Peter woke to the blood curdling sounds of a wild animal. It was wholly unique, part screech and part howl. It sent shivers down his spine and up the back of his head. He felt a trickle of pee as the sound silenced everything. A quick inventory revealed he was with his young son with nothing to protect them from ‘it’, which had the potential to rip apart his tent and tear his flesh.
He was camping by Lake Ferguson, a massive dam with dead trees standing sentinels as if they were gravestones. Their whitened trunks had glowed in the moonlight once Peter had put out his fire.
Now, a few hours later, it was as if those trees had come to life. He imagined them wading out of the water like sluggish monsters ready to tear him limb to limb.
He'd had a bad feeling about the place, but because it had been dark, and he was tired, he told himself to buckle up and be a man. He couldn't show any fear to Rory.
He heard Rory's heavy breathing. He, too, heard the sounds. Now there were more. They were circling.
There was the pungent smell of more urine, more than had leaked out of his own penis.
Peter felt for the torch. He ruffled his son's hair and whispered that he'll scare off the animals.
What difference did it make if it ravaged him in front of his tent or inside it?
He carefully unzipped the flaps.
The air was icy and felt the crispness singe his lungs.
He swept the torch across the open edges of the water's edge. Small beady eyes reflected the light. They froze in the white beam, and to his surprise, they were small red foxes. The fluffy black tails flickered back and forth as if this were a game.
Peter bent down for a rock and threw it towards the scavengers.
He zipped the tent, inhaled the stench of his son's fear and tried to reassure him that everything was okay. It was just some foxes playing games.
Another screech, further away, brought another deep inhale of fear from Rory.
Peter cradled his son with promises that only daylight could bring.