The Convocation of the Rats
Once upon a time, there existed a nation called Radar. Although the majority of its citizens were rats, the cat called Johnnie was their president. He owned a millet farm and a beer factory and forced the rats to work for him without pay or rest. Johnnie did not only exploit their cheap labor, he also ate their children. The mansion built on a hill with three fences and twelve entrances was his dwelling place. Every gateway of his palace was guarded by five aggressively-looking cats. And the security cameras fixed atop the rotating roof of his glamorous castle could detect his enemies and alert him about any imminent danger.
Tired of seeing his children being slaughtered and his friends’ labor being exploited, Freddie, the leader of the rats decided to organize a rebellion to overthrow Johnnie. He first called a meeting to sell his idea to his colleagues. “Comrades, over the last several years, we have worked in Johnnie’s farm and in his beer factory without rest or pay. To my dismay, the reward for our toil and sweat has been death at his hands. Why should we work hard for Johnnie when we are not sure of tomorrow? For what reason should we continue to serve the brutal dictator when our children don’t get a chance to grow to see their second birthday before he butchers them? To what extent is our accepting to be helpless victims of his exploitation beneficial to our wellbeing? Enough is enough,” said Freddie as he slammed his fist on the table. “If we are to create a compelling future for our children and for ourselves, we must wake up from our slumber and fight with every weapon we got to protect our children from Johnnie’s brutality.”
“That was the most incoherent and long-winded lecture I have ever heard anyone give in my entire life! Dragging us into an unjust war that is inundated with lies about Johnnie is the last thing we can all support,” said Bombastic.
“It defeats my understanding that you would condone Johnnie’s criminal activities against your own children!”
“The burden of proof lies with you.”
“The evidence is overwhelming.” Freddie leaned forward and grabbed a piece of paper and read his scribbles aloud. “Aside from killing our children, Johnnie has done absolutely nothing to treat the wounded warriors who lost their limbs while fighting for him to chase the wolves and the tigers that used to terrorize our community.
“Johnnie is not a doctor, and he should not be held personally responsible for the plight of the wounded warriors.”
“Not only is he to blame for the suffering of our veterans, he is also responsible for the lagging behind of our society in the areas of social and economic development.”
“Hyperbole is the word to describe your frivolous accusations against our president. You need to stop!” said Claver. She threw a piece of cheese at Freddie hitting him in the face.
“I thought you were clever enough to understand that the matters I read to you and those that I ‘m not able to articulate here impinge on all of us as citizens of this nation.”
“Freddie, whining and screaming about our problems does not make them go away.” “Then acting upon them through sling shots and flaming bows and arrows will greatly impact the way we keep our children free from harm in the future.”
Malady, who up until now had been sitting on top of a pole munching his cereals, responded to Freddie’s war proposal with sarcasm. “I appreciate your passionate appeal for war; however, making a convincing argument for it, is the puzzle you will have to solve. First of all, our situation is not as bad as you are insinuating. Second, of all, the war you are proposing will compel Johnnie to intensify his brutality against our children because he is averse to insubordination and civil disobedience.”
“Don’t talk about my wife Solati, she died in the struggle,” said Bravo as tears ran down his chicks. Bravo was the oldest rat. The elderly mice were considered to be illiterate: Tally was the name for the tall ones; Sortie for the short or of medium size; the big and the fat rats were called Bogey, and Slender referred to the small mice. Bravo preferred to be called that name because he said it reminded him of the lions and the tigers when he was growing up.
“What I mean is that Johnnie got a tendency to use violence against rodents that talk truthfully about their problems. He thinks talking honestly about their poor living conditions makes him look like a bad president.”
“But why are you defending his horrific actions against our children? And since when did you become his spokesperson?” asked Mama. She was the wife of Freddie. She loved music, dance, and drama.
“My friend is just giving his opinion. That is what we do for a living: we give opinions. This comes from our excellent academic background,” said Bombastic.
“What does self-praise got to do with the matters arising from Freddie’s remarks?”
“I am just doing him a favor.”
“Bombastic, I used to be as bossy as you are when I had just graduated from Ratra College. But one day, I received a life-changing experience. One young fellow challenged me to a debate and beat me at the spelling Bee contest. The story made national headlines for many years. It was the most humiliating, and yet the humbling experience of my life. So, don’t see me humble and quiet and think that I am hard up of words.”
“Who are you, and what did you study?”
“Commando is my name and I got three diplomas: one in Booby Traps, the second diploma in Sling Shots, and the third diploma in Flaming Arrows and Bows.” He was a good friend of Rogue and Felon. Although they never openly criticized Johnnie for his mistreatment of their friends, they participated in every activity their comrades organized.
“No one has ever attained three degrees in Radar! You can double-check in our national book of records.”
“You have been boasting about your education for a long time. Now your nemesis is found!” said Bravo as he clapped his hands and jumped up and down gleefully.
“I’m not bragging about my academic credentials, I’m just being cautiously bombastic.”
Bravo suddenly stopped jumping. “What did you say?
“It is an oxymoron. I am hopeful about the war, but I recognize the trouble you will go through to triumph over Johnnie.”
“You have now started calling us morons! I am tired of your nonsense. Let me thrash you!” Bravo grabbed a big stick, placed it on his knee and fiercely broke it into two pieces. Then Bombastic dashed cowardly and jumped into a trench nearby.
“Had he not been an obnoxious beast, the bobcats and the wolves that often murdered our children could have come back to cause more trouble. Therefore, Johnnie deserves some credit. Don’t be deceived by those agitating for war because they don’t know what they are talking about,” said Malady.
“Suggesting that we are not prepared to fight and defend our rights and freedoms is insulting. On the contrary, we are determined and resilient now more than ever to chase that murderer from our homeland,” said Freddie.
“He got the most trained army in the region and beyond. How are you going to defeat him?”
“By chasing away traitors like you, Claver and Bombastic who have been working for him for many years.”
After discovering that Malady was one of those who had been secretly working for Johnnie, all the moles ran and grabbed whatever weapons they could find and came to beat him. He dashed into a ditch and disappeared.
“My friend makes a strong point! We need to put off our war plans until further notice. Let’s wait until we are sure about our preparedness,” said Claver. She started scanning the environment getting ready to escape in case she was also attacked. But before she could escape, Felon grabbed her by the neck and punched her repeatedly in the face. Other mice came running. But before they could pounce on her, Claver freed herself expeditiously and plunged into a hole.
“I can’t believe we’ve been living with inconspicuous moles all these years,” said Freddie.
“I’m beginning to suspect that Johnnie planted them into our community in order to undercut our war efforts,” said Mama.
“Don’t worry about him. Whether they like it or not, Johnnie will be gone very soon. I would like to congratulate you all on your reaching the final decision to join our struggle to liberate ourselves from his reign of terror. You may go home now. Good night.”