A Beastly Encounter, by Ellery D. Margay
Let me get something straight: I am a skeptic. While it can’t be denied that stories of the supernatural and the anomalous do appeal to my sense of whimsy, my logic filters are ironclad, and it has long been an overriding reflex to dismiss—perhaps too readily—all such accounts as pure fiction. Recently, however, I encountered something that has, as yet, eluded all attempts at rational explanation.
Here’s how it began…
Since I live less than a mile away, walking to the Camp Meeker Potluck at the community center was perfectly feasible; unfortunately this meant I would also be walking home, and in the dark no less, so I packed a rather bulky flashlight, picked up the heavy dish of vegetable pot pie I’d prepared for the occasion, and set out. I was on my way back—slowly, mind you, for I was
burdened with leftovers—and I was about to cross the post office parking lot, when I glanced in the direction of Bohemian Highway to ascertain whether any cars might be headed in my direction.
And it was then that I saw it; the beam of my flashlight fell upon a figure crossing the road—a bizarre creature, the likes of which I had neither seen nor imagined! Though there were some 50 feet between me and it, I could tell that it was very tall—at least the height of a large black bear—and it was thin, emaciated almost, with pale gray flesh and a long, gradually curving tail, like that of a greyhound. In fact, I would almost have believed it to be a large, hairless dog were it not for the great disparity between the height of its shoulders and that of its hindquarters; the former were drastically higher, and though its head was in shadow and therefore defies description, it was held in a downward position, giving the animal the impression of a hunched back. The feet were also noticeably longer than a dog’s, and its quick, fluid gait was such that my stunned psyche did not, for one moment, register it as canine.
The thing was there and gone in less than five seconds, but the mere sight of it had disturbed me profoundly, and, although it had been headed in the opposite direction, my desire to be at home in a safe, well-lit room became one of the utmost urgency. I briefly considered abandoning my cumbersome load and making a mad, adrenaline-fueled dash across the parking lot, but I had promised my roommate a piece of pot pie, and besides, I couldn’t bear to part with my best new baking dish. So I walked, heart pounding, at as rapid a pace as I could muster, past the post office and the fire station—both quite deserted as usual—until I’d reached the forest path at the end of the lot. Well, my condition was already one of advanced agitation and I simply couldn’t
face the trees, so I scrambled up the muddy bank that separated the lot from the highway, nearly taking a slippery tumble in the process. From there, I high-tailed it up the hill to where home and my own room awaited me, and I did not stop trembling for at least an hour after the frightful incident had occurred.
The species and origin of the gangly grey creature remain a mystery—an anomaly at which my discerning intellect still rebels—and its memory, I fear, will be transformed by the corrosive nature of time and distance into naught but an unpleasant daydream, and eventually relegated to the realm of mere fancy.\
Ellery D. Margay is a freelance fiction and food writer from the California wine country. His work has previously appeared in The Paragon Journal, Wicked Works, the poetry collection Untimely Frost, and in multiple FunDead anthologies. When not dreaming up tales and the occasional poem, he can be found sampling and reviewing the newest restaurants and wandering the world in search of weirdness, wonder, and misadventure.