The Oriental Rat Flea
Transmission Path

Andrew R. Crow

I t won't hold. The mortar is crumbling; the wood rotted. Aye, they'll storm my stronghold soon enough. Most of them must be half dead by now, but one never questions the strength of a rabid crowd. I formerly believed to have had complete autonomy. I am, no was, a Meister of the highest regard. I had the perfect cover: who would notice a few anaemic corpses in the midst of all this mayhem? I was always careful, selecting only those exposing a death pallor to feed upon. And now, of all things, to trace this scourge back to the rats inhabiting my own home.
Fools! Do they not know the lower creatures are attracted to my kind? I've been responsible for many deaths, but not for this dark fog of death descending on our fair countryside.
All I've done for this flock of mine. The learning, the cures for
sickness...the depth of my centuries...just to keep them alive for my
nefarious purposes? No! No, it was a caring, as a shepherd would feel
for his primitives. I loved...and felt.
And now, this. To die at their hands for something completely out of
my control...
To think they hold me responsible for the Black Death!
Surely, madness!
They're pounding at the door now. I hear splintering.
I look out at the rising sun.
It's blood red.
First published: August 2000