Few humans speak squirrel.

It's only sensible, really. Squirrel conversation is hardly worth the effort. It mostly concerns the location of good garbage scavenging grounds and the finer points of nut sequestration. In the annals of history, not one squirrel has ever been lauded as a great thinker, poet, or philosopher, and for very good reason. They are inane, silly creatures.

However, on Rimmerworld, they were in the unique position of not being the inanest and silliest creatures on the planet.

Not that the residents of Rimmerworld had any interest in learning squirrel. Or at least, they professed to have none. Many had tried to pick up the language, sensing that the squirrels might have some good ideas when it came to survival at all costs, but all who had tried had failed, and did a rather spectacular job afterwards of complaining that the simplicity of the language made it unworthy of their time.

Therefore, if any residents of Rimmerworld had passed by the two squirrels that sat chattering on the grass, they would have heard nothing more than soft, meaningless noises. If anyone who actually spoke squirrel had passed by, they would have heard the following conversation.

"He talked to me."

The second squirrel turned to the first. If squirrels had eyebrows, it would have raised its own skeptically, but it did not, which made it testy. "Who?"

"The one they keep cool in the basement. He talked to me." The first squirrel chewed contemplatively on something lodged in its cheek. It had been there for a week or two, and in the squirrel's opinion, was only getting tastier as time passed.

If squirrels could snort, the second squirrel would have. They cannot, and so it became even testier. "Human excrement. That one doesn't talk - not even to tell us to piss off."

The first squirrel dropped onto all fours and turned to face the second fully, swishing its tail. "I tell you, he did! I was down there trying to hide a nut, and I brushed up against his hand. He grabbed me and talked to me!"

Once again wishing it had eyebrows to raise skeptically, the second squirrel asked, patiently, what the human had said.

"He said he was very worried about me."

The second squirrel did the best job of frowning that a squirrel's mouth could do. "What?"

The first squirrel sat back on its haunches. "Swear to tree. He said he was worried about me, and then sighed and called me Derek."

"Your name is Harold."

"Yes, yes," the first squirrel replied, impatiently. "He must have thought I was someone else."

"I don't know any squirrels named Derek."

"Neither do I." The first squirrel wished it could sigh, and settled for pushing its chest in and out rapidly a few times. The overall effect, it decided, was nowhere near what it wanted to convey. It pushed ahead. "I don't know any of the humans named Derek, either. They're all named Arn or Arm or Bigman or Arnold or Iron Balls or..."

"I know what they're named!" the second squirrel said, testily, picking up a twig and starting to gnaw on it. It tasted vile, but the squirrel needed something to gnaw on. Nerves - squirrels were often afflicted with them. "There is definitely no Derek on this planet."

The first squirrel scuttled close to the second. "Maybe," it chittered in a husky whisper, "he's talking about something from another planet."

"There are no other planets!" the second squirrel snapped. "Stop talking nonsense."

"I will bet you three nuts that there are!" cried out the first.

The first squirrel added eyerolling to the ever-increasing list of things it wished it could do. "How are you planning on proving that?"

"Well," said the first squirrel, sucking on a paw, "I am going to..."

The proof arrived on the scene at that moment. The proof's landing stanchion, however, annulled the wager by landing squarely on the two squirrels. Which was a pity, as it would have proven the first squirrel correct in every respect, had it landed a foot or so to the left.