Ear Rat Returns in Scorched Anguish

Words by Mike V.
Art by Harr B.
Henry checked his watch as he waited in the break room. The Keurig machine whined and moaned as it injected hot water through a tiny, unrecyclable pod of plastic and shit coffee. The machine barfed into the waiting vessel below; a promotional mug for "Protoxamil B" the new product Henry's company launched recently. Henry's watch was five minutes fast, but it didn't change how late it was to be in the office: 7:27 PM.

The Keurig finally quieted, Henry grabbed his mug and started power-walking down through the hallways to his desk. Every cubicle on the way was empty. Even George from accounting, who had an alternate work arrangement where he could come in later than usual for the next few months as long as he stayed later as well, had left already. Henry's eyes scanned through the cubicles as he passed, his coffee sloshed back and forth in his mug but never tipped over the edge.
As Henry rounded the corner to the hallway where his cubicle waited for him, he saw something on the floor in front of him. "What the fuck" Henry said as he stopped and stared at the object. Because it was darkened and a few inches in length, he assumed it was a piece of shit, as most people do. Upon closer inspection however, Henry noticed the piece of shit had arms and legs, and even a tail. He realized it was a rat, though badly deformed.

Why a rat was seemingly burnt to death in the office, Henry could not answer. But something deep inside of him called out to him to take action, so he did the only thing that seemed right in that moment: he lowered his mug down until it was just over the dead rat, and he poured some coffee out onto its carcass. Henry stood back up, said to himself "I wish I knew some kind of prayer to say" and then hurriedly walked back to his cubicle, intent on finishing his quarterly reports and getting the hell out of there.
Now soaked in cold, shitty coffee, the dead rat lay on the carpet. Henry hadn't been able to make out the human ear that was growing on it, but it didn't matter; what's dead is dead. Except for the fact that the rat was now twitching and squeaking in the puddle of coffee. Burnt to death but revived by a cup of joe, cursed to a life of eternal anguish, the ear rat returns.

Ear Rat Magazine is accepting submissions with the theme of "Heat Death" for our next upcoming issue. Please see submissions for more info.


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