Acicular

by Pierce Nahigyan

He waited for it under the ferns. Marissa thought he was napping, but he was wide awake. This time there would be no retreat for it.

He pawed at a millipede that marched blindly out from under a rock and down a tiny embankment. When he rolled it over it curled up in a ball and played dead. He sniffed at it, licked it. He tried to eat it twice but it just rolled off his tongue.

It was nearing dark when he saw movement at the perimeter. Between the fence and where Marissa had planted her tomatoes, its tiny black nose peeked over the wooden planter. He barked at it and scampered out of the ferns.

“Mugsy!” Marissa shouted.

The porcupine snorted. It dropped the tomato and ran back to the fence. He thought the rotted wood would catch on the little monster’s acicular mane but it slid underneath it with no trouble at all. Mugsy slammed into it and fell over, his legs still pumping when he flopped on his side. Marissa was screaming at him and he was barking and the porcupine made its own repulsive sound and waddled off into the shadows.

He tried with all his might to claw his way to the other side but Marissa was already running at him with the water bottle and pulling the trigger. He bit at the stream of water that fired at him and jerked away from it, snapping and dancing as she told him to get inside. He tried to slink under the stream but she lowered it and soaked his tail. He curled it between his legs and loped to the patio.

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