They’d had a hard winter so far, but he could see vestiges of it departing even now as he sat looking out at the blanket of white that was diminishing ever so slowly. Eventually the woods would be back to dirt, mud, leaves and the low-lying vegetation that was such a useful hiding spot for creatures like those that he’d finally confronted.
He still didn’t know what they were since he’d never seen more than a glimpse of them, but the sound they’d made when he’d finally come outside had been something he might never forget. The ululating trill that sounded like something between a young coyote and a loon on the lake was haunting, almost sending a chill tingling down his spine as he thought about it now. But despite the uncertainty it had forced to emerge within him at first it had brought with it a sense of such utter joy that he’d found himself at ease almost a moment later as the churning in the snow had continued, even intensifying when he’d come outside.
It was as though they’d been happy to see that he’d made his way out to the deck, as though they’d been overjoyed that he had stepped outside the house to check on them. Again he still hadn’t seen much of them, just enough to know that they were big, serpentine in form, and obviously very adept at digging. They’d gone all over the side lawn between the deck and the forest, playing and rolling with such ferocity and agility that even when the snow had been disturbed enough to fly upward they’d still been obscured enough that he couldn’t get a good look at them.
But they’d sounded happy almost, and he could admit that it had been infectious as their cries had sounded throughout the night, causing him to feel so comfortable, so at ease, that he’d even rested his shotgun against the deck rail, forgetting it until he’d heard a strange snuffling sound near where he’d laid it. The moment he’d looked down however the creature that had seemed interested in the weapon was gone, another trilling cry making him laugh as he’d continued to watch the snow fly.
He still didn’t know what they were, but at this moment it no longer seemed to matter. They weren’t here to harm him, they were here to play.
Maybe next season they’d be back. He found himself hoping so.