Tag Archives: rescue

My Chipmunk Saga

This is a true story. My office is in the basement of a converted house and it is surrounded by death traps. To be fair, they’re called window wells and nothing has actually died in them, that I know of, but it’s been close. Baby animals especially fall in there and can’t get out.

This afternoon, one of my coworkers came into my office and said there was a small chipmunk in the window well. We both work in the basement so it’s easy to see into the window wells. I never look into them, however, although she does. “It’s alive but it’s not moving much and it’s covered with flies.” Uh oh, that didn’t sound good. She thought it was a baby one. I went over and looked. It looked small, but all chipmunks are small, so I couldn’t tell if it was a baby or not. It looked dead to me and had flies on it, but she said she’d seen it moving. We figured it could have been down there for days without food or water.

picture-of-a-baby-chipmunk

I didn’t think it had much of a chance but I didn’t want a dead chipmunk in our window well and I wanted to at least try to save it. I went outside and climbed down into the window well, while she watched from inside. The little guy was definitely alive but barely. I scooped him up with a piece of bark and put him on the grass outside. He moved feebly, but couldn’t stand up. I went and got a paper plate with some water on it, although I thought he looked too weak to drink it.

So I left, not expecting him to survive, but not knowing what else to do. A little while later, my coworker came back and said, “He fell in again.”

chipmunk

Grumbling about suicidal chipmunks, I went back and looked out the window. There was a chipmunk in there but definitely not the same one. This one had lots of energy and was trying to jump up the molded ladder to get out, but he couldn’t quite make it.

The day was shaping up to be a reverse episode of Chip and Dale, Rescue Rangers, where I was the one rescuing the chipmunks. I went out and found that it had started to rain. The first chipmunk (let’s call him Chip) had crawled about three feet and was still lying on the grass, trembling and getting soaked by the rain. I picked him up with the paper plate and put him under some bushes to stay dry. Then I got a mop and angled it down into the window well so the other chipmunk (Dale) could climb up.

Now that it was raining, Chip probably had enough water, but needed food. “If only we had some nuts,” my coworker said. “I have some,” I said. I have a container of trail mix in my office to stave off mid-afternoon munchies, so I picked out some peanuts and raisins and carried them out and put them next to Chip. He got up immediately and tried to eat but his legs were shaking so hard he could barely stand. I looked down and saw that Dale was gone, so I assumed he had climbed up and brought the mop back inside.

I was just about to go home when my coworker mentioned that there was a chipmunk in the window well, yet again. I was tempted to let stupid chipmunks lie, but I went outside and looked in. Again, I couldn’t see anything. Then, as I climbed in to get a better look, I noticed that a section of siding was trembling. I lifted it up and there was Dale, hiding underneath it. Apparently, he had never climbed out, just hidden. I had a plastic garbage can and so for the next few minutes, I terrified the little guy by chasing him around the window well, trying to get him into the garbage can. I felt like a nurse running after a fleeing patient with needle, shouting, “It’s for your own good!”

Finally, Dale made a mistake and fell into the garbage can. Before he could jump out, I lifted it out of the window well and laid it on his side. A second later, he dashed out and was off to safety. He’s probably still telling his chipmunk buddies about how he evaded death at my hands.

Chip was gone, which I took for a good sign. About half the nuts and raisins were left and at first I felt this was bad, until I realized that, considering that a single peanut would make a good meal for a chipmunk, he had probably stuffed himself. So, hopefully he is off in some hole now, recuperating.

We really need to cover those window wells with nets or something.

chipmunk 2

I just want the best for you, Chip.

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Dearest Melissa: A Letter While Stuck in a Tree

Dearest Melissa,

I am currently stuck in the top of a tall pine tree, after having been chased here by wolves. It is quite lonesome, and so I am writing this letter to you that so you can share, at least partially, in my discomfort. I have no pen or paper to use, so I am writing this letter on the currents of the air with the hope that it will find you at last, wherever you are.

Incidentally, I hope this reaches you and not another Melissa, since that would be quite awkward.

It all began, I must confess, with a dream. A dream such as you could only imagine. I was walking along the banks of the Nile, when twelve crocodiles danced past me, most of them doing the foxtrot. I had initially thought they were alligators, but the littlest one, doing the hornpipe, disabused me of this idea.

Then I saw it, standing on top of the Great Pyramid: a great, grey wolf. It was such a noble animal (much nobler than the pug that I had when last we met) that I immediately began yearning to have it as a pet—no, more than a pet: a companion, an ally, perhaps even a steed.

I awoke from the dream with the idea of taming a wolf firmly in my brain. Still, I felt I needed guidance. I consulted my horoscope and under October 14: Cancer, it read, “You are about to embark on a great quest. Get rid of the things of the past and face your future with nothing but great force of will.”

