Adrian Manning


The small pool at the hotel, in the dizzying Los Angeles midday heat, looks inviting. Wire fenced from the streets and parking lot, it glistens like a diamond in the concrete. Having just survived a near miss with a big, strong fellow in black shades which hid the madness in his eyes, outside the men’s room at an all you can eat restaurant in Hollywood, to escape and hide underwater seems a good idea. Stripped down to my shorts, I dive in. The water refreshes me – hides me.

It’s then I notice the rats, a black wall along the side of the pool. What I had mistaken for vampire tiles, I now see is a mass of black, wiry hairs, sharp teeth and grinning bloody eyes. They are clinging together – holding onto each other. The hairs float in the water – a rippling carpet.
I think, how will I get out of here without touching the rats? I don’t want to touch them – they may bite and rip at my flesh. Why aren’t they drowning? I ask myself. How can they hold on for so long?
It’s then I realise I cannot swim. I try but it is useless. I cannot remember ever swimming – the idea of it was insane. Now I know I will drown. I cannot reach the floor of the pool to stand and I’m getting nowhere flailing my arms around.
It’s then that I see that I have disturbed the rats and now they are moving, moving towards me, swimming, leading with their teeth. Not one but many, from all sides – an inverted ripple.

It seems futile and above me the LA sun still shines as the darkness in the water grows…

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