The Squirrels Run of Terror.


Mid-morning on a Sunday, papa squirrel looked at son squirrel and said ” Today your time has come. Make the run”

Son squirrel’s pupils widened and his eyes recessed. Not more than a minute later his little squirrel heart was racing faster than his tiny legs could ever carry him. He was warming up for his first run, stretching his scrawny and still relatively fur free legs and calibrating his bushy tail for perfect balance. The sun was growing higher in the sky and his brow was moistened with the perspiration of fear and adrenaline.

Every male squirrel must accomplish a run of terror to distinguish himself as a dominant male squirrel or as a subordinate, if even still existent.

 

Today was Reginald’s day. His course was charted down a telephone wire over a yard with a huge, howling hound, down the cables to the deck, over to the fence, along the fence top to the picnic table, grab some birdseed, jump back to the fence, on top of the garage and into the trees for a safe return. Reginald had heard this hound’s howl from several houses away but had never ventured close enough to get a look.

 

His warm-up completed and his time arrived, Reginald strapped on his headband (O-Ring from a hose nearby) cracked his knuckles one a time, and set forth to the telephone pole. Behind him, followed a band of elder initiated squirrels to support and encourage little Reginald.

 

On top of the pole looking out over the yard, Reginald quivered under the force of the wind which he’d never felt this high up before. No sight of the dog yet, Reginald practiced the deep breathing techniques his mother taught him as a young squirrel and set foot on the wire. Moving swiftly and smoothly, tail shifting his weight with the constant changing of the winds Reginald was building courage with every step. Halfway down the wire, a chilling howl came from the deck of the house and the hound was full force in hunting mode. The suddenness and sheer noise of the howl frightened Reginald so much that he lost his footing and began to tumble of the wire into the abyss which was the green grass yard. Luckily, perhaps by an act of another force, Reginald’s tail got caught in one of the splitting fibers of the wire and he hung dangling 13 feet off the ground. The hound was ferociously barking and jumping towards the squirrel, now in a mixed panic of fear and  relief of safety. It felt like hours to Reginalds family and elder squirrels but was merely minutes before he was on his feet again, now tearing along the wire, eyes set firmly on the cable running to the deck. The courage which had slipped so quickly from Reginalds grasp after the fall was now settling back in, step by step, and Reginald was determined not to let it loose again. He had plotted each step before it arrived and before long had outrun the now foaming hound and with seed in his mouth had landed atop the garage. Reginald had stopped now to look back upon his accomplishment for the feat was near over, with his head turned back towards the yard he moved closer to the edge of the garage. Just before his feet stepped off the edge, Reginald was able to quickly set his feet for a jump towards the tree of safety and of completion. With his focus widened and his determination relaxed, Reginald slipped on a loose shingle and fell tumbling off the garage towards the green grass which was home to the relentless hound.

On his way down to the ground which Reginald knew to be the end of him, he left the reality of his impending devouring for just a moment to reflect on the stories which his mother read to him, night after night, even long after his friends and other siblings stopped reading fairytales. Reginald imagined for just a second what each character must have felt like when they fell to their deaths, and  what each character had experience minutes before their end. He then thought back to every story where the character was saved by chance or by fate by something unknown and unfamiliar. But then his thoughts of stories ceased and reality struck him hard when his little body finally left air and hit something solid. Reginald didn’t open his eyes to watch the hound charge towards him, or to see the tears rush down his mothers face and his fathers gaze fall upon the ground in sadness. A minute passed and he didn’t feel blood nor teeth in his still growing body. Instead a breeze was wicking the perspiration from his fur and he felt himself gliding through the air. Opening his eyes in absolute astonishment to his still breathing, Reginald found himself atop a crow soaring over the yard which under all normalcy would have been the end of him. He was equally exhilarated and terrified. He was in shock and that’s when he lost consciousness.

 

That was not the end of Reginald the squirrel. No, that’s hardly the beginning.

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