Out-maneuvering Dede (his proclivities notwithstanding - martial art and seaman skills of little use against a squirrel, much less a squirrel endowed with human brain cells breeding fruit-fly-fashion), Ade Oya gives the bodyguard - NATCH - the slip. Squeezing underneath the den door's hinge, upon its opening, exit rodent/enter Dede like a Ninja stalking zilch; whatever petrified Bi Mun is nowhere evident.

Vina, more intrigued than irked by the squirrel's at-large shenanigans, opts to linger in The Lab, alone, predicting prompt return and proven right when, in the fugitive blithely scampers.

Caution not the least observed, self-confidence best termed cocky, Ade Oya, with a three-point bound from tile, to stool, to girl, proceeds to plop himself in the lap of his erstwhile warden.

DAG, he seems to say without a word.

"Get off, you weasel."

FAMILY MUSTELIDAE - CARNIVOROUS. MINE'S SCIURIDAE, BABY - VEGAN. LEASTWISE THOSE OF US UNALTERED. I, OF LATE, AM CRAVING STEAK - FOR WHICH I HOLD THOSE GRAVY-GREEDY GENES OF YOURS RESPONSIBLE.

Once more struck incredulous by the squirrel's articulation, Vina marvels at the words unspoken. Absolutely clear, she hears them uttered (if inaudibly), feels their impact (if insensibly), gets their drift (if inexplicably). How? Do like-minds link, commune? Or is the rodent so superior he transmits thought telepathically? In a universal language each receiver then construes? The way religious people claim to understand God? If God exists - which is an issue Vina cares about not one jot. What she really wants to know is:

"Why'd you read my notebook? What'd you do to Poppie's PC? How'd you make Bi Mun so scared?"

The squirrel is perched so close to Vina's nose her pointed stare goes cross-eyed. Ought she risk a bite, or worse, by catching hold of the tempting tail, perchance to usher Ade Oya back to lock-up?

Use of force the recourse of defective wit, she hesitates... Surely she can schmooze, cajole, or otherwise woo, persuade. Besides, a squirrel this perspicacious calls for cunning.

Trusting that the child intends to squelch aggressive instincts (for the moment), Ade Oya deigns to tender a reply (in terms that seek to keep his own agenda veiled).

FIRSTLY, YOU HAVE FOCUSED ON A GENE WHOSE LENGTHY SEQUENCE, IN A MILLION TRILLION REARRANGEMENTS, WON'T MAKE GROWTH REVERSE. SECONDLY, YOUR FATHER'S WORK HAS LIMITLESS POTENTIAL - WERE HIS ACUMEN A FRACTION OF HIS OFFSPRING'S. THIRDLY, 'HUS'!

Expressed at forehead level, Ade Oya halts his levitation, with the next-to-nothing effort of a disembodied brake... confronting eyes grown wide and round as Siamese Frisbees.

"Okay, I give up. Is this a magic trick, or what?" Entranced yet scandalized by the wingless creature's knack for aeronautics, Vina ogles its resumed ascent, befuddled by the squirrel and his apparent (no strings attached) midair suspension. "Cute," she says dismissively, loath to show her admiration, lest the pest get more swell-headed than he evidently is. From lowly Lab 'rat' to Rasputin is a drastic transformation, one the rodent has accomplished with an ill-disguised conceit, as Vina watches him come down to earth (to tabletop, precisely), there alighting within reach - though she dares not grab.

Sensing he would simply sulk, if returned to dull captivity, Vina condescends to let the wraithlike varmint haunt unchecked - with the proviso he agree to be her minion.

"Maybe you could work for me," she ventures, "run and fetch things? Though I guess you'd have to use your mouth for carrying. Yucky; drool!" 

LET ME ASSURE YOU, MS. PRESUMPTION, I WOULD NEVER FETCH OR LABOR FOR A PINTSIZE  PRIMA DONA WITH A SUSPECT PEDIGREE.

"Sir, if you're referring to my mixed Cauc-Asian blood, my father's famous, and my mother was a Princess.

NONETHELESS 'HUMAN.'

"Meaning what?"

THAT ALL THE UNIVERSE DUMBLY TURNS AROUND A SOLITARY PINHEAD WHO BELIEVES, LIKE COUNTLESS OTHER PINHEADS, LIFE IS CHIEFLY HERS. BUT LET'S NOT QUIBBLE OVER EGOMANIA. YOU NEED A SOLUTION FOR THE PROBLEM YOU HAVE BITTEN OFF - AND LACK THE TEETH TO CHEW.

At which point, Vina's face is so consumed by righteous indignation, Ade Oya visibly flinches. Fright erects his snow-white tail, thereby converting it from question to exclamation mark.

"BLENDER!" Vina issues like a fearsome Dayak war cry.

Ade Oya veers to the right. Had he veered left, farewell his spree, for Vina's outstretched fist clamps closed with fierce finality.

Miffed, the would-be captor rues her runaway's fickle fortune.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ade Oya lands
at the base
of a pigmy palm,
scoots up its trunk,
emitting snickers
at his nemesis
from on-high.

*

*