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“The Hour of the Rat” by Donald Jacob Uitvlugt
(Originally published in Cirsova Magazine #1.)
shigururu ya winter rain
nezumi no wataru a mouse runs
koto no ue across the koto
— Yosa Buson (1716-1783)
Nezumi’s heart pounded as she pressed against the wall. She willed herself to be as invisible as the night all around her. She put a hand over her mouth so that the puffs of her breath would not give away her position. Within the estate beyond the wall, a guard approached her position. Nezumi whispered under her breath.
“Namo amida butsu. Namo amida butsu…”
She used the prayer to keep time. Two hundred repetitions between the passes of the guards as they made their rounds. Not much time to get over the wall. Nezumi shivered. It was going to rain. She didn’t know how she knew, but she always knew.
There. One hundred. The guard would be at his farthest point away. Nezumi pulled out the rope she had hidden in the folds of her dark kimono. It took tries, but the rock tied to the end finally caught on the tree in the courtyard beyond. Nezumi scrambled over the wall and dropped down into the shadows behind the tree. She heard footsteps on the gravel path and froze.
Donald Jacob Uitvlugt lives on neither coast of the United States, but mostly in a haunted memory palace of his own design. His short fiction has appeared in numerous print and online venues, including Cirsova Magazine and Flametree Publishing’s Science Fiction anthology. He strives to write what he calls “haiku fiction”, stories that are small in scale but big in impact. If you enjoyed “The Hour of the Rat,” let him know at haikufiction.blogspot.com or on Twitter via @haikufictiondju.
About the Narrator:
Deanna Sanchez is a voiceover artist and actress who has performed professionally for 14 years. She has voiced various commercials, industrials, and characters, and specializes in the “sexy voice” of powerful female roles. An avid fan of science fiction since her grandfather gave her a copy of Heinlein’s Tunnel in the Sky when she was 9, she feels greatly privileged to help bring this story to life. While pursuing a voice talent and acting career, Deanna also consults in Geographical Information Systems and develops custom mapping applications for real estate and other industries. Her background in IT management does not prevent her from owning multiple old computers, some with Windows 98 still running. Three-dimensional visualization of spatial data is a favorite pastime, and she has spent many hours translating real-Earth elevation data into unique 3-D worlds. Deanna’s voice over demo can be heard at the Lambert Studios website, an outstanding full service recording studio.