July 7th, 1890. I was perching on deck, enjoying the fresh air and trying not to get seasick.
How did I end up on this wooden bucket, you may ask? Well, since the humans started industrializing, we squirrels have lost more and more land to the big, hulking iron factories that spew steam. So, I, as well as my family, friends and many other families from our old forest, embarked on the journey to this “United Kingdom”. Legends say that the forests are lush and plentiful, and there are enough nuts to stuff a forest full of squirrels fat and healthy. But I’m starting to think it’s not worth the seasickness.
My twin brother, Nuts, suddenly materialized out of nowhere and scared the living daylights out of me.
“What was that for?!?” I squeaked angrily…which had no effect, because he was paralyzed with laughter. “Alright, stop”, I said, sighing resignedly. “Let’s get belowdecks before the humans catch us and throw us overboard.” I practically had to carry him down the stairs. But that’s my brother for you. He’s the troublemaker of the family. He can’t see a nut without throwing it. He’ll steal all of your hard work faster than look at you, and don’t even get me started on the whipped cream. My little sister, Hazel, was more calm-she had big brown eyes, with such an innocent look to them that I knew I would protect her, no matter what.
After dodging through a forest of human legs (being VERY careful not to bump into someone, because Nuts made that mistake once and was chased halfway across the ship), we finally reached the loose plank of wood on the ship’s side. Since there are two layers of wood, with space in between, there was just enough room between the two walls for a colony of squirrels to roost. We had used bits of hay and straw, scraps of parchment, broken quill feathers, and tufts of hair to make a comfortable nest to lay on.
“Hey, Oliver, how close are we to land?” Oliver is our navigator. He grew up in the courtyard of Carter Hornslug, a famous navigator. He would perch on the rafters of his office, or read his notebooks at night, until he could probably be dropped in the middle of nowhere, and find his way back to our home.
“One day, give or take”, came the reply.
July 8th, 1890, 4:51 A.M. As the humans above us shouted, “LAND, HO!” We were all squeaking in excitement and were the first off the ship.
The legends were true. We never had a shortage of nuts and seeds, and soon were flourishing. We were reproducing steadily-I was an uncle-no, not Nuts, he’s still bouncing off the walls, but Hazel. Other than humans shooting at us for our pelts (Nuts swears his right leg was never the same after an encounter), we were safe and comfortable. The future looked bright.
Story and Illustration by Alan