by Mary Grace Mauney firstname.lastname@example.org
For a while, Louey and Sadie Lynn simply sat in the car with the heat on, making small talk, breathing on their paws, using their little dog nails to tap the keys on their phones to text their friends and play games, and nothing at all happened.
At least, they didn’t think so. They didn’t realize that every squirrel in the trees that overlooked the bridge were currently dumping salt down on to it to melt the ice. These squirrels were friends of the squirrels who lived in the Lost City, and had, through them, become customers and friends of Mister Migs in turn, and he had called them to ask for this favor. They of course used only salt, no anti-freeze or anything else that could be dangerous to animals! Sure, Sadie Lynn and Louey would be staying in the car, but the wild animals who might walk by on the bridge later could ingest the chemical poisons! They also made use of alfalfa meal, sugar, and baking soda, all of which worked like salt while also being all-natural.
The dogs did notice, however, when their highly sensitive ears picked up the oddest sound coming from the road behind them. Since they could hear from such a long distance—a quarter of a mile or more—they had to wait to see just what the strange noises was. As they watched the rearview mirrors keenly, a few little shapes appeared on the horizon, coming steadily closer.
“What are those?” asked Louey.
“I can’t make them out,” said Sadie Lynn, squinting, “They’re not very big, they can’t be humans or cars…and it’s like they’re gliding, not walking…”
When the strange objects finally came into view, the dogs were stunned. They were tires! Truck tires, rolling along the road on their own!
As the two of them stared in shock, they realized, as the tires came closer, that they weren’t moving on their own at all. In the empty center of each tire was a rat running inside, rolling the tires in the same way that they would roll one of their rodent exercise balls. There were four of them, and they stopped beside the Mister Migs truck. Sadie Lynn rolled down the window to speak to them, perhaps invite them in out of the cold. They had on tiny scarves, sweaters, and booties, but still, she felt the poor things must be freezing!
“Heya! We’re here to replace your tires!” said one of the rats in reply, “These are snow tires! To help with the ice! Just in case the stuff the squirrels put down hasn’t melted it up yet.”
“Squirrels?” said Louey, “What squirrels? What stuff?”
As the rats explained how Mister Migs had called on the squirrels to sprinkle salt and other ice-melting substances on the bridge from the trees above, the dogs heard yet more strange sounds coming down the road. It was a brigade of tiny dogs driving tiny snow plows, all of them wearing tiny scarves, sweaters, and booties just like the rats. They too stopped by the truck, and one got out to speak to Sadie Lynn and Louey as well.
“The ice should have melted into a brine with the salt by now,” he told them, “If you drive over it, the weight of the truck will beat it into a slush, and then we can plow it away for everyone else using the bridge today!
“But here, take some not-cocoa first,” one of the squirrels had run up to the truck as well, and was holding out two steaming mugs.
“Not cocoa?” Sadie Lynn asked, “Don’t you mean hot cocoa? And, I’m sorry, but we can’t have this, chocolate--"
“--- is dangerous to dogs,” finished the squirrel, “Of course I know that! But everyone should be able to enjoy hot cocoa! So we thought you could drink what we do in the winter: a nut-based substitute. We call it not-cocoa. Or nut-cocoa, if you prefer!”
The two dogs took the mugs, and found the brew within to be delicious!
The ice melted, their tires changed, and hot drinks in their paws, they were ready to go again, and it wasn’t long before they’d reached Roswell, right on time.