Our first warning should have been when the squirrels started screaming.

You’ve heard their chittering howls before if you live in a place with trees, and they usually only go at it when they are having disputes with each other over affairs only rodents understand. But that month, they began making the noises almost nonstop, pausing only to sleep. It was terribly maladaptive on their part, broadcasting themselves like that. The local cast of predators, from cats to birds of prey, soon took to eating the things in mid-scream.

About two weeks later, the noise stopped. There were no more squirrels about; they had all fled or been eaten, with a few found limp after apparently having yowled themselves to death. If we’d had any sense, we would have followed, screaming after our own fashion.

But we didn’t. And, soon enough, we found what they had been howling about.

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