Jul 8, 2005

HR, 6

Chipmunks are sensitive about their tails. They will only let those they trust most touch them. Harlequin was not in any position to do anything about the animal stroking his. It seemed a gentle enough animal, but the claws felt dangerous.

Harlequin swallowed hard and addressed the creature in the common animal language.

"Hello up there? There's lots of food down here, if you'd like. If you help me through, perhaps I can get you some?"

He heard a soft, rumbling noise that sounded friendly enough, but there was no reply. He tried again, this time louder.

"Hello up-," he was cut off as a strong paw scooped him out of the crack and deposited him back on the dumpster lid. Before he could look up another paw came down over his face and held him gently but firmly; he could only see a leathery sole and the outline of sharp claws. The other paw deftly combed through his fur and up and down his limbs, as if measuring him for a suit. This paw then held him down and the other moved to the side, revealing the creature's face.

He'd never seen one in person before, but he was sure that he was staring at a cat. This was a sinewy beast with smooth gray fur and huge eyes too dark to read. It was a brief view; the cat flipped him over and dabbed at Harlequin's chubby sides. He heard another deep purr, this one sounding approving.

Pinned to the lid, Harlequin sorted through his options. First, he closed his eyes and wished that it was all a bad dream. He took several deep breaths and tried thinking of safe things. He slowly turned his head around and cracked his eyelids open. He saw a great pink expanse leading back to a cavern of some sort. Looking up he saw teeth; down, more teeth. Startled out of his reverie, he leapt back, as the teeth clashed together with a snap.

Harlequin put his legs into motion and bent to spring from the wretched dumpster. He felt something nudge at him and his legs inconceivably kicked at empty air and he fell on his belly, pinned again by the unseen paw.

Suddenly the paw released. Harlequin scrambled onto all fours and again flexed for the jump. Again he fell flat. A mirthful purr sounded behind him. Harlequin groaned: it was one of those kind of cats.

He turned his head towards the cat and shouted at it in the common language. "I'm not a normal chipmunk, you know. I eat cats for breakfast." His voice shook a little bit, but he growled as ferociously as one could expect under the circumstances.

The cat did not seem impressed. It raised its paw from Harlequin's back with another purr.

Harlequin stared at the beast, feverishly working up a plan. The cat looked on with apparent boredom. Harlequin coughed and cleared his throat and then sat up with strange boldness. He pointed one of his dull claws at the cat with an air of stern authority.

A sizable bellow rang from his tiny throat. "Bad, bad kitty!" he said, in English.

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