November 19, 2018


The Aser Stories 29: Raccoons


Some experiments are better left undone. Raccoons are cute, but they lack certain social skills.

There's these two raccoons who keep bugging me. At least twice a week I've gone out my front door and found them hanging around holding paws. The she-raccoon wears a mobcap and apron; her mate has a bowler hat and a jacket with collar and tie. The first time I found them sitting on one of the roots of the front of my house I was rather surprised by the get-ups -- clothed raccoons are something you'd tend to see after too many rounds of the Fart Sisters' moonshine.

"We would like to sublet part of your house from you," the bowler-capped creature says to me by way of introduction.

"Get lost," I tell them. "I don't deal with raccoons."

"Why not, Shaman? We can pay our way," the raccoon assures me.

"You're vermin. I don't deal with vermin. You guys can't keep your hands off anything and you never put anything back where you found it. Go find your own tree."

"Then can we have the bones in your planter?" the she-raccoon pipes up.

"It's not a planter, it's a grave that someone dug up and didn't put back, and no, you can't. Besides, I have herb seeds sown in there, don't disturb the soil. Now scram."

A couple days later I come back from the market and there they are again. The apron-clad raccoon is sniffing the oak barrel with the defiled bones in it, and the other raccoon is on the roots of the tree, trying to peer in the little window to the side of the door.

"Get out of there!" I roar at them. "What are you doing back again?"

"Look, Shaman! We brought first month's and last month's rent to show we can pay to sublet space in your house from you." The raccoon holds out a little burlap bag with a couple of small fish and a freshwater clam in it.

"You're not subletting anything from me. Give the food to her to eat, and go out to the forest and find a nice den! Get out of here!"

"Are you sure you need all those bones?" the lady raccoon asks wistfully, rubbing her paws together. The don't leave until I raise my staff and threaten to help them rapidly on their way.

Now it's been three weeks and I'm tired of keeping watch on that damned tub of bones to make sure the bergamot and the mint haven't been disturbed, not to mention the remains. The raccoons are out there again, with another sack of crayfish, and the same questions. Raccoons are really, really persistent.

"Look," I tell the peculiar creatures, "before I open my little neighborhood up for a hunting season, I want you to leave and stay gone. I am never going to sublet to raccoons, not now, not ever. Why aren't you in the forest where you belong, anyway?"

"We don't like the forest anymore," Ms. Raccoon says, arranging her apron. "We don't like all the animals around."

The other raccoon takes off his bowler and fans his face with it. "The skunks were the worst. You have to be so careful not to startle them."

"What do you mean, 'anymore'?" I ask, feeling a tingle of suspicion.

"We were magicked," replies the beast equably. "An apprentice to the mage Rocklift was practicing making animals talk. We received the talking spell, and then we understood that we were people now."

"So why doesn't Rocklift find you a home, or let you sublet from her?" I don't like the sound of this.

"Oh, we accidentally emptied a cabinet of formulas and charms while we were hunting for our breakfast," the raccoon sighed, "and the apprentice told us we couldn't live there anymore."

You know, I understand well the search for knowledge, and the benefits of experimentation, but I really worry about what this world is coming to in its quest for control over every aspect of life. It's bad enough that there are dimensional holes and rifts from wizards conjuring things from parallel universes, but when you add in the sorcerers and mages and half-trained spell hucksters, there are days when you think the world is standing on its head.

I remember the time this wizard over on the desert side of the mountain was fiddling around with a village who had problems with their well not being up to the capacity of the growth of the population; rather than just tell some people they'd have to move to a different area, the wizard came up with the idea of making the people less thirsty. It worked, all right, except that now the village is peopled by creatures so leathery and thin and desiccated they look like animated mummies. And some spells you just can't put back into the bottle, so to speak.

Just have a look at the list of research being done these days and you will be shaking your head in wonderment at why such things are being done.

I've relented and gotten a big box hauled over to the outskirts of town where the forest meets the tilled lands and there is a stream with a nice pool. I've given the raccoons a blanket and a doormat, and they seem content for now. I think it's time to pay the mage Rocklift a visit and find out if she knows what her apprentice has done.

