The Great and the Small


The Great and The Small
A.T. Balsara
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Common Deer Press
Date of Publication: October 31, 2017
ASIN: B07543NL6H
Number of pages: 292 pages
Cover Artist: Ellie Sipila of Move to the Write
Book Description:
Deep below the market, in the dark tunnels no human knows exist, a war has begun. Lead by the charismatic Beloved Chairman, a colony of rats plots to exterminate the ugly two-legs who have tortured them in labs, crushed them with boots, and looked at them with disgust for as long as anyone can remember.
When the Chairman’s nephew is injured and a young two-leg nurses him back to health, however, doubt about the war creeps in. Now the colony is split—obey the Chairman and infect the two-legs with the ancient sickness passed down from the Old Ones, or do the unthinkable…
Rebel.
Common Deer Press      Amazon      Chapters/Indigo      BN
Excerpt
from The Great & the Small: Ananda
and Fin meet
Ananda eased
the door open. Patting along the wall, she found the light switch and flipped
it on. She stepped slowly down the stairs and peered into the room. The light
bulb cast harsh shadows across the concrete floor. “Hello?”
Something
moved. Ananda stifled a scream. A small lump quivered under the window, in a
mess of metal and fur. Her dad’s trap had caught something.   
She
moved closer. The creature’s eyes were half-closed. Soot-grey fur capped its
head and ran down its back.
White fluff trembled between steel jaws. And then she saw its tail: naked and
pale, stretched out
like a bristly snake.
A rat.
Ananda
jumped back. The thing twitched and its eyelids fluttered, but it sank back
onto the floor, ribs heaving.
She
crept closer. Her shadow flickered across the creature.
Its eyes
popped open.
It
squealed, thrashing against the trap. Fresh blood seeped onto the concrete,
adding to the dried pool already there. Ananda stepped back and the rat went
still.
Wearily
it closed its eyes. Its head slumped down.
What
was she supposed to do now? Was it somebody’s pet? It looked like the rat from
the market, but that was impossible.
Ananda
leaned forward to see how badly it was hurt. The rat went crazy again. It
squealed shrilly, biting at its trapped leg to free itself.
“Okay!
Okay!” she said, and moved back. This was not
someone’s pet. It was wild, no matter how it looked. And that meant it might
have fleas. Fleas infected with plague bacilli.
Backing
up the basement stairs, Ananda turned and raced out the back door and to the
shed. She hauled open the rickety door and scanned the shelves. There were
thick gardening gloves. She put them on. A dusty cinder block sat on the shed
floor. She picked it up, staggered back a step under its weight, and waddled
into the house and back down the stairs.
Standing
over the rat, she gripped the cinder block with both hands. She’d try to make
it painless.
***
Fin
couldn’t move. His hind leg felt bitten in two. Some evil thing had its teeth
into him. Why didn’t it just kill him? What was it waiting for?
The
floor was cold. A chill crept through his fur, into his bones. The red curtain
of pain shifted. He thought, drifting, It’s
not so bad….
The
peaceful dark was shattered. Buzzing light split the gloom. Red pain bit into
him again. He pressed his eyes closed, trembling.
A
shadow moved over him. Fin opened his eyes a crack and saw two boggle eyes
staring down at him. He thrashed against the cold teeth. Bit at his leg to free
it. “Help! Help! Papa!” he screamed.
The
bulbous eyes floated away. Panting, Fin stopped, listening. He couldn’t see it,
but the thing was nearby. He could hear it breathing. Lifting his nose, he
feebly scanned the air and froze. There it was, an odour rank and pungent:
two-leg stench.
The
eyes hovered close again, its foul smell filling Fin’s nostrils. He shrieked,
“Let me go! Let me go!” yanking at his pinned foot. Once again the ugly two-leg
moved back. Was it toying with him? Like a cat toying with a mouse?
Barely
able to make out its blurry shape, Fin threw ultrasonic screams at it, calling
it every insult he could think of, but his cries fell like stones, unheard. The
thing was too brutish to understand him. 
He
was grateful Papa couldn’t witness his shame. He was no Hero of the Tunnels
now.
When
the two-leg stood over him one last time, Fin did not feel a thing. He had
already fainted.


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