The sound was so awkward and alarming that it had the ability to shake both my wife and me rather suddenly from our late-night slumbers. It was a shriek of pain and agony, mixed in with the sounds of betrayal and confusion. After it passed, we lay there, not sure how to react. When, seconds later, another wave of sounds emanated from the woods beyond our home, my wife urged me to get up and investigate.
Let’s clear up one thing right now. I am neither interested in investigating weird, middle-of-the-night sounds, nor am I bound by some official duty to do so. In short, I am what academics in the field of psychology would call a “complete and utter wuss.” I shy away from confrontation. My instinct to fight is non-existent. Flight is so much better an option. In fact, I have preferred boarding and first class seats, every time the scenario presents itself. I’m proud of this.
So, I looked awkwardly at my concerned wife and said, “Huh?”
“Yeah, go look out the window,” she pleaded. “It sounds like a girl is being assaulted.”
“What am I supposed to do from our bedroom window, if a girl is being assaulted?” I asked.
Now, my imagination runs wild, but never once did I think this involved a human being. That thought never crossed my mind. I had assumed, after applying logic and critical thinking to the situation, that an alien and Big Foot were arguing over territory in the woods behind our house. Nevertheless, I was obliged to “investigate.”
I rose slowly from the warmth of the cocooned bed, shirtless and heartless. A sudden explosion of more primal screams as I approached the window drew the sudden attention of my wife and me.
“Get down!” screamed my wife.
I obliged again, this time willingly. On the way down, though, I hit my face on the nightstand before sliding down onto the carpet.
“Ugh,” I remarked in the dark.
“Are you okay?” asked my wife from under the blankets.
“Yeah,” I responded, foggily. “But I think I have rug burn on my chest and my face hurts.”
There I remained, in the prone position, hurt and confused—for what seemed like an hour but was probably five seconds. I decided that I would wait another few moments before carefully slinking back to the bed.
Why do we think a thin layer of sheets is enough to protect us from the evil sounds lurking out back?
With a few moments of accrued silence, I carefully slid back into bed. It was comforting to find that my wife was already well returned to her REM sleep by this time. Her ability to fall asleep so shortly after a fear-consuming event was rather impressive. It took several hours for my adrenaline to subside, with each routine sound from the back yard enough to jolt me back towards observation and away from relaxation. Eventually, I fell asleep.
The light of the new day that next morning revealed the extent of my relief over having endured the mysterious encounter. It also revealed the extent of the rug burn on my chest, which was quite expansive.
Discussions the following day with a neighbor, who had lived there for many years, shed light on the weird sounds.
“Probably just two foxes engaged in a fight or two squirrels having sex,” he said.
This puzzled me, for obvious reasons. For starters, I wasn’t aware that fox fights and squirrel sex sounded the same. Additionally, how had my neighbor become so well versed in neighborhood animal sounds?
“Perhaps it was just two squirrels arguing or two foxes having sex?” I responded, provocatively.
“No, no,” said my neighbor, confidently. “Those don’t sound the same.”
I let it go, because I didn’t care enough to pursue it. I was quite content with the explanation that animal sounds led to our fear and the rug burn on my chest.