The Loneliest Lemming

Once upon a time, there was a lemming named Frederick, and he had a lot of friends. Lemmings don’t often have that much to do with each other, but Frederick was more social than most, and he’d follow along after this lemming or that, talking about the weather, and what happened yesterday, and where he’d found the best grasses, and what the other lemmings were doing and saying these days. He liked to be companionable.

One day, Frederick saw that all the other lemmings had gathered together in a huge group. He was thrilled! The other lemmings never wanted to have a party. He didn’t even mind he’d missed the invite. He ran across the field hollering, “Hey guys! Hey, it’s me, Frederick! What’s going on? What are we up to?”

The other lemmings had actually gathered for the express purpose of figuring out how to arrange for Frederick to be eaten by a predator. When they saw him coming, they began to run as a group. They ran and ran and ran, and Frederick chased along behind. “Guys,” he hollered. “Wait up! I learned this new game the other day – I’ll explain it!”

The lemmings all came to a cliff, but they were running so fast and they were blinded by the crowd, and they ran right off the edge of it and plummeted to their deaths below. All of them. Frederick arrived at the cliff’s edge and screeched to a stop.

“Oh, guys,” he whispered.

The winter was long and horrible. Frederick dug tunnels in the snow, hunting far and wide for sedges and grasses and finding few. He was hungry and cold, and most of all lonely. He felt like he was the sole survivor of a terrible apocalypse. Several times, a coyote or a fox came within spitting distance and Frederick knew it was only the snow that was keeping him alive. He awaited spring as his certain death, and he hoped that it would be quick and painless.

Moral: If all your friends jump off a cliff, be sure to keep up.

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