Rattus New Yorkus

Rattus New Yorkus

by Hunter Shea

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781516107940
Publisher: Kensington
Publication date: 08/21/2018
Series: Hunter Shea: One Size Eats All , #2
Sold by: Penguin Random House Publisher Services
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 112
Sales rank: 185,546
File size: 3 MB

About the Author

Hunter Shea is the author of the novels The Montauk Monster, Sinister Entity, Forest of Shadows, Swamp Monster Massacre, and Evil Eternal. His stories have appeared in numerous magazines, including Dark Moon Digest, Morpheus Tales and the Cemetery Dance anthology Shocklines : Fresh Voices in Terror. His obsession with all things horrific has led him to real life exploration of the paranormal, interviews with exorcists and other things that would keep most people awake with the lights on. He lives in New York with his family and vindictive cat. He waits with Biblical patience for the Mets to win a World Series. You can read about his latest travails and communicate with him at www.huntershea.com.

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

I'd seen a lot of crazy shit in my day, but this one took the cake, the plate, and the fork right out from under me.

"Is it really doing what I think it's doing?" Benny said.

A furry snout poked out of the hole in the wall, whiskers twitching. It disappeared and out popped a chunk of drywall. The chalky crumble plunked right onto the glue trap by the baseboard and stuck there.

"I'll be good and goddamned," I whispered with the reverence my mother had taught me to save for church. I hadn't been to church in a lifetime of Sundays. Mom hadn't dispensed little tidbits of wisdom in almost as long. But it still seemed appropriate.

"I could give it the old whack-a-mole," Benny said, gripping a flashlight that doubled as a baton. People would be surprised how often exterminators used our flashlights to defend ourselves.

Unable to take my eyes off the ingenious sucker, I said, "You'll miss. I just know it."

"So we just stand here like idiots?"

"Yes," I said.

"I don't get you," Benny said.

"I remember when you used to."

We shut up, watching the rat litter the glue trap until most of the surface was covered in drywall.

It stretched halfway out of the hole, inspecting its handiwork. Next thing we knew, the rat dropped to the ground, landing on the drywall and scampering into the darkness.

"How?" Benny said.

"Beats me. If I hadn't been here to see it, I'd never have believed it."

"It must have come across glue traps before."

I rubbed the four-day stubble on my chin. "I'd put good money on it."

Most people don't realize how smart rodents are. They learn from their mistakes and from watching the mistakes of others. Norway rats, the number-one scourge of Manhattan, had been getting shrewder with each generation. Pretty soon, they'd be smarter than the guy who invented craft beer.

Norway rats are by nature very fast learners, evolving almost ten times faster than puny humans. Extremely observant, if they suspect a trap, they will regularly send the weakest out to explore or try a new food laced with poison. They sit back and watch what happens. If the rat survives, they follow. If not, they walk away, knowing to stay the hell away the next time.

I don't even want to get into their tolerance to poison. It's the stuff of nightmares.

This particular rat had either gotten temporarily stuck on a glue trap itself or watched one of its kin do likewise. How it figured out that littering it with drywall would stop if from being sticky was anyone's guess. Like I said — craft beer smart.

I shivered, which wasn't easy, considering it must have been over a hundred degrees in the dark, cramped industrial kitchen. The AC was on the fritz. If I didn't get some air soon, I would be next.

"Maybe they hold little rat seminars," Benny said, giggling. "You ARE Smarter Than the Exterminator."

"They start teaching classes, we're done for." The rag I kept using to wipe the back of my neck was soaked. Benny didn't even have a bead of perspiration.

"Well, now what?"

This particular den of rats had outsmarted us at every turn. They ate just enough of the rodenticide not to get sick. They avoided the snap traps like the plague. Now it appeared glue traps were out.

"Set fire to the place?" I said. "It's so hot in here, it just might spontaneously combust."

"We could have at least gotten that one."

Benny was no longer amused that I let it scamper off. Sometimes my curiosity gets in the way of my efficiency.

I said, "You want to chase it with your flashlight, have at it."

"If anyone's doing any chasing, it's going to be you."

For shits and giggles, I poured some rodenticide into the hole. Maybe it would return hungry and have a final feast.

