Back on South Bird there were years when I was young where we had plagues of rats. Thousands and thousands of them. Great waves of rats. A sea of mangey fur and eyes and tails and gnashing teeth.
At night I would sleep guarded by one of the house helpers, a robot named Andy. He was as tall as a regular sized man, but thinner. He had a wonderful bounce in his step everywhere he went. Andy was the kind of robot that made everything fun. If the rats made it into my room he would sing sea shanties about hunting seals and whales and stab them through the heart with a tiny sword he called his pickle.
We could hear them coming and Andy would jump up excitedly.
“I’ll stick them with my pickle!” He would yell, breaking into song.
Come, all you young sailor men, listen to me!
I’ll sing you a song of the fish in the sea!
He moved so fast that to me it looked like the rats just disappeared, one after the other. But it wasn’t magic, he would stick them in the heart with his little sword, flick them in the air, and they would drop into a brown leather sack at his side.
Up jumps the eel with his slippery tail!
As he killed them, he would twirl and rock and dance a jig, sticking each of the rats carefully so they didn’t suffer the prick too much. Andy was terribly careful with his pickle. You never saw such a pile of dead rats.
And it’s windy weather, boys, stormy weather, boys!
But alas, Andy could not kill all the rats and we had to suffer through it.
The rats ate everything they could find and then they ate each other.
Blow ye winds westerly, blow ye winds, blow
All the while Andy sang his songs and danced his dance and made me laugh.
It was a Friday. Just after the last rat plague. We had to bash Andy’s head in with a sledgehammer. He tried his best, but something happened to him and he couldn’t stop trying to kill us. I missed him terribly.
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