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Andrew and the Basement Rats
Mysteries by Kids 12: September 1999
by K. Becker

Ms. Stanfield, my homeroom teacher, asked me to get another wastebasket from the school's basement. It wasn't a big deal until the door shut behind me and a voice spoke out of the dark!
"Who are you?"
I jumped and dropped the blue trash can right on my toe. "Ow! OW! OWWW!" I looked for some place to hide, but the basement was so crowded with junk that there was nowhere to turn-- plus it was pitch-black.
Even though my toe was throbbing like a drum, I managed to muffle my cries of pain. Terror beat in my heart and sent adrenaline coursing through my veins. I was panicking so badly I couldn't see.
"Who are you?" the voice asked again, more menacingly, if possible.
I remained silent. The only sounds were the dripping of the pipes above my head.
"I ASKED YOU A QUESTION!!!!" the voice yelled, taking me by so much surprise I yelped and stood straight up, knocking my head on a rusty pipe.
"But you told me to be quiet..." I squeaked in a real small voice. My toe and my head were both throbbing now.
Something lashed out and grabbed me. I felt the sharp claws digging into my skin. "LET ME GO! HELP!!!!"
I heard a door opening. The claws let me go and I tried to run, but a door slammed shut inches from my nose. I reached my hand out and felt... bars? I was in a cage! "Let me out of here!" I screamed, banging on the locked door.
"I wouldn't scream if I were you," the thing warned.
"HELP!" I screamed as loud as a could.
"You must be lonely in there..." The thing murmured. "Let me give you something to play with!"
Something prickly touched my foot. Then another, then another. Something was scurrying over my feet. A lot of things! I grabbed the bars of my cage above me and pulled myself up. Some of the things still clung to my legs but I shook them off, yelling. "What are they???" "Roaches."
The thing sighed. "Just for screaming again maybe I should just eat you now. I can make a lot of meals down here. Your teacher will just think you got lost. You'll be my first!"
My arms were shaking from the strain. I had to let go of the bars.
But there was a chance... I swung back and forth as hard as as I could and kicked as hard as I could at the door.
The door squealed open, and with all my strength, I lashed out and kicked the thing in the face, letting go of the bars as I did so. I heard it scream and thump to the ground.
My whole side ached as I rolled onto the ground, but I didn't have time to think about it. Since it was dark and I couldn't see, I made a break for what direction I hoped was the door. Something grabbed me from around the waist and pulled me back. It was smooth and hairless and felt squirmy, like a noodle.
"Trying to escape, huh?" the thing taunted.
I had one more desperate idea. I sunk my teeth in its arm and bit as hard as I could. I heard a squeal of pain and the noodle thing loosened its tight grip. Twisting and turning, I ran toward the wall, so hard that I thumped into it, and felt-- yes, a light switch!
"You can't escape ever!" the thing yelled at me. I could hear it scurrying around the room, searching for me.
I flipped the light on. Light flooded the room like water. I squinted, but my eyes adjusted quickly.
Maybe I shouldn't have opened my eyes.
In a middle of the room sat a huge rat the size of a German Shepherd. Its hard brown eyes had a cold gleam. It was sinking... into the ground! Like quicksand! "I'm melting... I'm melting!" The rat moaned. The rat disappeared completely from sight, and I walked slowly over to the spot, shaking slightly. A gooey grey puddle still bubbled on the floor.
"You killed him!"
My had snapped up to see dozens of little mice scurry from the dark corners and from behind cans. They looked at me in awe.
"Thank you so much!" pale grey mouse said.
"I don't get it, wasn't he your master?" I asked, kneeling by the little mouse.
"We were his slaves," the little mouse squeaked. I bent down to pick him up so I could hear him better. "He had us trapped here for years in total darkness. And no one ever knew because he kept the basement so dirty and no one could find their way in or out!"
The basement door flung open and my teacher stood there, scowling. "Andrew, class ended five minutes ago! Can't you come get a trash can without playing with rats and messing with the broom cage?"
I looked over at the broom cage, so that's what is was... the door was open and the brooms were scattered around the room.
"Andrew get that trash can and come with me back to class.." She sighed. "WHAT am I going to do with you?"
I grinned and shrugged.
Congratulations, Katie Becker !
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