The old growth leaves rustled. The branches sagged and swayed. I glanced up and around. There was nothing there. Nervously, I went back to eating my sandwich. Unconsciously, I bunched my shoulders over the stale bread and mystery meat. Above me, the branches moved again. My eyes darted upward to the spade shaped leaves. Again, nothing. I paused and shifted my weight uneasily. Just two more bites of lettuce, mustard, and tomato. In a second, my safe haven of crumbs and I could leave. Even though they remained unseen, I knew they were there. They were watching. No, watching was too benign. They were staring, plotting, conspiring. The wind caressed my shoulder and tickled my neck. Phantom fragments of memory jogged at my mind. I shuddered.
It had been the weight. That was the first clue I had that something was wrong. In between step left and step right, a shift of weight from one hip socket to another, it had hit me. I hadn’t had time to turn back angrily with wrath blazing from my irises at the impact that had surely come from a passing car. The sound waves hadn’t carried the mocking jeers past my ears yet. At least it wasn’t a biologic prank, splattering and oozing over my shoulders. Then the mass shifted. It should have fallen down. Its velocity and momentum should have bounced it off my shoulder-blade.
It should have plummeted like the dense weight that it was. Gravity defied it to stay aloft. But it didn’t drop. As the nerves from my heavily perspired dermis reached out to sketch a mental picture of its shape, it moved. It moved up. My neurons froze. Little half steps of force defying motion caught at the spare threads of fabric on my shirt. Muscles surged in my neck, whipping it about. Black. Dark pools of ebon pureness coldly shone at my eyes. Each and every fleck of my corneas stared back at me from their endless depths. I tore my gaze away from their dispassionate blankness. Row after row of well honed claws pierced my shirt. One coffee colored hair blended with one ancient gray bristle combined with jet black hairs and a multitude of brown shades on a ferociously puffed tail and a well groomed coat of fur.
Two pointy ears twitched and swayed, and then its nose wiggled and its mouth opened, exposing mismatched acorn crushing teeth that badly needed some floss. In calm, measured, squirrel, it spoke to me in a crisp, polished accent.
“Excuse me, my good fellow, I seem to be in a spot of trouble. I was out for my mid-afternoon nut-gathering on my usual tree, when in a dash, I found myself floundering about in a bit of a sticky wicket, headed to the sidewalk, and I saw you out for your daily jog, because I see you from my tree everyday, and I said to myself ‘There’s a chap who wouldn’t mind helping a fellow out in a time of need, especially as he knows my cousin thrice removed over and four times domesticated over, Bob’, so to make this story short, I used my billowing tail as a parachute, eh wot, and made a landing on your broad back, and now, if you’d be so good as to merely place me on the ground, I’d be forever in your debt.”