Vermin's Vice (Exerpt)

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Inhuman Acts: A Collection of Furry Noir, edited by Ocean Tigrox, is available for pre-order and will be released at RainFurrest this year. You can pre-order here: This upload is a preview of my contriubtion Vermin's Vice. You can find previews of other's on Ocean Tigrox's journal here (if available):

My adrenaline pumped at every red light in South Barin. I looked to congregations of rats on every street corner with paranoid fright. How many others were offered to kill me? Every pedestrian glance became a predatory leer.

At the intersection before the Eveque Bridge I snapped. I couldn't wait here and find out. No vehicles were coming, and despite the red light, I booked it through. The rats on the corner let out disgruntled shouts as I violated their traffic laws.

As I crossed over the Bridge of Dissension I thought I'd find comfort. However, the reminder that it was a suited mouse who offered the deal made even the North I called home a foreign and inhospitable place. The streetlights shining through the picket fences made prison bar silhouettes upon the lawns of the houses they contained.

The adrenaline of the night drained from my veins once within the confines of my own home. A dizziness ran over me. Had I held my breath the entire drive home?

My knees buckled as soon as the door closed behind me, and I gasped for air. My paws pressed against the arm of a chair in the empty living room to keep my balance as the room spun around me. My loved ones were sound asleep at this hour. I certainly didn't want them worrying over me. I needed the quiet. I needed to collect my thoughts. I needed to clean myself of the dirt and sweat that came from the physical and emotional exertion of the night's activities.

Knowing it was safe to do so, I stripped myself of my clothing and moved over toward the laundry machine. As the smell from the garments hit my nose, I made out the scent of Lloyd mixed in with my own. The combination sent a chill from my ears down to my tail, and I shoved them into the washer and drowned the wicked reminder in flowery detergent.

I shut the lid and turned on the machine. Despite my efforts, the scent remained, lingering over my bare furred body. I made my way to the downstairs bathroom shower, a surprisingly secluded facility from the main bedrooms of the house which would suit my needs of subtlety.

The water was bitter cold. My heart jumped for the second time this night as the chilled water poured through my fur. It was probably unwise to wash my body and my clothes at the same time. Despite this I didn't flee the tub. Comfort was a luxury, removing the stains of sweat and anxiety was a necessity.

I do not know how long I remained there. I do know that I started to run the risk of scrubbing myself bald. After I found myself clearing the drain catcher of large clumps of my fur for the third time, I knew I was as clean as water could ever hope to make me.

As I started to blow dry my fur, my eyes never left the creature staring back at me in the mirror. What was I becoming? Despite the shower, I could swear my nose still sensed the scent of the rat, but now it was under a hint of ivory. The skin under my fur tingled as if infested with lice.

I turned off the blow dryer and left the bathroom. I transitioned my wet clothes into the dryer and started the cycle. I watched for a moment as the articles moved in a circle. High and low. Getting to the very top before gravity pulled them straight down.

I realized how drowsy I was; I needed to nap.