3 a.m.

Chad walked down the dark street with one foot on the sidewalk and the other in the gutter, narrowly missing a “No Parking” sign that was bent at an angle. Troy weaved on the sidewalk, his phone screen illuminating his face.

“This app is supposed to tell you where you parked. Why the fuck isn’t it working?”

Chad’s vision was starting to double and his throat felt tight. He looked around. They definitely weren’t in the so-called “entertainment district” anymore. These buildings hadn’t been rehabbed. Trash cans along the street overflowed. An old man sat on a stoop with 40 oz in a paper bag in his hand. He was singing, deep and slow. Troy slipped his phone into his pocket.

The song stopped as the two young men approached.

“You boys lost?” He inquired with a smile.

Chad opened his mouth to reply, but found his throat tightening even further. He leaned over the gutter, gagging. Suddenly, a large, brown rat wiggled out of his mouth and into the street.

Chad yelped, turning to Troy in time to see a rat’s head appear in his fraternity brother’s mouth.

The old man resumed his song, watching calmly as rats poured out of the young men. The rats sniffed at each other and looked on until Chad and Troy lay entirely deflated on the sidewalk, looking more like plastic grocery bags than anything else. The slight breeze lifted part of the bag that was formerly Chad and pushed him a few feet down the sidewalk.

The old man looked down at the horde of rats in front of him.

“Now, scat,” he said.

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