A hypomanic horror writer / paranormalist can get a little too jumpy.

I took my dog out for his last walk of the night just now, but I was feeling lazy. I snapped him to a long-line (40+ feet) and let him wander off into the darkness. I stood in the middle of the extraordinarily quiet yard, gazing up at the stars.

At first, he calmly took care of business. Then he found a stick that he could toss for himself. I knew this, not because I could see him in the pitch black beyond the cozy glow cast by the porch light, but because I could hear him romping in the lawn’s thick layer of dry leaves. When he crossed from the mowed yard into the meadow, all the crunching and crackling ceased. The night’s silence was broken only by the sighs of the tall, soft meadow grass as he swished through it. After a while, he started tugging a bit too much, indicating to me that he was actively running back and forth.

Not wanting him to get tangled around any of the many trees and posts in our yard, I positioned myself so that his line ran straight and taut from where I stood to where he played. Then I called his name. By the sound of it, he responded by coming out of the tall grass fast, crushing leaves and snapping twigs as he bounded toward me. In a few strides, I could see him, running flat out and low slung, like some sort of Savannah predator. I was about to brace for impact when I heard something else crashing through the leaves beyond him. It sounded like it was a few yards behind, but it was drawing closer. I strained into the gloom, trying to see what creature could possibly be fast enough to gain on my athletic boxer-cross. Whatever it was had to be small, because I could see nothing.

One of the feral cats? No. They run away. A fox? Only if it’s rabid – it would have to be crazy to chase my powerfully built dog. Something … else?

My heartbeat sped up. I urged my dog to come faster. I turned to run toward the house. Then my very-good-dog leapt into the space next to me, happy that I was obviously going to play with him. His panting and prancing was the only sound I could hear. The pursuing creature had stopped … in fact, had disappeared.

It was a few heartbeats later that I realized what I had heard. The long-line was lying in a narrow curve that stretched from hand, out toward the meadow, then back to my dog’s collar. This curve had been dragging through the leaves behind him as he ran.

Maybe I should cut back on the horror movies a little.

This is my boy when he was only 17 weeks old.

He’s much bigger now 🙂

P.S. In case anyone is wondering about this hypomania I keep mentioning, this a good description.