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In 1988, Apollonia Kotero was elected Queen of Good Rats.

“Nothing to do with sewers or dumps,” she tells you, “we’re talking well-groomed rats here, show rats, community pillars.”

Remember how you fed your boa constrictor. Feel the spring of sweat.

“They bear you no grudge.” The rats are piling around her, white and gray, sleek as a polished tornado. “They understand that some lives must be given to feed the greater predator.”

Relief, but not for long: she’s a skeleton now, the frame of a frightening structure.

“They hope,” she murmures from within the compound beast, “you understand too.”