These unwanted summer guests might be here to stay
Illustration by Brad Fitzpatrick
It's June in New Hampshire, a time of warmth and renewal. A time when life returns to the veldt behind your walls.
It starts when you’re awakened in the dead of night. Scritch, scratch, scuttle. You close your eyes. It was only a dream.
Scritch. Scratch. Scuttle.
There it is again. You stare into the darkness. “Scooter!” you hiss at the orange cat curled peacefully on your chest. “Stop it!” He opens one sleepy yellow eye and resettles, pressing his butt against your face in a quiet display of indignation. You push him off and he vanishes into the gloom, casting an angry glance over his shoulder that says, later, I shall poop in the tub. You’re not worried about it right now; your eyelids are just … too … heavy …
SCRITCH! SCRATCH! SCUTTLE!
Your eyes pop open with a familiar feeling of dread. You lie there. Droplets of sweat bead at your temples and the bathroom nightlight floods the room as Scooter pushes the door open. You know in your heart: There is something in the wall.
The question is, what?
Mice Cons: They will destroy everything and chew your electric wires, causing their own horrific, flaming deaths. And possibly yours. Pros: Mice are tiny and adorable. Maybe they will sing songs and sew you a beautiful gown for the ball.
Squirrels Cons: See Mice. Also, they will build nests and have squirrel babies in your wall. Pros: They will build nests and have squirrel babies in your wall!
Flying squirrels See Squirrels, but add glorious wings.
Snakes Pros: Snakes hang out in the wall, but they still like to go outside to eat. They’re less like roommates and more like the friend who crashes at your place when that one band is in town. Cons: Audible slithering in the dark can cause nightmares.
Cats It seemed like a good idea to send Scooter in to hunt down and devour the wall creatures, but never underestimate how lazy and vindictive cats can be. That smell? He’s pooping in the wall now. He’s not com- ing out. He has reached an understanding with the wall creatures.
Dogs Very small dogs of the chihuahua variety. Now you have barking in addition to the scritch-scratch-scuttling. And they’re so hungry. They will eat anything. Including the poop left by lazy, vindictive cats.
Coyotes Warning! Warning! It was all a ruse! The coyotes have been playing you the whole time. While you were messing around with mice and snakes and cats, the coyotes have set up a thriving society in the space between the guest bedroom and the upstairs bath. Now you have two choices: Shove the occasional prime rib through that hole behind the toilet or learn to live with the howling.
Ghosts If the howling isn’t coyotes, it’s probably ghosts. (Or howler monkeys, in which case, tempt them out with a bucket of nuts and top-canopy leaves.) New Hamp- shire ghosts can be particularly stubborn and territorial. But before you sell the house or set up shop as a Halloween attraction, try speaking loudly about how the spirit of John Stark was spotted in the Colonial next door. Who knows? Your patriotic phantoms may just take off and check it out. And once they’re gone, plug up the holes!
Adi Rule is the author of humor essays, short stories, plays, and YA and middle-grade novels. Her latest YA novel is “The Hidden Twin.”