Nibble nibble

The bottom of the cardboard box fell out and landed at Minerva’s feet with a putrid wet slap.
“Oh god,” she groaned, and then regretted the inhale of breath required for speaking.
The contents of the box were, to use a technical term–Beyond Reasonable Conservation. A layperson would probably say something like, “Auuugh it stinks!”
The plastic bags wrapping whatever had been in the box originally had been gnawed up into bedding. There were rat droppings throughout the contents. The whole thing would probably glow under blacklight like a horrible rave grab bag. In the middle of ruined artifacts and shredded wrapping, was a very large and mostly decomposed rat.
Minerva dropped the empty top half of the box and opened the large roll-door. The fresh air from outside was still tinged with the scent of excrement and rot. She looked down and realized the sleeves of her jacket were damp with filth.
This was how a quick trip out to move things in the shed building turned into a trip home for a full change of clothes and a scalding hot shower.
Minerva used a shovel to pick up the pile of wet trash. The rat corpse fell into two pieces releasing a new, stronger smell.
Maybe two showers.
She dumped everything on the trash pile outside, and went back in. The sooner she got this done, the faster she could get that shower. Minerva used a broom to smack the side of the next box on the stack. It was dirty and stained too, but mostly on the top, though there was some indication of gnawing by the handle holes.
Nothing moved in the box. Minerva hit it again. She heard scurrying over on the other side of the building and jumped back. She went to run hands over her hair, and stopped before she made the contamination worse.
She picked up the box and jogged a few steps, swinging the box back to fling it toward the trash pile.
Something shifted inside the box. A soft weight slammed into her hand. She let go, but not before something sharp bit into her hand.
The box fell to the concrete floor and a rat went drunkenly scurrying under a pallet. Minerva ran outside, heart pounding in her chest, and breathing in terrified gasps. Blood welled up in a series wounds across her fingers.


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