One fateful night a young man named Thomas befriends a magical creature at a bar in Downtown Los Angeles: a silver statue of a squirrel. The statue gains life when surrounded by weed smoke. While the statue cannot speak, Thomas can hear the thoughts of the Silver Squirrel. These are the stories of their adventures…
Silver Squirrel: Quarantine
Squirrel rather enjoyed the new world of Quarantine. People stayed inside and the air was fresh. Squirrel could climb the tall buildings of downtown LA and see clearly for miles. Other animals roamed the streets at night, more than they would before. It was a pleasant peaceful world.
Luckily Los Angeles wasn’t completely shut down and the city buses and trains still ran. Squirrel double-checked a posted map to decide the best route to his favorite thinking spot, The Inglewood Oil Field. He decided a quick ride on a bus to the Metro E Line ought to do it.
Squirrel clung onto a bus at 7th and San Pedro and climbed to the roof. It was a beautiful day and not too hot. Squirrel enjoyed the warmth of the sun on his silver body from atop the bus as it zoomed down the road. He chewed a bit of a gummy. He preferred gummies when he was traveling as opposed to smoking. It was less visible and he didn’t have to carry fire. And he could simply store them in his cheeks. He would look like any other squirrel munching on a nut or berry if he were not made of silver.
Squirrel got off the bus after 6 stops and scurried down the stairs of the metro station at 7th and Flower. Very few people were walking about which Squirrel found curious. He would usually blend in amongst the crowds of people and go unnoticed. Now he scampered about freely and anyone that saw him didn’t seem to pay any attention. Squirrel waited for the train as any human would. He patiently waited behind the yellow line.
A stranger appeared at the other end of the platform. She was smoking a spliff. Squirrel looked over and smiled at this fellow weed smoker. The random girl looked over at squirrel and stared for a moment.
Uh oh, thought Squirrel. If she approached he would have to run for it. Animals in the wild knew it best. Keep your distance. You never knew who could be a danger.
The girl took a step closer and Squirrel prepared to bolt if she continued her approach. But then the winds came, the sign of an approaching train. The girl walked toward Squirrel as the train came speeding through the stop. Squirrel ducked behind a nearby column so that he was out of sight and peeked around the corner. She was getting closer!
The train stopped at the platform and squirrel made his move. He bolted from behind the column and ran to the outside rear of the train. The girl watched as Squirrel climbed the train with ease and sat on the roof. She arrived near the back door of the train and looked up at Squirrel. She smiled and took one last puff off her spliff. Squirrel smiled back. The girl had a wonderful kindness about her. She entered the train, her smile never fading and sat down.
Squirrel was tempted to enter the train and make friends, but Thomas had taught him better. Not everyone could hear Squirrel’s thoughts. And not being able to communicate is a major disability. Not being human was also a disability. It wasn’t easy living in the human world and not being human. Squirrel would often smoke a lot and think about how he would design a world for Squirrels. Everything would be smaller. No need for giant doors. There would be branches and poles everywhere for climbing.
Humans don’t climb nearly as much as they should, thought Squirrel.
The train began to slowly leave the station. Squirrel dug his metal claws into the top of the train. His metal body was rather heavy, but a gust of wind could push him off the roof. The train picked up speed and quickly began to ascend. This was Squirrel’s favorite part. The train emerged from the underground network of Downtown LA and the rest of the ride was open skies and city sights.
Squirrel’s favorite part of The Inglewood Oil Field was the journey there. He enjoyed seeing the city zoom by faster than he could ever run. He admired humans. Squirrel was inspired by their teamwork.
Squirrels could never build a city, or bridges, or trains, thought Squirrel. He gazed upon the city that humans had built and felt very lonely. He was the only one of his kind. He didn’t fit in with the other squirrels because…well, he wasn’t a squirrel. And he certainly wasn’t human. Squirrel felt a sting in his metallic eyes. A desire to cry. But he wasn’t able to. He had no tears.
Squirrel shook his head and looked elsewhere. He abandoned those thoughts.
Being sad for too long does nobody any good, thought Squirrel. That’s what Thomas always says.
Squirrel turned his thoughts to the oil field. He liked sitting atop an oil pump as it bobbed up and down. The rhythm of the rig was meditative. Squirrel could use some meditation right about now. It would be the perfect — suddenly Squirrel was picked up off the roof of the train and carried high into the air! He looked up to see that he was in the talons of a hawk!
Oh, hell no! said Squirrel and squirmed until he was able to bite down on the talons of the bird. The hawk let go and Squirrel fell back down to earth.
Squirrel hated falling. Any animal despises falling. It’s a terrible sensation. A total loss of control. Squirrel fell at an angle and hit the side of a building. He clung to a drainage pipe running alongside the building for only a moment, but his metal claws slipped. Squirrel slammed into the ground. Upon impact, the gummies he had stored in his cheeks went flying into the air.
Squirrel lay on his back a moment breathing heavily. He could feel his metallic heart beating in his chest. But Squirrel had survived higher falls and closer calls.
Damn hawks, thought Squirrel. He got to his feet again and froze. A pack of rats was gathering near where the gummies had landed. Squirrel had met their kind before. He had waged war against them. They were a formidable foe. One rat was no problem to handle, but there was never just one rat.
Squirrel assessed the situation. More rats were approaching, but not behind Squirrel. They were not going after Squirrel. They were after the gummies. Say what you want about rats, but they weren’t stupid and they also loved their weed. Squirrel bolted for one of the gummies, but the rats were faster. Squirrel landed and the gummy had disappeared. He went for another gummy and another rat stole that one!
Bastards! Squirrel turned around looking for another gummy, but they had taken them all! The rats dispersed as quickly as they had appeared and soon all was quiet. Squirrel sat breathing heavily for a moment. This was bad.
Without gummies, Squirrel would soon freeze, returning back to his statue state. There was no time to lose! He couldn’t wait for the next train. He had a wonderful sense of direction and started running, full speed, back to Thomas’s apartment.
Fatigue soon set in. This was the first of the symptoms that Squirrel needed weed smoke. He ran faster. Soon his arms and legs felt heavier. He ran faster. After a while, Squirrel could barely hold up his head and his pace began to slow.
No! Thought Squirrel. I’m so close! He was only a few blocks from Thomas’s apartment.
I must make it, said Squirrel. He tried to run faster but his legs and arms wouldn’t move as he willed them to. No matter how hard he tried his arms wouldn’t lift. Squirrel face planted into the ground and scooted along using all the power he had left in his legs. And then he stopped.
Squirrel couldn’t move anymore. He was barely awake. His silver body no longer moved freely. He was trapped inside his body once again. Squirrel began to panic. He didn’t like this feeling. He liked being alive. The world began to grow dim and Squirrel blinked slower and slower. And then the world went dark.