This morning was a good one. The VRRRRR sound my phone made as it vibrated against my mattress pad woke me up from the last good dream I think I’m gonna have for a while. Sheepishly, as if my body knew I shouldn’t answer this call, shouldn’t put myself through the hell I was about to put myself through, I swiped the green “answer” button to the right and put the receiver to my ear.
It was my editor. She had an assignment for me. Nothing big, she said. It was super short notice, so she understood if I wouldn’t be able to take the article. I was to go and interview the man behind Furry Boi. You may have heard of him. To many here at UCR, Furry Boi was a hero. He found his fame as a write-in candidate for 2018’s ASUCR elections. Despite running as a literal joke, the man behind the squirrel mask pulled in a sizeable amount of student votes, garnering support from both students who were disillusioned with the student government and students who were meme-lords. And he sent us an email saying he wanted to give a full interview today.
I told my editor that I’d throw on my clothes and run there right now. I was excited to sink my teeth into journalism. How was I supposed to know the consequences? Please, dear reader, tell me — how was I supposed to know?
Tagging along with me was expert photographer Martin Lopez, who was assigned to take pictures of the squirrel boy for my article. We were on our way up to the ASUCR Senate Chambers, his requested meeting location, when we first saw him, peeking over the railing of the second floor of the HUB so as to steal a glance at us.
I was surprised to see him in full squirrel costume. Watching those lifeless, devil eyes follow us as we made our way up the stairs sent shivers down my spine, but I shook them off. Steeled my nerves. He was in costume because it would make a good photo opportunity. Yes. What a guy. He pulled away from the railing as we neared the stairs, his furry visage there one moment and gone the next.
At the top of the staircase, we found the doors to the ASUCR Senate Chamber open, so we stepped inside. Inside he stood at the head of the horseshoe. He was much larger in person than he had looked in the school paper. And his costume was much shabbier. His squirrel mask seemed oversized on him now, and it hung limp to the side, cocked in an indelible expression of curiosity.
He began walking towards us, and I realized for the first time that this thing is not at all the mild-mannered man that charmed UCR those two years ago.
It’s strange. When you’re confronted with something too horrible for your mind to comprehend your body has one of three choices. You can run, you can fight, or you can freeze. I froze. Martin didn’t.
My photographer friend had the wherewithal to run, and that was the first and only mistake he’d be allowed to make that night. As he scrambled past the gallery chairs to reach the chamber doors, Furry Boi started after him at a gallop’s pace, and within seconds the floor of the senate chamber was painted various shades of red.
I wish I could say I tried to help him, but I’d be a liar. You might call me a coward, or worse, a murderer, for standing there and not doing anything as a man-beast gobbled up my friend like he was the first flesh it had laid its paws on since winter hibernation came to an end, but I would like to see you do anything else in my position. That squirrel made my blood run cold and Martin’s run red.
Oh, dear reader, the scene I saw is too grotesque to describe, so for the dignity of my photographer I won’t describe it, but I won’t forget it either. I’ll never forget what that squirrel did to him.
By the time it had finished its meal I was still standing there, feet glued to the floor. The wretched beast looked up from his meal with his stained mask and stared at me. Martin was a brave, brave man but now he was lying on the floor in ribbons — what does that make me?
It made me able to run again, that’s for damn sure. Martin was a goner but, seeing as you’re reading this right now, I’m clearly different. The same cold blood that ran through my veins and left me frozen in place now seemed to fill my head fit to burst. I scrambled out of the room, leaped down the HUB stairs and didn’t look back until I was safe inside my apartment again.
Dearest student body, expect an email from John Freese tonight. If you or your loved ones see a man in a squirrel costume, please run the other way.
I don’t know what caused him to lash out like this. Nobody can say for sure. I don’t think the man I met today was the man who donned the squirrel costume during the ASUCR elections. No, I don’t think the man I met today was a man at all. I’ve never seen a man wolf down a fellow human being, handful (pawful?) of flesh after handful. If that thing was a man, well, I gotta say — that guy was nuts.