Monday, February 17, 2014


One moment I’m sleeping peacefully and with the next breath I’m jerked awake by a cacophony of sound. The slam of adrenaline hits so hard it’s like fire coursing through my veins. Deep breath, hand to the chest to keep my heart in place. Seconds to identify the sounds and decide the action needed. My existence is reduced to strobe light flashes of action and reaction.

That’s what it’s like to wake up to all hell breaking loose.

One hand hits the light switch the other has already grabbed my pants. I’m aware of Dan ratcheting a round in the chamber before he grabs his clothes. I hear the snarl of my son’s pit bull. The hair on the back of my neck prickles. The Danes are going into attack mode.

I jam my feet into boots while loading the shotgun. Dan’s already out the door, gun loaded and ready, his flashlight spearing the blackness of the cold night. I hear the snick of safety off from my son’s rifle. His pit is going nuts in his bedroom. Outside the Danes are snarling and slamming against the fence engaged in a fight with coyotes and in the background a call to the pack floats on the air. Doctari bugles a challenge with his mares behind him. All faces are pointed toward the confrontation a hundred yards away.

We wade through the ground fog in hunting mode listening to dangerous dogs in protection mode. A high-pitched yelp of a wounded canine. The smell of blood. The echo of gunfire. Howls of the pack calling retreat. The snorting and stomping of alert horses. Eerie eyes where there shouldn't be eyes. 

When hell breaks loose it’s a mêlée of confusion, flashes of movement, and sound.

It’s been a hard winter. Food has been problematic for the packs, although they rarely come into the home pasture and my cats know not to venture into the pastures on winter nights. My first flare of worry was for my horses especially with Doctari’s challenge even though I know that coyotes don’t normally go after something that big, even as a pack, unless it’s badly wounded and looks easy to bring down. The home pasture is Doctari’s territory. He was confronting home invaders of the canine variety. He doesn't tolerate any threat to his mares by canines. I've seen those powerful legs and hooves in action a couple of times when strays have thought it fun to chase the horses. Let’s just say a couple of those strays didn't get back up.

Later investigation showed the clear blood trail from the open pasture to the Dane pen. It was a tale of a fierce fight between the two fleeing Raccoons and what we suspect were a few of the pack’s yearlings with a few of this year’s pups. A fatally wounded Raccoon ran for cover into my Dane pen to escape. The sound of battle through the fence between my Danes defending home ground and the Coyotes determined to get their meal.  The added din of a cornered and terrified Raccoon entering the mêlée and protecting its mate. She escaped, he, unfortunately, did not.

Unforgettable sights, sounds and smells. Things like this are the stuff of movies or books.

Upon reflection, you can imagine all sorts of things out there in the dark. Things that grab at you from the ground, shape shifters, vampires, home invasions, an army on the move, anything your imagination can conjure up could be there hiding in the ground fog of the night.

  • So, how do you use these moments of life?

  • Do they stir your imagination? Do they find their way into your writing?


~Upcoming guests~

Wednesday, February 19th: Jade Lee talking about the moment in every story that surprises her.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Wow! That's a lot of excitement for one night. Maybe you can use that in a story sometime?

Melissa said...

Wow is right! That's a chilling story, and well told.

Jo said...

Rather you than me. Poor coon. Glad none of your animals were hurt though.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Alex--if not the actual events I can certainly use the feeling of disorientation and surge of adrenaline. :-)

Melissa--thank you. It was scary to be awakened to all those sounds. I'm glad I was able to put you *on the spot* so to speak. The sounds of snarling and fighting were gruesome. It made me glad I wasn't the one at the end of the teeth. :-)

Jo--I felt bad for coon. I hadn't observed coon mates defend like that before. Quite an eye opener. I would have let the male escape but it was apparent that he was in pain and beyond saving. We put him down.

Karen Walker said...

This is really scary for me, being a city kid. So glad all of your family and animals are okay.

D.G. Hudson said...

I'm exhausted after reading that, Sia. A little Nature for excitement. Glad you are ok.

I try to use events like these in vignettes or in novels. I'm a city dweller; I'd be unprepared for wildlife villains.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Karen--most of the shock was it's suddenness and it was dark so you couldn't see clearly. I think that magnified the sounds.

DG--every city has it's wildlife. Of the animal variety--raccoons, coyotes, foxes, possums, skunks, some of the wildcats too. Then there are owls and birds of prey during the daylight hours. Usually, most on that list are nocturnal so they all come out at night while you're asleep.

Natalie Aguirre said...

Wow! I wasn't sure if this was real life or a story. Loved the writing.

Pat Hatt said...

Sounds like quite the commotion indeed

~Sia McKye~ said...

Natalie--All too real, I'm afraid. I merely added how it felt and the confusion during those minutes. :-) Thank you.

Pat--quite the commotion. When the big dogs go on attack it sounds unbelievable. Add the dark and everything else...well, I'm just glad to say it doesn't happen on a regular basis.

Robin said...

A heart pounding story.

When I finished I thought about all of the people who lived in a time when this sort of thing happened regularly. Man versus nature. Or wildlife. Just trying to carve out an existence was dangerous every single day. How did people cope with the stress?

You should definitely incorporate this into a story. Well written. I was right there with you.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

You had a major animal convention. Good to hear none of the horses were hurt.

Julie Flanders said...

Oh my goodness, this made me nervous just to read it. I can't imagine going through it. Your writing is so powerful though I almost felt like I was there.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Sia - I remember the chickens howling and crashing around when I was a kid, with the fox around. Honestly with your menagerie - I'm not sure where I'd start ... but my heart will carry on beating quite hard for a while as I assimilate your story ... not sure I'd want to be there! Glad all was well though ...

Cheers Hilary