(We left off with me cutting down on my hate mail by finally getting to the part where the squirrels actually attack us.)
Right. The squirrels barreling down on us barged right past that happy, interspecies Buffer Zone. That was the first sign that something was terribly wrong. I don’t know how wildlife does it in the rest of the world—I could see where maybe in, say, France, the squirrels can be expected to run right up your pants leg—but I know for sure that American squirrels usually Keep Their Distance.
Or they used to, anyway.
These didn’t, though. These (imported?) squirrels didn’t stop until they were literally within inches of us. And they didn’t really stop so much as they ceased their rapid forward progress. But they kept moving like crazy. Staying low to the ground, with feet spread wide and their heads bent up to look at us, their tails were twitching around so fast they were just … fur-blurs. But the main thing the squirrels were doing was dodging back and forth at us.
“What the [expletive deleted]?” I said. Cat had just begun doing the panicked Backwards-Moving Crab Walk, when I said “don’t.” Because I could see what she couldn’t, which is that there were at least as many squirrels behind her as there were in front of us. And the onces I saw seemed focused on her hands.
I figured that meant there probably squirrels behind me, too. I was almost too scared to look.
But like not looking was going to work.
So I looked.
And there I saw every squirrel in the continental United States. They had come from under, around, and down from Nightmare on Elm Tree. And were coming still.
I looked back around to our front. The number of squirrels there had easily tripled.
And it’s a funny thing about animals. I knew it was true of people; I even knew it was true of dogs and wolves. I knew it was true of flying monkeys, for that matter.
And now I know it’s true for squirrels.
In large groups of their own kind, they can get insanely brave.