The smell of burning things hung in the air. Pollux stood on his back feet, his hands curled into balls, sniffing, his whiskers twitching. He looked out over the fires and adjusted his vest. Something tiny pinged against the town bell in the clock tower behind him and he flinched. He dropped down and continued his scamper along the ridge line of the roof.
He panted and wiped his brow as he entered the nest.
"What's going on out there?" whispered Calypso, his wife.
"I'm not sure," replied Pollux. He paced three circles around the nest's entrance. Calypso stood in the doorway to the lounge, wringing her hands.
"Well you must know something!" she blurted.
Pollux stopped pacing and stared at her.
"They're burning things, dear wife. I'm not sure why."
"But...it's not winter. Why would they do that?"
"I'm not sure." Pollux pushed past her, grazing her cheek lovingly with his hand. He sat heavily in his chair and massaged the fur on his forehead. Calypso bustled in and sat on the pin cushion at Pollux's feet.
"What were they burning?" she asked.
Pollux leaned back in his chair and sighed deeply.
"What dear?" Calypso prompted.
Pollux sat up and picked up Calypso's hand, caressing it gently.
"My dear, they were burning each other."
"Oh...my..." she whispered, her eyes wet. "Oh why would they do that? Why?" She shook her head vigorously and looked in the distance.
"I'm not sure," said Pollux. "They're shooting each other, and bludgeoning each other. And then they put the bodies in vast piles where they burn them. I'm not sure why, but I have a theory though. The ones they are killing have boils and sores. They wander about vacantly. I think they are ridding their kind of some horrid disease."
"Oh, I hope that's it," said Calypso. "But even so, what a tragedy. Oh, my." She looked down at the sawdust floor momentarily. "My dear, do you think we are safe here?"
"I believe so. But food may be scarcer to come by. We may have to move to your sister's nest if it comes to it."
"Oh, let's hope not," said Calypso shaking her head. "Her brood, even though they are my kin, they do wear on one's nerves."
"They do that my dear. But if we are lucky it may not come to that. Perhaps this will all end in a day or two."
"Yes, let's pray for that," said Calypso, wearing a wan smile.
"Now dear, enough of this talk. I think it is time for tea."