Location: John and Janice’s house (map)
I got my first inkling of the seamier underside of this quiet town a few days ago while a passenger in John’s car as we headed up the Glenwood cutoff toward Highway 17. It was a peaceful morning; we had a few errands to run – I needed ethernet cables, John had an item to drop by the tailor’s in preparation for his upcoming Polkacide gig. The sun shone down through the branches high overhead. Visibility was excellent, and the day quiet. Not even a Metro was going to sneak up on a woodlands creature on that day.
Yet, inexplicably, as we approached a tree (map) a squirrel leapt out of the foliage directly in the path of the car. John stomped on the brakes, but it was far, far too late. The squirrel vanished out of sight beneath the hood. John looked in the mirrors while I turned around to see the aftermath, but there was no obvious body. Perhaps he had got lucky.
John and I laughed about it, imagining the other squirrels on the side of the road egging that one on, but John must know. He’s been around here too long to not know about the Suicide Squirrel Death Cult. People keep their dark secrets to themselves in small towns.
It was today that the truth became obvious to me. Driving peacefully up Glenwood from the main town (map), two six-packs of beer placed carefully so that the side-to-side forces of the upcoming twisty road would not dislodge them, a squirrel came dashing out from the far side of the road and ran full-tilt to intercept me. I hit the brake, dumping bottles of beer out onto the floor on the passenger side, but as I slowed the squirrel changed course toward me. I cringed as my car passed over the squirrel. Once again, however, when I looked in my rear-view mirror, there was nothing. No squirrel guts, but no squirrel scampering to safety.
“Who trains the squirrels here anyway?” I asked the sky, as if every municipality had a squirrel trainer and the one for Scotts Valley just wasn’t very good. But after my initial innocent outburst, the terrifying truth began to dawn on me.
A hundred yards farther on lay the body of another squirrel. This one clearly had lost his bet with the gods of steel and rubber.
Yet there are eerie parallels between the two squirrel encounters, the most sinister being the complete disappearance of the mad rodents. Ghost squirrels? Perhaps it is an auto-matador squirrel club, keeping points among its members, who try to get as close to the car as possible without buying the acorn stash. Perhaps. But if had been something that innocent, then the locals would have been able to talk about it. No, the secret must be darker. It must be the Suicide Squirrel Death Cult.