It was as if the writer had been looking into my soul. I immediately put an ad in the newspaper to sell my pug and boarded the next flight to Yellowknife, in northern Canada. And so, here I am.

It did not take me long to encounter wolves. There were some lurking around the airport, but they looked too commercialized and I walked past them. Then I saw some at the supermarket, but they looked like town wolves. You might as well have a dog as a town wolf, so again, I let them be.

I reached the edge of town and plunged into the vast, uncharted wild. In a moment, I was lost, with no idea of my heading. I asked a passing lumberjack the way, but he ignored me in his haughty, Canadian fashion. Then, just ahead, I saw a great pack of wolves congregated around the carcass of a caribou. I was brave; I was calm; I channeled all my force of will, just as the Bumpkin Gazette’s horoscope writer had instructed me, and so I slowly walked to meet the wolves, and with them, my fate.

wolves

It is quite phenomenal how much force of will a pack of wild wolves possesses. I must have been out of practice, because a moment later, I found myself fleeing through the woods until I spied this very tree and climbed it, seconds before the leader of the pack leapt at me. I must now wait them out, it seems. Somehow, I have a feeling they will lose interest in me and wander away. I will continue writing later.

Several hours later

Dearest Melissa, the wolves have not left. It seems that instead, they are setting up a sort of camp underneath my tree. More wolves are arriving and they are building temporary shelters of branches and caribou skins. A spider’s web-building and a beaver’s dam-building are nothing in comparison to a wolf’s house construction, although I had hitherto been unaware of that fact. If I ever make it out alive, I must contact the National Geographic.

The wolves all look sleek and well-fed, so I can only imagine they are doing this out of spite. Why, I cannot imagine. It may be because of an unfortunate incident that occurred some time ago. I had to relieve myself (I am sorry to mention it, but it is vital to the story) and unfortunately, it hit the leader of the pack on the head. I yelled an apology in my best Canadian accent, but alas, it did no good. The dialect must be different in the North.

Several more hours later

I am thankful that wolves cannot climb trees, but still, they are trying very hard to overcome my vertical margin of safety. For a while, they were taking turns gnawing at the trunk with their teeth but luckily for me, the wood was too hard for them. I saw one try to enter into negotiations with a black bear that was lumbering by, but it seemed uninterested in climbing up to get me.

Dearest Melissa, I sincerely hope that you get this message, which I am assigning to the wind to carry straight to your ears. I brought no food or water, being under the impression that the Canadian wilderness was a second Garden of Eden. As well, it is getting dark and quite cold.

Call the Mounties, my dear. Otherwise, I fear that I am screwed.


Rescued Becky – Friday Fictioneers

This the last installment of the story of Peregrine and Becky. My apologies if this one is a little less stand-alone. However, here are the previous editions: 1. Peregrine’s Bar, 2. Clue 43, 3. Midnight Call, 4. Special Becky, 5. Freakish Becky. Obviously when you write flash-fiction, a lot of the story has to be implied. I am planning on writing a novella of the whole story of Peregrine and Becky. It should be ready in about…6 months or so, if I’m lucky. You know how it goes. However, I will let you know when it is ready, if anyone is interested.

copyright John Nixon

copyright John Nixon

Rescued Becky

Peregrine knelt in the Parisian apartment and held his daughter Becky as she sobbed in his arms.

“You came for me, Dad.”

“I came.”

“I didn’t want to kill them.”

“I know.”

“I’m sorry about Mom.”

“Don’t bring that up again. It was an accident.”

“Can we go home now?”

He nodded and took her hand. “Hey, do you know when we first knew you had a special gift?”

“When?”

“You were four. You whispered and made a street performer jump through his piano.”

Becky smiled and Peregrine’s heart almost melted. If he could, he would keep her smiling forever.




Cage Jumping and Dragon Punching – Fantastic Travelogue #11

Sometimes you have some amazing adventures you just have to tell everyone about. Read the rest of this account here.

Synopsis: I was hiking in the mountains of Korea when I got lost at night and came out in a strange valley. I couldn’t understand anyone, but I found out they knew Chinese characters. I met a young woman name Ain-Mai, and later, her brother Sing-ga. While I was there, a creepy woman appeared. Ain-Mai and her brother told me that the creepy woman was named Hengfel and came from another world. Hengfel eventually captured all three of us and brought us back to her world. They took Ain-Mai away and put Sing-ga and I in a room with a bunch of other men who all looked drugged. It looked a bit like a harem. They gave us something to drink, which made Sing-ga very sleepy but had the opposite effect on me. We got out and found Ain-Mai in a cage, hundreds of feet above the floor, in a room with thousands of cages.

