Néstor Lasso Zuñiga
Pear, honey, cardamom
The suns were all well above the horizon when Slow Mo finally came to, groggy and hurting. Before he was even able to open his eyes, he smelled it. The air was thick and hot, ripe with the smell of stewing garbage. There was only one place he knew of that smelled this awful: The Pits.
When he opened his eyes, the bright suns initially blinded him, but soon his surroundings pulled into focus. He had indeed been brought to The Pits. Dark blue boulders and dusty rocks filled the lifeless space in between pits full of bubbling green goo. Before Normalcity had turned the planet into a dumping ground, Slow Mo hypothesized that these pits were natural hot springs that liquefied the trash dumped in them. When he had happened upon The Pits the first time, he saw the things that lived there and decided to never return.
He heard something from behind a nearby boulder. Quickly trying to get to his feet, Slow Mo crashed back to the ground when he found a few of his ankles lacking in stability. He looked around for whatever was coming to eat him. Nothing appeared, but the intermittent shuffling from behind the boulder continued.
“...hello…” what he had meant to yell came out as not much more than a whisper, so he tried again, “HELLO?”
The creature that stepped out from behind the boulder was what looked like a man-sized rat, walking on all fours, with periwinkle fur and large black eyes. He guessed that it was at least 8 feet long from snout to tail. For a moment, they stared at each other in silence, Slow Mo convinced that he was about to become dinner.
But, instead of eating him, the critter turned around and retreated behind the boulder, returning quickly with Slow Mo’s basket full of fruit. It dragged it by the handle using it’s mouth and brought it halfway between the two of them.
“Rats are friends?” it spoke quietly after dropping the basket. Slow Mo was still too scared to speak. It sat waiting for a moment and then again, but a little louder, “Rats are friends.” It used it’s snout to push the basket closer to Slow Mo. He gathered what courage he could find and reached out for it, using one of his good legs. It was still filled some of the fruit he had gathered and it appeared as though “the rats” had also added some things. Root vegetables that resembled parsnips but were striped red and white, like peppermint candies. His new friend watched him expectantly, but with the smell in the air Slow Mo was anything but hungry.
“Who are you? Do you have a name?” Slow Mo tried his best not to sound terrified.
“Violet Rat is a friend. Friends need help.” As they were speaking, twelve other Rats slowly appeared from where Violet had come. Violet started to tell the story of the Rats.