Of all the things in all the world I thought I would be doing today, facing an invasion was not one of them. In fact it is a mere 72 out of 100 of most likely things to happen to me on a Tuesday.
Picture this: a brown leather corner sofa, 6 seater, and upon it three females aged 18, 21 and 46. A rustle is heard in the distance, the noise audible over the voices of “Don’t Tell The Bride”. The ladies chalk it up to the guinea pigs making a racket. The noise continues, becoming louder. This rustle sounds like plastic, not paper. Imagine the trepidation growing in these young women’s hearts.
This was my family and I tonight.Together we sat, the television on, myself on my computer and my Mum having dinner. A regular Tuesday evening. Then that noise was heard, funnily enough by me. Recently I’ve been very good at hearing things way before others: light rain on the washing, a phone ringing from upstairs. Tonight, it was a rustle. A rustle that was too unlike the regular shifting of our pet guinea pigs. There was something wrong. This was not a normal noise.
As the first, and in fact only one, to hear this abnormal noise, I was the one who was sent to investigate. I approached the cage with apprehension. What would I find over there? What state would the cage be in if it was only them being rowdy? What would I do if there was something altogether different from what I had expected to come across?
Approaching the cage with caution, my heart began to tighten in my chest. I tried to tel my mind it was just the pigs, but I couldn’t shake the feeling it was something more. I reached the cage. As I peered over the edge our white pig, Nilla, was chowing down on the newspaper base we always have in there. For a mere moment, I relaxed. Then she stopped chewing, and all was quiet. But not for long. I could see Cocoa: completely still. I looked back at Nilla: completely still. The rustle was very close, and very loud.
Something was in the house.
Logic and reason played no part in the next four seconds of my life. All I could think was that the noise I had heard must have been a spider. But for it to make so much noise it must have been a mutant tarantula. It was physically impossible for a spider to be that loud. But in that moment all I knew was there was something very wrong, and I was about to come face to face with an intruder. I didn’t now what I thought it was, but it still scared the living hell out of me when the invader revealed himself.
From under the table we have the pigs resting on came the noise again. Louder and more persistent, but unmistakably the same. I braced myself. Whatever it was, I was about to find out. I had to be prepared. And yet when the next second passed I found I was not. The sound attracted my gaze to the cardboard box beside the wall. And there it was.
Up poked his little fuzzy head and beady eyes and instantly my body froze. Now, I am not scared of rats, or any rodent-like creatures. In fact I love them. I would like to own pet rats or degus in the future. But seeing one live in front of me, wild, and totally unexpected, sent my body into overdrive. I think my heart neglected to beat, my nerves sparked and for a mere nanosecond my vision was next to non-existant. There, right in front of me, was a wild rat. In our house. And we were going to have to catch it.
I have never seen a wild rat in person, which sounds a little crazy but it’s true. We live in the centre of a field orgy, and yet I have never, aside from television or behind glass, seen a rat. this guy was bigger than our guinea pigs. Slim head and shoulders but a huge kaboos. This fella was a chunky monkey, so to speak. A sizeable opponent.
In my initial shock I recoiled across the room and the words “Ohhh my God” made their way out of my mouth. Of course this sent my Mum and sister into a minor panic. What was I so freaked out about? What had I seen? They couldn’t see it, and couldn’t read from my expression what lay in store.
I made a mistake in communicating the identity of our intruder. The word that slipped out of my mouth was “mouse”. Big blunder. That was no mouse. As expected, this message made for a big hiccup when my Mum came to investigate. As she approached, out it jumped from its cardboard snug, and it was off like a shot. She shat herself. It was a lot larger than even I had anticipated and by far faster than I could ever had imagined. In half a second it had crossed the room and vanished. That little guy could MOVE.
Remember that corner sofa I mentioned earlier? Yeah, it ran behind it. Three hearts were pounding, or four if you include the rat’s. Immediately I knew, we had to catch this thing. We couldn’t leave it to run free about the house. I grabbed the washing basket, ready to drop t as temporary cage should he run out once more. Of course we did the only thing we could think of and blocked one end of the sofa whilst patrolling the other, then called my Uncle Fester. The call went pretty much like this:
Me: Hi! Um, we have a little situation and Mum thought you might have a solution for us.
Fester: .. Okay? What’s the situation?
Me: We have a rat in the house.
Fester: …Oh. What, a pet one? Or wild?
