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Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Squirrels in Human Form

Martin dreamed he was on the underground.  It was a Circle-line train, the sort of carriage where all the seats face the aisle.  At first he was the only passenger, but soon people began to get on, and he found himself staring at his knees to avoid looking at the crotch of the man crowded against him.  He wasn’t sure what station he was supposed to get off at; since it was the Circle line they would all come round again and again, so he stayed where he was, trying to remember where he was going.

Martin heard peculiar noises coming from the seats directly across from him—crunching, ripping, chewing sounds, which increased in volume as the train went on.  Martin began to be anxious—the sounds worked on his nerves like grinding teeth.  Something rolled up against his foot.  He looked down.  It was a walnut.

The train stopped at Monument and quite a few people got off.  Now he could see across the aisle.  Two young women sat together.  They wore scuffed white trainers and medial scrubs, and each had a shopping bag resting on her lap.  Both women had protruding eyes and pronounced overbites.  They wore wary expressions, as though prepared to defend their bags against thieves.  Both women delved into the bags with shovel-like hands, scooping out walnuts and ripping them open with their huge teeth.

“Wotchalookin’ at?” said one to Martin.  He could hear walnuts rolling all over the floor.  No one else seemed to notice.  Martin shook his head, unable to speak.  To his horror, the women got up and seated themselves on either side of him.  The one who had spoken before leaned over and put her mouth to his ear.

“We’re squirrels in human form,” she whispered. “And so are you.”         

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