I’m generally a non-violent person, but when it comes to gophers, I tend to bring out the big guns. Well, actually my gopher-demising arsenal consists of a shovel, traps, and extreme patience as the little cretins play a game of whack-a-gopher that always seems to go in their favor. I have even been haunted by these vindictive creatures in my dreams; I’m hovering over a fresh hole with shaking legs, trying to balance with the shovel poised, ready to strike if one dare show his freakish little face. I’ve never actually won the game of whack-a-gopher (in my dreams or in real life); I usually have to rely on traps and my mom and grandpa’s advanced skill with these creatures of the underworld, and as a team we have caught quite a few before they could destroy my garden. However, there has been one mega-gopher that has transcended all logic and any skill I or the best trained SWAT team member could muster. Gopher-zilla. The most ingenious mastermind known to the animal kingdom—possibly most of human-dom! We tracked him for weeks, catching brief glimpses of his little mangy head as he popped out of his hole just long enough to clear the dirt away and wink at me (I kid you not! It happened!). I became so in-tune with his distinct noises that I could even pick up on the sound of him pulling grass into his tunnel twenty feet away from me in the backyard. Sometimes I could even watch as he tunneled underground, leaving in his wake a long mound of dirt in my garden, and also several nibbled roots and dead flowers. I often found myself wondering if the Shadow would use his finely-tuned archery skills on this genius animal, or if he would develop a series of inescapable traps (you’ll know what I’m talking about when my book comes out!). My mom and I became pretty miffed after weeks of him expertly evading our traps by placing a few pebbles into the contraption to set it off, allowing him to safely pass and continue wreaking havoc and devilishness. Someone would have had a good laugh if they had caught a glimpse of my mom and I poised on the hill in our skirts and tennis shoes, armed with shovels and poking around at the unstable ground with our “tracking” pole to see where his tunnels went. He had the system of confusion on his side, though, and his haphazard tunnels prevented us from ever getting a firm grasp on where he came from and went. We were ready to give up after several weeks of this, and then suddenly one day we saw that the trap was sprung. Fully expecting to see a trap full of dirt and rocks—and the lingering scent of evilness!—we were quite surprised to discover that Gopher-zilla had finally found himself on the wrong side of the law. He was actually all scarred up from previous wars and was so large that his rear end had gotten stuck and it took us twenty minutes to get him out (true story!). We hadn’t done anything different, just picked a hole and prayed he would come to it. But we persevered through the whole thing and eventually defeated the maniacal genius. Over time, the recollection of those weeks became dimmer, and we focused our energy on the lesser gophers that dared attack our yard. But I will always remember him as the most worthy adversary who ever lived.