The chestnut-coated moose picked his way elegantly through the thick undergrowth, careful to avoid catching his ample antlers in the tangle of interwoven branches that blocked his path.
On the other side of the forest lay a vast prairie with juicy green grass, and having to cross this tiresome woodland to get there would surely be worth it.
But as often happens, fate intervenes, and the best laid plans of moose don't quite work out as hoped, for despite all his care and attention, his right set of antlers found themselves hooked on a group of entwined branches that the moose had thought too high to bother him.
As soon as he felt himself entangled, he tried to back-peddle and free himself, but the more he tried to pull his head away,the more he seemed to get held tighter.
The moose was tall and strong, but he was well and truly trapped, and other than tearing the antlers out of his head, he didn't know what he was going to do.
If a moose could sigh, then that's what he did as he contemplated his unfortunate position.
Darkness was beginning to fall and for all his height, the moose was starting to feel a little scared. If some predator came upon him, he would be easy meat.
"Hey you up there! Big guy!" a chirpy voice called out.
The moose tried to turn towards it, momentarily forgetting his predicament, but a painful tug to the head reminded him that he was well and truly stuck!
"Who's there?" The moose asked worried. "I can't see you. Where are you?"
"Huh. You moose are all the same. Think you're so clever and goodie-goodie, then you go and get yourselves in a pickle," the smart-voiced animal declared.
The moose heard a patter of tiny feet and before long a dark-coated squirrel was sitting on a branch right in front of his nose, staring at him with
a patronizing expression in its bright eyes.
"Can't you look where you're going, you overgrown four-legged moogie? You nearly put your plate-sized foot in my cache of acorns; how would I have gotten through the winter then, moose boy? Lucky you didn't or I would've kicked your ass to kingdom come, " the squirrel continued belligerently.
"You're kinda bad-mouthed for such a little guy," the moose retorted, taken aback by the squirrel's bad-ass attitude.
How such a small animal could ever imagine he'd be able to kick his ass was just silly!
However he was genuinely sorry if he'd frightened the squirrel and he made his apologies.
"Um...I had no intention of crushing your nuts, but as you can see, I've got a bit of a situation here." the moose declared sorrowfully, turning big soulful eyes on the squirrel.
"There's no way I'm gonna get free unless I break off my antler, and I'd...just... rather not."
"Huh, " the squirrel snorted, shaking his head at the unfortunate moose. "Let me take a look. I'm good with my hands. Maybe I can help.
We wouldn't want you to ruin those cute antlers now, would we?"
"Thank you. I would be eternally grateful for anything you can do," the moose said humbly, twitching his nose as the squirrel hopped onto it and skittered up his face to the trapped antler.
"Boy, you sure messed up," he tutted, examining the damage." It'll take me a while but maybe I can undo some of this foliage to give you a better chance of pulling free."
The squirrel's hands and teeth were sore by the time he'd managed to disentangle and gnaw his way through some of the branches that held the moose prisoner.
"Okay," the squirrel ordered, taking up position on the moose's back. "Try pulling away now."
The moose yanked and tugged, desperation setting in, but the little squirrel had done excellent work and with a crunch of breaking branches, the antler came free.
"That's my boy," the squirrel praised, congratulating him. The moose took a few steps to the side, shaking his head, happy to be free.
"I can't thank you enough," the big animal said relieved. "You didn't have to come to my aid and yet you did. I will be forever in your debt."
"Oh, shucks, big guy! You're making me blush. Glad to have been of help. Of course if you'd crushed my acorns it would have been a whole different ball game!" it teased.
"Where're you off to anyway?" the squirrel asked.
"Well... the plan was to get through the woods to the prairie on the other side. The grazing's supposed to be excellent."
"Mmm." the squirrel said thoughtfully. "You've still got quite a length of the forest to cover before getting out. Those oversized head-ornaments of yours could get you into trouble again, and there might not be a good Samaritan such as my awesome self to come to your rescue. All my fellow squirrels would be scared shitless of an overgrown beast like you."
"Yeah, I understand, though I'd never hurt anyone; at least not on purpose," the moose assured him.
"Well, I'll just have to take my chances. I can't stand here forever," the moose continued, turning his head to look back at the squirrel still perched snuggly on his back. He'd never had anyone sitting there before. It was somehow... comforting.
"You know Moosie, you seem a really sweet guy, if a bit clumsy, and I've developed a soft spot for you and your big goofy eyes, so here's the plan. What if I guide you the rest of the way, keep you out of trouble. Plus I'm pretty good sitting on your back. It's rockin' up here. Whatcha say?"
"You'd do that for me?" the moose asked hopefully.
"Hell yeah; underneath all this awesomeness I'm a soft touch," the squirrel answered with an almost human smirk.
"Um... " The moose found himself saying, slightly embarrassed. "You can stay if you like...I mean, even after I get out of the woods. It's really nice to have someone to talk to."
The squirrel scratched the moose's back, causing him to squirm deliciously, while considering the offer.
"You know, man. I think I'd be good with that. Of course I'd have to stock up on some more acorns, but you're plenty big enough for me to stash them on your back."
"I think I can take the weight," the moose answered, smiling in his own moose-like way.
"Okaay then! It's you and me from now on, big guy," the squirrel declared impertinently. "Moosie and Squirrel!"