Featured Posts

The Gods of Mars

by Edgar Rice Burroughs CHAPTER I THE PLANT MEN As I stood upon the bluff before my cottage on that clear cold night in the early part of March, 1886, the noble Hudson flowing like the grey and ...

Read More

The Immortals

by David Duncan I Dr. Clarence Peccary was an objective man. His increasing irritation was caused, he realized, by the fear that his conscience was going to intervene between him and the vast fortune that was definitely ...

Read More

Memoirs of Napoleon Bonaparte

by Louis Antoine Fauvelet de Bourrienne CHAPTER 1 1769-1783. Authentic date of Bonaparte's birth—His family ruined by the Jesuits—His taste for military amusements—Sham siege at the College of Brienne—The porter's wife and Napoleon—My intimacy with Bonaparte at college—His love for the ...

Read More

THE DIVINE COMEDY

By Dante Alighieri CANTO I His glory, by whose might all things are mov'd, Pierces the universe, and in one part Sheds more resplendence, elsewhere less. In heav'n, That largeliest of his light partakes, was I, Witness of things, which to relate ...

Read More

The Poison Belt

by Arthur Conan Doyle Chapter I THE BLURRING OF LINES It is imperative that now at once, while these stupendous events are still clear in my mind, I should set them down with that exactness of detail which ...

Read More

THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES

By A. Conan Doyle Chapter 1. Mr. Sherlock Holmes Mr. Sherlock Holmes, who was usually very late in the mornings, save upon those not infrequent occasions when he was up all night, was seated at the breakfast ...

Read More

The Odyssey

by Homer BOOK I THE GODS IN COUNCIL—MINERVA'S VISIT TO ITHACA—THE CHALLENGE FROM TELEMACHUS TO THE SUITORS. Tell me, O Muse, of that ingenious hero who travelled far and wide after he had sacked the famous town of ...

Read More

ALICE'S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND

By Lewis Carroll Alice was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the bank, and of having nothing to do: once or twice she had peeped into the book her sister was ...

Read More

Three Men in a Boat

by Jerome K. Jerome CHAPTER I. Three invalids.—Sufferings of George and Harris.—A victim to one hundred and seven fatal maladies.—Useful prescriptions.—Cure for liver complaint in children.—We agree that we are overworked, and need rest.—A week on the ...

Read More

Grimm's Fairy Stories

Author: Grimm, Jacob, 1785-1863 Author: Grimm, Wilhelm, 1786-1859 Contents: The goose-girl -- The little brother and sister -- Hansel and Grethel -- Oh, if I could but shiver! -- Dummling and the three feathers -- Little Snow ...

Read More

The Variable Man

Author: Dick, Philip K., 1928-1982 Subject: Science fiction war stories Subject: Weapons: Fiction Download full book

Read More

D-99

by H. B. Fyfe ONE At the ninety-fifth floor, Westervelt left the public elevator for a private automatic one which he took four floors further. When he stepped out, the dark, lean youth faced an office entrance ...

Read More

Madame Bovary

by Gustave Flaubert Part I Chapter One We were in class when the head-master came in, followed by a "new fellow," not wearing the school uniform, and a school servant carrying a large desk. Those who had been ...

Read More

Slave Planet

by Laurence M. Janifer PART ONE 1 "I would not repeat myself if it were not for the urgency of this matter." Dr. Haenlingen's voice hardly echoed in the square small room. She stood staring out at the ...

Read More

MOBY DICK

By Herman Melville CHAPTER 1. Loomings. Call me Ishmael. Some years ago—never mind how long precisely—having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about ...

Read More

The Return of Sherlock Holmes

by Arthur Conan Doyle THE ADVENTURE OF THE EMPTY HOUSE It was in the spring of the year 1894 that all London was interested, and the fashionable world dismayed, by the murder of the Honourable Ronald Adair ...