Cage Jumping Dragon Punching

I leaped, straight out over two hundred feet of empty space and landed on the top of the nearest cage. It was a crazy thing to do, but luckily my confidence in that accelerated state was equally matched by my ability. The cage started to swing as it reached its apex, I leapt again, bounding from cage to cage, towards the cage where Ain-Mai was trapped.

As I was jumping from cage to cage, I began to notice details about the room and cages. The ones I had landed on were empty and the bottoms were open on all of them, as if the bottom had split into four parts and fallen open. There was a wide lever on top of the cage that I could see was connected to the cage floor. The floor of the room far below was stained and splashed with red and tiny white bones were scattered wantonly around. It didn’t take long to put all these implications together.

This was the dragons’ feeding ground. People were kept in the cages until a dragon pushed the cage’s lever and the prey fell and died on the hard floor, far below. Then the dragon went down and ate them.

They’re like vending machines, I thought with horrified fascination. I am still glad that I never saw one in operation.

empty cage

I was getting closer to Ain-Mai’s cage. It had stopped descending about ten feet above my current level, just five cages away from her. I couldn’t tell if I had been spotted or not, but I couldn’t turn back now.

Ain-Mai saw me just before I leapt onto her cage. The look of hope and amazement on her face was clear. I jumped and landed on the side of the cage, my fingers clinging to the bars. I tugged at them, but even as strong as I felt, I couldn’t tear steel bars away.

“Hold on!” I said, miming for her to hold onto the bars with her hands and feet. When I saw that she had, I climbed up to the top and stomped on the iron lever. The floor of the cage collapsed and Ain-Mai gave a little scream.

I was still just working off adrenaline and drug-induced bravado, which was probably good, since otherwise I would never have had the nerve to do what I did next. I climbed down the side of the cage until I was hanging from the very bottom. Then I reached inside, through the pieces of the collapsed floor, and grabbed onto the bars on the inside. I swung down and started climbing up the inside of the cage, next to where Ain-Mai was clinging on for her life. She was crying and holding onto the bars with a death-grip. It took me a lot of coaxing to get her to take her hands off the bars and scramble onto my back. Then she was on and death-gripping me around the neck instead.

She was pretty light, thankfully, but going back was much slower. There was a very tricky moment at the bottom of the cage. I was hanging on by one hand on the inside and reached out to grab the outside of the cage. However, with Ain-Mai on my back, we couldn’t fit through the triangular pieces of the floor that were now hanging straight down. I yanked and jerked us back and forth, scraping her back and my front pretty badly against the metal floor plates. Finally, what I had to do was relax and let myself hang down as far as I could go, all our weight on four of my fingers. Then, finally, we slipped through and I could start to climb up the outside again.

I had been too busy to notice before, but we had definitely been spotted now. People were shouting above us and I could feel the cage start to rise. I leapt off, just making it to the side of the next cage. My hands didn’t hurt, but I could see that they were pretty badly scraped and both were bleeding.

Then as if that wasn’t enough, here came the dragons. I guess they didn’t like me running off with their food. The first few just flew nearby, but then one came straight it us and I kicked it in the snout. I couldn’t jump as far now with Ain-Mai on my back so I had to get the cages swinging and wait until they were close to each other to jump across. It was slow going.

They were a bit like this, except with no ridge on the back and their legs were shorter. Source.

They were a bit like this, except with no ridge on the back and their legs were shorter. Source.

On the fifth cage, two came at me at once. I punched the one under its jaw and tried to kick the other one, but it bit into my hiking boot and ripped most of it off, tearing into the sides of my foot with its teeth. This was how things went for another five minutes or so. I fought them off as best I could and slowly, cage by cage, moved back towards the wall. I was mostly worried about Ain-Mai, that one of the monsters would come up from behind and snatch her off my back. I kept whirling from side to side, keeping them all in sight.

I looked ahead to the wall and saw that Sing-ga was climbing up the plates on the wall. Idiot, I thought. There was no way he could do anything except get himself killed. He was moving painfully slowly. The dragons were still intent on me, but if they saw him, it would be like a drunk geriatric fighting a tiger.

I made a leap to the last cage, only to see a dragon rushing at me from below with jaws open wide. I manage to twist in the air to avoid getting my legs bitten off, but then I was falling. I reached out blindly and grabbed the dragon’s body as it went by.

There wasn’t anything else I could do, but this was danger of an insane level. The dragon responded by snapping its body violently like a whip, trying to shake us off. Ain-Mai was gripping my neck so hard it was cutting off my air. I reached around the dragon as far as I could reach and started squeezing it with all my strength. I heard a few bones crack and the dragon gave a roar. It slammed us against the nearest cage and then headed to the wall to scrape us off there.

