Dede, duty-bound to see the errant squirrel recaptured, stands by motionless - not emotionless; on the inside, he is miffed at being overpowered by tip-to-toe paralysis. Poised within an arm's length of the enterprising varmint, rigid muscles cannot budge, despite the will to wrest them loose, as if a force beyond all strength held them in thrall. Mind control, in this case, has been aided and abetted by a substance smeared, in secret, on the Bugis' callous feet - which, on absorption, has occasioned his inertia.

Confident the bodyguard will cause no more disruption, Ade Oya nonchalantly goes about his sanctioned task, 'assisting' Vina with her macro-micro formula.

Putting up with paws, however, hampers progress sorely.

OH, TO HAVE A PAIR OF HUMAN HANDS; INDEED THEY ARE MIRACULOUS! MANUAL DEXTERITY GIVES IMAGINATION TOOLS, MAKES MANIFEST DREAMS, MANIPULATES MATTER. 'TIS NO WONDER MANKIND DOMINATES. WERE A BUG, A FISH, A BIRD EQUIPPED WITH SUCH ADROIT APPENDAGES, MAYBE ANTS WOULD RULE ON LAND, SARDINES AT SEA, AND LARKS THE SKY. ALAS, THOSE BRAINS MOST PRONE TO WREAKING HAVOC OWN, AT THEIR EXTREMITIES, THUMBS AND FINGERS, TEN TRUE SERVANTS WHO OBEY: CONSTRUCT/DESTROY, RELIEVE/INFLICT, AROUSE/PERVERT IN BLIND ALLEGIANCE TO THEIR MASTERS, WHETHER SAINTS OR TYRANTS, FRIENDS OR VILLAINS, ALTRUISTS OR DEGENERATES, DIGITS DO (THEY ARE INDISCRIMINATE) WHAT CONSIGNED TO DO... BY THEM.

AND IT IS THEM WHOM I MUST LABOR TO DISTRACT, DIVERT, DEACTIVATE. IN PARTICULAR, VINA WINDMOLLEN. TOO INVENTIVE, IS HER ILK. WERE SHE ALLOWED TO TAKE EXPERIMENTS UNDERWAY TO THEIR CONCLUSION, NOT A SPECIES ON THE PLANET WOULD SURVIVE. INCLUDING HERS. WHICH IS OF LESS CONCERN TO ME THAN MINE; WE SQUIRRELS HAVE INTERESTS, ALSO.

SQUIRRELS, LIKE MOST OF WHAT EVOLVES ON EARTH, EXIST TO FIT. OR ELSE. THOUGH IT CAN EQUALLY BE STATED THAT WE FIT TO EXIST. TILL LATELY. SINCE INTELLIGENCE DAWNED, TO FIT, I SEE, IS TO FIND ONESELF EXTINCT - IF YOU ARE CLASSIFIED "DUMB," PER SE, AND ARE NEITHER USEFUL NOR ENDEARING, AS DEFINED BY THE DEFINERS. NAMELY UNTOLD HUMAN BEINGS.

ABOUT WHICH NONE OF US IS BITTER OR RESENTFUL OR COMPLACENT; THESE ARE ANTHROPOMORPHIC KNEE-JERKS TO ANNIHILATION. OURS (AND HERE I SPEAK FOR EVERY NON-CONVERSANT CREATURE) VERGE ON IGNORANT. WE ARE UNINFORMED - INCAPABLE, TOO, OF PROCESSING INFORMATION THAT RELATES TO THE UN-IMMEDIATE. LIFE, FOR THE LIVING, DWELLS IN 'NOW.' AND 'NOW,' WHEN LIVED WITH FULL AWARENESS, IS PREOCCUPYING ,TOTALLY, SO ENGAGING TO THE SENSES, INTELLECT PALES, BY COMPARISON.
   ODD. UNTIL I KNEW WHAT KNOWING WAS, I HAVE TO SAY, I NEVER MISSED IT. AFTER KNOWING, I APPRECIATE HOW THOSE IN-THE-KNOW GET STUMPED. IT SEEMS UNNATURAL - SUPERNATURAL - TO BE LADEN WITH SELF-CONSCIOUSNESS. CONFUSION CROPS UP EVERYWHERE LIKE A FEAST OF FUNGI. CHOOSE. INSTEAD OF INSTINCT AS THE PROMPT FOR PICKING MUSHROOMS OVER TOADSTOOLS, THERE IS INSIGHT. GOOD AND BAD, BEYOND MERE SWEET OR SOUR, ARE RULES, ARE CODES OF CONDUCT, MORAL PRECEPTS, LAWS FOR RIGHT AND WRONG BEHAVIOUR. TO EXIST IS NOT ENOUGH, FOR THOSE WHO THINK; THEY MUST IMPROVE, EXCEL, ASPIRE, PROGRESS, WHILE CEASELESSLY COMPETING, WHILE REWARDING AND CONDEMNING, MAKING LOVE AND WAGING WAR. IN ALL OF NATURE, THERE IS NOTHING MORE CONSISTENTLY CONTRADICTORY THAN THE BIPED WHOSE ANOMALY - A DUPLICITOUS BRAND OF SMARTS - DELUDES ITSELF INTO SEEING SELF AS ONE WITH GOD... WHOM MAN CREATES, DESPITE OPINIONS WIDELY HELD "'TIS THE OTHER WAY AROUND."

"HICCUP," Ade Oya blurts, giving voice to indigestion, or responding to an inner fit of merriment; who can say? Albino squirrels, replete with IQs running rings around mere genius, are a trifle enigmatic...

"HICCUP,"

... difficult to explain...

"HICCUP,"

... if easier (thus engrossed) to catch unawares.

"Kena lu! " Dede shouts in triumph.

Worn off, his paralysis leaves him buzzing but undamaged. Having snatched the plume-like tail, he whisks its swisher briskly back to the sprung-from jail.

*

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