Benny gave me a world-class eye roll.

"It can't hurt," I said.

"It definitely won't hurt them."

"We could always go old-school and have a stakeout with night vision and a BB gun."

"You're such an ass."

Benny stomped out of the kitchen. I followed suit, desperate for fresh air.

Manhattan was at the tail end of a long heat wave. Even though it was ninety outside, it felt like spring in comparison to the stifling restaurant. The sunlight stung my poor eyeballs. Flipping my sunglasses down from the crown of my head, I saw Benny slip into the van. Ninth Avenue was crammed with people on their lunch hour. The crush of humanity never ceased to amaze me.

As above, so below, as the saying goes.

"I'm going up to Yonkers to visit my sister," Benny said. I felt a wisp of cold air coming from the van's air vents.

"I'm supposed to meet Tony at Mulligan's," I said.

I wished Benny would open the window more so I could suck in some of that cool, cool air. The AC in my car was tepid on a good day.

Benny looked at me with barely contained disgust.

"That dive?"

"Our dive," I said.

"Whatever."

The van pulled away so fast, I had to jump back to make sure my foot didn't get run over.

I watched it barrel down Ninth, making a left turn toward the West Side Highway and ultimately, Yonkers.

Living with Benny had been hard, but we'd managed. I took the smaller guest room and used the hideous bathroom in the basement. My lawyer said our divorce papers would be coming any day now. We'd sell the house after everything was signed and go our separate ways.

But we still had to work together.

I wondered if it was hard for her in the same way it was for me. Benita Anne Jackson may have been pushing fifty, but she was still gorgeous, with her curves still north of the equator, hair like a phoenix and green eyes that could melt the polar ice caps.

When I looked at her, or smelled her, or brushed against her, I still got that anxious feeling in the pit of my gut.

Methinks the only feeling she got in her gut when she looked at me was indigestion.

The back of my neck tingled, the way it would if I felt someone was staring at me.

I turned around and faced the closed restaurant. A big window looked out at the passing foot traffic.

People bumped into me as I stared into the gloom.

Was someone in there?

It couldn't be. Benny and I had been inside for an hour. We'd have known if we had company.

Then I saw it.

A furtive movement atop a chair.

A rat stared back at me, its long tail hanging down the back of the chair like a pink rope. It was as if it were taking great care to remember me.

I know you now, that look said. And I will make sure you never forget me.

That chill came back again.

I rushed the window. The rat scurried away.

"Get ahold of yourself, Chris. They're smart, but not that smart."

After thirty years in the business, I was sure of less and less.

CHAPTER 2

"This just came in from FedEx."

Benny tossed a heavy box on my desk. Several pens and my good stapler went flying.

We were in our HQ, better known as a basement office on Eighth and Sixty-third. It was cozy and cluttered, just the way I liked things. To feel at one with aboveground society, I often looked up through one of our two barred windows and watched all the feet passing by. Over the years, I'd become something of a shoe expert.

"Who's it from?"

I was not going to pick the pens and stapler up. At least not while Benny was looking. A man's got to retain at least some of his dignity.

"Ask your secretary," she said.

The chair swiveled round and round when she got up for the coffee maker.

We had a secretary when we first opened up shop a hundred years ago. On her first day, she'd gotten shit-faced at lunch and came back slurring and falling all over the place. Benny fired her before midafternoon tea. We decided then it was best to tarry on without a secretary.

"I'll put in a call to AA and see if she's free," I said.

The desks in our tiny office used to face one another because we were young and in love and couldn't take our eyes off each other.

Two years ago, I had come back from lunch to find Benny's desk on the other side of the room, her back to me. That was the beginning of the end. Though, to hear her say it, things had gone south long before then. I used to fight her on the origin of our marriage's demise. Now, having had plenty of alone time in my own house, I had begun to recall a pattern that may have proven Benny right.

Not that I was going to tell her that.

"It's from that doctor," I said, my calloused fingers struggling to find the raised cardboard zipper tab on the end of the box.

"What doctor?"

The old coffee maker had been replaced by one that made single cups of coffee. I guessed it was so she didn't have to make me a cup.

"The one that invented that new poison. What's it called?"

