Raif Finds a Friend
Upon exiting its warm, safe burrow in the middle of the morning, the creature called Raif had been beset by the smell of so many Dead Things that it didn’t know what to do with itself. So many options! Raif wouldn’t have to scrounge for breakfast for weeks, what with the buffet right outside its doorstep.
It snapped up a bat, which was stone dead and lying with its wings splayed, as an appetizer. Raif found it had a strange, leathery texture, but didn’t taste bad at all. After the bat, it nosed up to a skunk before deciding that it rather disliked the smell of that particular morsel and moved on to a deer.
Indeed, the poisoned darkness had been merciless the previous night.
When Raif’s belly was full and round once more, the creature recalled the inexplicable lonesomeness that it had experienced the night before. It wanted Friends. It wanted many Friends.
So Raif went looking for Friends.
The warren of rabbits living near the Big Oak did not want to be Raif’s Friends. Neither did the squirrels. Even the wrinkly, scaly old lizard—which had been basking on a rock—darted away when Raif nudged it gently with its muzzle.
Nobody wants to be your friend, Raphael, said the Something in its head. You might as well go home.
Dejected, Raif padded off to a warm, sunny spot in a clearing and sat down in the dirt. After a while, its eyelids began to droop, and it was just about to lie down and settle in for a nap when it heard a peculiar, high, bell-like sound.
Raif’s eyes flew open and its ears adopted their alert position.