So far, none of them have thought to come up into the house.  But they have me worried when they finally decide to try.

Well, partly.  The real reason I worry is because nobody I’ve hired wants to do a damn thing about it.

I called one company to take a look, but all they did was tell me I have a rat problem, and proceeded to give me a couple of boxes of poisoned bait to set up around my yard.  I was told to call back when the traps were empty.  I’m sure they were empty on the first day, but I didn’t call them; it just seemed so lazy to charge me to tell me what I already knew.  Plus, the bait didn’t do anything, because I could still hear them scratching around just as much as I ever did.

Another company wanted me to install a $1500 rat wall, which would keep them from burrowing in.  I told them the issue was with ones that were already there, not ones coming in.  Besides, I had a hole where a rat wall wouldn’t reach, next to my driveway, so it wouldn’t stop the flow of them getting in.  I was told prevention was the best defense; I told them I know that now, but it didn’t solve the problem.

It all came down to every exterminator in the county shaking their head and giving me bait traps or expensive home improvement options.  They said rats were tricky, and that I should be so lucky to only have what I have down there… people all over were getting them in their houses, too, some more dangerous than mine, because of all the road construction.

Yep, progress was the reason.  The interstate, less than a mile from my house, was being repaved.  In order to make a few less potholes to hit, the diggers tore up the landscape so much that potentially millions of rats were disturbed, making their way to quieter places to live.  My crawlspace just happened to be where Joe and Sally Rat, and probably their 25 kids, had relocated.

But bait wasn’t going to do it, and neither was a wall I couldn’t afford.  I needed somebody to get in there and get the things out.  Just remove them, cage them, shoot them with a BB gun, anything to get the noise gone and my shattered nerves under control.  I know they’re full of disease, but exterminators go in and get everything else; why not these?

I was at wit’s end, but I didn’t want to give up hope.

I was out looking sullenly at one of my traps when my neighbor, Joel, leaned over the chain-link fence that divided our property to ask what was going on.

“Rats, Joel.  Can’t get rid of them.  Tried everything.”

Joel smiled, and pointed at the edge of his house.  “Right there, by the driveway? We found a joke there the other day.  Far as I know, problem is solved.  Didn’t you see the truck parked outside?”

I had to admit I hadn’t.  I was so wrapped up in my own problems that I forgot that people in my neighborhood were probably dealing with the same thing.

“Yeah, Karen from down the street was having her own problems, and when I told her mine, she said she called this company she heard about from a friend who used them for their rat removal problems.  Worked like a charm.  The kids haven’t heard any scratching around since.  The exterminator is kind of an odd duck, but wow, he works quick, and friendly, too.  Great rates.  Surprised no one told you about them yet.”

Nobody had told me; other than Joel, who was friendly with almost everybody, I didn’t talk to anyone else around here.  Not to say I didn’t have friends, but I wouldn’t say we were a tightly knit community here.

Joel’s kids were calling Daddy from inside, so he quickly jotted down some notes on his business card and handed it to me.

Just a phone number, no website… That probably explained why I couldn’t find them before, since I used the internet for everything.  King Exterminators, based out of Warren.

I gave them a call.

“King Exterminators, we take care of infestation so you don’t have to.  Can I help you?”

It was a guy’s voice, kind of nasally.  “Hi, I was wondering if you could help me.  I have a rat issue under my house…”

“Address?”

I gave it.

“Have a job ahead of yours, but will be there in two hours.”

I smirked, thinking that was how every place operated, but he actually showed up when he said he would.

The van was plain gray, with just the words King Exterminators on the side.  The driver’s side door opened, and the exterminator got out.  He was tall, but wiry, with a face that just seemed to come to a point at the chin.  Even so, he himself seemed kind of saggy; it probably didn’t help that his clothes seemed way too baggy and loose for someone who had to crawl in tight spaces.

He reached out to shake my hand.  “Marlowe, nice to meet you.”

I took it.  It was a friendly shake, tough, but agreeable.  “Was that you I spoke to on the phone, or…”

“Yep, my business, I handle everything myself.  Where are they located?”

I took him around back and showed him the crawlspace entry.  He looked at it, nodded, and went back into his van.  I heard a clanking sound, and thought he was getting a trap out.  Well, he did have a trap with him, but that wasn’t all; he emerged wearing something that looked like medieval chain mail, but tightly woven and covering him head to toe.  Only his eyes and nose were visible, and they were behind a mesh.

“What is that thing?”

He held up his arms, which jingled a little.  “A little thing I whipped up, separate me from the rest of the extermination crowd.  Bite resistant, surprisingly breathable, only needs a light spraying after I’m done, still lets me fit most anywhere, and doesn’t even need repairs.”

“Does it work?”

“On anything smaller than a dog, yep.  Heavy as hell, though, that’s the only problem.  Now let me see…”

He pulled open the crawlspace lid and climbed down.  He handed me the trap, and I watched him fold himself up in a pretzel as he went down into the hole, the suit of armor bending and flowing with him.  I was skeptical, but it really did seem to fit him well.  I didn’t envy him going down there, though; I didn’t like it even when there wasn’t anything living underneath the house.

