Charlie had never won the lottery. He had never played the lottery. Actually, Charlie didn't even know what the lottery was. This is because Charlie was just a squirrel.

Charlie shivered in the back of the truck. He lay on the cold metal, trying to regain his strength before he made another escape attempt. He caught a glimpse of Glenys the river otter, who was quietly struggling to chew her way out of a net. Two traps in one, Charlie thought, for she was also in a cage. The exterminator didntt give her much hope – or anyone else on the Side, for that matter.

Right before Charlie started to try to escape again, he looked around. Rowan wasn’t there. She was probably still in her cage at Fordham Court. He didn’t know what would happen to her. The owner of Fordham Court might find her and kill her. She might also die alone in her cage of thirst. But still, she might escape … then what?

Would she try to get everyone out of the truck? Reform the Side with others?

Charlie sighed and tried again to bite open the door, wondering how he got here. It all started, he realized, when he saw the first meeting…

Even now, two months later, Charlie didn’t know what it was that possessed him to climb the tree. He frequently blamed it on a gut feeling, a knowing that something wasn’t right. That something was in the air.

But it wasn’t what had brought him to the tree that mattered; it was what he found there.

He was about 40 yards up when he got his first good look at the clearing.

Two slate-gray falcons sat in the lower branches of an oak tree across the clearing. One (the male) was almost twice as big as the other. An orange tabby cat paced the clearing nervously. Another cat, all black, lay sunning itself on a large rock. A grayish-brown bobcat just wandered silently around the clearing.

This odd behavior went on for several minutes, and even more predators entered the clearing: a brown hawk landed in a tree by the falcons and began to flick its orange tail back and forth like a pendulum; a large crow circled above the clearing for a minute before swooping down by the black cat; another red-tailed hawk flew in with something dangling from its talons. Charlie’s stomach turned when he saw that the thing the hawk was holding was a dead Canada goose, and he looked away before the hawk began to rip pieces off of the bird's breast with its beak.


Summary Edit

Charlie had never won the lottery, because he was just a squirrel.

Charlie is on the exterminator's truck in a cage. He sees Glynis trying to chew herself out of a net; she is also in a cage.

Charlie doesn't see Rowan, and realizes she is gone. He wonders about what might happen to her. He flashes back to how this started: when he saw the first Dark Side meeting.