"With the certitude of a true believer, Vellya Paapen had assured the twins that there was no such thing in the world as a black cat. He said that there were only black, cat-shaped holes in the universe."
-- Arundhati Roy, The God of Small Things

Thursday, June 13, 2013

My Neighborhood is Writing a Horror Story

My neighborhood is writing a horror story.  I don’t mean that a bunch of people are getting together over finger foods and cocktails and collaboratively penning a piece of pulp fiction.  (Although that sounds kind of awesome so if anyone wants to do that, email me.)  No, I mean, the neighborhood itself seems to be acting out some sort of horrific tale of terror, and I’m upset because A) it’s kind of scary, and B) it’s better than anything I’ve come up with lately.

Most of you are probably going to tell me that I’m overreacting.  Fine.  Go ahead.  I don’t care.  I need to say this, regardless of what you think, in a “cover my butt” sort of way.  I need to go on record with my observations just in case something is actually going on here.  That way, when a monster comes up out of the sewer and devours all of us, you can point to this blog and say, “Huh.  I guess someone should have listened to Carie.”  And before I begin, may I remind you that, despite how crazy Tom Hanks appeared, he turned out to be RIGHT in The Burbs.

The first two unsettling incidents are actually rather sad. I promise not to be graphic, but simply stating the facts could cause some upset, so read at your own risk.

For over five months, a little male cardinal lived in the bushes between our house and our next door neighbors, and he… well, he wasn’t quite right in the head.  He became infatuated with my neighbor’s blue van.  Day in, day out, hour after hour after hour, he would peck at its side mirrors, windshield, and back window, leaving little trails of bird poo down the sides and scratching up the finish.  He was attracted to other cars too—their black SUV, if he had access to the garage, even our cars would do if the blue van was gone.  I also saw him ferociously pecking at our attic window a couple of times, and one day he flew full speed into our glass front door, but survived. 

The little cardinal did not bathe in the birdbath, nor did he mate and build a nest, and I never saw him eat an insect or heard him sing a pretty song.  All he did was peck the van or closest-to-van alternative.  He was a sad, strange, deranged little bird and he drove us all crazy, but after awhile we got sort of used to him and his antics. 

Two weeks ago, the owners of the blue van moved away.  Two days later, I found a pile of red feathers and a small mangled carcass in our yard.  The crazy little cardinal was no more.  I assumed he’d been killed by a cat, but I secretly wondered if the loss of his beloved blue van was the real cause of the little guy’s demise.

Ok, that was to ease you in.  This next one’s worse.

One week after the little cardinal died, I walked Uno up to the park in the center of our neighborhood, and we found the remains of a dead cat in the field there.  Beyond from the usual upset of seeing a dead animal, this concerned me for two reasons.  One, it was only half of the cat.  And two, it was half of a cat I knew.

He didn’t have a name, or if he did I didn’t know it.  He was a stray, a mangy black tom with long white “socks” on his two back feet.  He had been prowling this neighborhood for longer than I’ve lived here and he was tough.  I’d seen him stalk birds (in fact, it was this cat who I assumed killed the crazy cardinal) and chase down other felines, intent on more than a playful romp if he caught them.

His violent death is a mystery.  So far, we are attributing it to a coyote—they live in the greenbelt behind our house, but we have never seen one in the neighborhood.  I don’t like to think of them being in our park.  Whatever it was, it was sad (and gross) to see that old ‘White Socks’ had somehow met his doom.

Ok, the sad stuff is over.  But there is plenty more weirdness.

For instance…

If you read my Facebook posts, you know that Mark and I have seen an increase in the number of scorpions in our house lately.  There have been four sightings in the past two weeks.  And they are larger than usual.
Ok, not THAT large, but still pretty big.

We have also started spotting big furry tarantulas in the neighborhood, and every time we’ve seen one, it has been traveling in the middle of the street, moving fast, seemingly with a destination in mind.  But I have never seen one of the holes where they live, and this confuses me.  When I was growing up in Richardson, we had tarantulas in our yard (one fell off the screen door onto my neck in the seventh grade, but that’s a horror story for another time) but they all lived in easy-to-spot holes in the ground, next to sidewalks or under rocks.  And when we saw the tarantulas, they were usually sitting next to their holes or walking nearby, never “hurrying” down the middle of the street.

That is Mark's brave hand.  If this photo had
audio, you would hear, "Take the picture!
Take the picture! Take the picture!"
There have been an increased number of “For Sale” signs in the neighborhood this month as well.  Off the top of my head, I can think of nine houses that are currently on the market.   So maybe I’m not the only one noticing these creepy incidents.

And then yesterday…

When I walked Uno to the park yesterday, I noticed some suspicious holes under the roots of one of the big oak trees there.  I thought, Ah ha!  Maybe this is where all the tarantulas live!  (That would be really weird because it’s nowhere near where we have actually seen the tarantulas, but whatever.)  Then I noticed that the ground around the tree was littered with enormous dead beetles.  These things were brown, about the size of a walnut, HEADLESS, and sucked dry.  Yeah.

Uno and I backed away slowly and went home and locked the door.

Although the tree-of-death scared me, I was curious about it.  Was there really something living in those holes that feasted on huge beetles?  Also, I didn’t have my camera yesterday and was worried no one would believe me.  So, being the good little investigative blogger that I am, I went back today with my phone so I could take a picture of the holes and the carcasses.  

What I found out is this:  The thing that lives in the hole IS the giant beetle!  I saw a couple of live ones crawling around in there.  There was a big one near the entrance but he wasn’t in good light for a picture so I poked him with a stick and made him angry.  So angry that he GROWLED AT ME.  No kidding.  Here is a 25-second video of the giant beetle growling at me.  There is no narration because I was honestly too startled to speak.

So now the question remains, why are their dead HEADLESS brethren lying around outside the holes?  Was there a mass suicide?  Or an attack on the tree by something larger and creepier?  Or have the giant beetles turned on each other?  I didn’t stay around to find out.  I high-tailed it back home and dead-bolted the door.

Like I said before, I know some of you will say I’m crazy.  I’m blowing this whole thing out of proportion, bah, blah, blah.  Fine.  Maybe nothing creepy is going on.  But the way I see it, right now we’ve got people flocking out of a neighborhood where birds and cats are turning up dead, scorpions and tarantulas seem to be on the move, and something is decapitating the giant GROWLING beetles that live underneath a tree in the park.  If that’s not the plot of a horror story, I don’t know what is.

There.  I’ve gone on record.

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