The rodent looked up at her and cocked its head. It was actually kind of cute. She was almost tempted to pet it. The rat bulked up to twice its size. Kayn took a few steps back up the stairs as she said, “Well, you’re not a normal rat, are you? It’s okay. I’m not a normal girl. I am cool with you, even at double the size. It’s all good. I just need to get past you little buddy.” The rat bulked up again and now it stood blocking the width of the stairs. It smiled at her. Those long square teeth were more intimidating on a rat the size of a large dog. This was still not that bad. She was still okay with the creature. She just needed to go past it down the stairs. This was not a big deal. Kayn scanned the walls on either side of her for grooves or ridges. There had to be another way out. What was she thinking? Stairs usually had a way out at the top and at the bottom. At the top, there was a chainsaw and at the bottom there was a rat. Granted, it was an enormous rat but it was still just a rodent. She would venture down the stairs versus the alternative. Kayn quietly bargained, “Hey little buddy, I just need to sneak past you. Not going to hurt you. It’s all good.”The rat looked like it was going to bulk up again as its body began to bulge and shift, then out of its torso, eight long hairy legs unfolded. The rat went from passable to utterly terrifying in about five seconds. On either side of its square teeth, long razor sharp fangs grew. Kayn took a very slow step back up the stairs as she whispered, “It’s fine, I’ve changed my mind. I don’t need to get past you that bad. I’m just going to go now and you can just carry on with your giant spider rat transformation thing.” Kayn clutched her knife, knowing as she gingerly moved backwards up the stairs that she’d probably be dead of a heart attack long before the creature touched her. The spider rat had not moved an inch and it hadn’t attempted to chase her up the stairs. Kayn breathed a sigh of relief as she made the conscious choice to brave the chainsaw versus the messed-up creature. When she reached the top, she laid her hands against the wall and said, “I’ve changed my mind. The chainsaw’s not that bad. I think I’m alright with it now. Open up.” Something jolted beneath her feet and she thought, Oh, no. The stairs turned into a slide. Kayn’s feet came out from under her. She landed flat on her back and shot down the staircase at lightning speed. She was going so fast, she caught up with the spider rat. She couldn’t help herself. It was as though the high-pitched squealing was coming from somebody else. She’d been absolutely terrified many times in this new life but in this moment, she was flying down a slide riding on a giant hairy spider rat. She attempted to scramble away, kicking at it and flailing with her hands and her feet. The spider rat did appear to be equally terrified of her screaming. It was hard to tell the difference between terrified and extremely excited as you shot down a slide. She ended up on top of the creature as they shot across the floor at the bottom. Kayn managed to pull herself together. She raised the blade above her head. They were bumping into hairy things as they sped by. Don’t think about it. Just deal with this one first and then you can worry about the rest. Just breathe, she thought as she stabbed the monstrosity. Her mind continued to shoot through the scenarios that she might be facing. She couldn’t see in the dark but she could hear the echoes of scurrying legs across the stone.