By Christopher Ryan
We really didn’t notice until we were quarantined, and by then it was too late. They had won.
In Before Times, we were busy going to work, getting kids to school, commuting to college, the gym, the mall, the movies, the restaurant, NetFlixing and Chilling, going to bed. All the while, they were moving in, burrowing under our world, breeding, infesting.
And then COVID-19 hit. Suddenly we were mostly home, mostly together, mostly … bored. After a while, we began to look out the windows like lonely puppies trapped behind pet store glass. And that is when we saw the monsters roaming free, claiming our land, our lawns, our trees, our world. They were everywhere, outnumbering us easily.
We had seen them before, of course. Rushing to or from our cars, we’d notice one and think, “How cute.” Such fools. By the time we were desperate enough to look outside our own quarantine, we were forced to admit, “We have been overrun.”
In our own back yards we found the proof. So. Many. Holes. That is when we realized these adorable antagonists already had labyrinths below ground. They had assumed control. They had assumed control.
There we stood, each of us a version of Captain America at the end of Avengers: End Game, limping amid the devastated battlefield, facing hordes of horrors we could hardly see.
And then it happened.
“On your left.”
One by one, the hawks arrived, circling high above, and then swooping down. They began to stay low, sit on a fence, or a branch, calling to fellow hawks, gathering their forces … to feast.
The horror movie shifted. We were no longer the scared stars, we were the audience. And those precious little invaders were the hapless protagonists, on the run, fleeing for their lives as a silent, swift-moving shadow bore down on them, closing in, stealing them away never to be seen again.
There was almost a twist ending. I was sipping an early morning cup of tea, on my bench, outside my house, once again enjoying my lawn (okay, my son has taken ownership of the lawn, but still, very nice), and a chipmunk scooted by.
“Oh no, they are still in contr-”
From around the corner, majestically spread wings soared down in a wide arc, plunged to the ground, rose, then were gone. And so was the lovable little beast.
All hail the food chain.