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When I was in year 11, my English teacher passed out the free postcards you get in stands around the place from his vast collection. He told us to write a short story based on that postcard. The postcard I was confronted with was an advertisement for a brand of bottled water; the picture showed a street in greyscale, the only colour a blue bottle of water standing on the footpath. Immediately prior to this class, I had been walking around the school oval with one of my good friends, also a keen writer. We had been discussing ideas for stories, and I had suddenly decided I wanted to write about a rabid hamster, completely randomly. The result? One of the strangest stories I've ever written, but one of my favourites. This was shortlisted in a competition I entered it in, in 2004.

Story and characters © 2003

The tall building rises to the sky. It is a grey day, the clouds overshadowing what might have been colours. A bottle stands on the pavement outside.


It is blue.

A hamster emerges from the building and noses at the bottle.


It is also blue.


Herbert the hamster sniffed at the bottle and sighed. Another bottle of water, he thought bleakly. It had been three days since his last beer. Herbert coughed and looked at the froth that had fallen from his mouth. It was odd, that. Ever since that dog bite… He dismissed the strange feeling that was wafting over him and worried the cap off the bottle with his sharp teeth.


A man walks stealthily to the bottle and, kneeling, inspects the lid. He nods, satisfied.


Herbert had been getting strange feelings, lately. Nothing much, but occasionally he had an uncontrollable urge to bite something. He'd been watching the human who checked the water. That was his target, he decided.

Herbert Hamilton was a policeman. He had a neat blue regulation shirt, a neat blue regulation tie, a neat blue regulation cap and a big heavy truncheon.

Herbert's truncheon was not a regulation truncheon. Herbert's truncheon had a guide to ninjutsu inside it. Not to mention two needle-sharp sabres and a handful of six-sided throwing stars. But the most important thing that his truncheon held was a pair of super-strong, super-expensive binoculars. Herbert Hamilton was an amateur naturalist.

It was a very heavy truncheon. It was blue.

Herbert had seen a blue rabid hamster. Herbert wanted to catch the blue rabid hamster.

To catch a rabid hamster, one must think like a rabid hamster.

Herbert watched Herbert at the water bottle. He sauntered out from the shadows and approached the bottle.
"Hello," he said casually. The man started.
"You talk!" he exclaimed.
"Of course I talk - and I have a gift for you." The policeman looked suspicious.
"I know your tricks, little hamster. You won't bite me. 'To catch a rabid hamster, one must think like a rabid hamster'," he quoted.
"Aw! Won't you just give a lonely little hamster some food?" Herbert felt helpless, filled with love for the poor hamster. He reached into his pocket and held out a sandwich.
"Here you go, little fella." Tears brimmed in his eyes and his heart melted as the hamster came forward to claim the food. Then Herbert lunged. He dangled by his front teeth from the human's finger.

"To catch me, you must think like a blue rabid hamster," he said, before the human collapsed, frothing from the mouth.


The tall building rises to the sky. It is a grey day, the clouds overshadowing what might have been colours. A hamster sits on the pavement outside.

It is blue.