I ripped the box open, tilting it so the double-sealed plastic bag slid onto the mess that was my desk. A bound instruction book followed.

"Degenesis," Benny said, sitting down and rolling her chair toward me.

"That's right. Weird name."

Benny sighed. "Not when you consider what it's supposed to do."

"Prevent rats from multiplying."

"Like the loaves and fishes."

"The what?" I said.

"And that's why you don't get the name. Did you fail Bible school?"

"Jesus died so we could be free from failure."

Benny picked up the manual. "Genesis is the first book of the Bible. You remember that?"

"'On the seventh day, God watched football.'"

"If Genesis is the beginning of man, Degenesis is the end of the rats."

I studied the blue pellets in the bag. They looked like any other rodenticide.

"I see, said the blind man."

"It's not going to work," Benny said.

"Why not?"

"Because nothing does ... for long. We may stop a few rat lines from expanding, but they'll adapt and we'll be back to square one."

Ever the pessimist.

"Then we might as well strike while the iron is hot." Tucking the bag under my arm, I searched for my keys, finding them under my glazed doughnut.

"You have a place in mind?" Benny asked.

"Oh, yeah. A very big place."

* * *

As one of several contractors for the city, Benny and I were never at a loss for work. Between the bugs and the rodents whose numbers far exceeded the talking bipeds who thought they ran the place, the need for experienced killers was constant.

We drove in separate cars to the Gristedes supermarket on the Upper East Side. I met Benny at the back of the store by the dumpsters and loading dock.

"Check that out," I said to her, pointing at five new burrows besides the battered blue dumpsters. "Looks like they've been busy."

"More escape routes," she said, crouching over a burrow and peering into the hole with her flashlight.

"They must feel the walls closing in."

"Which means we don't have much time."

I shook the bag of freshly minted poison.

"Someone call for delivery?"

Benny groaned.

"You ever think of coming up with a new line?" she asked, gathering the snap traps we'd laid out two days earlier. She checked each one for any remaining food. They were all empty.

"It's not like the Gristedes rats ever heard it before," I said.

"Like I give a shit about the how the rats feel."

"You want to kill a rat, you have to think and feel like a rat."

She opened the traps and I sprinkled the Degenesis inside. We had been feeding the rats poison-free food for two days. The traps were just little safe havens for the rats to munch away.

You had to do that with rats. They were too smart to just walk into a set trap. Once one rat bit it, the others would steer clear of the area. The key was getting them comfortable so they all let their guard down.

Tonight, things would be different. First, the traps would be set to kill. And if a trap didn't murderize a rat, the poison coursing through its itty-bitty digestive tract should sterilize it.

Benny ignored me, as usual, and went about laying the traps. We increased the number of traps as well, hoping to snag as many as we could. After tonight, the rats would smarten up and avoid the traps like the plague. Pun intended.

"All done?" I said, eyeballing the few remaining pellets in the bag.

"Yep."

"Now let's hope they like the taste."

"You should try one just to test it," Benny said.

For a second, I thought she was serious and was about to lob a few choice words her way. Working together while in the midst of a divorce was a bitch, which is why I tried to keep things light. I'd learned to suffer Benny's slings and arrows with aplomb.

Telling me to eat poison would have been out of character, even for Benny.

"It can't be more toxic than those microwave burritos you eat," she said, the barest trace of a smile on her face.

"Those are strictly emergency rations."

"That's not what your latest blood work said."

"It's nice to see you care," I said.

"I didn't say to stop eating them," she said. "You have been keeping up on the payments for your life insurance, right?"

"Come on, I have two more bags of the stuff and three more stops."

Our bosses in City Hall had mandated that we start using the Degenesis ASAP. I wanted to get this done so I could take a power nap back at the office. I'd been up late watching a Thin Man marathon on TCM and my second wind of the day was flagging.

Benny jumped liked she'd stepped on the third rail when a fat, furry body darted out of one of the burrows and slipped behind a dumpster.

A healthy fear of rats kept exterminators exterminating.

"It's a little early for foraging," she said.

She was right. Rats were not known for their early-afternoon snacking. Not when the sun was up and people were around.

Though lately, I'd noticed the rats growing more brazen. It was almost as if they no longer perceived people as a threat. We were put on this earth to provide garbage, which sustained the rat population.

