A few nights ago, my wife woke me up at about three in the morning. Through the open windows, she’d heard what sounded vaguely like a velociraptor from Jurassic Park making that chirping/rattling/growling sound they make right before they eat your face. For a countermelody, something else — or maybe it was the same thing — kept screeching.
She’d already checked to make sure all of our animals were inside, so we knew it wasn’t our cats/dogs/guinea pig getting eaten by a genetically modified dinosaur.
I’ve lived in Michigan for about four decades, and I had no clue what was out there. So I grabbed a flashlight to check it out. Then I put the flashlight back and grabbed one that worked.
This wasn’t a terribly powerful flashlight, just a little LED light. But it was enough for me to avoid any dog “gifts” as I walked through the back yard. By now, I knew the sound was coming from a large tree on the other side of the fence.
I shine the light around, and quickly spot three sets of shining eyes watching me from the branches. The flashlight wasn’t strong enough for me to make out anything except the bright, glowing eyes. My brain was now alert enough to run through a quick checklist.
- Dinosaurs are extinct, and Seanan McGuire lives on the other side of the country, so these probably weren’t real velociraptors.
- The eyes were on the front of the head, not to the sides. Ergo, probably predators of some non-velociraptor variety.
- They were about twenty feet up, suggesting either birds or maybe large cats?
- Oh, cool — we have owls!
I hung out for another minute or two, hoping I’d be able to see more, but the darkness mocked me with its…darkness.
And then, right before I turned around to come inside, some long-dormant instinct made me raise the flashlight and look up. The beam illuminated a fourth pair of eyes in the branches directly above me. Just…watching.
I was tempted to grab my camera and try to climb up onto the roof to get some long-exposure shots with the zoom lens. Then I remembered it was three in the freaking morning, so I went back to bed.
They haven’t come back, which makes me a little sad, but helps everyone in the house to sleep better.
But the real lesson here is that if we ever are attacked by mutant dinosaurs or whatever, I’ll be one of the first to be ambushed and eaten.