Kiki and Mooky had once lived in silvery cages with sweet cedar chips and all the snacky-snacks they could eat. Unfortunately, they'd gotten so comfortable, they didn't believe the big angry daddy when he said if they crapped in his work boots ONE MORE TIME, out they'd go. They did, and they did, but they made a nice little den by Wicker Lake, and lived there quite comfortably. They had babies, who had babies, and their grandferret Pei was the most curious of them all.
Pei liked to visit the people-people who came to the lake; she climbed on their cars and watched through windows as they bit and bent each other, and yelled silly words right in each other's faces. They smelled funny when they did that, sweaty and musky and sharp, but lots of times, they left behind bottles with sweet brown liquid in them, so Pei learned not to mind the sound. One day, while watching the Desiree people-people huffing and puffing away, the sky went dark. Then it started to rain, hot green instead of cool blue, and Pei choked on the screaming people smell that filled her sensitive nose.
Sirens screamed, and more people-people came to take the ones in the car away. Pei was very scared, but she finally made her way out from beneath all the pretty rocks and hurried home. She crept down into her den, but her sisters and brothers wouldn't talk to her! Her parents and grandparents -tried- to keep her company, but she stank of people-people. And even though Pei washed in the strangely warm waters of the lake, and rolled in the strangely green earth in the fields, the smell would NOT come off.
So, she went to live on her own- not too far away, because she still liked to wave to grandmother Kiki- but far enough away that no one could smell her. It was very, very lonely.
And it stayed lonely until one day, a pretty people-people with blonde hair came in a red car. She didn't have another people-people with her, but she did have a camera, and when she found Pei peeking out of her own den (not nearly as nice as the family den, not even close to the stories grandpa Mooky told about wire and cedar paradise,) she smiled. She mumbled in her silly people-people words, clicking away and getting closer to Pei every minute.
"And they say that the mutations are all in my head," the blonde people-people said, crouching down to get a better shot. "I'd like to see them explain away a green ferret."
Pei didn't say anything (mostly because she didn't speak people-people,) but she did twitch her tail and climb up the girl's magenta pants. Pei had lived alone for a long, long time because of her people-people smell, so why not give the funny, hairless animals a chance?
It turned out to be a good decision at first. The blonde people-people took her back to a house with a grey one, and a brown one, and they were both very nice. They shared carrots and raisins and peanut butter with her. The blonde people-people seemed a little upset when brown and grey kept hugging, but she didn't seem to mind when brown climbed into her bed that night. Pei watched them take off their brightly colored fur and roll around together on the bed. Soon, the room smelled familiar, just like the cars by the lake used to, just like her own fur, and Pei settled in to sleep in the comfort of her very own silver and cedar paradise that was so much better than even grandpa Mooky could tell. Well, it would have been, but the people-people kept whimpering and waking her up, but Pei decided they were probably just celebrating, and it would be over soon.
The next day, the Chloe and the Lana (that's what they called each other when they were gasping and wriggling on the bed together,) took her to a very big place full of lots and lots of people-people. There were big cups of brown liquid, but they were bitter instead of sweet, and hot, which made Pei flick her whiskers and back away. A pretty brown-faced boy let her curl up on his shoulder, and fed her bits of bagel, which was very, very nice until he decided to hug the Chloe very close in a room they called the broom closet. After one jostle too many, Pei slipped out of the broom closet to find the Lana.
At the counter, the Lana laughed and smiled at a blonde man she called Mizzerken- a very funny name, in Pei's opinion. Pei climbed onto the counter and curled up next to Mizzerken's elbow to nap. Just as soon as she had drifted off- to sweet dreams about raisins and peanut butter- she found herself falling! Legs flailing, she hit the ground unceremoniously, and looked up. The Lana and Mizzerken had pushed everything off the counter (even Pei!) to make room to hug with their colored fur off.
Hmph. Things had been lonely at Wicker Lake, but Pei was beginning to think that lonely was better than constant jostling and pushing. At the lake, she could get a nap at least! And nobody screamed there, like the orangey peoplepeople screamed when she came in and saw the Lana and Mizzerken on the counter. Pei sneaked outside to find somewhere to hide. All the noise and excitement had made her very tense.
Luckily, someone had left a window open on a small, silvery car that reminded Pei of her cage, so she climbed in and curled up beneath the seat. It smelled of clean water and musk, a good combination that reminded her of home, and with a smile, Pei drifted off to sleep.
When Pei woke up, she stretched her paws and climbed from beneath her seat to find two shiny black shoes pressing on little black stairs. It felt like she was moving, and when she looked up, she saw the strangest peoplepeople of all. He didn't have colored fur on his body, just black and grey, and he didn't have any on his head! Pei felt very sorry for him, more than most of the people-people, because even they kept the fur on their heads even when they took off the fur on their bodies.
Deciding that he might be cold, Pei started to climb up his leg. Suddenly, she was swinging from side to side as the naked people-people yelled strange words like "Shit!" and "Jesus christ!" Just then, two big hands reached down and picked her up, and the naked people-people stopped yelling to ask, "Clark, what is that thing?"
The Clark- who turned out to have black fur on top, and red fur on his body, picked Pei up and held her eye to eye with him. She didn't understand the words they said when they talked fast, but the Clark seemed to be nervous every time the naked people-people asked a question. She squirmed and crawled up the Clark's arm, making herself comfortable on his broad shoulder. Even though everything still felt like it was moving, the Clark's shoulder was nice and broad, and felt safe. Snuffling behind his ear, Pei started to drift off again.
Just as she was starting to dream about a huge den filled with cedar chips and endless niches of hard-boiled eggs and apples, she jolted awake. The naked people-people had attacked the Clark, and Pei had seen a lot of furless wrestling in her time, but she'd never seen anything like - that-! The Clark held onto the window frame and groaned "Lex, Lex!" as the naked people-people sucked on something in his lap.
Pei had had enough! None of these crazy people-people could keep their fur on long enough for her to get a good nap, and it was very, very, VERY unpleasant to get dropped and bounced and jostled and startled, no matter where she tried to lay down. When the Clark made a terrible noise and bent the window frame, Pei saw her chance and took it. Leaping out of the car, she ran very, very quickly, all the way back to Wicker Lake, and her lonely den that didn't seem so lonely anymore.
She waved at her mom, and her sisters, and her brothers, and her grandparents, then crept into the soothing darkness that smelled only of earth. The cool quiet was such a relief, she didn't wake up for two whole days. And even though she didn't want to live with the people-people, she decided she'd at least check out the big place with the bitter brown liquid once in a while, to see if she could find some more delicious bagel morsels.
Slinking in the back door, she sneaked beneath the counter, gobbling up crumbs as she found them. When she poked her head up for a little peek at the counter, she had to duck right back down again. The naked people-people was talking to Mizzerken and the Clark, and he had a nice, big danish right on the edge. If she was very careful, she could grab a bite and be gone before anyone knew she was there.
Mizzerken seemed kind of mad, and the Clark seemed kind of red in the face, so they didn't notice when she grabbed the danish with her teeth, but the Lex glanced down when he saw the paper rustling. Instead of shooing her away, he slipped his hand into the Clark's and turned a little to let Pei make her escape.
As she left with her treat, she took one look back. Still talking to Mizzerken, Lex smiled. "Well, it all came together once we dropped the ferret."
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