The Decaturian is Millikin's student-run newspaper. The opinions reflected may not be those of Millikin as an institution.

The Decaturian

The Decaturian is Millikin's student-run newspaper. The opinions reflected may not be those of Millikin as an institution.

The Decaturian

The Decaturian is Millikin's student-run newspaper. The opinions reflected may not be those of Millikin as an institution.

The Decaturian

The Squirrels.


The fall semester is as spry as the color-changing trees on campus and students alone aren’t the only mammals populating the leaf-coated sidewalks: squirrels have their fair share of the paths, as well.

The squirrels roaming Millikin’s campus strut about as if they own the place. They slink unnaturally close to your feet, stare you dead in the eyes, and then slowly retreat up their chosen tree trunk. 

It’s terrifying. 

And yet, perhaps they do own the place. The fluffy-tailed rodents run rampant across the campus lawn and sidewalks, marking their territory with a terrorizing gaze and dominant stance. Do they know something that we don’t?

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Millikin has an abundance of lore, mainly the ghosts that supposedly haunt Albert-Taylor and Blackburn Hall. What other secrets does the campus hide in its depths? And what are the squirrels not telling us?

Why are they so precariously confident in the wake of the stampede of students rushing to their 9am classes, half-awake and wishing they would have set their alarms ten minutes earlier? The creatures infamously stalk you, and their bravery only heightens when no one else is around but you.

But then, once you are within sprinting distance of a building, they back down. Are they wary of the ghosts wandering Shilling’s creaky staircases? The PMC’s grandly deteriorating inner crown molding and pink walls? Are they afraid of imminent death the same as we are? 

Or are they immortal, and fear the wrath of something more formidable? But why fear something if you are immortal? If you “own” the grounds? 

What is being omitted from the general knowledge of students? Do faculty know these reasons? For the squirrels tend to leave them alone, for the most part. How many attacks have there been, if any? Do they go rabid in the light of the full moon?

Their eyes become more beady as the days grow shorter and shorter. Sometimes, they seem red in certain lighting. It’s impossible to decipher if the irises reflect the orange hue of the leaves or if these squirrels truly have an inner evil. 

If you listen close enough, often you can hear faint screaming at midnight. Is it some poor soul taking a night stroll, or is it an unsettling correlation that relies too heavily on the imagination? Either way, the squirrels have to eat somehow. And not one student has seen these rodents with an acorn in their jaws.

What does that say? One can only assume the worst, however, no bodies have shown up. 


All Hallows Eve approaches rapidly, and the creatures scurry about more frantically each passing day. More and more of them creep about, watching students’ bustling feet trek by. Their gaze unfaltering. Eyeing each shoe intensely. 

Do they have heels? Can they escape or do we have a chance?

Perhaps their thoughts don’t circulate exactly in that regard, but their eyes hungrily tell of those desires.

Sometimes their shadows linger in my apartment window, looking a little too large for comfort. Often, I can hear the tap-tap-tapping of their clawed feet, climbing the gutters and scratching away at the siding. But only when the moon is full. 

.  .  .  .  .  .

My dog started growling at something out the window. It was dark, the clouds shadowing any light as if a harsh storm was brewing. 

It grew gradually. Tap-tap-tap-tap-tap. Tap-tap-tap. Louder and louder each moment that passed. Suddenly white light shone through the grooves of the blinds. 

The moon. It was full. 

Tap-tap-tap-tap-tap. Tap-tap-tap.

The tapping grew more rapid and resolute, soon followed by a high-pitched screeching sound. Then slight crunching. I opened the blinds and saw that the glass had been split into what closely resembled a spiderweb. In the corner two black eyes stared at me, soulless and unnerving. 

My heartbeat went wild, ringing in my ears making my cheeks go hot. How was it this high, on the third level? There were no ledges or trim to stand upon. 

Its eyes glinted red around the edges, unwaveringly intent on mine. It raised one paw and let it hover over the window crack, its claw-like nail burrowing into the center. For a split-second it seemed that the squirrel would come down alongside the glass, but it didn’t flinch as shards fell into a resounding crash around my desk and into the cup of steaming tea. 

My breathing hitched. What on earth was happening? Its beady eyes stared me down, sizing me up. My dog whimpered again louder and it turned into a nasty growling. The squirrel broke eye-contact with me, its eyes squinting at the small black dog not much bigger than itself. 

It screeched loudly, so high-pitched that the bathroom mirror cracked. My dog squealed, pawing at her ears. Then the squirrel launched its rather large body at her. It seemed to have grown in the time between my window shattering and it’s noticing my of pup. My dog yelped at the surprise attack, then started gnawing on the creature’s neck. 

It was like lightning. Perhaps it really was a strike. All at once a storm of squirrels surged through my window and onto my bed, making a bee-line to my poor dog. My body froze, knees locking. Everything went cold. My best bet was to run, but something loud screamed and they looked up from the ragged remains of my dog. A pool of blood and matted hair stained my bed sheets, and the creatures’ horribly sharp incisors dripped with saliva and her blood. 

Another scream. This time I felt it come from my own throat. I turned and twisted my ankle on the bedpost, falling down with a thud. Scrambling to get up, I felt what seemed like a hundred needles puncture my back. I flailed to grab onto something, anything. My hand grasped onto my umbrella but it was too late. I felt a hotness run across my neck.

I couldn’t swallow, couldn’t feel anything. I tried to crawl away but my legs and arms weren’t moving. My eyes were watering. Something was stuck in my throat but I couldn’t swallow it down.                         

I tried to scream, but nothing happened. I tried again, attempting to call out to my dog. To what was left of her. Everything was blurry and dark liquid dripped into my vision. 

.  .  .  .  .  .               

The clouds rolled slowly over the white moon, sirens wailed in the distance. What they were for, I likely would never know. 

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About the Contributor
Madelyn Cummins, Writer
Writer 2022- Present

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