Jul 17, 2005

HR, 15

Harlequin sat still in the burrow for a moment. In the stillness, he could have mistaken this for his old home in the forest. This was no wild forest, however; this was his home in the city. He was a chipmunk among men.

A dirty blind hole would no longer do. He needed some furnishings, some creature comforts, some heating and, certainly, some light. He also wanted to make room for guests. There was little chance of fitting even the smallest human into the hole, but perhaps he could bring in a few fieldmice, or some of the crows to show them the wonders of civilization. He might build something outside when he had a human to host. He would need both the crows' treasures and Homeless Tony's help.

Some commotion outside interrupted his planning session. It sounded as if Sergei was arguing with someone above ground. Stepping out into the light, Harlequin saw two dogs, one a battered looking basset hound and the other a fiesty, pint-sized mutt. The small one yipped unintelligibly at Sergei, while the basset hound looked on with his big, sad eyes.

Sergei spotted Harlequin emerging from the hole and hopped alongside.

"This is one I spoke of," Sergei said pushing Harlequin forward with his wing. The little dog approached growling. He dealt Harlequin's chest a shove and drooled contemptuously.

"Crow here says you know what's happened to Attila. What's a little pipsqueak like you to Attila?" The little dogs voice was high pitched and whiny, with a cruel edge to it. He shoved Harlequin again.

Harlequin didn't take kindly to being pushed, but kept his temper. His rule of thumb was to never pick a fight with sharp teeth. Nevertheless, it was with a little bravado that he produced the claw. Emboldened by the dogs' stunned reactions, he spoke up:

"I took this off him, if that's what you're wondering. Fearsome little weapon, isn't it?" He held it up with exaggerated thoughtfullness. "I shudder to think what it could do to a tiny, gentle thing such as yourself."

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