Squirrels are like water, they'll take the path of least resistance. I would have created a corridor of obstacles leading to the nearest exit to the outdoors, opened the outside door, then the fireplace door.
Mac almost won, which is scary, considering his psychotic rant about Alex causing a nuclear holocaust.
Plan A was for E to throw a pillowcase over Alex, grab him and chuck him out the front door. When E opened the fireplace door, Alex jumped up onto an interior ledge in the fireplace, forcing us to move on to plan B.
Plan B (which was the backup plan in case plan A went haywire): set up barricades using old political posters on corrugated cardboard (good to know they have some use), making a path straight from the fireplace to the front door.
So, E got behind the barricade, opened the fireplace door and used a fireplace poker to 'encourage' Alex to get off the ledge and out of the fireplace.
This is when Plan B almost went to plan C - Mayhem:
Alex ran out of the fireplace and jumped on top of the fireplace poker stand, preparing to leap up on to the mantle or on my head. Luckily, E grabbed a long box of matches from the mantle and used it to 'encourage' Alex to jump off the poker stand, into the barricaded hallway and out the door. Alex bolted outside and so far hasn't caused nuclear meltdown, but might have been run over by a car within minutes.
I prefer to think that I saw him hopping along the back fence, happily looking for birdseed in the feeder.
Thanks to everyone for participating.
Fecalmatter, I'll be contacting you to arrange a time to award you your prize.