Monday, November 23, 2009

Night Terror

We heard them out on the golf course on our last walk of the night.

It wasn't even a walk really, just a quick trip down to our end of The Run, a sort of hillside circle surrounded by pine and juniper trees. During last week's storm I'd carved out a trail in the snow with my boots but after a week of heavy use the snow had turned to ice which could be both fun and tricky to navigate. Duncan loves it because he can roll onto his back and slide down the hill, but getting back up has proven difficult. Last night we strolled down to the hill where Duncan took care of business and then slid around for a bit while I listened to the geese mumbling amongst themselves and watched the tight, thumbnail sliver of a moon hover in the southwest sky.

The coyote packs out on the golf course typically aren't too big, two, maybe three small dogs at the most. The big ones, like the one we ran into earlier this year, hunt by themselves. Last night, however, we could hear something much bigger was happening and the geese seemed uneasy. Duncan kept staring off into the darkness, a very soft growl building in his throat. I don't like when he gets like that and tend to listen to him so I brought him back up to the apartment.

It was only after we climbed into bed, Duncan settling happily onto his side while I spread out on my own, that pandemonium broke out. I had barely turned my light off and rolled over when the call of the geese rose up loud from the night. Even though my bedroom overlooks the parking lot and the geese had spread out in a rather large flock on the other side of the building I heard them as though they were in the next room. At first the chatter just got louder, but then a second noise rose up all around it and drowned it out, a manic laughter that came from everywhere.

The cats scattered and Duncan jumped up, his hackles standing tall, a deep unease in his throat. Without turning on the light I slipped down the hallway, through the living room and into my office where I popped the window open and squatted next to my desk. Immediately the apartment was filled with the clear and unmistakable sound of the coyotes, their tinny voices rising up unseen behind the trees and deep in the shadows. One by one I heard other windows sliding open and soon my neighbors had joined me in listening to what sounded like a massacre on the golf course. The geese were screaming and trying to take flight but the coyote pack seemed to have them surrounded because only a few escaped, the heavy beat of their wings passing very close to our building. On and on it went and finally the screams came as the pack started picking them off, laughing like hyenas as they moved in the shadows.

It was a terrible noise and lasted a long time. Duncan stood next to me, his chest out, his eyes peering into the darkness, at what I could not see. But finally, when it died down he turned and looked at me, relieved, it seemed, that we were on this side of the glass and that we had a bed to climb back into.

4 comments:

David said...

Growing up, I never knew coyotes waaaaay back here in Chicagoland, but they are common now, ambling in plain view in broad daylight, and trotting down suburban sidewalks at night. The peace of summer nights is sometimes rent with the cries of coyotes as they attack screaming animals in the woods behind our house. It seems very alien. One must admire their adaptability and cunning, but I liked it better when they were merely supporting players in old black and white Westerns on television.

caboval said...

OMG! Thank goodness you made it back to the safety of your home!!! Where I used to live we would hear the same thing when they made a kill! Its awful. And they seem to do it at sunset time and at 4 am!!! Please be careful on your walks Curt! PLease! Hugs Joey and Kealani

Ruby's Mum said...

Isn't their "laughter" an unnerving sound? The first time I heard it, I thought there was some loud partying in our neighborhood. Now I know it's what they do when they've made a kill.

Kevi said...

Holy CRAP!!! That was spooky. Why couldn't it have been an annoying golfer!?! Happy Thanksgiving