If it were a cartoon movie, I would have dropped my jaw!
He whispered to me with his heavy breath.
“We’ve lost, we’ve lost the battle!”
Well, I was ‘lost’ as well, for I didn’t know what he was talking about.
“What battle?” I asked.
“The battle, for heaven’s sake! The battle against the pox virus, of course! Where have you been?” cried the little fella, frustrated. His twinkling little black eyes examined me carefully. Suddenly he jumped out of the blanket.
“Gosh, I’ve climbed into the wrong house! I have to go!”
But he didn’t. His eyes examined me once more.
“I’m so exhausted, I may not be strong enough to travel again. Well, you’re a human, right? And you look like a nice one… you won’t hurt me… will you? ‘Cause you’re so big and I’m so small”
“I would never hurt you,” said I. “You’re so cute! I have always wanted to see you! A British Red Squirrel??? In my room??? I’m not even in Britain right now!”
He looked a bit insulted. “I don’t think ‘cute’ is the proper word. But yeah, I am the British red squirrel.” His voice was weak.
“Can I offer you a drink or something? Some hazelnuts maybe?” He only smiled and shook his head faintly.
I noticed something wrong.
“There are lesions around your eyes… and your mouth is swollen… did anything bad happen to you recently?”
“It’s the pox.” Again he whispered as if unable to speak. Then he sat, with his back leaning on my pillow, and told me his sad story.
“There used to be a plenty of us in Britain. We were simply everywhere! Until the gray squirrels arrived from America over a century ago. They brought along something called pox virus. A virus that does no harm to them, yet threatens the lives of my kin! Once we are infected by that virus, a will must be prepared, a grave must be dug.”
The black eyes of his were then full of tears.
“The virus doesn’t kill us instantly. But it affects our health, causes lesions around our eyes and mouth. We cannot eat or drink. Thus we would starve to death in fifteen days.”
He forced a smile upon his face.
“You know something? It has been fifteen days since I got infected. Yea, fifteen. And I’m so tired.”
He closed his eyes.
“Where am I?”
“At a safe place,” said I. “Just go to sleep now, little dear.”
“Well, it’s a bit cold.”
“I’ll hold you.”
There I was, spending the night with the adorable little fella sleeping peacefully in my arms.
In the morning he had gone. What a strange dream. Maybe I’ve read too much Beatrix Potter.
May God help the scientists to develop a vaccine against the squirrel pox virus, and save the lives of the British red squirrels.
NB: The picture is taken from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Squirrel