The story so far.
Hans Werner, a Union secret service agent, is more-or-less trapped in the hold of a British ship in a Confederate port during the American civil war.
Ostensibly his mission is to spy on Confederate shipping in the Chesapeake bay, but in reality it is to spy on the captain of the ship.
Werner shifted in the hold of the ship and dozed off for a while.
Suddenly he awoke.
Something was on his chest, something pretty small because it didn’t weigh very much, he could have probably pushed it off with his hands if he’d had the energy.
There was also a smell, a rank smell of maybe rotting food, or meat that had gone bad.
He must have dozed off again because when he woke up the weight had shifted further up his body – it was now under his chin.
Tiredly he tried to reason why.
If it had moved up his body it was alive, an animal of some kind.
And the smell had got worse, it was so bad that it had got into his nostrils; it was so overpowering that whenever he took a breath he had to inhale it.
Finally, he became fully conscious and alert.
He irritably tried to brush the thing – whatever it was, off.
An angry squeal and a sharp stabbing pain on his lower lip!
No, two stabbing pains!
A rat – he’d been bitten by a rat – and the stabs were from its two front teeth!
He screamed and struggled to his feet with the rat’s teeth still embedded in his lower lip.
He tried to pull it away but it refused to let go until it finally relented and dropped to the floor.
He dabbed his bleeding lip and his incessant screams echoed around the empty hold,
They were not heard by captain Bowen, on the top deck of the ship.