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“There’s rats in the corn!” warned Mother Abigail in her raspy voice.

In Stephen King’s ‘The Stand’ the rats in the corn signified the presence of the devil.

A couple of years ago we suddenly developed a rat problem in the chicken shed. I put out little green blocks of poison and, voila, no more rats in the chicken shed. They just seemed to disappear.  After R left I found them though.

The boys and I busily cleaned up the mess R left behind in the months following his departure. There were scrap piles of form boards and old, warped lumber across a linear acre. There was a storage area for straw that he’d thrown together using old pallets, a couple of old pieces of fiberglass roofing, some rotten plywood, and chicken wire. It was a beauty. We dismantled it, and burned it along with the warped, cement encrusted boards.

Late in the afternoon I reached down to scoop up the straw that had broken down on top of the rotten pallet and filled my hand with something gooey.  I was horrified.  There were several rats within that mess, in varying stages of decomposition.  I quickly threw my find into the fire and hoped that was the last of the rats.

Last summer, however, we noticed the dogs digging wildly at the ground under the house.  Shortly thereafter we found a dead rat in the yard.  The dogs had apparently been successful in their hunt.

This fall one of my boys spotted a rat running across the carport.  Two days ago this same boy heard gnawing and traced it to a large hole with chew marks all around it.  We determined that we needed to get more poison.  The rats we thought were gone had returned.  Or, had never really left.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the same type of poison I’d used before that had been so successful in the chicken shed.  I thought I’d look around at other stores.  I should have just grabbed something and put whatever out.  I shouldn’t have waited.

Last night at 1:45 I was awakened by scampering above my head.  I could hear little, scratchy feet scurrying back and forth in the boys’ room.  I immediately recognized the sound.  Grabbing my flashlight, I ran upstairs to make sure they weren’t chewing on the kids in their sleep.  My 6 year old doesn’t have a bed and sleeps on the floor, so I was worried and disgusted by the thought of those creatures crawling on my baby while he innocently slept.

I found nothing so returned to bed but had a very difficult time going back to sleep.  Eventually I did nod off but only to be awakened by a rustling sound in my own room.  I laid there trying to discern the strange sounds when suddenly something knocked my dried flowers off the stand.  I shined the flashlight in that area and noted the flowers lying upside down about six inches from the plant stand.  I assume the little rat ran under the stand and, hitting the Styrofoam base with his back, sent the floral arrangement flying.

I didn’t go back to sleep this time.

I could not find rest or peace knowing that these insidious creatures were crawling all over my house.  They had entered uninvited and were destroying my lovely belongings.  They were creeping around my things, disturbing my sleep.  They have invaded my space.  Much like the insidious creatures, the other rats, that have been invading my home on a regular basis.

They have ruined my deadbolt.  They have moved my belongings.  They stole my son’s Christmas project–the beautiful wooden crosses he’d carved for pendants for his friends and family.  They have disturbed my peace and denied me rest.  I can’t stand knowing that they are invading my space every time I leave the house.

The rats knew I was on to them.  I came searching for them with my flashlight.  They’d crept into the crevices of the house and hidden, only to come back when I was once again quiet.  The big rats know we’re on to them, too.  But, they come anyway as soon as we leave.

Last Wednesday R called the kids at 4:30 in the afternoon, stating that he wanted to talk to them briefly before he went to bed for the night.  He works days, so it seemed odd to our son that he was going to bed at 4:30 in the afternoon.  Our son told him that we were leaving for swim lessons, so the kids couldn’t talk right then. He quickly got off the phone.

Unaware of the phone call, I took the little two to the Y while the older two stayed home to do homework.

Approximately forty-five minutes later my 12 year old heard something or someone in the utility room.  He ran for his older brother.  My 16 year old looked out the front window and could see a shadowy figure walking under the carport toward the truck.  The figure shook the tarp that covers R’s belongings in the back of the truck.  Being 16, full of bravery and anger, he stepped out the front door into the light of the porch lamp and yelled, “I have a gun, and I know how to use it.”  The figure seemed unphased.

My son ran back inside and grabbed my camera.  He tried to take pictures, hoping to get the photographic evidence the police have said that we need, but it was too dark.  So, while his younger brother lay trembling on the floor, he grabbed a rifle and stepped back outside.  This time he called out his dad’s and uncle’s first names and told them bluntly that he would shoot them.  The shadows fled.

The rats scurry and scamper, digging through my belongings for treasure they might steal and use.  They destroy our property.  They leave evidence of their presence but won’t come out and face us in the light of day.  The intruders are of the same sort.

“There’s rats in the corn!” Mother Abigail warned when the devil was near.  “There are rats in my house,” I cry as I sense the evil of his presence near me.

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