A few nights back, somewhere well after midnight, I was getting ready to go to bed when I heard something outside my bedroom window. It was a semi-regular soft tapping, like when a gentle breeze causes a tree branch to tap against a windowpane. This can be disturbing enough just on its own. But there were two details that made it a bit more unsettling:
1) There was absolutely no wind whatsoever
2) There is nothing even remotely like a tree outside the window. Just a big empty space for 500 feet.
So while I’m sitting there pondering just what it could be, I noticed that Raedthinn and Fingers, who up till this point had been sacked out on my bed, were sitting up and staring at the window, listening to the tapping. Joy. So I grabbed my flashlight and my pistol and went for a walk outside the house. And when I got around to the side of the house with the window tapping… nothing. Nada. Zero.
It was an unpleasant night. Normally when the sun goes down the temperature plummets; at this altitude, the heat in the ground and air radiate away to space nicely. But it was cloudy and the temperature had refused to go down to a friendly level. So in this Brit-killing heat I orbited the house a time or two to see if i could see anything out of the ordinary. It occurred to me that perhaps I was hearing some manifestation of the raccoon army that had been by last year, but there was no sign of them.
I went back up to the front porch to go back into the house. As I neared the door, I heard something substantial shuffling around not far away. It sounded like it was either in the agricultural ditch next to the road out front, or possibly just on the other side of the road in the wheat field. Whenever I turned the flashlight in that direction, the noise stopped, and of course I couldn’t see anything. But when I turned the light off, it started moving again. It *sounded* big and quadrupedal, though stealthy.
I was about to just write it off as a psychological aberration… I was “hearing things.” Then I swept the light across the front window. All four of my cats – Raedthinn, Fingers, Buttons and Speedbump – were lined up in the window, staring intently at *something.* Whatever it was, it wasn’t *me,* and whatever it was, they didn’t like. Raedthinn was down low with his ears back; Fingers was in her “I’m freaking out and about to bolt” pose, Buttons and Speedbump looked confused. They were all staring in the same direction, out towards the whatever-it-was I’d heard. And whatever it was, I never did catch sight of it, though it kept moving.
It *sounded* deer-sized. But a deer could not have been able to hide like that unless it was equipped with a cloaking device, and I’m pretty sure those are few and far between in the deer community. It was probably something akin to a skunk, but one that was making an outsized racket. And on the one hand it was good to get some independent verification that I wasn’t hearing things that weren’t there; on the other hand, it was creepy as hell to have independent verification not only that I wasn’t alone, but that whatever it was that was out there, my cats could all see but I couldn’t… and that they really, really didn’t like what they saw.