The Lair of the Evil Professor Rattiarty
“He’s actually daring to come into the barn again,” reported the turncoat barn cat, Greeneyes.
“Has he got that stupid boy with him? That Bobby fella?” asked Whitewhiskers Billy, the number-three rat in the gang.
“Not just him, but the two fantastical friends, too.”
“You mean the baseball-bat boy that killed ChickenKiller?” asked Stupidrat, the number-last rat now that ChickenKiller was nothing but bones in the gravel by the pump house.
“Not just him. Also, the beautiful princess that always wears blue clothing and always looks so gorgeous that I almost fall over dead.”
“Horatio T. Dogg is so brazen and conceited, Boss, that he thinks he can dare to come sniffing about your kingdom without so much as asking Greeneyes for permission,” said Darktail Ralph, the number-two rat.
“You must be patient, my anxious minions,” said Professor Rattiarty in an oily voice from the darkest shadows in the stack of haybales. All you could see of Rattiarty’s hideous face were the two glowing red eyes staring out at everybody from the darkness. “Sooner or later Horatio will make a mistake. We will have him fatally outnumbered and make an end to him. Remember, the old Dogg is getting old.”
“Right, right, Boss. We’ll be patient.”
“Greeneyes, get up on the highest hay bale so the humans can see you. They will see a barn cat and think that no rats could possibly be around,” ordered Rattiarty.
“Right away, Boss.”
“Look, there’s a barn cat up there,” said Mike. “There’s no way there are any rats around in here, or the cat would get ‘em.”
“That is a fine-looking cat,” said Blueberry. “He looks fat enough to have eaten several rats.”
“That’s Greeneyes. He’s in with the rats. Rattiarty gives him chicken parts and other food so the corrupt cat will be the lookout for the evil gang of horrible rats. They are probably up there right behind him, giving him orders, and using him to spy on us.”
“Bobby, you are mentally insane sometimes,” said Mike. “Rattiarty? I bet you have all of the rats named already, don’t you?”
“Well… yeah. Horatio sniffs them out and tells me everything.”
“What are their names?” asked Blueberry.
“Well, there’s Darktail Ralph, Rattiarty’s right-hand rat. And then there’s Whitewhiskers Billy, and Stupidrat, and ChickenKiller… but he’s dead. Mike, remember the rat you killed with the bat when you and the Pirates were out here doing batting practice?
“Oh, yeah. So, that rat had a name, did he?” said Mike.
“Of course, he did. Rats are people too, aren’t they?”
“NO. Just no.”
“Bobby, I appreciate your wonderful imagination even if Mike doesn’t,” Blueberry said sweetly.
Bobby grinned at her. If only…
“The dog is coming right NOW!” screeched Greeneyes, just before he disappeared from the top of the stack of hay bales.
Horatio T. Dogg, with his green hat on his head and Meerschaum pipe in his mouth, appeared in his place, cooly looking down into Rattiarty’s lair in the hollows between the hay bales.
“So, Professor, we meet again,” said Horatio.
“But not by accident this time. It was all part of my plan,” said the voice behind the glowing red eyes in the darkness.
“Oh? How so?”
“I lured you here to show you I survived our last encounter after all. And my rat forces are growing again. Did you really think we would be satisfied with just turkens this time? They are no challenge. I killed Little Bob with a mere thought.”
“Oh? It was you that convinced him he was a penguin and could swim underwater in the horse tank?”
“No, I… er, um, I mean… Yes! I killed him with mind control.”
“I don’t see how. Little Bob only had a tiny chicken mind.”
“But I have already worked my magic on the Niland family. Do you know why Grandma Niland passed away?”
“Ah, but who caused that cancer?”
“How did she get infected with cancer?”
“Cigarettes in the 50’s when teenagers thought it was cool to smoke?”
“No. My talents as a carrier for disease. I did that. And I am warning you, you don’t know how to stop me before the next one dies.”
“What next one?”
“Um, probably the Grandpa.”
“I can stop you by killing you all right here, right now with my teeth and claws.”
“Yeah, let’s attack now guys!” screamed Stupidrat as he stupidly leaped at Horatio’s growling mouth.
The other rats all quickly withdrew into the shadows.
“That’s just one dead rat. And your dog probably grabbed it before the cat could. We saw him scare the cat away.” Mike was frowning darkly.
“Really, Mike! Horatio says they were all up there, plotting to kill my Grandpa. This one sacrificed himself so the others could get away.”
“That’s not exactly what I said,” said Horatio.
“Oh, sure! An evil rat professor with glowing red eyes. And they are going to take down Butch Niland, your wise old grandfather!”
“Well, it’s true. Horatio told me. Sorta.”
“You and Blue and your imaginations! I don’t believe you two!”
“I believe you, Bobby.” Blueberry always believed Bobby, no matter how strange a thing it was that Bobby claimed.
“You both better learn what imagination really is before bad things happen to you both. You can’t make your way through life by juxst making up stories about it.”
Bobby nodded silently. Mike was right. He needed to know what imagination really was, and how God meant for him to use it.