The Storage Space was simply desolated by the whole affair. It would have languished for months, failing to find consolation in cognac and cigars, if only a building could drink. If only a building could smoke. Or, better yet, if only a building could book even third-class passage on even the lowliest tramp steamer and leave this appallingly savage country forever.
But, alas, all the poor Storage Space could do was languish without even so much as a mean, peasant’s pipe and a tankard of warm ale. All the poor Storage Space could do, helpless as always, was to stand. Stand while the centuries rolled by. Stand while the green mists of that thing that was left over from so long ago swirled about inside that poor Karen’s storage unit, reciting his Shakespeare. Going on and on forever about a summer’s day.
Stand while the cockroaches scurried and the rats gnawed. Still…
Le Grand Rat was appalling to be sure, but the hideous creature had spotted the hand of the corpse sticking out of that poor Karen’s storage unit. And, most remarkably, had had the presence of mind to stand between the hand of the corpse and that officer of the law. It was true that that officer had been decidedly simple-looking anyway. But with so many centuries…so many more secrets than one mere corpse to hid…the thought of any kind of criminal investigation was simply not to be borne.
Now Le Grand Rat, this Irwin, was returning with…what was that?…some kind of machinery. And…what did he have in his other hand? His…lunch? Of course… After all, all thoughts of delicacy and proper feeling would be quite wasted on a rat.
Irwin put both the machine and his lunch down just inside Karen’s storage unit, right next to the corpse already there.
With one hand Irwin took the corpse’s hand, which was dripping red blood. With his other hand Irwin grabbed some French fries, which were dripping red ketchup, and stuffed them in his mouth. Then he yanked at the corpse, which fell out into the hall with a thud. Next he plugged the machine, apparently some kind of saw, into an outlet.
Frank, the Storage Space recalled. Frank was the name of the corpse with that piece of glass embedded in his neck. His head had been twisted sideways as he died, his mouth open as if speaking to someone next to him on the floor. But it was the expression of indescribable horror on that corpse’s face that left the Storage Space aching for that tramp steamer to anywhere, even the Amazonian wilds of South America.
And the Storage Space imagined it could see the Amazon, a great green river of mist, flowing rapidly back in through the window.
Irwin picked up the saw, raising it over the corpse…but pausing for another handful of fries he washed down with some water before returning the bottle to the floor just inside Karen’s storage unit. Then he turned the saw on and lowered it toward the corpse’s neck.
The Storage Space would have recoiled sharply, if only a building could recoil at all. But just as it thought that it realized two other entities had recoiled. Both were quivering, horrified rivers of green mist. One was that Shakespearean actor Edward from long ago that the Storage Space so desperately wanted to forget. The other, newly returned through the window, was from the corpse…Frank.
Irwin’s saw hit bone. The motor whined. Blood splattered all over. The head, then the limbs, and finally the trunk were reduced to pieces Irwin could fit into the trash bags he now pulled out from the voluminous folds of his clothing. The Storage Space watched in horror as he hauled these bags full of body parts out back, still chewing on some sandwich. Did Le Grand Rat make any attempt to conceal these particular garbage bags behind all the other garbage bags he’d let accumulate since his last trip to the dump? No, instead he carefully arranged the body-part bags so as to conceal some other bags. The Storage Space refrained from any attempt to even imagine what could possibly be in those bags…
Having returned to the hall outside that poor, unfortunate Karen’s storage unit, Irwin retrieved bleach and a mop from a nearby cleaning cabinet. To give credit where it was due, he did do an at least passable job of cleaning the massive amounts of blood in the hall…in between bites of his sandwich. However, Le Grand Rat apparently wouldn’t bestir himself to clean that poor Karen’s unit. Just as well, perhaps, lest he spot that poor Karen in the back and use that saw on her.
When Le Grand Rat was done, he finally made a mistake. He frowned, perhaps subliminally aware of something obstructing the ceiling light, and looked up. They were waiting for him.
One angry, outraged green mist had formed itself into a grotesque caricature of Irwin, complete with a rat’s beady eyes, whiskers, and humped back. The other angry, outraged green mist had formed itself into the most hideous imaginable monster, which was in the process of eating the Irwin caricature alive.
Irwin looked at this unspeakable horror for a while. The Storage Space would have held its breath, if only a building could breathe.
Finally Le Grand Rat shrugged. Then he left.
But, the Storage Space noted, not with a total want of proper feeling.
Apparently even a rat had some delicacy. Irwin had forgotten to retrieve the rest of his lunch.