When I spotted the nodeshell, it was clinging to the branch of a tree, shaking. It looked like a sculpture made out of eggshell, but it behaved for all the world like a cat. And no wonder, given that my dog Sally was barking up at it from the ground.

The first thing I did, of course, was lead Sally back into the house and shut her inside. Then I walked over to the tree and looked up. The nodeshell was still quivering among the higher branches. It seemed to have that universal cat problem of being able to climb up but having trouble getting down.

I brought it some nice fresh words on a platter, and called “here, nodey nodey!” The nodeshell didn’t budge.

I climbed up into the tree with it, but the moment I touched it, it uttered a high-pitched “wer-wer-wer-wer-wer” noise and bit my finger.

I ignored the pain and tried to grab hold of it, but it skittered up out of my reach crying “meeeeer, meeeeer, meeeeer!”

I went back down the tree to fetch a ladder to get up into the highest branches. Once I got up there, it fled to the thinnest outer part of the branches. I shook the branch, but it just clung harder.

I got down yet again, this time to get some letters. I held them out to the little nodeshell and it lunged at my hands, grabbed the letters, and darted away to munch on them out of my reach.

I climbed back to the ground, stopping to cuss profusely when I missed a rung of the ladder and fell on my ass, and retrieved some boards, nails, and tools. I built the nodeshell a set of little ramps, switchback-style, going all the way up the tree. Then I placed the platter of words at the bottom of the ramp, went indoors, and waited.

In a few hours, I came back outside and found the platter of words empty and the nodeshell gone. Independent little critters, nodeshells.

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