Once he was down, he waved for me to hand him the trap, and then he disappeared under the house.  I didn’t hear anything for about five minutes or so, but then I heard a scuffling sound, and he came back out, dragging the cage behind him, and after a moment of grunting and straining, he climbed out completely.  He reached back in and yanked the cage out into the daylight, and there was something inside, scrabbling around.

The rat was enormous, probably almost a foot and a half long, with patchy and scraggly fur.  I didn’t know if that was a common size, but all I could tell was it was pissed off from being pulled out of its home.

Marlowe saw me eyeing it, clearly.  “Yep, that’s a big one.  You’ve got a decent problem, and it’s going to take a while to deal with the whole nest.  I also need to make sure I do some other exploratory work, including some minor gassing and bombing.  It’s best if you leave your home for a few hours, hang out with friends or family.”

“Anything toxic?”

“Not to people, normally, but you probably won’t like the smell.  Plus, the chemicals I use are proprietary.  Trade secrets.  I prefer to work in the quiet.  Not to worry, though, you can lock everything up, I’ll just be under the house, and I’ll call when I’m done.”

I asked him an estimate on the cost.  When he told me, I told him if he could do all that for that price and I could finally get a good night’s sleep, he could stay the weekend for all I cared.  I thanked him, got some things to take with me for the road, and drove off.

I had dinner out with some friends I hadn’t seen for a while, after which we went to a movie.  Everything was going so well that, once it was over, I didn’t even realize Marlowe hadn’t called or texted.  I checked it again, just to be sure, but still, nothing.

It was well past 9:00 at night.  Surely he would have had an update by now.

I drove back home. It had been dark for a while, and even from down the street I could see the exterminator van glinting in my headlights, still sitting where he had parked in the street.

What in the world could he be doing at my house at this time of night?  Even if he had one of those headlamp things, it still had to be hard to deal with.

No lights appeared to be on inside the house, so I parked in my driveway and walked around back.  Even as I approached, I could hear a horrible scrabbling sound.

I turned the corner and saw what was making it.

My lawn was dotted with cages.  At least 20, maybe 30, of the things, each one teeming with three or more rats.

He’d been busy, I could tell, but all of them squirming and occasionally squeaking was unnerving, even if they couldn’t escape.

The door to the crawlspace was still open, and there was nothing but darkness below.  No lights of any kind.

“Marlowe?  Marlowe?  Are you all right in there?”

I got no response.  Now I was really beginning to worry.  I turned on the flashlight on the phone and shone it down into the darkness.

I could see footprints and shapes in the dirt indicating he had been going in out of the hole, but thankfully, no rat tracks.  I called to him again.

This time, I did get an answer.  A muffled yell, almost like a scream.  It came from the hole, but sounded… distant.

Most of you would have called the police right then and there, I’m sure.  I know I was considering it, because that hole was not something I wanted to venture into myself.  But I didn’t know what was going on.  Calling them and saying an exterminator had disappeared and I thought I heard a sound from under the house would have been all well and good, but if they didn’t tools they needed to rescue him, it could have cost valuable time.

I ducked my head in and shown the light around.  I couldn’t see much except water pipes, but there was definitely something ahead, something large, but yet… it didn’t seem to be moving.

I heard the yell again.  Still distant, seeming to come from the crawlspace, but not from any visible source.

Taking a second to wipe away some cobwebs at the sides, I climbed down, carefully, into the space.

Scooting forward a little, I saw what that large shape was much more clearly.  And that’s when I realized it was nothing.

It was not a rat.  It was not a body.  It was a hole in the dirt floor under my house.  A hole at least six feet across and descending down into darkness at an angle.

I gasped.  Did Marlowe see this here before and not tell me about it?  Is that why he told me to leave?

What the hell was going on here?

The yell was much louder this time, not because it was necessarily closer, but because it sounded much more desperate.  It seemed to be coming from the hole.

Taking a moment, I dialed the police…

And got nothing.

I checked my phone.  The battery was fine, the phone seemed to be on working order, and the signal, Wi-Fi and 4G seemed to be…

No.  I turned my Wi-Fi and 4G off and on again, and then tried to dial.  I got an error, telling me that communication with the system was unavailable at this time.

It was like my phone was being jammed by something.

The scream again.  I could hear a plea for help this time.  But it didn’t sound like Marlowe.

It sounded more like my neighbor, Joel.  But what was he doing under my house?

This time, I didn’t wait.  Holding my phone in front of me, I scrambled toward the hole and crawled in.

Unlike the dusty confines of my crawlspace, the hole began to open up, until I found it was tall enough for me to walk through standing up.  I found myself descending further and further, ever downwards, and ever further away from my crawlspace.

I had to have walked under several of the houses in my neighborhood now.  I looked back, and saw that the path I had come from was one of many, funneled toward some central area.

I panicked.  I realized I had not paid attention, and even though I had been walking in a straight line, there was no easy way for me to tell which of these was the one that led back to my house.

I could very well be lost down here.

I checked my phone again.  Not a blocked signal, but no signal at all.

For a moment, my phone flicked off, and I was in total darkness for a moment.  As I went to turn the light back on, I heard something shuffle in front of me, going from one tunnel to the right of me to another left of me.

