Last night, I went out at 9pm on my nightly jog. It's a nice, quiet area in southwest FL, woodsy, scenic, no cars or people down the stretch I take, though, it can get very dark sometimes and I am a moderate nictophobe. Still, I love it, especially in the "winter" months (heavy emphasis on the quotation marks there). Another thing I like about it is that it's typically an uneventful area. *Typically.*
I was about a quarter of the way into my jog when I got a hankering to listen to a particular old song I hadn't heard in a long time. I couldn't remember the exact name of it for the life of me. The title wasn't something obvious, it wasn't a popular or well-known song, and I have hundreds of other songs to sort through. So I slowed down to see if I could find it. Sorted by band, by genre, by artist, by playlist- couldn't find it. I wondered if I had deleted it by accident. Stopping on the side of the road, I redoubled by efforts. It was principle now. I was going to find that damn song if it took me all friggin night.
OVER THE TOP of the dubstep I was listening to, I heard a sound that can only be described as the metallic demon shriek of a creature the approximate size and shape of a Giganotosaurus. I swear, I jumped a full two feet off the ground (which is saying something because we fat chicks don't usually get much hangtime when we jump), yanked my earbuds out, scrambled back a few feet, and froze like a terrified deer in the headlights. I stood there unmoving, listening for the direction of the sound so I could fuck off as fast as possible in the opposite direction if need be.
Doleful nightbirds piped their lonely psalms against a soft backdrop of chirring crickets and creaking frogs. Wind whispered through the trees and sighed through the tall grass. I heard nary a sound outside the typical Florida night serenata for a fair while. I began to wonder if perhaps my MP3 player had malfunctioned or maybe I'd heard the unfortunate demise of a Boeing 747 crash-landing into a pile of nails on a chalkboard. I even began to feel kinda silly. That happens sometimes. As an artist, my imagination occasionally gets away from me, especially if it has darkness and shadows to play with.
But then came the sound of water. It was not splashing, no, and it was not a tide or a current either. This is a particular sound that human beings recognize on a deep, instinctual level as it has been inscribed into our DNA through eons of evolutionary success, the very same success consequent of our instinct to run the fuck away when we hear sounds like this- sounds like something *big* moving towards you through water.
The Peace River is maybe a minute's walk from where I was standing. If I was to go off-trail and walk a straight line, it would be less than half a minute. The dinosaurian screech coupled with my knowledge of Florida wildlife brought my mind to the only logical conclusion…
Dinosaurs. LAUGH ALL YOU WANT but you did not hear this @#$%^&*ING SOUND. I've never been that interested in reptiles; mammals have always captured my intrigue far more readily, especially cats, but I know for a FACT that alligators do not make *that* kind of noise. They rumble, they hiss, they can even roar, and those are all very impressive sounds. I would know. I went to Corkscrew swamp once and heard it all up-close and pants-shittingly personal. That "rumble" they do vibrates through your whole body and sets your nerves on fire for sure but THIS WAS NOT THAT. This noise was something else entirely. And I was convinced that it was dinosaurs. Or aliens. Maybe alien dinosaurs.
I stood there frozen, half expecting the Indominus Rex to come tromping out of the river, and I heard it again, this time, with perfect clarity, shrieking like a rusty freight train full of banshees careening off the rails. Neegan popped out of the bushes and asked me if I had my shittin pants on which I pointedly did not but at least I had my running shoes and I could haul ass if I had to. Granted, I'm a fat chick, and that's a lot of ass to haul, but trust me, I can run faster and longer than you might think, and believe me, I was thinking about it.
The Shriek mounted to a crescendo reminiscent of some unspeakable horror from the Cthulhu mythos amidst violent splashing, grass rustling, and sticks snapping. Fuck that. I'm out. Later bitches! As I began to jog away, the Cthulhean call waned into a dry, shearing denouement, only to be punctuated with one…
I stopped in my tracks and turned around as if someone had said something very rude behind my back, like; "exkyoooooooose me?"
I stood frozen in shock with WTF sirens blaring in my head as I tried to figure out which kind of Cthulhean abomination would think it appropriate to follow up an abject, unbridled, pants-shittingly horrific screech with a fucking honk. Like, is this your average, everyday friendly neighborhood Gug riding a bike and letting everyone know that he's just passing through on his way to murder and eat the neighbors? Honk honk! Or maybe it's a Night Gaunt wearing a clown nose and randomly honking it into the darkness of night because that's his fetish. Honk honk! Or maybe it's the great Cthulhu himself arising from the swampy Floridian depths except he's secretly a muppet and that's how he communicates with his henchmuppets, instructing them to corrupt the hearts and minds of children around the globe through Sesame Street. Honk honk! I suddenly remembered a sound from my childhood back in New York when I used to walk through the cemetery which featured a fairly sizeable pond inhabited by…
Is that what I was hearing? A goose? Really? ARE. YOU. !@#$%^&ING. SHITTING. ME!? I was about to run home like a little bitch, leaving a trail of terror-shits across Deep Creek… OVER A !@#$%^&*ING GOOSE!? Honk! I AM GOING TO HUNT YOU DOWN AND HONK YOU RIGHT IN THE !@#$%^&*ING HEAD, YOU LITTLE BASTARD!
At that point, I was so embarrassed, I felt like I had to earn back some bravery points just for my own peace of mind. Like, I would not be able to sleep at night knowing that I had reacted to a !@#$%^&*ing goose like it was the second coming Cthulhu. I had to go see Cthu-goose for myself just to make sure. It was a full moon out so the darkness wasn't bothering me that much… just so long as I did not stare overlongly into the creepy dark pine forest or the Children of the Corn underbrush.
I walked down the trail leading to the river, listening, waiting for Cthu-goose to jump out at me. The trail ends in a small, steep bank overlooking the water. It seemed calm and quiet on the surface but there are actually alligators in there so I didn't get too close. People have died that way. I peeked around the corner and there on the shore, a little ways off, sat the Cthulhean horror that had nearly sent me screaming home in terror….
It was a !@#$%^&ing pair of Canadian geese. They were just kinda sittin there, chillin, lookin around. I took my glasses off, facepalmed, put them back on, and walked home in shame. But hey, if Doctor Grant from Jurassic Park is to be believed, they really kinda are dinosaurs in a way, and being that they are *Canadian,* you could say they are aliens. So if anyone asks why I got back from my jog so late last night…
Alien dinosaurs. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.