Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Blood on the Snow

While walking out to the garage a few nights ago (it's a separate building from the house), I noticed some bright red spatter on the snow. The series of spots began about eight feet from the side door and ended about six feet from the corner on the same side. The spots were clearly bright red, clearly fresh, and clearly blood. There were no footprints in the knee deep snow next to the path.

The blood began, and then it stopped.

Given the number of spatters, it doesn't seem to make sense that there weren't any more on either side of that alarming stretch of path. We checked the dog's feet and found nothing. I checked my hands to see if my fingers could have been dripping blood. (Without me knowing it? Sadly, it could probably happen.)

Later that night, while walking the dogs down the driveway, I heard an absolutely curdling scream cut through the night. The two dogs and I froze. It sounded like a woman being stabbed with a dull steak knife. A few seconds later we heard it again. Then again, and again. It seemed to be coming from the other side of our neighbor's house, still a hundred yards or so away.

Convinced it was an animal, I turned around and ran the dogs back to the house. I grabbed Melissa and made her scramble into boots and jacket and hustled her outside. At the top of the driveway she heard it for the first time.

"Did you hear it?" I asked.

"That was Sabrina screaming!" she said.

I knew she wouldn't believe me that it wasn't. I told her to keep walking while I ran in and checked on the girl. She was asleep in her bed. Back outside, Melissa was about two thirds down the driveway. We both stopped and listened again. The scream came again, and then again, growing more faint each time.

"What the hell is it?"

"Some kind of bird," I guess. "It's moving away too quickly."

Slowly we made our way back to the house. I was enjoying the opportunity to hear more nocturnal wildlife, thinking of the night we first moved up here and listened to some still unexplained roaring/braying at a Vermont rest stop. We've heard that same sound here, too. Suddenly Melissa said, "Lock the door tonight."

That blew everything. Suddenly I had the plot for a story bubbling up in my mind, where an innocent pedestrian scolds a strangely dressed man on the sidewalk for casually littering. The strangely dressed man takes an odd offense and begins heckling and following the man down the street. Eventually he follows him to his home and then starts calling and otherwise harassing him, ultimately ending in a real bad situation. All the while the man can't believe he's suffering such torment and threat because of an almost casual remark. It disturbed my sleep and I vividly remembered the dreams the next morning.

Melissa said she, too, had had bad dreams, of death, destruction, and other mayhem. Life in the woods in a small town, I guess. With killer birds. We don't need no stinking bears.

Unless they can fly.


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