Article © Sand Pilarski. All rights reserved.
Published on 2007-09-24

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In the same series:

The Accursed
The Aser Stories: Sidelong
The Aser Stories 80: Cabin Fever
The Aser Stories 79: Just Don't Say It Before Spring
The Aser Stories 78: Judgment Call
The Aser Stories 77: "Are We There Yet?"
The Aser Stories 76: A Bone to Pick
The Aser Stories 75: Coalition Forces
The Aser Stories 74: Flying Monkeys
The Aser Stories 73: Elspeth, Ad Nauseam
The Aser Stories 072: Starve a Cold
The Aser Stories 071: House Call
The Aser Stories 70: Dinner Dates
The Aser Stories 69: Fire in the Hole
The Aser Stories 68: The Silk Fable
The Aser Stories 67: The Simple Life
The Aser Stories 66: For What You're Worth
The Aser Stories 65: Taking a Shot
The Aser Stories 64: Second Chances
The Aser Stories 63: The Second Step
The Aser Stories 63: Second Thoughts
The Aser Stories 60: Fish Story
The Aser Stories 59: Ace in the Hole
The Aser Stories 58: Knowledge is Power
The Aser Stories 57: Animal Tracks
The Aser Stories 56: Oz Can Keep Them All
The Aser Stories 55: Small Comfort
The Aser Stories 54: Letting Go
The Aser Stories 53: In a Spirit of Healing
The Aser Stories 52: Stinkin' Kids
The Aser Stories 51: No Words For It
The Aser Stories 50: The Friend in Need
The Aser Stories 49: Run for Cover
The Aser Stories 48: On the Fly
The Aser Stories 47: Just Thievery
The Aser Stories 46: Take My Shaman ... Please
The Aser Stories 45: Hot Stuff
The Aser Stories 44: Courtesy Call
The Aser Stories 43: Adding Insult to Injury
The Aser Stories 42: Natural Selection
The Aser Stories 41: Funny Business
The Aser Stories 40: Happy Endings
The Aser Stories 39: Working Dogs
The Aser Stories 38: Taking Sides
The Aser Stories 37: Dumb Animals
The Aser Stories 36: Harsh Words
The Aser Stories 35: Endangered Species
The Aser Stories 34: Common Language
The Aser Stories 33: Legal Torture
The Aser Stories 32: Whose Fault Is It?
The Aser Stories 31: Money Talks
The Aser Stories 30: The Perils of Sympathy
The Aser Stories 29: Raccoons
The Aser Stories 28: The Ghost of Garfer Miller
The Aser Stories 27: Dynamite
The Aser Stories 26: Junk Mail
The Aser Stories 25: Rose-Covered Cottages
The Aser Stories 24: Crime and Punishment
The Aser Stories 23: Image Is Everything
The Aser Stories 22: Is As Does
The Aser Stories 21: Gourmet Dining
The Aser Stories 20: Families and How They Are
The Aser Stories 19: The Difference Between Men and Women
The Aser Stories 18: On a Silver Platter
The Aser Stories 17: Point of View
The Aser Stories 16: Easy Street
The Aser Stories 15: Moguls
The Aser Stories 14: A Mile Toward Change
The Aser Stories 13: The Price of Freedom
The Aser Stories 12: A Question of Nudity
The Aser Stories 11: Rabbit From a Hat
The Aser Stories 10: Awards
The Aser Stories 09: On A Roll
The Aser Stories 08: Raising Children
The Aser Stories 07: Crosspasses Market
The Aser Stories 06: Judge, Jury, Shaman
The Aser Stories 05:Habit and Stubbornness
The Aser Stories 04: The Wrong Question
The Aser Stories 03: The Labor of Love
The Aser Stories 02: Soup du Jour
The Aser Stories 01: Popping the Big Question
The Aser Stories 40a: Customary Behavior
The Aser Stories 36a: Madly In Love
The Aser Stories 03a: Descent to the Underworld

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