by J Deacon

I go by many names, for now, I will be called Sam. Many would say I am a typical black rat, and many would be wrong. Not a day goes by that I don't regret my dealings of the past. I scurry from corner to corner. Living in the cold outdoors, eating the crumbs you leave behind I move in the shadows. I gnaw on the boards of your house. I am not allowed to approach you, but if you seek me out, I can make your wildest dreams reality. You may feel as though you cannot trust me, but as I work my miracles you will see the truth.

Meet Nathan, A simple man with an average appearance. I have been watching him for weeks now. Always stumbling and tripping over his own feet. I say the lad can barely utter a sentence to a woman without stuttering or choking on his own words. What a completely pathetic mess. Today is the day his entire life will change, but first, he must call for me. He must notice me; he must come looking for me. This was much easier in my early years.

He is in the living room, on his couch as I run past his feet and hide in a dark corner. I do not believe I have ever heard a man scream and jump in such a way before, it is quite entertaining to watch. I will say, he did get that broom pretty fast. Now he is chasing me and trying to kill me.

"Nasty fucking rat!" he shouted as he tried to smash me into the ground.

I narrowly escaped his fear-induced violence.

As I made my way to safety under the house I shouted to him "This is why nobody will fuck you!"

"Did he just...?

I continued to watch him throughout the night. I do not believe he slept one wink through all that tossing and turning he did in bed. In the morning he left the house, presumably to go to work. I'll just wait here for him, I am certain he left something to eat lying round. Maybe I should take a nap while I wait for him, I will close my eyes for just a blink. I open my eyes to the front door slamming.

"Maybe I'm going crazy, maybe not. I know I heard you" Nathan said slowly walking through the house. "Where are you, come on out," he said in a shaky voice. Ah, he is calling for me. "Are you looking for me?" I asked still hidden.


"Then call my name"

"I do not know your name" he replied back to the air.

A quick run behind him and a whisper "Sam"

"Sam, Is that your name? Funny name for a rat, come on out Sam"

That is all I needed, "You call and I appear".

"How do you do that? Speak, how do you speak?" He inquired.

"Same as you, I move my mouth, air passes over my vocal cords," I said to him in a semi-mocking voice.

He began to ask me many questions, but I will limit them to the important ones. What am I?

I wasn't always a rat; I was born in the 9th century. in a small village. My father was slain by his Jarl. He was accused of mutiny, no trial, a penalty of death. "Wait, 800? That's impossible." Nathan interrupted.

"I am a talking rat, and you are questioning my story? Where was I?"

Yes, my father was executed, and my mother made me watch. I was a young man at the time, but I was still powerless to help. I lived in fear as an outcast for years that followed. One grey morning a stranger appeared in the mist. He was walking slowly toward the village with a magnificent raven on his shoulder. As he came closer the Raven melted into his chest becoming one with him. Everyone was proclaimed Woden is here, Woden is here! They could not have been more wrong and nor could I for having believed them. He stopped in front of me and I fell to my face.

"What ails you?" He asked

"Why are you talking to me? I am the son of a traitor. I am weak, I am nobody." I said with my head hanging low "That is not how it must be. The world can be yours if you ask me for it. Know this, everything comes with a price. The greater the gift, the greater the cost" He said cautioning and enticingly.

"Great Woden, no cost is too high, I want my justice, then the world"

"It shall be yours, but first you must bring me the blood of a ram" He commanded. "In two days time, I will see you at the mouth of the river by the great rock. Bring the ram and a mead horn". Before I could raise my head, he was gone.

Two days passed and I was waiting at the great rock. Through the evening air, I could see an even greater Raven flying above me. It swept down and before it hit the ground, in an instant, it had transformed.

"Great Woden, I have done as you commanded," I said with a never felt before pride. "Remove your dagger, and fill the horn with the blood of the ram" Woden demanded. With no hesitation, I sliced its throat and filled the horn to the top.

"Now drink, and all shall be"

When you feel that something is too good to be true, you should listen; because I didn't. Without a second thought, I drank every drop. As I brought my head down, he was no longer there. I felt nothing, no surge of power, no strength added to me, nothing. What happened next, I cannot say.

I woke up at a later time, hands tied tightly around an alter and the Jarl standing before me.

"You have committed a sin against your brothers and against me. In the ways of the gods, you will be given the opportunity to experience the blood eagle."

"What sin?" I asked, but my words fell on deaf ears. Then it happened, I felt the piercing pain in my back. I felt them break my ribs, tear out my lungs and put them on my shoulders. I watched them move with every feeble breath. I was dying. That is when I saw him standing in the doorway, it was Woden. He didn't speak, he just looked at me. The Jarl came close to me, close enough. I felt the rage build inside of me, I was able to grab his shirt and hold him. I then took my revenge, I ate his face but did not stop there. I chewed through his neck and every drop of his blood the reached my tongue rejuvenated me. I had never felt so alive. I was even strong enough to break my bonds. My entire village died that night, including my mother.

"Your mother?" Nathan asked

"Yes, every one of them."

Neither ax nor shield could stop me; I was unstoppable that night. The sun was just breaking when it was over. That is when Woden appeared to me for the last time. "Now the world!" I demanded.

"Payment first"

"What payment, I drank of the ram. I died on that alter" I yelled as I lunged for him. "You fool. I am your god. We had a deal and until you can remember who I am, you will stay with your face in the dirt, just like you were when I found you"

Everything began to grow around me. The fires grew, the homes swelled in size, the sky moved away from me. I thought it would never end, but when it did, I was in the form I am now.

"So you became a vampire, then you became a rat?" Nathan asked puzzled.

"Don't be foolish, vampires do not exist"

"Of course. So how did you get from there to here? Why didn't you just say what he wanted to hear and become a man again?" Nathan inquired leaning in toward me. "It is not the words, it is the actions that define belief"

I have clawed my way through the ages. I was there when the Nords invaded England, I whispered in the ear of Genghis Kahn. I was there when the church executed those for not believing. All in an attempt to prove myself.

"Was it worth it? One thousand years of being a rat for one night of superman strength."

"Nathan my dear boy, that is not all I received. I can do much more than that"

"Like what?"

"Look into my eyes, Nathan. Look close and say nothing." As he gazed into my eyes, over millennia of life and travel and magic was shown to him. He was left stunned, terrified, and intrigued.

"Do you have to kill and drink blood to do that?"

"No, That is what I had to do. It is easier now." I stood up on my hind legs and began motioning in the air. "Hold out your hand," I told him. As his hand extended a small orb conjured into his palm. "When I tell you, swallow it whole. Do not chew". The orb began to glow bright and he heard the words "consume now". He did, just as he was told, what a good little boy. His brown eyes turned black and slowly became blue.

"All you had to do was die," I said having taken his body, "all you had to do was die".

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