The information that the poor robin sang in vain echoed in my ears. “Area 31. The landing pad of alien squirrels.”
Holy Catnip. What was I to do? I quickly gathered control over my whiskers. The tingling sensation was making them twitch, and I noticed a sly look crossing the furry features of the raccoon that stood beside me.
“What is wrong? It’s only a song. Made by one that is not so strong.”
I nosed around the sacrificial feathers then nonchalantly preened, cleaning my whiskers of imagined blood. Silly bird. He would have found no mercy by my fangs either. But his words haunted me with their implications. I must get word back to George as soon as possible.
Opening my mouth as widely as possible, I feigned a yawn. “I’ve heard these rumors before,” I sighed. “These superstitious creatures misinterpret everything they see. Perhaps all he saw was the new driveway going in down the street and nothing more.”
The seriousness of the situation was brought home to me when I realized Ralph had stopped rhyming.
“You are wrong, my friend. And I have proof. The proof is in a book. And I will show you.”
We left the same way we came in. Soon I found myself splashing through deep water on our way back into the darkening woods. The air was still and silent here. Even the frogs made no noise whatsoever, although we passed many as we circumvented the swamp.
I began looking around me, constantly looking back on the path. My fur felt electric, the hair on the tips of my ears standing straight up. Suddenly, the chirping of a squirrel broke the silence. Within seconds, the most ungodly sound filled the woods. Squirrels chirping, barking and growling. We were surrounded.
“Do whatever I do,” commanded Ralph. He stood with his head down, his paws covering the black mask, which framed his beady eyes.
Although it took every ounce of coordination to sit on my haunches and cover my eyes, I did the same. I could feel a small paw guide me along the path and soon we were escorted into a damp, close space. When I opened my eyes, I discovered we were inside the hollow of a large tree. There, on a table was a book. I took one look at it and nearly passed out. There, on page 31 was a map, and it was a map of the open field that I called home. The squirrels were building a landing pad here!
The leader of the Squirrels was out on a raid, and wasn’t there to meet us, but I discovered they just called him Commander. A picture of him sat next to the book. In the picture, hundreds of squirrels were lined up military style in front of him. They were wearing helmets made of what looked like walnut shells. They stood in salute as he rode past. That was the most terrifying of all, for he rode upon a fox whose tail was missing.
I nodded to Ralph, we paid our respects and were given an appointment for the next morning at 7:30. We were led out the way we came in.
It was dark as we left the woods. I agreed to meet Ralph in the morning for dove breakfast. I would supply the dove. He went happily on his way; he said he had a date.
I kept to the edge of the woods, my paws making no sound as I slipped through the tall grass. I only found one vole on my way, and he went where secrets are kept. Permanently. I reached the door of the Concrete Palace and the door opened silently. George and Creepster had been waiting for me.
George took the news stoically, but Creepster hissed with rage. I told George about the book and the map on page 31. “You go in tonight.” He said, “And you go in together! Bring the book to me!”
Stay tuned next Thursday for Episode 7: Pepe and Creepster Deal in Used Books