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Hamster Noir
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[According to the Guardian Online (The Great Hamster Escape:"Another chapter was written yesterday in the history of great hamster escapes, when a pet called Mike survived three types of crushing machine and a shredder at a waste recycling plant. The small rodent was left with only a minor foot injury after astonished staff discovered him limping into a final sorting area after going through a process which rips cookers and washing machines into stringy bits of metal."

I was reminded of my own encounter with hamsters...]

Never fall for a rodent.

They might gaze at you adoringly and squeak like babys' squeeze toys. But in the end, a rodent's just a rodent.

When my buddy and I spotted three hamsters in a box at the library auction we forgot all that. The fever gripped us. We had to have them. The bidding was furious. One dollar. A dollar fifty. Two. Three. Four dollars. Five. Six dollars. Going once for six dollars. Going twice. Sold!

Three weeks allowance blown on three balls of fur. I had a dime and four pennies left in my jeans. I suppose my buddy and I should've stopped bidding against each other back at a buck twenty-five.

The plan was to trade the little fellows back and forth, so we could both experience the indescribable bliss of hamster ownership. The first night they were going to stay in the basement at my parents' house. For hours, we watched the cuddly critters chittering and cavorting in their aquarium. Then we went upstairs and turned out the lights.

Regrets always show up with the sun.

Next morning when I went downstairs the first thing I noticed was the blood. Too much blood for the wood chips to soak up. Then I took in the rest of the scene.

I had a strong stomach. I drank root beer fizzies before breakfast. But I'd never seen anything like the carnage in that aquarium. One of our pets lay sprawled on its back, belly ripped open, eyes glazed. Another furry body was crumpled in a corner, much too far from its head.

I was glad we hadn't named them yet. It would've been worse if it had been Squeaky and Baby with their guts hanging out.

The survivor -- the killer -- chattered and hissed and bared its teeth.

Isn't it always the way? You give in to a pair of dark imploring eyes and next thing you know someone's head is lying in the wood chips.

Why had it happened? What had started the fight? Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of hamsters.

My buddy and I carried the aquarium through backyards and up the railroad tracks, a long way, until we came to the swamp, and then we walked down a muddy track into the woods, until the path gave out and we couldn't go any further. That's where we dumped the murderer.

He plopped onto the ground, paused, twitched his head to stare at us through those black killer's eyes, wrinkled his bloody snout and grinned. But it wasn't a nice grin. Then he turned and rolled straight into the woods like he was on wheels.

Hell on wheels.

We knew that sooner or later he'd meet up with a circling hawk, a stray dog, or a hungry, feral cat -- God help them.

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