I knew the squirrels at the University of North Texas were more than a little friendly. I had seen their antics when I toured in the spring, reaching for bits of Chick-Fil-A from my mother.
But these squirrels were on the border of being stalker-ish.
My group from the workshop was trying to record a standup for a story we covered in the Life Sciences Building. Of course (us being amateurs at broadcast journalism) we had camera issues. We didn’t have a plate. Now we didn’t have a cord. Just kidding, we didn’t need this cord. The lighting is weird here. The sign is too low, we need to find another sign. Let’s move the camera across the lawn. Where are we going to put the microphone? On the back of Sarah’s cardigan? This is why we’re writers.
But I never expected the greatest problem of them all.
As soon as we began to set up, one shuffled its way toward us. It hid under the stone seats. Another sprawled in the shade of a swinging bench. A third climbed halfway up a tree and cocked its head to the side, checking us out.
They followed us as we moved the camera across the lawn of the building toward the sign. Three furry freaks were on our heels and they wouldn’t leave. They didn’t get the hint. As much as we thrust our hands or legs out at them, they only moved closer. It was like we were encouraging them to come get us, to take our food and souls and leave.
Sarah was trying to report, and I was trying to be quiet, but one took a particular interest in me. I walked backwards up the sidewalk toward the building, never taking my brown eyes off its beady black ones. We were locked in a dance, rodent vs. human, the first one to turn and run the loser. I backed up, it prowled closer. My doom was inevitable.
Across from me, Sarah was desperately attempting to finish her standup when a squirrel decided it wanted to report instead. It was behind her. Then under the sign. It never stopped. It kept creeping closer. All Sarah could do was turn and sprint away as it made its way toward where she was standing. It stopped.
The squirrel was the reporter now.