OmarSnake basked in the lack of sunlight, closing his eyes in bliss against the brisk breeze that whipped dead, fallen leaves around him and caused those in his company to wrap their jackets around them tighter.
“How can you enjoy this so much?” grumbled Birdly. “I’m freezing.”
“It’s my cold-blooded nature,” he explained.
“Huh, you seem to really enjoy the hot tub for a cold-blooded creature,” Ladybug observed.
“I get the best of both worlds. It’s like Blade.”
“Do you swallow eggs and rodents whole?” asked Aeaea.
“I like my eggs over-easy.”
“You didn’t answer about the rodents,” she pressed. He just smiled mysteriously, and she fought the urge to gag.
“I wonder how much longer we’ve got to go until winter comes,” Ladybug wondered. “This cool weather can be uncomfortable, but messy, wet, cold snow is even worse.”
“Don’t we have a weatherman in the community?” Bird asked.
“He wore a red shirt last week,” Aeaea said. “Big mistake.”
“Uch, I don’t know why the stores even sell men’s shirts in red anymore,” Omar said.
“I hear the personal injury lawyers give them away for free.” Ladybug brushed some leaves out of her hair. “Good for business, you know.”
“I know!” Bird exclaimed. “Let’s ask the groundhog when winter is coming.”
“Excuse me?” Aeaea wondered if Bird was losing it.
“Seriously, he knows about spring, so he should know about winter too.”
“There’s a problem with that,” OS said. “First of all, the entire premise is iffy, but even if we wanted to try, the nearest groundhogs are at the zoo, which is 20 minutes by chariot.”
“Don’t you have a chariot that the chancellors use?” Ladybug asked.
“Come on, pleeeeease,” Birdly pleaded. “It’s not like we have anything better to do.”
“And you can ride around with the top down with three babes in the chariot,” Aeaea pointed out.
“Ah. Well, if it’s for the sake of meteorological scientific research, I suppose that’s a worthy educational endeavor.”
Later on they arrived at the zoo, and they pulled up outside the gate, right inside of which lay the groundhog fields. Holes dotted the ground where the burrows lay.
“Mr. Groundhog, can you come out? We want to talk to you, or look at your shadow, or something,” Bird called. Ladybug checked her friend’s forehead to see if she had a fever. Bird slapped her hand away. “I’m fine, cut that out.”
For a few minutes Birdly made little cooing and clucking noises, and very pretty imploring speeches, in an attempt to get a groundhog to come out.
“I don’t think it’s going to work,” Omar said. “Let’s go already.” But just then, a little furry thing popped up out of the hole and stood looking at them, his tiny nose and whiskers twitching. They stood stock still, though not sure what they were looking or waiting for. Finally the groundhog dashed to the fence, leapt right over it and out the gate.
“Oh no! Catch him!” Aeaea made a dive, but ended up with a face full of dirt. They all chased him out of the gate, where they saw him hop up into the chariot. They went after him, and no sooner had they sat down than the creature took the reins in his teeth and yanked hard. The horses reared and took off through the woods, and the Debs tried to keep their seats as they bumped over the rough terrain.
“Get the reins!” Ladybug cried, and tried to take them from the groundhog, who growled at her and hopped up to the seat, presumably so he could see better. “He won’t let me touch them!”
“What now?” Aeaea hollered to Birdly. “Your little friend has gone berserk!”
“Stop, little guy! Don’t drive angry!” Bird pleaded.
“We’ve got trouble,” Omar stated, and they looked up to see a cliff fast approaching. He tried to forcibly remove the reins from the groundhog, which in answer bit the chancellor’s hands very hard, and leapt from the chariot just before it careened over the edge and made a splendidly loud and messy crash at the bottom of the ravine.