was the first time he understood hunger. Ironic now that the bazaar had turned out to be the best
place for a boy like him to find food.
It didn’t take long before he came upon a rat lying dead in the street, dimly visible. Abar
had never eaten rat before. He looked down at it, stretching a shaky finger to prod it, and noticed
that the rat’s entrails had been freshly ripped out. But more to Abar’s surprise, the pasty
moonlight had unveiled a web of thin blue veins protruding from his bony arm. When had I
become this skinny? Abar thought to himself. The rat meanwhile, continued to lay there, looking
so plump and juicy. With the drought and the riots, if anything was eating well recently, it was
the rats. Rats – feeding on human flesh, Abar recalled, stone-faced. He set the lamp down, still
bundled in torn linen, as he knelt next to the rat and stared at it quietly, jaws clenched. If he was
already condemned for thieving, what does it matter now if he consumes human flesh?
A growl reverberated through the street, prompting Abar to look up. This time it wasn’t
his stomach. Angry yellow eyes leered at him from the night’s shadows. A pack of street dogs
stepped into view, barring wet teeth, snarling. Abar suddenly felt really foolish; food doesn’t
simply fall from the night sky, of course the rat was another’s bounty. As he made to stand up he
realized that the dogs had already surrounded him. The thought passed through Abar’s head – is
this how I die? He made a quick decision, to sprint away and pray that he could outrun them. As
he motioned to run however, his foot caught a snag and threw his whole body to the ground.
Abar felt the wind knocked out of him as his body went numb. Ears ringing, he cursed his frailty
for dooming him like this. As his vision blurred he could barely make out the rapid pattering of
someone’s sandals, and the faded sound of yelling. Then everything went black, darker than a
night with no moon.