I have just successfully avoided being eaten by a mountain lion/zombie/mythical monster.
Thank you. Thank you very much.
My first mistake was agreeing to take the dog out in the first place. I am sick. I should be snug under a pile of blankets, with a cup of tea and an enormous bottle of cold medicine by my side. I should not be out braving the elements – no matter if this is the first kiss of spring that we’re having today – and God was teaching me a lesson just now.
My second mistake was heading into the bloody woods.
Of course, it was broad daylight – and you’d think that the monsters would have the decency to wait until nightfall to slither out.
Not so, apparently.
And how was I to know?
To make a long story short – I decided to be kind to my restless dog and took her down one of those winding “nature trails” off the main path. I figured she needed the exercise, and even though I needed to be back in bed – I thought that providence would reward me for my good deed.
I noticed that something was amiss the moment we got to the bottom of the hill and attempted to cross the small wooden bridge over the small bubbling brook.
The woods had gone completely quiet. As I mentioned before – spring has decided to drop in for a kind of preliminary visit – and the entire neighbourhood has been erupting in birdsong for two whole days now – the woods in particular. But tt was suddenly so silent that I could almost hear my own frickin’ heartbeat. I stopped. The dog stopped too.
Then, I heard a very loud rustling noise. There are no leaves on the trees as of yet – and visibility is actually terrific – so whatever large creature it was that was making the noise – I should have been able to see it. But I saw nothing. I didn’t even see any movement.
“OK,” I thought. “Deer.” They blend in well with last season’s foliage – and they can be very loud. I was actually very excited to see deer, because the dog loves them. She’s always trying to go off and play with them, and they, being deer, are always giving her the slip, but the encounters are nevertheless fun.
I started to cross the bridge to meet the deer, and I realized that the dog wouldn’t budge. It was not excited by the prospect of seeing deer at all. In fact, it was behaving very strangely – as if it was scared. This dog is never scared. I used to own a fierce and loyal Doberman whose only fear was thunderstorms, but this new dog, Zara, doesn’t even care about bad weather. Lighting, thunderclaps – bring it on, she says.
You can imagine that her behaviour immediately struck me as peculiar.
I decided that she was being a little brat, and tugged on her leash. But she refused to go anywhere. She wasn’t whining or howling, but her entire body became rigid, and she looked up at me with a very serious (who knew that Zara, of all living beings, could ever look serious?!) expression on her little face – and her eyes said, “Don’t go, you bloody idiot.”
And she turned away and looked in the direction of the noise again. It was getting closer. It must have been no more than fifteen feet away, and still I couldn’t see a damn thing.
The strange thing is – I wasn’t scared. Which is how I know that something was really wrong – I get scared when I’m not supposed to be scared, and I’m brave when I’m not supposed to be brave. This is the story of my life.
I decided to trust my dog, I turned around, and the dog took off, almost dislocating my shoulder. I had never seen her run away from anything before, but here she was, booking it back up the hill, dragging me with her with a strength I didn’t even know she possessed (she’s not a very big dog). I was running, occasionally looking back, not seeing anything, but still hearing some sort of noise, and deciding, finally, that I needed to get back up that hill and think about what was going on at the bottom later.
At the top, I was breathless. Some old dude walked by, gave me a strange look, and kept going. I didn’t say anything to him. What was I supposed to say? “Um, there’s a monster down there. Nice weather, isn’t it?”
It was probably some stupid garden snake, of course. Only why was it so loud? I don’t know. Why had the woods gone quiet (the birds are chirping away now, even as it gets darker and darker)? I don’t know. Why was my normally plucky dog so clearly worried for me? What was she running away from?
I don’t trust my instincts, not really – but I would trust a canine, any day. And I did.
Obviously, I have just survived an assassination attempt by an Orc, or something. Obviously, I should give Zara a medal, and never go into the bloody woods alone again.