Every August, starting back in 2015, we have focused on corruption we have seen or heard about in the industry in the past year. This has become the most popular month of the year for original Nip Impressions columns. As usual, these stories will be told by Fos, a pulp rat. It is my privilege to put Fos' stories in print for you.
Disclaimer: Any resemblance here to real people, places, institutions or events is purely coincidental. This is somewhat a work of fiction.
Fos returns with Chapter 16 of "Pulp Rats...an unpleasant story."
Once again, I am grateful to Mr. Jim for translating from my species' language to the Big Things' language when necessary. And I am grateful you like my stories.
The convention invitation came early this year, before the 5th moon. Why? For some silly reason, the Cadre decided to hold it on the great waters to the Southwest, where so many southern rats can be found moving north with the Big Things. I got there a few days early. You may not know this, but rat language is the same around the world, so I had no trouble talking to the new arrivals. I asked them why they had come with the Big Things.
Si responded, "Why not? We don't punch a time clock; the ride was free. More importantly, we were tired of being so hot all the time. We heard you had a better climate here. I must admit, I haven't seen it yet, though."
I told him he would have to travel many quivers further north; it would take many twinkles to find a cooler climate. He seemed depressed.
I was depressed, too, for there seems to be no end to the bad ideas the Big Things can develop.
The Great Mother called us to order at the beginning of the 7th moon. Her fur was a little grayer, she walked a little slower, but otherwise seemed to be in fine spirits and as feisty as ever. "We are going to do things a bit differently this year," she announced. "We'll be starting with break-out sessions on several topics."
Well, that is different. What are break-out sessions? I soon found out.
Six of us rats, three capable of carrying babies and three of us that just roam around doing whatever we want, were paired together for a discussion. We were sent to an old shed behind a Big Thing's house in a poor part of town.
The rats in our group who were capable of carrying babies wer Vir, Sol and Mak. The three of us known for just roaming around were Hiz, Ror and me, Fos. Vir had brought along the scratchings with the situation we were to discuss.
Vir began to read. "It seems like there has been a pattern develop among the Big Things. You know, the Big Things are broken into two groups, too--the ones capable of carrying babies and the ones that roam around just like you guys (she gave a mean look to Hiz, Ror and me)."
I piped up. "Ok, we get it, what's the point?"
"Well, it seems like some, not all, of the Big Things that can carry babies have learned a trick or two. Perhaps they don't know their jobs too well, or perhaps they are..."
"Come on!" Mak was impatient.
Vir continued, "It seems like they may be at a lower level in their organization. Occasionally, older Big Things, of the roaming kind, come around to observe their work. They are real charming to them, make friends with them, act like they are their...what's the word?"
"Daughters," I chimed in.
"Nothing wrong with that," Ror roared.
Vir said, "Yes, but these younger things that are capable of carrying babies sometimes don't do well at their jobs."
Sol remarked, "Then that should be pointed out on their reviews."
"It is, it is," Vir responded. "But when those reviews get to the older Big Things that have fond memories of meeting them, they question them."
"Of course, they should question them," I said.
"Indefinite pronoun," Vir stared at me. "'Them is not the young things that are capable of carrying babies, it is the Big Things that wrote the reviews."
"Let me see if I have this straight," Mak said. "The young things that can carry babies meet the old Big Things that can't. But those meetings are just shallow and idle chit chat. Then, later, when they are held accountable for their work, these young Big Things that can carry babies are inoculated from getting bad marks because of a brief encounter?"
"As bad as it sounds and as much as I hate to admit it, that sums it up," mumbled a grumpy Vir.
But she recovered quickly. "Who's going to record the scratchings for the Great Mother and the cadre?"
"Let's draw rat hairs, shortest one has to do it," suggested Hiz.
As luck would have it, Hiz drew the shortest hair. The rest of us scampered down to the river for a swim.