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Posted August 1, 1996

At night, the squirrels come.  I know this because I set up my camcorder to 
take time-lapse shots.  I have about twenty seconds of squirrel video, the 
tiny creatures flickering here and there in the time warp effect.  I've played 
it back over and over, using freeze frame and slow motion to try and 
understand what they're up to.

The first one comes out of the closet.  Small and reddish, he carries a tiny 
flashlight.  The first frame, he's about a foot from the door.  The next 
frame, he's up on my bed.  The glow from his little beacon flickers to a new 
position, and he's standing over my pillow, shining the light onto my eyes.  
I'm asleep, of course, but I have a troubled expression.

Next frame, he's running back towards the closet.  The image is blurred a bit 
by his motion.  I left a nightlight on, but still, the camera had to adopt a 
slower frame rate for anything to show up on tape.  A few frames of stillness. 
 Then he's peering out of the door.  A shadow next to him tells me that he's 
got company, and in the next frame I see.  The scout has moved away from the 
door and a much larger squirrel, dragging a cage, has just started out into 
the room.  I can't see what's in the cage specifically, but there is a small 
blob on the bottom.

The next few moments flicker by as the scout appears on my bed with a piece of 
string dangling in freeze frame below him... the larger squirrel on top of the 
cage tying a knot... two squirrels on my bed with the cage halfway up... the 
two standing next to the cage looking inside.  My guess is they're checking on 
whatever's within.

One more frame, and the cage is next to my head.  The scout has the beam of 
his flashlight aimed at my left ear.  The larger squirrel is reaching inside 
the cage.  Another frame, and the large squirrel is holding a tiny bundle at 
arms length.  There seem to be little gloves on his little paws. The scout is 
standing back, the beam still focused on my ear.

Another frame, and my head has changed position a little.  The two squirrels 
are sprawled on the floor next to the cage, now on its side.  Something must 
happened. I must have felt something, and twitched.  Another frame, and the 
two of them are next to the cage, righting it.  The next, and they're almost 
back in the closet.  The rest of the tape is uneventful, as I sleep 
restlessly.  Watching the sun rise in time-lapse through the window is fun.

I don't know for sure whether or not the squirrels succeeded in their mission, 
but I've been suspecting them of being up to something for weeks.  They look 
at me strangely as I come up the front walk, and chitter loudly when I unlock 
the door.  Sometimes I think I hear the scrabbling of little paws when I walk 
in, but it's probably just my imagination.  

I'd like to look at the tape one more time this morning, but it's time to go 
out and wait for the company bus.  I work hard and usually put in a little 
overtime, so they let me take stuff home every day.  And although I don't like 
that stuff very much, I know I'll meet a girl sometime who loves them, so I 
put it all carefully into the back bedroom. Oop, there's the little blue and 
yellow van now.  Time to go!

Sean "catbear" Puckett