To them, we were nothing more than oversized chefs.

"That's our cue to leave," I said. I unclipped a metal funnel from my belt and poured the remaining Degensis into one of the burrows. With any luck, it would make its way into the central nest and the dozen or so rats currently lounging about would take a bite or four.

CHAPTER 3

"I told you that shit wasn't going to work," Benny said colorfully as she tried to make sense of our accounting ledger. She was slightly better at the books than me, but she hated it with a passion.

I had just gotten in, my morning spent moving my remaining things to my new apartment in the Bronx. It was actually a studio. Cheap and small and old, just like the one I had when I was twenty. Sometimes, reliving your youth is not a good thing.

She was dressed in her standard uniform of tight but well-worn jeans, light blue button-down shirt with the logo of our company over her left breast (and it was a very fine breast), scuffed boots, and her hair pulled through the back of her Red Sox baseball cap. Not many women could dress like a man and exude pure woman.

It was one of her many special qualities. Qualities I missed more than I would dare to let on.

"That Dr. Finch is supposed to start his rat-population survey next week," I said, my muscles aching. For some reason, I had decided I didn't need movers. Tony and I carried shit up and down stairs for the entire weekend. Lesson learned — I was too old for moving.

Benny's eyelids fluttered. She was not happy. "I don't need Ratticus to tell me that his Degensis flopped."

Dr. Finch's real first name was Randolph, but in our circle, it was just too damn easy not to refer to him as Ratticus Finch. At least behind his back.

Degenesis was his toxic baby. It had been three months since we and the other contract exterminators had been using the poison.

A mama rat can have up to ten babies per litter and a new litter every month. Their ability to procreate is astonishing and makes it impossible to keep up with them. Degensis was supposed to put a dead stop to future generations from squirming about. Once the existing rat population was either killed or died from natural causes, the future would be a lot less furry.

At least that's what Ratticus had promised.

Then again, he was a lab monkey. He'd never been in the field. What the fuck did he know?

"I stopped at that Italian restaurant over on Fifty-ninth this morning," Benny said.

"Seems a little early for fettuccini carbonara."

With a quick eye roll, she said, "The number of droppings has increased exponentially. None of the traps were touched. I think that stuff is helping them hump and pump more than ever."

"Your romanticism is what swept me off my feet," I said, picking up the digital camera we used to catalog our progress. I clicked through the pictures Benny had taken.

Jesus, there was shit everywhere, like the remains of some kind of rat Roman orgy.

"Maybe they invited company for dinner," I said, staring at each photo.

"We should get a camera deep in there and see."

"You just don't want to do the books."

"No, I don't. You care to give it a try?"

"I'll get the camera and gear."

(Continues…)