I froze, suddenly not fearing the darkness, but being comforted by the thought that something down here, had not seen me.  I heard it trundle away, and then turned my phone light back on.

There were tracks in the dirt.  Tracks that were at least the size of a dog print, but the foot wasn’t the right shape.

It looked familiar, but… rats don’t get that big.

I heard Joel again, closer this time.  I looked around at the maze of tunnels, and headed for what sounded like the general direction.

What I found instead of Joel was a horror my mind can still barely comprehend to this day.

The tunnel opened into a large, hollow chamber.  I had no idea where something this size could be under the city, but based on how high the ceiling was, I was further underground than I originally imagined.  The earthen roof was at least six stories above my head, and below me, constantly swarming over each other, were rats.

Thousands.  Possibly millions.  But they traveled in packs, in and out of tunnels, back and forth, in and out.

Some of them were bigger than they should have been.  Dog-sized, with massive jaws, hewing out more soil to make greater tunnels.

And in the midst of all this, a nest, made of out of human bone and sinew, host to a creature that was rat-like, but if it was a rat, it was a god among them.  It had to have been at least ten feet tall, with shaggy, unkempt fur, scarred limbs, and clutching hands, more dexterous than a rat’s paws.

It guided them all like a symphony, and I watched it beckon to a tunnel, not too far from me.

Screams emanated from it, rising to a crescendo as Joel arrived, carried upon a mass of furry, scraggly bodies, up to where the King of Rats sat.

It smiled down at my neighbor, and spoke.  Spoke human words, in a vicious, booming, yet raspy tone.

“Feed.”

Joel disappeared under the swarm, and soon his screams died away.  I began to see bone, picked clean, emerging from the twisting forms.

Then, the King of Rats turned its eyes to me.

“Bring him.”

I saw a swarm turn towards me, running towards my feet, and I knew the fate that awaited me.

Then, a burst of flame came from behind me, and the rats, ablaze, scattered to one side.

I felt a hand on my shoulder pull me backwards, and for a moment I saw a chainmail-clad figure, finger on the trigger of a long tube attached to a hose that led to a pump on its back.  Fire sprayed again from it, and more rats scattered.

The King of Rats howled in anger, but I saw little more as the figure threw something like a blanket at me.  It was heavy and thick, but unlike the suit, it seemed to be more like a blanket.

“I told you I’d call when I was done.”

Marlowe pushed me backwards, and I landed, with the chainmail blanket on top of me, onto what seemed like a platform with wheels.  After a few more bursts of fire, Marlowe ran past me and pulled on something which yanked the platform underneath me out of that chamber.

I couldn’t see at all through the material, but I could feel hundreds of little bodies climbing over me, unable to bite me through the thick loops.  I heard the flamethrower fire a few more times, once at something large and grunting, until at last the platform stopped.

“We can’t both fit through here.  You get out.  I have to take care of this.  Close the trapdoor behind yourself.”

I felt a warm jet of heat pass over me, and the blanket cleared of creatures.  I threw off the blanket in time to see Marlowe descend back into the darkness, and dozens of torched rats surrounding me.

I was right near the tunnel which would take me back to my home.

I came out and, as Marlowe directed, I slammed the trapdoor shut.  I waited, minutes, maybe half an hour.

Then, I heard a distant rumble.  The ground shook underneath my feet and knocked me over.

When everything finished shaking, I stood, the only sounds around me the frightened squeaking of the rats in the cages.

I checked my phone.  Whatever was jamming my phone was gone now.  I called the police.

Mine was the first place investigated, but others soon followed.  Other houses, like Joel’s and mine, had holes underneath them, holes that to other tunnels and to other houses.

In just two days, hundreds of people were found to be missing.  Whatever had happened, it had been quick and merciless, they said.

But even though the tunnels all led to basements, crawlspaces, parking garages, and other places, the central chamber that I saw was never found.  Only collapsed dirt remained at the center of the area.

I have not heard from Marlowe.  I hope, somehow, he made it out.  But I don’t think so.  I don’t know how long he had been looking for this monster, and whether he sacrificed himself to destroy it, but I know that the explosion that caused the cave-in had to be him.

I have had my house for sale for some time, but nobody wants to buy it; nobody wants to live in the ghost town where hundreds perished mysteriously.  Even Joel’s house is empty now, as his kids now live with their mother across the state.

I think I may be the only one on my block to survive the incident.  In which case, maybe I’m supposed to remain, keep an eye on things, make sure it never happens again.

Until that day, though, I have draped the chainmail blanket over my crawlspace entrance.  But I know it’s only a placebo.

After all, Marlowe said it only works on anything smaller than a dog.

Rating: 8.67/10. From 6 votes.
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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: Scary Stories Told in the Dark – Podcast (Standard Edition) | 🔑 Podcast (Extended Edition) (feat. Otis Jiry)


Written by Seth Paul
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Aleksandra Mokrzycka
Narrated by Otis Jiry

🔔 More stories from author: Seth Paul


Publisher's Notes: N/A

Author's Notes: N/A

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Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on CreepypastaStories.com are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

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