Montgomery the Mouse scampered around the pond, and over some rocks. Something about the rocks didn’t seem right – the noise of his claws on them and the way they felt under his feet was strange. Maybe being under a roof changed how things work, he speculated.
He sniffed around a beaver that was standing still next to a tree trunk it had nibbled through. He’d seen beavers before, but never been able to get so close; they were always too skittish. But this one didn’t run away in panic – in fact, it didn’t seem to even know Montgomery was there.
What’s going on? he thought.
He made his way around the mountainside a little, and when he saw a wolf a few feet in front of him, his heart raced. He sprinted as fast as he could into a nearby pine tree, desperate for cover.
He closed his eyes, hoping that that would stop the wolf from seeing him. But after a few seconds, he opened them again. He looked out and saw that the wolf hadn’t moved at all. And even the pine tree didn’t feel right. Montgomery started to wonder if these weren’t animals playing a game after all. He would only be a small snack for a wolf, but he was sure the wolf would have seen him, and in the mouse community wolves aren’t known for their restraint.
These aren’t real, he decided. They’re pretend.
Now that he knew that, he realized he could relax a little, and climb higher to see if he could figure out a way out. There were a lot of scary creatures here, but when he saw a bobcat, his sense of impending doom was much more short-lived, and he even danced around in front of it to tease it, knowing that there was nothing it could do.
“Nyah, nyah, nyah,” he taunted.
Suddenly, out of the corner of his eye, he saw a creature moving higher up the mountainside, and his panic returned full-force.
He sprinted as fast as he could for cover, hiding under a pile of leaves and pine needles.
Then he felt a some small claws on both sides, and he felt himself being scooped into the air.
Oh no, he thought. This is the end!
He thought it would be best to play dead – most predators only wanted to hunt live animals. But when he was held under a small waterfall and dipped in a stream, he thought maybe playing dead wasn’t the best option.
He squirmed, and the creature holding him opened its paws in surprise. Montgomery dropped down, and ran as fast as he could.
“Omigosh!” the creature exclaimed. “I’m so sorry!”
Montgomery couldn’t find a hiding place, and slowed down when he heard the creature speak.
“Really! I’m so sorry! I didn’t know you were alive,” the creature added. “I’d never eat a live creature.”
Montgomery turned to face the creature. The creature was furry, with black patches around its eyes, but mostly shades of gray and brown, and with a striped bushy tail. It was slightly larger than the beavers he’d seen earlier, and stood up on its back legs, with a friendly smile and its paws outstretched to show it meant no harm.
“I’m sorry,” the creature added again. “I just… well, I thought you were trash…”
“Trash?!” Montgomery was offended.
“Well, yeah,” the creature replied. “I mean, I am a raccoon, and it happens a lot here. Kids throw things in here all the time, and I go around and find the good stuff to eat.”
“You’re a raccoon?”
“Yeah. Roger that.”
“Your name’s Rogerthat?”
“What? No, I don’t have a name. Why would I? I just live here inside the mountain – no-one ever speaks to me, except the people in the orange jackets when they tried to get me out of here, and what they said to me wasn’t very nice. Roger that was just something one of them said a few times when the others told him to get me out, and it seemed like the other people liked it, so I figured it must be a good thing to say.”
“You live inside here?”
“Yeah. You wanna come see?” the raccoon offered hopefully.
Montgomery thought it over, and the raccoon seemed friendly enough now that Montgomery was clearly alive.
“Sure,” he replied, and added with a smile, “roger that.”
The raccoon smiled back.
They climbed up to the top of the mountain, and Montgomery explained the situation he and Montgomery the Moose were in.
“Montgomery is a moose?”
“Uh huh,” Montgomery confirmed. They looked down and saw the large moose below, while the people in orange jackets seemed to be running towards another area of the building.
“Do you have a name?” the raccoon asked hopefully.
“Yeah. I’m Montgomery too,” the mouse replied, knowing that it might be confusing.
“Montgomery Two? And he’s Montgomery One?”
“What? No, I mean my name’s also Montgomery.”
“Oh, okay, well it’s nice to meet you, Also Montgomery.”
Montgomery wanted to clarify, but decided to leave it for now. They reached the opening into the mountainside, a hole that looked like it had been nibbled into the ground between a pine tree and a deer, revealing the layers of plastic and metal framework underneath the mountaintop, confirming for Montgomery that this wasn’t like the mountains he was used to.
“I wish I had a name,” the raccoon sighed sadly, as they looked down into the hole.
Montgomery felt sad for him.
“Hey,” Montgomery lit up, “how about Roger?”
“Roger?” the raccoon replied, trying it out a few times. “Roger… Roger…ROGER! Yeah, I like that! Roger the Raccoon.”
Roger puffed up with pride and started to climb down into the hole.
“Roger is such a great name!” Roger beamed joyously. “Roger, Roger, Roger…”
Montgomery smiled as he climbed down into the mountain, happy to have helped his new friend. He noticed that between the bars of steel framing holding the mountaintop up were dark cavernous spaces of varying sizes, and in one of them, Roger had set up a large nest, made up of a variety of materials – branches, twigs, and leaves taken from the mountaintop, and plastic bags, food wrappers, and other trash that Montgomery assumed people must have thrown onto the mountaintop. He was pretty sure he even saw a few shirts and jackets that looked like the ones on racks close to the pond where his moose friend was now standing.
He also noticed that the nest looked large enough for several raccoons, not just one.
“Roger… Roger the Raccoon,” Roger continued, mulling over having such an exciting name. “And now I know you can just add numbers to your name, Also Montgomery Two, it’ll be perfect for when I’m a mom. I’ll just call my daughters Roger Two, Roger Three… or do I need to call them Also Roger Two, and Also Roger Three?”
“Umm, it would just be Roger,” Montgomery edged forward.
“Justbe Roger,” the raccoon tried it out. “Hmm, that’s odd. Okay, well, it might be years before I’m a mom anyway, so I’ve got time to get used to it.”
“Roger…” Montgomery ventured. “Are you a girl?”
“Well, yeah,” Roger responded, a little hurt that Montgomery couldn’t tell.
“Oh,” Montgomery replied, “Of course you are. I’m sorry.”
“That’s okay,” Roger replied. “Are you -”
“See, the thing about the name Roger…” Montgomery interrupted, unsure of how he was going to continue.
“Well, the thing about the name Roger…”
Montgomery looked at Roger the Raccoon, the excitement in her eyes helping Montgomery decide how to continue.
“… is that it’s a perfect name for you and any daughters you end up having.” His new friend glowed with pride. “And you don’t even need to add numbers or any other words to it. It’s just Roger.”
Roger picked up Montgomery again, and for a brief moment he felt the same panic as earlier, but she pulled him in for a hug instead.
“I’m so happy to meet you, Also Montgomery Two the Mouse.”
“Me too, Roger the Raccoon.”
“Okay,” Roger said, putting her new friend down. “Let’s work on getting you and the moose out of here.”