Excerpted from "Rattus New Yorkus"
by .
Copyright © 2018 Hunter Shea.
Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Rattus New Yorkus 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
AVoraciousReadr More than 1 year ago
Book source ~ NetGalley Chris and Benita Jackson have their own exterminating company and they’re one of several with a city contract. On a good day it’s hard to keep up with the rat population in New York City, but when they are ordered to use a new rodenticide named Degenesis, things are about to escalate and quickly. If you have a phobia about rats DO NOT read this story. Because ewwwww! On the one hand I love the rat trivia I learned. On the other hand, the rats in this book? They are not your typical rat. They are disturbing on so many levels it’s not funny. This is a creature feature of horror and your cute little pet rat is not the star. No sirreebob. Go ahead. Pick it up by the wiry tail, if you dare.
Buecherwurm161 More than 1 year ago
Hmm. I am a fan of Hunter Shea, but I have to be honest this book did not wow me as much as some of his other ones. The characters seemed believable as well as the storyline, overall a quick read, but unlike other books I don't think I will be rereading this book again, it just did not grab me as much. A bit disappointed, but still a fan!
JBronder More than 1 year ago
The rats are a huge pest in New York City so scientists think they have found a way to stop them. They created Degenesis, a chemical that makes the rats sterile. To dispense the chemicals, city exterminators Chris and Benita Jackson have been selected. But after the chemicals are out, they notice that the rats have disappeared. Could this have been what they needed all along? Nope, Degenesis has make them more of a hive mind, horny, and craving flesh. They start on the homeless at Grand Central Station and will be working their way through the rest of the city if not stopped. This is a great, classic horror story. I loved every minute of it and would love to see this made into a movie, maybe a B movie on SciFi Channel. You have a couple bickering and about to be divorced, a chemical that worked perfectly on lab rats but has mutated the wild city rats, and a ton of human flesh craving nightmares. I can’t believe that I have not read one of Hunter Shea’s books before. Well that is going to have to change. I loved the romp through the sewers and the rest of New York trying to stop the rats. I can’t wait to see what else Hunter has come up with. I received a complimentary copy of this book. I voluntarily chose to read and post an honest review.
BookReaderDQ More than 1 year ago
What to do if your house is invaded by any species? Look at reality shows when critters are driving people out of their own homes!! Call the exterminaters!! What if there are too many to get rid of and you give up your home?? Now, suppose your home is - or was - in NYC?? Scary thoughts!! We are no longer safe - anywhere!!!! Great, quick read!
BookReaderDQ More than 1 year ago
What to do if your house is invaded by any species? Look at reality shows when critters are driving people out of their own homes!! Call the exterminaters!! What if there are too many to get rid of and you give up your home?? Now, suppose your home is - or was - in NYC?? Scary thoughts!! We are no longer safe - anywhere!!!! Great, quick read!
Cat_Cavendish More than 1 year ago
What is it about rats? On the surface they are small furry creatures. I love small, furry creatures but my desire to cuddle them doesn't extend to rats. Show me a rat and I'm out of there. Pronto. They are intelligent - too intelligent. They learn fast. They send the weaker ones out to test any suspect food sources and if their poor comrade dies, they're not going to be fooled again. Now imagine if that intelligence was just dealt a massive boost. That is exactly what happens in Rattus New Yorkus. Scientist Dr Randolph - Ratticus - Finch has developed Degenesis. It is supposed to be the creme de la creme in rat control substances. The problem is that it makes the creatures insane with lust and once that sets in, the human race had better watch out. With a new generation being born every month, it is only a matter of time before that rats take over. Rattus New Yorkus once again demonstrates that when it comes to creature features, no one does it better than Hunter Shea. Another winner!
lauralovesreviewingLT More than 1 year ago
It’s never a dull moment with Hunter’s newest series and I wondered when he’d get around to rats. He wastes no time bringing on the horror. Exterminators and divorced couple, Chris and Bonita, Benny for short, can’t help but notice the rats are acting peculiar. Normally aggressive when cornered, the rats are actually working together and attacking in packs. It soon becomes complete chaos as they multiply and swarm from the sewers to attack in the streets. The city isn’t prepared. How can anyone be. And it may be too late to stop them. I always appreciate how this author can create three dimensional characters with so little words. I can picture them so easily with just a sentence or two. But, I know better than to get too attached. You never know who he’ll kill off. Once the character’s are introduced and the plot is set in motion, it’s ooey gooey fun right to the bloody end. Another winner by Hunter Shea. I just got my hands on the third book in Hunter’s One Size Eats All series, The Devil’s Fingers. The title gives me scary good vibes.
Magerber More than 1 year ago
This is a quick and enjoyable read, although the pace is so breakneck that you might forget to breathe as you are nearing the end of the story. I read another review that compared this novelette to a disaster movie from the 1970s and I think that is a pretty good description. All in all I enjoyed it. I received an advanced reading copy from Kensington Books via NetGalley. Thanks!
Sunshine1006 More than 1 year ago
I love Hunter Shea's books. I have read all of them. I think most of us agree that we don't like rats, especially the ones that are not invited into our homes. Benny and Chris own a pest extermination business in Manhattan. They are divorced and still love each other and still work together. They are trying out a new formula to prevent rats from reproducing.. Instead of it working like it is supposed to, the rats are smarter and more aggressive, reproducing at a phenomenal rate. People are being attacked and eaten in large numbers. The military is called in to take care of the rats. Will they be able to get rid of the rats? Will anyone survive? Great book for those who love horror/monster stories. I received this book from Net Galley for an honest review and no compensation otherwise.