Repulsive
By
Nicholas Ivan Ladendorf

Outsiders had many theories on why the city began to shrink. But urbanites understood almost universally that the city was not shrinking so much as it was retracting from the suburbs. Whenever the city got an inch of space, the sprawl would fill it in, and because it could no longer tolerate the touch of stripmalls and prefab houses- the city would again cringe away. Thus, renewing the cycle.
In the beginning, it was only an inconvience, and mostly to men. Then the lankier women had to give up wearing heels. Before anyone got sick of always hitting their head on doorways, city dwellers enjoyed the change of scale; it made their metropolitan surroundings seem almost cozy. The narrowing streets kept SUVs out, and were soon only hospitable for bicycles.
Eventually though no adult of normal height was comfortable in the city. Downtown became full of runaways making it reach a level obnoxiousness the trendy yuppie neighborhoods could only attain on weekends. This drove the midgets out before any of them began amassing the scabs and scars the lowering doorways would have adorn their brows with.
When even the really young were tired of crawling through rooms too small to stand in, the rats had taken over. When the pipes under the streets became too small for them, they were forced to surface. At first nearly all of the rats were nothing more than vagrants with their paws out. But as the amount of people to beg from dwindled, they adapted. When there were still humans around rats were exploited as maids, crossing guards, dishwashers, drug-runners, prostitutes, and bicycle messengers.
Now they fill every position of the city. Other than all the fur, long snouts, and a ban on owning cats, everything’s pretty much how it was before the shrinking. Rats working at the board of trade walk around with cell phones and briefcases, while other wear suspenders and roll up their sleeves as they plan for development. Since the rats had taken over the suburbs began to shrink away in disgust leaving plenty of empty land for the city to expand into.

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