I don't know how long the screaming went on before I
noticed. When I did, I lay very still
and listened close to determine what was happening, and where. I concluded they were still on the outside, probably
at least a hundred feet away.
Moving slow and careful, I turned toward the clock. It was 3:17 on a pitch black night.
It's hard to say which is worse, the howl of the pack or the
scream of a big cat. We get both around
here. So far, they've stayed in the
yard. I've got a shotgun loaded beside
me, in case they change their minds.
The house was silent, up until the noise started. Outside was a different story. Wind, rain, and the unknowable sounds of the
night. When the clouds drop low, and the
moon sets, you can't see ten feet in a clear meadow. In the woods it's even darker. There, you can't even see your shoes.
Something big could grab hold of your leg, and you wouldn't
know until it was too late. Knowing that,
I listened close and moved slowly as I walked down the steps and into the yard. Half expecting to see a dead animal or some
other sign; a warning or perhaps a challenge.
I crept forward into the night, until I heard a rustle. It seemed to come from all around, but noises
can be tricky. I looked up to the dark
sky. It might be the wind, shaking the
fall leaves from the trees. Or it might
be something else.
After a moment, I kept moving. Every crack and pop makes you stop and listen
when the predators are howling. No one
wants to end up as some animal's dinner.
I used to be the undisputed king of my property. These past five years, things are
changing. Animals are taking back the
night. I don't know if it's the chemical
spills, the radiation up north, or something else. All I know is, they're different.
They don't back down so easy, and when they run, they only
go far enough to get out of reach.
Things have started vanishing, too. First it was the cat. Now the kid down the street. No one's seen him for two weeks. Then I found a piece of shoe, out back by the
creek. I showed it to Snake, but neither
of us could recognize it. It was a size
14, though. Whoever he was, he was big.
No one that size has gone missing that I know of, but sometimes homeless
people take shelter in the woods, and when they get eaten, no one knows.
I'm gonna begin patrolling with night vision glasses and a
gun. Getting a dog didn't work. On the
fifth night, I heard the noises, and all I could find the next morning was half
a hind leg. So I'm down to
technology. That's the only way to level
the playing field.
I wonder where it will end.
(c) 2007-2011 John Elder Robison[image error][image error]
Published on October 20, 2011 07:10 • 104 views
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