This story is by Michael F Blankenstein and was part of our 2019 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
Well here I am locked in a single room shed.
I remember how this all started with a postcard arriving at my tree house. It was beautiful with trees, grass, and a stream. Wow.
Who could it be from? It looks like a travel agency and appears to be for a free vacation. That’s interesting. There’s an office address not far from here so I think that I will go and visit them tomorrow.
Traveling down the road about a hundred yards I arrive at the shed. It looks a little old and dusty. It has a tin roof, little paint remaining on the outside walls, a front step, and window. A hand-painted sign leaned against the window reading “Travel Agent”. Not very fancy, but then, we were way out in the country.
Hopping up the step I pressed slightly on the door and it opened with a creaky sound. Peering into the shed there were plenty of old tools, ropes, chains, and lots of cobwebs. It didn’t exactly look like an office, at least like an office that I had seen pictures of in the magazines.
Leaning in further, I said, “Hello, is anyone in the office? I am here about the postcard promising a free trip.” A low raspy voice said, “Come in, come in. Yes, I delivered, I mean I sent the postcard, and there is a wonderful trip awaiting you. There is only some paperwork that needs to be completed. Come in and close the door behind you so we can get started.”
This is where my nightmare began.
Entering the room, the door closed behind me.
Sitting behind a makeshift, dirty desk, was a raccoon and to his left was a large Kingsnake. Getting the feeling in my stomach that this wasn’t right, I backed up to the door, but it wouldn’t open. A small fox was holding it shut from the inside.
Now what? I guess I should talk to them. Turning my attention back to the raccoon and snake at the table, I asked about the vacation; the usual questions, where to, how long, any side trips, meals included?
Raccoon spoke first saying this was an excellent opportunity for a young squirrel to see new places, have new experiences, and create memories. I’m thinking to myself, “yeah, I’ll bet.” Fox steps from the door to the desk, shuffles through some papers, and says quietly, “Are there any particular places to visit that you had in mind?”
I said that I had never been out of the local woods and would like to visit the big city park in Birmingham someday. Fox said that location was not on the itinerary. Snake slowly moved closer to the edge of the desk and closer to me. The three of them were now at the desk and looking intently at me.
All the alarms were finally going off in my head. I have walked into a trap. I am now in a locked shed with a raccoon, snake, and a fox. Could it get any worse? Oh yeah, it can get worse and it’s starting to right now.
Snake makes a quick strike trying to catch me off guard. I make a high straight up leap to a piece of rope coiled over the rafters and scurry up. Temporarily out of reach, I survey the upper part of the shed for an opening but don’t see one.
Raccoon is now climbing a ladder in the corner up to the rafters near where I am. Raccoons are excellent climbers, but not as fast or nimble as me. Since foxes don’t climb, she was circling around on the floor ready to chomp me if I missed my footing and fell.
That big King snake was working its way up to some tool handles and would be at my level in just a minute or so. Dang, I am in a tight spot here.
Snake made it to the rafters and was quickly slithering to my position in the middle of the room. Raccoon was likewise moving towards me. I decided to go up. My lightweight, strong legs, and sharp toenails take me up trees with ease. So here I go.
With a great leap, I am up to the rafter and then crawling up to the inside of the roof. I crawl across the inside of the roof to the front where there is a vent. Squirrels are very good at getting through small tight spaces. I get to it only to discover that it is too small and also the home of a huge hornet nest. I better not get them angry.
Snake and Raccoon are both making headway towards me so I cling and climb back onto the roof towards the back end of the shack. There is an old fireplace pipe passing up from the fireplace to a hole in the roof. This allows the smoke to go up the chimney. I learned this the hard way once and took that route to escape being burned alive. I almost suffocated but managed to hold my breath long enough to crawl up the pipe to safety. It was really hard since my claws would not hold in the metal. I had to push out in each direction with my legs to wiggle my way up. I hate to think about that predicament right now.
Darn, the smoke pipe is tight with no space for an exit. Before I know it, snap, Snake has part of my tail in his mouth and is trying to pull me closer to get a coil on and a better grip. I give a mighty jerk and leave Snake with a mouthful of hair. Losing my footing, I hit the table below and Fox is almost on me. A quick misdirected scramble confuses Fox and I jump from the floor back to the top of the stove. Luckily it hadn’t been used for years and was cool. Fox, Snake, and Raccoon were all headed my way, giving me only a short time to formulate a plan.
I remembered those hornets on the front vent. Maybe they could help me. Jumping to the wall I circled it and went straight up the front right where the hornets were. Already agitated by all the movement it took only a couple of swishes of my tail to turn them into a swirling, angry, flying, cloud of stings and pain. They knew who had disturbed them and they wanted to sting the heck out of me. Just what I wanted, sort of. With the hornets in close pursuit, I headed for Raccoon, back on the stove, then Snake in the rafters and finally, Fox on the table.
Here’s the thing about hornets, once you get them mad, they quickly forget who they are mad at and will attack whoever they find. In this case, it was my captors, Raccoon, Snake, and Fox.
The hornets landed on those three and stung the heck out of them. Fox flung the door open and went running towards the lake. Raccoon with hornets all in its hair and tail did the same. Only Snake was somewhat protected by his scales. Sitting in the doorway, covered in hornets, Snake watched me as I landed just out of reach near the open door. I made a mighty leap for freedom. Snake tried to coil and strike me but was too distracted by the hornets.
I made out of the shed room to freedom! Still running, I made it back to the woods and was in the safety of trees again.
That’s where my room story ends. The shed room was one of the worst experiences I ever had. I can assure you that I don’t respond to travel postcards anymore.
By the way, I did eventually get to visit the big city park in Birmingham. It was wonderful. I got to meet lots of city squirrels but was glad to get back to my country trees.
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