Me: Wild. And it’s huge. Mum thought you might know how to catch it!
(Laughter heard on other end of the line)
We are on speaker on the other end, and my uncle’s fiance has heard our plea for help. Halfway across the country having been called in the middle of the evening about wild rodent capture was painfully hilarious to them. We were laughing too, but it merely concealed the nerves, it didn’t quell them. His advice was either drop something heavy on its head, or drive it out. I refused to kill it, as did my Mum, so we opted for option 2: chase the fucker out.
My Mum, one end of the sofa with a broom. Myself in the centre of the room with another broom listening intently and ready to pounce at either end. My sister at the other end holding the basket, supposedly prepared to drive it into the kitchen. Then the chase was one. Hitting the wooden backboard to scare it out. Shining a light to search for it and, again, to scare it out. Then something moves under the sofa. It couldn’t have gotten under it could it? It’s too big, right? Right?? Yes, it was too large, but it had shifted a carrier bag that stretched from the back of the sofa and protruded out of the front. When it moved, so did the bag. We knew where it was camped. But it wasn’t leaving.
At least, not until we least expected it.
Right as we felt it was fruitless to beat the sofa with our sticks any longer, the little guy began to hatch his plan. My Mum and I moved away to shift the coffee table, the rug, the crap we found in the new expanse. And just as we were straining our muscles in an attempt to move this gigantor of a piece of furniture, the sister jumps out of her skin and stares at as like a toddler that’s fallen over. She just looks at us like she’s totally lost. We look back at her in question and she eventually says that it ran into the kitchen. Imagine our frustration that she couldn’t simply tell us that and make our job easier.
So we left her in the front room, shut the door, and checked that the back one was open. Had it gone? The sister was garbling, not answering, and the pressure was growing. Where the hell was it?
“It went under the cupboard.”
… You mean it went into the only effing hole in this entire room?
*Screams violently at the moon*
So, wielding our brooms we hooked out the wooden panels and began our system over again. Bang the wood, is it coming out? No. Shine the light, is it coming out? No. Okay. So this is happening. It has to. I’m going to have to get face level with the intruder. So I gathered my courage and scanned the area. The scan turned into a look. The look turned into a search. Nothing. Where was it?
Houdini was in the house.
There was only one place it could be now: behind the washing machine. One glance at my mother spoke a thousand words. Of all the places in the entire kitchen it could have gone and it chose to make camp behind the one appliance we could barely shift. The look was followed by a sigh of annoyance, and a sigh of defeat. It was coming out. And so we began to shift, Mum moving the machine, me poised on tenterhooks waiting, just waiting, for it to show its face. If it ran, it was down to me to drive it in the right direction.
The machine moved an inch. Then another. Now half out, now three-quarters. A quick pause to gather our wits and then the final pull. It was out, and the rat had nowhere left to hide. Like a scene from Finding Nemo out popped its head, then in, then out, then gone. It bolted for the door and I was ready for it. Tapping the floor with the bristles I showed that fella whose house this was and he scarpered off into the night.
The house was ours once more We had reclaimed our territory.
Obviously, this entire event was followed by another call to my Uncle Fester to regale the tale of our adventure. The hysterics at the other end of the line were contagious and even we couldn’t help but giggle at the stupidity that was us. We were idiots, but we were happy idiots. The rat was gone, we were unharmed, the pigs were fine, and there were no little baby intruders or even finite traces of rat poop. We were finally able to laugh at ourselves. And the hilarity continued as we attempted to replace the washing machine to its original home. My Mum was on the floor pushing with her feet and sliding on the lino so much her trousers ended up several inches lower than they should have been. I couldn’t even get purchase in my slippers, and the exertion of the futile enterprise made even my feet too sweaty for grip. Eventually it was my Mum and sister on the floor, myself with my butt snug in the hollow of the door, and several large pushes later before it was even close to in. It’s a heavy machine, and I have no strength. We were sweating buckets. But we kept laughing because it was too funny not to.
So ask me again what I thought I’d be doing on a Tuesday evening, and I can still say I would never have imagined a rat invasion. But it happened, and I got a post out of it. There were several jokes and a Facebook status, an even an ensuing conversation about the intelligence of rats. Quite a fuss was made over that little furry fuck.
I hope you’re happy Mr Rat, because you sure as hell made my day, you cute fucker.