The Rats Among Us

The Rats Among Us

Elizabeth Rust and Cosmo

In the forgotten foot and a half above our school, a cobwebbed conflict is brewing. Students ascend into cave-like crevices to travel, but soon a mysterious monster strikes, and as tensions rise, students wage war.

In early August, students who were used to the desolate hallways caused by the pandemic became frustrated with the overcrowded and slow moving hallways. An anonymous source from the ceiling tells us, “It was like walking through a cattle shoot, moving slowly towards our terrible fate (math class). Then we discovered ceiling travel, what was once an anxiety-inducing four minute walk to class became an easy breezy trip through the ceiling.” My source chose not to disclose the entry points used, but theories range from secret stairways hidden in lockers to students simply climbing on top of their desks while teachers are distracted.

While the ceilings began as a tranquil travel route, certain students who fancied themselves entrepreneurs began a market place above the bus lobby where students could buy themselves anything from a snack to make it through the day to a sweater to keep them warm during their travels. The time students gained from taking these alternate routes was often spent perusing this bustling marketplace.

All was well until the third of September, when tragedy struck. A student who had been making their way to band in a group of around five returned to the marketplace, heavily injured and with no sign of the rest of their group. The student was incoherent and babbling about a giant monster with razor sharp teeth and claws like swords.

The student was quickly transported to the nurse and then hospitalized. While the student was undergoing treatment, rumors of this supposed monster spread like wildfire. These creatures ravaged the ceiling civilizations, stealing goods, stalking trade routes, and swallowing lone freshmen whole. Students began seeking protection from this nameless beast. Students began forming groups of soldiers to protect students traveling and trading throughout the ceiling.

By the middle of September there were three main groups that students could hire to protect them: the Cafeteria Crusaders, the Gym Guard, and the English Hallway Ensemble.

For a while this worked, and it seemed like everything was going to get better… that is until the Band Hall Brawl of 2022. A group of students from the English Hallway Ensemble were traveling with a merchant carrying a shipment of Slim Jims from the auditorium to the marketplace. At the same time a patrol of Cafeteria Crusaders, including recent freshmen recruits, headed out from the bus lobby with a group of sophomores. Reports of this conflict vary, some claiming the English Hallway Ensemble acted without thinking to protect their precious cargo, while others say the Cafeteria Crusader’s freshmen recruits looked too much like rats and the Cafeteria Crusaders were justified in their attack. Regardless, the ensuing conflict was brutal. Several students involved had to be taken to the hospital. Students on both sides of the conflict were outraged and demanded justice and compensation from each other. When no agreement could be made, war descended upon the ascended.

As tensions rose and war took its toll, we looked to our leader for answers. When asked about the conflict, Mr. Prange said, “What? Why are there people in the ceiling?” Clearly devastated about this conflict, Mr. Prange was asked what the administrators planned to do to resolve this issue. He responded, “You had me lost at kids in the ceiling, what do you mean? How did they get up there? Who is involved? What is the— Hey! Get back here! Don’t run from me!” Brave words from a wise and fearless leader now chasing the rats.

Conspiracy theories range from an underground candy ring to school administration corruption. Nobody is sure how these explanations surfaced, but students are taking them and running. One such theory is of betrayal. Picture a creature, small and trembling, that scrounges around the school. With its tiny hands it nabs desperately at the things it cannot possess. With its beady eyes it watches from the shadows. Razor sharp claws and vicious fangs paint the creature twisted and wicked in the light of day. Its hair is slicked back and greasy, as to slip through the sea of ceiling tiles with ease. That’s right; it’s a ceiling rat. However, the way it is described might take one’s mind in a different direction, the direction of the new and untrusted. Freshmen.

Students, fearing for their lives and their trade, have started pointing fingers at the youngest among them. As some freshmen, unfortunately, do bear heavy resemblance to rats, many were quick to hop aboard this theory. The rat-freshmen believers (or “rat-earthers” as they call themselves) accused the new freshmen patrol members of starting the conflict purposefully as to assist their rat brethren. The freshmen quickly jumped to their own defense, claiming that this was a case of discrimination. As upsetting as this theory is, the next is even more so.

Almost everyone’s heard of him, a historical man with bold ambitions, Mr. Hunt. Mr. Hunt is one of SHS’s beloved social studies teachers and has solidified his reputation as a kind, sympathetic individual. This, however, has not stopped people from casting sideways glances in his direction.

The rumors say that he was either abandoned or stolen away from his biological parents. Who then whisked him away to be raised? Rats. He spent his years living under the care of his rat mother and his rat father. All in all, it’s believed he had a pleasant childhood full of wonderful memories. Things changed though when his parents were roped into the ceiling wars. They were accused of being monsters, of being evil creatures of greed. Devastated and angry about what was happening to his rat family, Mr. Hunt plotted. Upon researching various wars and schemes throughout history, he cooked up the perfect plan to get the humans under his thumb. First was to let the humans start boiling themselves in the hot waters of economy, then to let them wage its wars. The kicking up of dust in the ceiling scuffles sent kids sneezing, the third part of his plan. Many students noticed how Mr. Hunt was acting so merciful toward the students with allergies, offering them tissues and practically giving away passes down to the nurse. This struck a chord of suspicion among some of the students. That’s how this theory ended up being created. The theorists believe now that the next phase of the Rat Takeover is for Mr. Hunt to gain the favor of the student body and send them to war against the ceiling-dwelling students and reclaim the land for his people.

Is this theory bogus, or is there some truth behind it? Anyone’s guess is as good as gold in these trying times.