Chapter 1: A Rude Awakening
Friends, let me tell you, the moon was bright that night. It shone just like a really bright star, just way bigger. Or like a really big version of one of those little bugs that lights up every 10 seconds. You go to catch it but then the light is gone, and then it comes back again but disappears only to come back and you keep looking for it to pop up again and then it does but it’s like ten feet away from you and it’s absolutely infuriating and you can’t think of anything else but that elusive light…anyway.
The moon was exceptionally bright, as I said, and it reflected off of everything. Despite my impeccable night vision (a gift from my mother’s side of the family), the woods can get really dark at night. That night, I could see everything. The trees, the ground. All was revealed to me by the glorious really big light in the sky. How that moon has the energy to stay up there all night I’ll never know.
I was taking a nap on my favorite rock overlooking what I am being told is my father’s domain, when I was startled. What would startle a small-sized large predator such as myself? Well, nothing. I merely appeared to be startled. I am what you would call, an actoir. It’s fancy. So anyway. Leaves were crunching, night squirrels were running around, frogs were chirping. A salamander walked by my throne to offer me some praise. I decided to spare that salamander for the night. And then, something snapped. My ears twitched. There it was again. A snap, and then a rustle. And then a loud booming sort of echo. At this point I raised my entire head. Somewhere out there in the woods was something. Even I must admit that I didn’t immediately know what it was. It took me a second or two. I decided to go and investigate anyway, despite obviously knowing what this clearly defined disturbance was.
The path was relatively flat. I’m not really sure why there was a path running through the forest here. My siblings and I aren’t allowed, I mean we choose not to follow the path too far in either direction. We steer clear of it, preferring to roam the wide expanse of our foresty home on this side of the path. The dirt here was hard, as if countless beings stepped on it repeatedly every third day. And no trees grew on it. It was almost as if someone had come through and cleared all the trees and low-hanging branches from the area. Even the pine needles seemed to have been swept off the path. I guess dirt just gets like that sometimes. I’ll never understand dirt. Or clay. It’s nice to eat on a casual basis, for sure, but you can’t do anything fun with it.
The strange sounds were coming from the path. As I walked closer, they grew louder and louder. New sounds flew through the night air as well. There was a sort of ringing. Jerome, my older half-cousin, found a bell last year that we all love to bat around and listen to. This sounded like that, but evil.
I looked to my left. Nothing was there. The wind gently blew a leaf through the air and brought it to a rest atop a small drift of snow. The leaf landed like an angel. What a sight. Leaves are so underrated. Those fiends, the deer, eat leaves like they were nothing. They’ve never had any respect for the world around them. Oh, if I could get my paws on one of those deer, I would. Curse them for being so tall, and fast, and elegant-I mean evil. Those evil, evil deer. Pure evil. Evil.
Now comes the part where I absolutely pretended to be startled no matter what anyone else might claim. Mr. Rogers, my neighbor, has horrible vision and shouldn’t be trusted with any sort of account. He keeps telling people at my own book signings what he thinks the “truth” is. Well, I’m the one selling the books, Mr. Rogers, so take that.
It wasn’t the rustling that I heard. It wasn’t the ringing, or the snapping of twigs, or the loud booming echo. No no no. It was far worse.
Some jerk in a poofy green sweater was yelling at me.
“Go away Mr. Coyote! Go away! Ahhhh! Come on Dave and Raj, the way to scare off a coyote is to be big and loud. Go away coyote! Yelling! Growling noises!”
Needless to say, I was offended. I didn’t know what this buffoon was saying, but the sounds coming out of its mouth were enough to kill a pawful of brain cells at 100 meters. Whatever it was, it wasn’t too far away from me. I could see the maniacal red light reflecting off of its eyes. We had been trained to identify different species based off of the reflected light’s color, but I never really was one to pay attention in school. I liked to doze off and think about dee-world domination. Yep. That’s what I was going to say. So, while I was scheming about how best to accrue power for myself, I may have missed a few basic lessons on how to ID wildlife.
The big feller began jumping up and down and waving its arms. An insult to be sure. But it was a bit funny, so I laughed to myself, and the creature almost fell over in shock. Its companions had to push it back up from behind.
“It’s not moving!”
“Should we run?!”
“Stand your ground! Be big! Be big!”
Then, the creature began snapping its fingers at me. I took a step back, affronted. How dare it snap at me? My own paws could not snap, for alas, I lacked a thumb. I saw now that this creature possessed the accursed appendage. It snapped and snapped, mocking me with every passing moment.
I snapped my jaws together, opening and closing them so that my teeth would clack in the most audible way possible.
The creatures screamed. One turned to the others. “Like, let’s get out of here dudes!” it said. It sprinted into the woods.
“You’re going off of the trail! Come back! We need to stick together!”
I snapped my jaws again. The two remaining creatures sprinted out into the forest, following the first one. I galloped along behind them, clacking my jaws and scraping my claws against any rock I could find. These fools would hear my vengeance. No one came into my woods and insulted me. They would taste my wrath. That is, if I didn’t taste them first. Mwhahaha! Ahahaha! Aiyeee!