Read More

LES MISÉRABLES

By Victor Hugo VOLUME I.—FANTINE. PREFACE So long as there shall exist, by virtue of law and custom, decrees of damnation pronounced by society, artificially creating hells amid the civilization of earth, and adding the element of human ...

Read More

His Last Bow: An Epilogue of Sherlock Holmes

by Arthur Conan Doyle It was nine o'clock at night upon the second of August--the most terrible August in the history of the world. One might have thought already that God's curse hung heavy over a ...

Read More

The Adventures of Pinocchio

by Carlo Collodi CHAPTER 1 How it happened that Mastro Cherry, carpenter, found a piece of wood that wept and laughed like a child. Centuries ago there lived— "A king!" my little readers will say immediately. No, children, you are ...

Read More

Ben-Hur; a tale of the Christ

by Lew Wallace BOOK FIRST CHAPTER I The Jebel es Zubleh is a mountain fifty miles and more in length, and so narrow that its tracery on the map gives it a likeness to a caterpillar crawling from ...

Read More

Oh, Rats!

by Miriam Allen DeFord

SK540, the 27th son of two very ordinary white laboratory rats, surveyed his world.

He was no more able than any other rat to possess articulate speech, or to use his paws as hands. All he had was a brain which, relative to its size, was superior to any rat’s that had hitherto appeared on Earth. It was enough.

In the first week of gestation his embryo had been removed to a more suitable receptacle than the maternal womb, and his brain had been stimulated with orthedrin, maxiton and glutamic acid. It had been continuously irrigated with blood. One hemisphere had been activated far in excess of the other, since previous experiments had shown that increased lack of symmetry between the hemispheres produced superior mentality. The end-result was an enormous increase in brain-cells in both hemispheres. His brain showed also a marked increase in cholinesterase over that of other rats.

SK540, in other words, was a super-rat.

The same processes had been applied to all his brothers and sisters. Most of them had died. The few who did not, failed to show the desired results, or showed them in so lopsided and partial a manner that it was necessary to destroy them.

All of this, of course had been mere preparation and experimentation with a view to later developments in human subjects. What SK540’s gods had not anticipated was that they would produce a creature mentally the superior, not only of his fellow-rats, but also, in some respects, of themselves.

He was a super-rat: but he was still a rat. His world of dreams and aspirations was not human, but murine.

What would you do if you were a brilliant, moody young super-rat, caged in a laboratory?

SK540 did it.

What human beings desired was health, freedom, wealth, love, and power. So did SK540. But to him health was taken for granted; freedom was freedom from cages, traps, cats, and dogs; wealth meant shelter from cold and rain and plenty to eat; love meant a constant supply of available females.

But power! It was in his longing for power that he most revealingly displayed his status as super-rat.

Therefore, once he had learned how to open his cage, he was carefully selective of the companions—actually, the followers—whom he would release to join his midnight hegira from the laboratory. Only the meekest and most subservient of the males—intelligent but not too intelligent—and the most desirable and amiable of the females were invited.

Once free of the cages, SK540 had no difficulty in leading his troop out of the building. The door of the laboratory was locked, but a window was slightly open from the top. Rats can climb up or down.

Like a silver ribbon they flowed along the dark street, SK540, looking exactly like all the rest, at their head. Only one person in the deserted streets seems to have noticed them, and he did not understand the nature of the phenomenon.

Young Mr. and Mrs. Philip Vinson started housekeeping in what had once been a mansion. It was now a rundown eyesore.

It had belonged to Norah Vinson’s great-aunt Martha, who had left it to her in her will. The estate was in litigation, but the executor had permitted the Vinsons to settle down in the house, though they weren’t allowed yet to sell it. It had no modern conveniences, and was full of rooms they couldn’t use and heavy old-fashioned furniture; but it was solidly built and near the laboratory where he worked as a technician, and they could live rent-free until they could sell the house and use the money to buy a real home.

