Late One Night

It was fairly dark already on the windy summer's eve, and warm too. The dog had been whining to get out for a walk for a half hour already, so the father finally grabbed a bag and some biscuits and set out with the dog at a brisk pace.

Soon they got to the path behind the school... always dark and bordered by trees and a water way. Today, the wind moaned through the trees- sometimes a twig would come down with a strong gust. Not a good night to take that path.

Yet, he found himself walking along that path, his small flashlight illuminating the route ahead of him. Why did he take it? A small voice inside his head asked the same question, and the only real answer was that he needed to prove to himself that he wasn't scared of the dark. Man was on the top of the food chain- an unparalleled predator. Nothing to worry about! Still, there was a small problem- he WAS afraid of the dark.

As the light of his penlight cast an eery bluish glow into the trees a reflection caught his breath. Eyes were watching him from the brush! No... only a piece of gum wrapper caught in the branches.

There in the trees- movement, a screech! Of course, only an owl high above him in the tree tops. Then behind him! Footsteps drawing nearer... a snort... getting closer! He swiveled around. There was the dog, illuminated in the small cone of light right behind him.

Oh, man... it left a dog's log! No helping it, the poop was right in the path and ripe. He pulled out the bag and scooped as duty required. But all the time he glanced around, movement from every direction encroaching on his vulnerable posture.

From above came a cracking snap and down came a fairly large branch about 10 metres away. That spooked the dog and it instantly jumped ahead. He knew it was only a branch, yet it scared him terribly.


Kai was our furry companion.

She was shiny black,

Her paws so ticklish;

her brown eyes begging.

I miss you sweetheart-

the homecoming greeting

the chaos of the trash can raid

Most of all, among my best friends.

Our Kai- she closed her eyes one last time to those she always opened them to.


Cayotes had been seen here before, and he recalled the story of the person mauled by a bobcat not 3 kilometres from this spot. And, come to think of it, bears could easily come here, considering the area was surrounded by farmland and a nature reserve was just north of it.

Thinking this, he heard snorting again behind him. And not far back either- and... and the sound of footpaws, trotting along the ground. The dog again... coming up to beg for a biscuit, of course. He put his hand in his pocket to pull one out. And then, behind him, there came a touch on his shoulder. Not the dog!

But then he thought... the tree branches had been extending over the path, no doubt this one was being blown by the wind gusts.

So, he held out the biscuit in his hand as he swung around, all the while shining his flashlight up into the trees to watch for any other branches that might come down. Suddenly he realized there was no dog behind him, and in fact, there weren't any trees nearby either! In panic, he ran back down the path the way he'd come. A black shadow slid silently along the path behind him, quickly overtaking him. He was not going to make the entrance to the path! He was going to be mauled by the bear coming up behind him and no-one would know! The end was at hand!

Again he was tapped on the shoulder from behind, again he heard footpaws running behind, and now... black shadows flashed before him, zig-zagging just before his feet, trying to trip him up. Panic! Claws dug into his left cheek, and as he swung his arm to defend his face, he found blood on his hands. Such fear as he'd never known lent speed to his gait, and he ran like he never had before.

Then... he did trip over a black shadow. A choking grip wrapped around his neck as he went down. With a scream, he crashed to the ground, nearly squashing the poor rabbit under him. A long cord from his jacket hood unwrapped from his neck, still carrying a few blackberry thorns in it and whacked him on the shoulder. A very puzzled dog gave him a long slurp right across his face and plopped down, waiting for the biscuit.

Bruised and feeling very sheepish, he gave the dog the biscuit. Dusting his trousers, he stood up and shone the light all around. Nothing. So stupidly scared! It was only a rabbit, darting out of the bush to flee. Phew! He'd only caught his jacket cord in a branch of blackberry thorns and been whipped by the plastic end.

Together, man and dog returned home uneventfully. It wasn't until he was in bed that he found a small discrepancy. What had made that snorting sound behind him? The dog had been nowhere to be seen! The next day, he walked the path in broad daylight... there, imprinted in the dirt, was a large clawed footprint. Was it kids, fooling around? Or, had he narrowly escaped a wild carnivore? He'd never know, but... he was still scared of the dark.

Short Stories