[This post was originally presented to a smaller audience on September 20th, 2016. A few days later squirrels hacked my blog and posted it to a wider audience. Squirrels understand that information, like bullshit, wants to be free.]
A few hours before dawn the rain ended. Edward was edging toward lucidity. At least enough to hear rustling in the brush. “Who’s there?” Edward asked. There was no answer.
An hour later Edward sensed, rather than heard, the approach of another creature. He stood upright and faced the threat. It was a coyote. It was 20 feet away. As a general rule, coyotes don’t prey on hawks. On the other hand, hawks don’t generally sit on the ground moping.
Edward glared at the coyote. The coyote looked at Edward. Edward’s stare had unnerved the human but had no effect on the coyote. Edward guessed he had a 50-50 chance of taking flight faster than the coyote could close the distance.
There was a reason the coyote hesitated. Coyotes, at least old coyotes, are cautious. That’s how they get to be old. It was unwilling to accept that a hawk would willingly sit on the ground like a lump of feathery stupid. Was it a trap?
“Okay, out with it. Are you suicidal or what?” The coyote finally asked.
Edward had shaken himself out of his earlier funk. He fluffed up his feathers, he flexed his talons, he glared at the coyote. “Nope, I just decided to see if I could kill a coyote. Step a little closer and we’ll find out.” In truth Edward was terrified. Yet “terrified” wasn’t the complete story. Edward was aware the odds were against him but he was more than willing to fight if need be. And, he thought proudly, he’d give it his all. For he was brave and strong. After all he was an eagle and as an eagle he was…
Edward had momentarily forgotten. He wasn’t an eagle at all. He was just a damn bird. He closed his eyes and flopped face burst face first into the mud again.
Coyotes are cautious but not too cautious. It stood up, padded toward the bird, and opened its mouth.
Unexpectedly, a little red dot appeared between the coyote and Edward. It burned bright, like a firefly. Mesmerized, the coyote watched it zigzag across the grass as it moved closer and closer until it was crossing his paw. Then the tiny bright bead of light centered on the coyote’s chest and steadied.
The coyote had memories of a particularly horrific night and with a skip in his heartbeat he recognized a laser sight! There was no hesitation in his motion. With a yelp, the coyote sprang back and nearly turned itself inside out trying to get away.
Meanwhile Edward regained consciousness. The coyote’s scrambling was his chance. He beat his wings, took to the air, gained about seven feet, and YANK… Something grabbed him by his left talon. He spiraled back towards the ground and landed with a thud. Meanwhile the coyote was streaking away as if hell itself was in pursuit.
Edward fluttered frantically but couldn’t get free. Something small but strong was wrapped around his talon. He tumbled, then spun, and soon it was wrapped around both talons.
“That was excellent” came a squeaky voice from a nearby bush.
“Right on baby, we scared the shit out of him!” Came the reply.
The first squeaky voice addressed Edward. “You should stop flailing about, it’s going to get you all beat up.”
Edward ceased his motions. In the predawn light Edward was astounded to see a squirrel. It was carrying a metallic, bullet shaped, object. The squirrel pressed a control on the object and the bright red light played along the grass in front of Edward. “Cat toy. Comes in pretty handy.”
Edward watched the red dot, uncertain of its menace, but tried to stay still and avoid further entanglement. Another squirrel emerged. It was dragging a small plastic box. Both squirrels stopped in front of Edward, positioned so he could see them but (bound as he was) he couldn’t harm them.
“You’re squirrels?” Edward squawked.
“Damn straight we are!” The first one exclaimed. “I’m Mary. And this is Terry.”
“You scared away the coyote with the red light?” Edward sputtered.
“Yes, we’re about to fix your little head too. Squirrels are clever you know!” Mary chuckled.
“You tied me up to?” Edward asked, though he already knew the answer.
“Yes we did.” The other squirrel nodded. “Were not dumb enough to get close to a hawk without precautions.”
At the word “hawk” Edward shuddered and the life drained out of him yet again.
“Aww, don’t let it get to you. We’re aware of the whole eagle/hawk thing. We can help you with that.” Edward was speechless. There was hope for him after all? The squirrel continued. “But first we need to get you to our reeducation facility.”
“You are squirrels, and you are going to take me somewhere?” So many things that happened lately that Edward could hardly focus.
“Were not just squirrels,” Mary exclaimed “were activist squirrels!”
“Down with the man!” Shouted Terry. Then she grabbed Mary and planted a smooch on her that would make a porn star blush.
“Lesbian activist squirrels?” Edward croaked.
“You have no idea!” Mary chittered.
Edward was sure he had no idea. He didn’t want any ideas.
“Now then, you’re about to take a nap.” Terry explained. She was setting up the small plastic box. One side was white while the other sides were black. The white side was facing Edward. The box made a high-pitched but not too loud whistling noise. Edward looked away from the box.
“Look over here. That’s right, look at the box. Look very carefully at me…”
Something warned Edward to look away.
Mary made a giggling sound and suddenly Mary and Terry were doing something on top of the box. Edward tried to look away. He knew he shouldn’t look. But just one glance…
An eagle’s eyes are incredibly sensitive. A hawk’s eyes are equally sensitive. When a powerful camera flash goes off 5 feet away from a raptor that’s staring directly at it, the bird’s mind does a total reset. Edward’s world went white and he passed out.
Terry stood up, straightening her very tousled fur. “Well that’s one way to get a hawk to look at a flash.” She looked at the hawk that was sure to be comatose for hours. “After we’re done hauling this damn bird, we’re going continue what we were doing a few seconds ago.”
Mary smiled, it was good to be a lesbian activist squirrel.