It turned towards the wall, and there was Sing-ga, clinging to the wall and swaying like a drunk. The dragon seemed to forget about us for a second and went straight for Sing-ga, jaws open. Just as he got there, Sing-ga stuck out his hand and I saw for the first time that he had a piece of broken spear in his hand.

When had he picked that up? I marveled at the presence of mind he had to pick a weapon on our way out of the room. His hand was shaking as he held it but the dragon did not have time to turn away. The spear went straight into the dragon’s mouth and out through the back of its skull. I managed to leap from its back and grab the wall plates as it crashed down.

I learned something about dragons that day: they are cannibals. As soon as the dragon we had been clinging to plummeted to the floor below, the rest of the dragons sped straight down, fighting each other to get at the body first. Apparently dragon meat tastes delicious.

Ain-Mai slid off my back and onto the plates on the wall, but she was shaking so hard I had to keep an eye on her, as well as Sing-ga. Somehow we all got back down to the corridor. I was bleeding from my foot, my hands and several other places and the other two were exhausted and Sing-ga was still not doing well. My dizzying self-confidence was starting to dim a little, but there was nothing to do but go back down the corridor. So that’s what we did.

(to be continued…)

 


Droog the Angel

The latest chapter in the Aftermath series. The previous story was Droog Comes Home. There is also an Aftermath Glossary.

 

Edward Morrison felt powerless and that made him angry. He had been wandering the satellite slums of Cambridge for two days, searching for his robot Droog and the boy he called Sean. Why do I even care? Why don’t I just go? his mind demanded, but then the question always arose: Go where? He had no food, no supplies, no plan. What had he been thinking when he had left Free Frall? It had seemed so simple then.

He was also fiercely hungry. In Freefrall, he would merely go and take food if he needed it, but here people were shrewder, and far more dangerous. He had managed to steal a scrawny pheasant from an old woman in the market—just grabbed it off her table and ran. She was quick though, and a second after his hand closed on the bird, her knife was flashing towards his ribs. It missed him and he could hear her cursing him for a long ways away, even over the normal murmur of the crowds. He had eaten it furtively in the dark, gnawing quickly like an animal afraid of having its prize stolen.

That had been a day ago. Now he was starving again and becoming desperate. He would have ambushed someone and killed them for their food except that no one ventured outside the markets alone and everyone was heavily armed.

Dawn was close when he finally stumbled back to the nest he had found under some stubby bushes. It wasn’t much, but it kept the sun’s blistering rays off him . The air was sweltering and he slept fitfully, his dreams melding with hallucinations from the heat and thirst and his gnawing hunger.

He dreamed that he was in a dark room surrounded by all the people he had killed over the years. They came at him, one by one, and he had to fight them again and again. I’m so tired, I just want to sleep, he thought, but they wouldn’t stop. Then the scene shifted and he was wandering over the dark countryside with Droog, looking for Sean. He was too tired to pay attention and after a while, Droog led him to a place under the bushes, where he could rest. Droog did not leave, but kept leaning over him, making little noises and prodding him…

Edward pulled himself upright with a sharp intake of breath. Droog was standing in front of him, pushing his small, metal body partway the hollow in the bushes.

“Droog, you little gear-rat! How did you find me?” Edward shouted in surprise. He stopped as a coughing fit grabbed him. Droog reached into a bag he was carrying and pulled out a bottle of water and a metal container, which turned out to hold food. The water was warm, but cleaner than any Edward could remember and the food… he had not tasted food so good since Before, when food was plentiful and taken for granted.

Droog waited as Edward wolfed down the food and water. The position of the sun showed that it was late afternoon: about four hours until darkness. Droog took something else out of the bag and handed it to Edward. It was a suit of shiny, white material that included pants, jacket, gloves, hat and goggles.

“You want me to put this on?” Edward asked, although the answer was obvious. “Where are we going, Droog? Where did you get this stuff?” Droog did not reply, but simply indicated the clothes.

Edward put them, trying not to rip them on the bushes around him. They were bulky, but not hot and they seemed to cool him down, if anything. When he was completely covered, Droog went outside and he followed.

scorching sunlight

Edward had not been outside during the day in seventeen years. He had heard stories of people who had gotten caught outside when the sun rose: sunburns within a minute, third degree burns in an hour. The goggles cut the glare and for a moment, it was like he had was back then—Before—when he would walk outside in the sun’s warm light for hours.

They walked back through the Silver Street market and came to the bridge across the canal that led to the fortified city of Cambridge. Guards were there behind locks gates, wearing similar white suits and goggles. Droog handed them two square cards and they unlocked the gates. Just like that, Edward was in the protected city.

Droog must mean angel, he thought. Suddenly, the combined effect of the food, the sunlight and his sudden reversal of fortunes made tears start streaming down his cheeks. He hated them and the weakness they implied, but there was no way to make them stop.


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