Canto Twenty-Four – Squirrel Time
It was Skaggs the cat that started the action. He stared at Valerie-squirrel with evil, mismatched eyes. He licked his evil cat-lips. Then he launched himself into the air, intending to come down on top of Valerie-squirrel’s head.
Pidney-squirrel was having none of that. Faster than the eye could follow, he dashed over to defend Valerie-squirrel, latching on to Skaggs the cat’s left rear haunch with his sharp squirrel teeth.
“Yeeowehrrrrr-owwwerrrr!” screamed the cat as he tumbled over his wound into a very un-catlike pile of Pidney-squirrel-and-Skaggs-the-cat-awkwardness all wrapped up in a fight to the death.
“Chreee-chit-it-it-it!” cried Valerie, trying hard to say, “I’ll help you, Pidney-squirrel!” but not managing it very well. She caught the tip of the cat’s tail in her mouth and bit hard with her own sharp squirrel teeth.
“Have a care, cat!” said Oojie. “You can eat the boy-squirrel, but not the girl-squirrels. I need them alive!”
The enraged cat was, paws and claws, splayed out in agony in four directions at once, spitting his fury and hatred at the squirrels who still had him impaled with buck teeth.
“You will die, beautiful one!” swore Skaggs in the mental language Valerie-squirrel had come to think of as cat language. “I don’t care what the juju thing says. He is only someone’s servant! Not the witch-doctor himself.”
Mary-squirrel pulled at Pidney and made him let go of Skaggs’ hind leg. She dragged him over to the furnace fixture and up a pipe that was wrapped with black tape where the squirrels could get a decent claw- hold. Both Pidney and Mary squirrels shot up the pipe and out the open basement window above it.
Valerie-squirrel realized too late that she should’ve let go and followed them up the pipe. The evil cat whipped his injured tail around and launched her toward the stairs. Mary Philips’ father always kept a waste basket at the foot of the stairs, and Valerie-squirrel, head over tail, spiraled into it.
“Get outside and get the other squirrels!” Skaggs commanded the other cats. “This one is all mine!”
The other cats disappeared up the cellar stairs and out of the house.
“You cannot kill the girl squirrel!” commanded Oojie with a shout.
“Spare me, little familiar… for that’s what you are, only the witch’s familiar, not the actual witch. Magic flows through you, but it does not come from you. You can’t control me.”
Valerie-squirrel knew she was in deep and dire distress, so she felt around in the darkness for possible weapons. But how does one wield a weapon with squirrel paws? And then she realized that the waste basket was made of wicker. She quickly bit into the soft woody fibers with her amazingly sharp incisors.
“I am going to report you to the master!” Oojie said to the cat.
“Go ahead. I will have a nice squirrel lunch while you get him. I have her trapped in this human trash thingy.”
The hole was big enough to squirm through. And with luck, there was a mouse hole in the basement brickwork right near where she tumbled out on the dark floor. She wriggled through the opening and into the hollow tunnel that was on the inside of the cinderblock wall. She could see light somewhere far above.
“Where are you, beautiful one? How can you be hiding under this paper and string and old apple cores?”
Valerie-squirrel heard the basket being batted away and new light flooded in the door of the mouse hole.
“Aha! So that is where you have gone.”
The cat’s paw came reaching in through the hole, the only part of Skaggs that actually fit. He nearly got a hold on Valerie-squirrel’s bushy blond tail. She wasn’t used to having a tail the way a real squirrel would be. She tucked it up underneath herself just in time. Then she began to climb up through the brickwork. It was a long, hard climb basically going straight up, but she could manage with four splayed squirrel legs.
“You haven’t escaped me yet!” cried the cat. “I will have you still.” Her tiny heart beat even faster as she climbed.