Hi! This here is a short story that I wrote for the mild amusement of my fellow rangers, but I think it’s fun even if you’re not familiar with the antics of the Golden-mantled ground squirrel. Also, I suspect this little vignette has a place in the larger world I started a while ago with The Burn (and has since continued to grow), so that’s fun. Anyway, here’s a story about a squirrel.
Moxie was done. She was over it. Over it! Look at all these obnoxious little runts, tumbling around, running into each other, making weird noises all day like a bunch of tiny morons. That one, Doxie, was chasing the chubby one, Roxie, around a tree. What did she think was going to happen when she caught her? A tiny adorable jump kick to the face, that’s what. Ugh. Moxie glanced furtively around, briefly forgetting her train of thought, such as it was. Then she saw a couple bits of trail mix she had dropped on the ground. Ah ha! You little scamps, can’t get away from me. She snatched up a peanut and wondered where it all went wrong.
Probably having all these kids. Look at those other three little dummies, sitting in a row like it’s some kind of tactical advantage. Poxie, Loxie, and Foxie. That last one’s name was a joke, but Foxie didn’t get it because she was dumb, unlike Moxie, who was basically a genius. Also Foxie was like two months old, but Moxie was pretty sure even at that age she knew how to do basic things like…. Ow! In a quick, fluid motion Moxie bent in half and licked the glorious golden mantle of her rotund belly. Aaaah. Better.
Where was she? Right, these unbelievable miniature nitwits. Now Loxie, the longest and therefore best, was bored of sitting in a row with his siblings and scurried a few yards away from where Roxie was attached to the base of a tree. Loxie wasn’t interested in Roxie, he was staring off into the hazy distance while Moxie stared at her offspring, resenting them. If it wasn’t—
“Weasel!” Loxie squeaked.
“WEASEL!” Moxie repeated without another thought. “RUN RUN HOLE RUN HOLE HOLE RUN!”
Instantly Moxie was halfway down her burrow’s entrance, peering up over the rim as her wonderful precious little fluff-fluffs scurried to safety. She scanned the immediate vicinity but nothing, nothing, oh what the heck?
“Loxie! What is wrong with you?”
“WEASEL!” She repeated, ducking back into the hole. Then, a moment later, “that’s a moth. You can eat that.” Loxie just stared at her like she was a pinecone. “It’s food, dummy.”
“WEASEL!” Moxie dipped back down but almost immediately popped back up. “STOP THAT. Ugh. Everyone out! OUT OF THE HOLE!”
They all tumbled out into the sunshine, and began chasing each other around like a bunch of ding-dongs, ding-donging it up. Where did that trail mix go? Oh, there it is. Moxie picked up a raisin and leaned back on her haunches, mechanically chomping away whilst meditating on her past. You know, like a squirrel. She watched as her offspring chased each other around this small patch of forest, kicking up tiny puffs of dust as they scurried under and around fallen pine needles and small rocks. Hazy shafts of late summer sunlight dappled the forest floor and a slight breeze stirred the scents of warm pine and distant smoke that sat heavy on the morning. In an instant, Moxie decided.
Without a word to her children, Moxie sprinted away from them, her destination obvious. The Road. It had all become so clear. When she was young and beautiful, long before her wonderful, horrible little floofs had been born, Moxie was in love. His name was Ricardio Ferdinand Rodriquez III and he was glorious. Yes, he was beautiful, his golden mantle was full and robust, his ears pert, and his tail was poofy, but not too poofy. And he was so long! Moxie, despite being a genius, had no system of measurement, but he was easily two pinecones long. Such a man! Yet all that aside, this was less important than where he had come from. Ricardio Ferdinand Rodriquez III was from Away. He was from Across the Road.
Moxie had never heard of such a thing, couldn’t believe it, yet here he was, this golden-mantled god. Things moved quickly after that and before she knew it, Moxie was stranded on her side of the Road with five tiny idiots and Ricardio Ferdinand Rodriquez III was long gone. Not that she resented him. A man like that cannot be tamed, obviously, and when he declared that he had to leave to find another Road to cross, she didn’t protest. After all, Squirrel Valhalla had to be somewhere, and it was largely agreed by the greater squirrel community that it was on the other side of the Road. The only problem was, nobody knew which Road. Moxie, however, was a certified genius, or at least would be if squirrels had certificates, and in a moment of inspiration knew exactly which Road she needed to cross.
It was the same Road that Ricardio Ferdinand Rodriquez III had crossed to meet her, but you see, she’d cross it the other way. Once she thought of it, it was obvious. Moxie crashed through one last manzanita bush and came to an abrupt halt on the gravel on the side of the Road. Its black, smooth surface stretched in either direction to a hazy infinity, beyond reckoning. There was a low hum on the horizon, which Moxie assumed was the sound of the Squirrel Choir, welcoming her to paradise. Behind her, Loxie, her long and beautiful son, emerged from the shrubbery. He eyed his mother warily, from a distance. Moxie sensed his presence, but ignored him. This was her moment. Moxie deserved this.
She placed one tentative paw onto the asphalt, but before she could continue she caught a brown streak of movement out of the corner of her eye and stopped. It was a chipmunk. A Least chipmunk, and what did she think she was doing? The chipmunk raced across the warm asphalt, tail raised proudly in the air, and was soon ensconced in the shrubbery on the other side of the Road. Moxie stared after it with bleak hatred. How dare that filthy, stripey-faced jerk defile paradise? But wait, no, she was overreacting. What could a Least chipmunk know of paradise? That little dummy was simply looking for seeds, as if there weren’t seeds over here. Imbecile.
Moxie’s confidence surged. The odd hum grew louder, the Choir yearning to embrace Moxie in paradise. It was time. Moxie leapt onto the Road and raced across. It was easier than she imagined, for about a second. Then, out of nowhere, the odd hum turned into a maniacal roar and suddenly an incomprehensible monster was towering over her, moving at a speed that was impossible. Yet for all that, Moxie was free and clear. The monster was behind her, and Valhalla was before her. Moxie stopped, suddenly indecisive. Her head swiveled back to the side of the Road she had come from, her home. There, sitting up on his haunches, long and magnificent, sat Ricardio Ferdinand Rodriquez III. Moxie’s decision was instantaneous, as is the way of geniuses. She reversed direction, and ran toward her one true love.
The thump was almost an afterthought.
Loxie remained on the side of the Road for several minutes, contemplating the scene while absently munching the twitching remains of a moth. Moxie was an idiot, for sure, but she had died a valorous death. One of Moxie’s paws reached in vain toward the blue ribbon of sky above her, and Loxie felt a brief moment of pride. Someday, Loxie would find the one true Road, he was sure of it. In the meantime, however, it would be a shame to let such a bountiful meal go to waste. Loxie calmly stepped out onto the Road to collect his mother.