Rustles In The Dark: Part Two
It was night now, and it was so cold the rivers turned hard and the stars shone with a frosty brilliance. Maun crept into the great forest, and looked for a warm place to sleep. She was becoming drowsy, and feared that she might never wake. Her fancy dress tore in the brambles, and her hair caught in the low branches. She found she could not free herself, and wept once more. Suddenly, a voice floated to her.
“Why are you crying, small girl? It would be best of you if you went home, away from the dangers of the monster Titalukia. It only awakes from its slumber on the darkest time of the coldest day of the year.” It was Ground Squirrel leaping from tree to tree towards her.
“Not you too!” Maun grumbled. She was about to shoo him away when a thought occurred to her. “Oh, brave and kind squirrel,” she gushed. “Oh, you are the greatest creature in the forest, Ground Squirrel. You can do anything. Therefore, I believe freeing a girl from her prison is a small task, is that not that true, Ground Squirrel?”
“Why yes, yes…oh, yes all that is true! So I could…” he muttered to himself. “Hmm, I may be able to untangle you, on one condition.”
“And what is that?” Maun hissed in disgust. “I shall repay you with gratitude- is that not quite enough?”
“Ah, but the horror of going through a human girl’s messy hair- I shudder at the thought of it! I have grown tired of feasting on simple acorns and dull nuts. I smell in your pocket one nice cake. Give me that willingly, and I shall free you.”
Maun was about to agree in submission, but thought better of it. “It is my last rice cake, and I am hungry! I have better things to do than feed ugly squirrels.”
“How dare you insult me,” Ground Squirrel spat. “What have I ever done to you- I am only trying to fulfill an agreement. Very well then. If you shall not give me the cake, I am off.”
“No, no- wait!” Maun hollered. Her limbs were beginning ache. “Fine, I’ll give you it. After you free me.”
“That is good,” Ground Squirrel’s eyes sparked with interest. “Now, if I just move that one…” He set to work. Finally, he untangled her. “Now, for that rice cake.”
Maun laughed. “You really think I would give it to you? No, I think I will eat it myself.” She reached out for the delicacy and tried to nibble at it, when Ground Squirrel clawed onto her arm.
“You broke your promise. You could have given it freely, but now I must take it by force. Very well then.”
Maun screamed as Ground Squirrel bit into her hand. “Get off, get off you filthy rodent!” She dropped her rice cake in attempt to get a stick in order to whack him off, but seizing his chance, Ground Squirrel stole it. “Give it back to me you thieving rat!” Maun screeched. But Ground Squirrel was gone.