Big steampunk rat
The big rat sat on the cusp of a great discovery. He had been working for weeks on his invention, and he was almost ready to test it.
The rat was a steampunk enthusiast, and he'd spent years building up his own personal collection of steam-powered machinery. He'd had a lot of time to perfect his inventions over the years, and now he had finally achieved something that seemed truly revolutionary: an enormous mechanical rat that could move by itself.
The rat's name was Ratzilla—he liked to think of himself as a Godzilla-sized rodent who could destroy cities with one stomp of his paw.
Ratzilla's invention was so big that it took up most of the basement where he lived with his family. It looked like a vehicle from some ancient civilization—like something you might see in an Indiana Jones movie or National Treasure 3: Book of Secrets. It was made out of copper pipes and brass gears, and there were giant pistons pumping away at every corner. The whole thing had been built by hand by Ratzilla himself; it was part art project, part scientific experiment, part exercise in creativity. The rat didn't know what exactly he would use this invention for—just yet—but he knew
The air was thick with the smell of smoke and sweat. The night sky was lit up with a variety of different colors, but the most prominent were red and orange. A small crowd of people gathered around as a man made his way through the crowd, dragging a huge rat behind him. He stopped in front of a cage, opened it, and threw in his pet rat. The crowd cheered as he locked the cage door shut and left to find more drinks for himself.
Once upon a time, there was a big steampunk rat. It was a very big steampunk rat.
It was so big that it could not keep its belly in. The belly kept falling out of the hole where its tail used to be.
The belly was as round and fat as an iron ball, and it jiggled when the rat moved around. The rat's whiskers were like long strings dangling from its snout, and they swayed back and forth as it walked along with its tail tucked between its legs.
The rat had been born this way—with no tail—and it had grown up knowing no other life than the one where everyone stared at its belly instead of paying attention to its eyes or ears or nose or whiskers or anything else that made up who it was inside.
One day, while walking through town with his belly brushing against everyone's legs as they passed by, he heard someone say: "Why doesn't anyone pay attention to me? They're all staring at my belly instead of looking at me." And then another said: "Why don't people pay attention to what I'm saying?" And then another: "I want people to notice me!"
An ominous shadow fell across the city as the sun went down.
"Is that… is that a rat?" someone whispered in fear.
"But… but rats are so small!" cried another. "What could they possibly want?"
The people of the city cowered in their homes as the big rat crept closer and closer to them. It was so big! How could such a thing exist? And what did it want?
The rat stopped at a certain house and began to scratch at the door. The people inside heard this and were very frightened. They tried to hide under their beds, but there was nowhere to run from this monster! The door burst open and out ran an enormous rat with glowing eyes, followed by a group of smaller rats carrying suitcases!
"We're moving into your house tonight," said one of the smaller rats with an impish grin. "We've come for your belongings."
When I was a child, I dreamed of being a hero.
But I was just a rat.
I grew up in the sewers of London, where rats are not seen as heroes. They are seen as pests and vermin. My father was a scientist who believed that we could be more than just pests, but he died when I was young in an explosion at his laboratory. He had been working on something called "steampunk"—which is like steam-powered technology, but more advanced and magical—and he wanted to make it available to all rats.
I took up his work after he died and began building machines that would allow us to do things humans couldn't even imagine: fly through the air and swim underwater with ease, speak other languages fluently… But my fellow scientists were skeptical of this technology—they said it would give us too much power over humans! So they tried to sabotage my work; they planted bombs at my lab every night so that when I came back in the morning, there would be nothing left but rubble.
After one too many bombs destroyed my home and nearly killed me, I realized it was time to go into hiding. The only place safe from these saboteurs was the sewers under London itself.