What man shall say if he vanished away,
Or sank in the gaping ground?

- Burger's Lenore

Stockton Dupres had recently heard about a man who lived at the end of the block. "He takes squirrels to the other world." Explained the young squirrel. "My uncle says it's the only way out of the neighborhood."
Upon further questioning, Dupres was able to surmise that the man was trapping squirrels in his yard. And according to the juvenile telling the story, he would set the trapped squirrels free in the forest. Dupres wondered how the squirrels knew the man was setting them free in the forest. "Because that's what my uncle said, and we have a picture." The young squirrel then disappeared for a few minutes and returned with a tattered page from a child's coloring book. The half colored picture was of a serene mountain setting, with evergreens and a lake.
Dupres giggled to himself as he realized that the poor squirrels in this neighborhood had never been in a real forest and this picture was the closest that any of them might come to seeing one.
That evening, the rebel squirrel leader thought hard about his decision to leave the neighborhood. He really didn't care where the man let him go, as long as it was out of the suburb.
Early the next morning, Dupres made his way to the trapper's yard. He was not surprised to find that no other squirrels were there. "Why would they leave this place?" He asked himself. "Unless they had ever lived in a forest, they wouldn't know what they were missing."
For the first time in his life, Dupres walked, knowingly into a trap. As the door sprung shut behind him, he gave himself to fate. He was the talk of the neighborhood all day long as the news spread through the grapevine.
Finally, in the evening, when all the squirrels and birds had retired for the night, the man came outside to check his trap. Dupres was relieved but thought it odd that the man would want to travel to the forest at this hour. Still, he was on his way out and that was all that mattered.

Without a word, the man picked up the cage and walked to the side of his house where the squirrel could see, in the dim light, a 50-gallon drum. As Dupres suddenly figured out what was happening, the man lifted the lid of the drum and plunged the trap into the water. Dupres struggled but there was no way for him to save himself. As he had done, many times before, he told himself that he was immortal, and he would not really be dead.
But he knew that wasn't true anymore, just as he was not the leader of the Kentucky Branch of the Squirrel Enforcement Army, because it had all been a dream.
He hovered above the drama in disbelief as the man pulled the trap out of the water and took it over to his garden. The man dug a hole beside the tomato plants and Dupres stared at his lifeless body still in the trap. Funny, he didn't look fat from this angle. His corpse was dumped, unceremoniously into the hole and covered up with dirt.
As Dupres hovered above the grave, he realized that he could not go anywhere else. In fact, something was pulling him down.
But he fought the urge to seep into the grave with his body,
for he knew he would never come out.

To be continued . . .

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