Today’s creepypasta begins with a horrific historical prologue involving a rare, disturbing and supposedly authentic phenomenon known as a “Rat King” — the antiquated term describing a nest of live rats whose tails become so tightly entangled that they are unable to escape, eventually dying of thirst and starvation, or possibly even devouring each other.
An allegedly authentic example of a Rat King is currently on display in Germany’s Altenburg museum, after having been discovered deep inside a fireplace over two centuries ago. The grotesque, mummified monstrosity contains 32 rat corpses, their tails still knotted together. According to German folklore, the discovery of a Rat King is considered an evil omen, often leading to horrible consequences.
Which brings us to a similar occurrence — this time in October of 1997, as related by a woman named Ashley Gross, a professional caterer who found herself in a bit of a macabre pest-control dilemma.
Ashley first began to notice something was amiss when she discovered rat droppings in her bathroom… but she was unable to determine where the rodents were finding their way into the house. Less than a week later, she began to see signs that the pests had entered the kitchen, including claw and tooth marks on the cupboards and the shredded edges of a dish towel.
But the most peculiar sign left by the furry trespassers was a fork that had been pushed off the kitchen counter. Even stranger, the tines of the fork had been twisted sharply in all directions.
Upon this discovery, Ashley purchased several extra-strength spring traps at the local hardware store, baited and armed them, and placed them everywhere she had seen the slightest sign of disturbance. While she felt uncomfortable about killing any animals, she reassured herself that their deaths would be instantaneous.
Weeks passed, but oddly none of the traps were triggered… until one day, about a month after the problem began, she awoke to find a single rat corpse in a trap she had set beneath the kitchen sink.
But that wasn’t the strangest part… something had stripped the flesh from the dead rat’s bones during the night.
Still, it gets even worse. On December 4, Ashley found the Rat King.
Lodged between a bookcase and her bedroom wall was a desiccated tangle of thirteen rat bodies, their tales entwined so tightly it seemed they had grown into a single entity. Just like the single rat she had previously trapped, most of these rodents had been picked clean of flesh. Only their skeletons and tangled tails remained partially intact.
Disposing of the corpses as quickly as possible, Ashley returned to work, which had become much more demanding in the lead-up to the Holiday season, keeping her away from home for much longer periods.
On December 22, after pulling 15 straight days of 12-hour shifts, Ashley staggered home exhausted, collapsing into bed close to Midnight, and fell asleep instantly.
Her slumber was disrupted a few hours later by a loud scraping noise.
Sitting bolt upright, heart pounding, Ashley tried to focus on the source of the sound in the darkness. She strained to see through the half-ajar bedroom door and into the hallway beyond, but saw nothing. No shadows, no movement.
She had no sooner laid her head back on the pillow when she heard the scraping again… and this time it was louder. Closer.
She fought back panic as she slowly worked up the courage to pull herself toward the reading lamp on her bedside table. Finally, taking a deep breath, she flipped the switch.
The sound stopped. The room appeared to be undisturbed.
In the silence that followed, Ashley slowly sat upright again. She forced her eyes to adjust to the dim light in the room. She heard no further sound, and saw no movement.
After what seemed like fifteen minutes or more, she finally mustered the nerve to swing her legs over and lower them to the floor, where her bedroom slippers were waiting.
She was just about to look down at the slippers when she felt something huge, hairy and wet brush past her ankles.
Ashley instinctively gasped, choking on the scream that tried to explode from her throat, her body flinching back from the horrible sensation, curling itself into a tight ball in the center of the bed.
Wide-eyed, she watched in sheer horror as a rat the size of a small dog scurried across the bedroom and toward the partially-open door, its naked, snake-like tail snapping around the frame as it squeezed out.
Then an entirely different sound came from the darkened hallway. A tiny, metallic ping.
Like the sound of a fork dropping to the floor.