From Lost in the Woods:
“Very nice jump, if I do say so. And I just did.” This time the voice came from a branch over Jack’s head. It was the squirrel. “You appear to be in need of help. Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Allen.”
“Where am I?” asked Jack.
“Do you see this tree here?”
“And do you see this stream here?”
“And do you see me here?”
“Well, there you have it.”
“Where you are.”
“That’s what I’m asking. Where am I?”
“Why, you are here, of course, and so forth and so on.”
“But where IS here?”
“You must have cracked your head. Pay attention now.” The squirrel spoke slowly. “Here … is … here.”
“Okay. If here had a name, what would it be?”
“Now, I am only a squirrel, you know, not a philosopher. I am afraid that is a question you will have to ask someone else, and so forth and so on.”
“Lead me to them.”
“Whoever else I can talk to.”
“I would not presume to say to whom you can talk.”
“Just help me find someone else.”
“Why didn’t you say so? Follow me.” Allen the squirrel scampered off on a path through the woods.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Jack ignored Allen and waved at a blue and orange butterfly that landed repeatedly on his shoulder. When he could breathe easier, he asked, “Where are you taking me?”
“To someone who can help.” He pointed to a sloping rock wall covered with moss on the left side of the clearing. Near the bottom of the wall was the opening to a cave. “The bear of the woods. He has been here a lot longer than I have. Perhaps he can answer your questions. He is a decent fellow, as long as we do not wake him from a nap.”
“What if we do?”
“Why then, he might decide to eat you.”
“And you too?”
“Oh no, I would never eat you.”
“I mean, will the bear eat you, too?”
“Heavens no. Bears do not like squirrel. However, he might find you tasty, and so forth and so on.”
Jack stood silently, less than enthusiastic about Allen’s plan.
“And whatever you do, do not call him Bernard,” said Allen.
“He doesn’t like his name?”
“That is not his name. That is why he hates it. His name is Harold.”
“Then why in the world would I call him Bernard?” asked Jack, once again suckered into Allen’s bizarre train of thought.
“Stranger things have happened. I once saw a butterfly turn back into a caterpillar.”
“One might think so, but that caterpillar would beg to differ.” Allen pointed to Jack’s shoulder. Sure enough, a beautiful orange caterpillar covered with spiky blue hairs was crawling on Jack’s shirt where the butterfly had been.
“There is something odd about this place,” said Jack.
“Whatever do you mean?”
“Something doesn’t add up.”
“Try adding down. That is how I do it. I think you will be more likely to get a correct answer.”
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
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