By Donald Hannah
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His memory was not like yours or mine. Human memories are like messages written on crumbling sand, seen through warped glass. But squirrels have memories like photograph albums; exact and perfect recollections of individual moments. Patch, like every squirrel, had spent the past autumn burying hundreds and hundreds of nuts and acorns, each one in a different place. And he had stored all of those places in his memory book. The winter had been long, but Patch's memory book still contained a precious few pages that depicted the locations of nuts buried in the autumn, but not yet dug up and eaten.
There were no other animals, only a few passing humans. But while these humans did not approach Patch, they seemed to be directing their attention towards him. This made him very nervous. Humans were huge and unpredictable. Some humans who entered the Center Kingdom spilled food all around them, but the younger ones often tried to attack squirrels, and all of them smelled extraordinarily strange. Patch sniffed the air. Beneath the thick acrid fumes of the death machines and the alien scent of humanity, he smelled danger.
Patch was afraid to stay in these terrible mountains for even a moment longer. He wanted to run back to the Center Kingdom, with his full belly and his wonderful story of adventure that no other squirrel would ever believe, and wait for spring to come. But he thought of his mother's empty drey, and the haunting squirrel-smell there - and the way that very same musty squirrel-smell had emanated from that biggest rat. "Not yet," Patch said. 7. Jumper The opening in the wire fence that Snout had squeezed through was too small for Patch to do the same.