Sunday, October 18, 2015
INCIDENT BEFORE DAWN
A bone-chilling night with heavy frost and Gothic mists. On moonless nights like this, the mountain shadows are darker than the Devil's soul and just as intimidating. Only fools would venture outside - where the vast emptiness is alive with the possibility of wandering ghosts.
Everything is unnervingly silent until just after midnight, when an unknown restlessness seems to stalk the forest. The neighboring cows and horses start to bellow and whinny. Faraway dogs bark incessantly. And then I hear the familiar distant, unearthly howls of coyotes.
Eerie sounds in the mountains at night seem to come from everywhere, echoing and bouncing around tauntingly, as if being deliberately evasive.
As usual, I ignore the sounds and concentrate on my laptop computer. I'm at the kitchen table, with one small lamp, in the company of a midnight snack: hot tea and sandwiches.
Nothing much is happening - only the distant cacophony of inhuman sounds and the increasing chill, which is a rude reminder of approaching winter.
Sometime around 4:00 AM I step out on the back porch - just to stretch my legs, survey the blackness, and watch my breath come out in white puffs. As I'm going back in, the inevitable happens: my cat Scratch pushes past me and disappears into the night.
She's done this numerous times in the past, and usually returns in a few minutes. I'm certain that tonight she'll return even faster, due to the intense cold.
I nervously work at the computer - jumping up every few minutes to check the back porch for the return of Scratch.
No cat in sight. I call for her repeatedly. No answer. By 5:30 AM I'm frantic. It's still pitch black and dawn doesn't come until way after 6:30.
I go outside again on the back porch. The porch light has been on, in anticipation of Scratch's return. No cat. No nothing.
I start calling loudly. I'm startled when my calls are immediately answered with inhuman yelps, hoots, and howls. They are very close and seem like taunts and jeers.
I squint against the impossible darkness and suddenly see at least six sets of glowing eyes in a semi-circle - only a few yards from the back porch.
It's a pack of coyotes, all looking at me
and making menacing, hooting sounds. I've never heard anything like it.
My concern for my cat's safety is stronger than any fear of coyotes. I step forward, stamping my feet, and yelling threateningly at them. I keep yelling and they keep hooting, but the hoots are moving in the darkness.
Eventually the intimidating pack moves farther away and their wolf-like howls and jeers lessen. As if on cue, Scratch quickly emerges from under the porch and darts inside. She must have been under there for way over an hour.
Scratch is cold and miserably damp, but at least she escaped with her hide intact - this time. She's presently asleep in a chair near me.
I plan to make sure she never gets out at night again. Next time she might not be so lucky. Half a dozen coyotes could extinguish a cat's nine lives in a few seconds.
Visit my latest Halloween post at this link:
Walking Through Graveyards