“Something funny happened in the lab last night,” Philip reported, watching Norah struggle with dinner on the massive coal-stove. “Somebody broke in and stole about half our experimental animals. And they got our pride and joy.”

“The famous SK540?” Norah asked.

“The same. Actually, it wasn’t a break-in. It must have been an inside job. The cages were open but there were no signs of breaking and entering. We’re all under suspicion till they find out who-dunit.”

Norah looked alarmed.

“You too? What on earth would anybody want with a lot of laboratory rats? They aren’t worth anything, are they—financially, I mean?”

“Not a cent. That’s why I’m sure one of the clean-up kids must have done it. Probably wanted them for pets. They’re all tame, of course, not like wild rats—though they can bite like wild rats if they want to. Some of the ones missing are treated, and some are controls. It would just be a nuisance if they hadn’t taken SK540. Now they’ve got to find him, or do about five years’ work over again, without any assurance of as great a success. To say nothing of letting our super-rat loose on the world.”

“What on earth could even a super-rat do that would matter—to human beings, I mean?”

“Nobody knows. Maybe that’s what we’re going to find out.”

That night Norah woke suddenly with a loud scream. Philip got the gas lighted—there was no electricity in the old house—and held her shaking body in his arms. She found her breath at last long enough to sob: “It was a rat! A rat ran right over my face!”

“You’re dreaming, darling. It’s because I told you about the theft at the lab. There couldn’t be rats in this place. It’s too solidly built, from the basement up.”

He finally got her to sleep again, but he lay awake for a long time, listening. Nothing happened.

Rats can’t talk, but they can communicate. About the time Norah Vinson dropped off after her frightened wakening, SK540 was confronting a culprit. The culprit was one of the liberated males. His beady eyes tried to gaze into the implacable ones of SK540, but his tail twitched nervously and if he bared his teeth it was more in terror than in fight. They all knew that strict orders had been given not to disturb the humans in the house until SK540 had all his preparations made.

A little more of that silent communication, and the rat who had run over Norah’s face knew he had only two choices—have his throat slit or get out. He got.

“What do you know?” Philip said that evening. “One of our rats came back.”

“By itself?”

“Yeah. I never heard of such a thing. It was one of the experimental ones, so it was smarter than most, though not such an awful lot. I never heard of a rat with homing instinct before. But when we opened up this morning, there he was, sitting in his cage, ready for breakfast.”

“Speaking of breakfast, I thought I asked you to buy a big box of oatmeal on your way home yesterday. It’s about the only thing in the way of cereal I can manage on that old stove.”

“I did buy it. Don’t you remember? I left it in the kitchen.”

“Well, it wasn’t there this morning. All I know is that you’re going to have nothing but toast and coffee tomorrow. We seem to be out of eggs, too. And bacon. And I thought we had half a pound left of that cheese, but that’s gone too.”

“Good Lord, Norah, if you’ve got that much marketing to do, can’t you do it yourself?”

“Sure, if you leave the car. I’m not going to walk all that way and back.”

So of course Philip did do the shopping the next day. Besides, Norah had just remembered she had a date at the hairdresser’s.

When he got home her hair was still uncurled and she was in hysterics. One of the many amenities great-aunt Martha’s house lacked was a telephone; anyway, Norah couldn’t have been coherent over one. She cast herself, shuddering and crying, into Philip’s arms, and it was a long time before he got her soothed enough for her to gasp: “Philip! They wouldn’t let me out!”

“They? Who? What do you mean?”

“The—the rats! The white rats. They made a ring around me at the front door so I couldn’t open it. I ran to the back and they beat me there and did the same thing. I even tried the windows but it was no use. And their teeth—they all—I guess I went to pieces. I started throwing things at them and they just dodged. I yelled for help but there’s nobody near enough to hear. Then I gave up and ran in our bedroom and slammed the door on them, but they left guards outside. I heard them squeaking till you drove up, then I heard them run away.”

Download full book

Second Variety
Slave Planet