A Little Slice of Life-Just a Walk in the Dark.

by Patrick Dykie

     I recently started a new job that requires me to leave early in the morning for work. I now have to take my dog, Chase, for long walks at four in the morning in total, all-encompassing, and quite scary darkness. I consider myself to be a pretty tough guy, and not afraid of very much. Except for Great White Sharks, annual prostate exams, and my Mother-in Law’s tunafish casserole, I’m usually pretty brave. I’ve never really believed in Aliens, Ghouls, Monsters, Ghosts or Spirits. I even think it’s silly that some people believe in Bigfoot, and watch shows such as “Ghost Hunters.”

     I learned something interesting the other morning when I went on a walk, hours before the first signs of life-giving sunshine crept over the far horizon. It’s scary out there man. A quiet, safe, and familiar suburban neighborhood with nearby farms and patches of woodlands, turns into a veritable house of horrors at four in the morning. Even my dog was scared to go out. He’s a ninety-five pound bundle of muscle and fearlessness, and when I said, “Hey Chase, let’s go for a walk”; he just stood there and shook his head back-and-forth.

     What is it about a leisurely stroll in the dead of night that’s so incredibly spooky? As Chase and I swiftly made our way down deserted sidewalks, we moved beneath a bright and eerie full moon, among the shifting shadows of towering elm trees, and amidst the sounds of thousands of nocturnal insects. Except for unknown night creatures rooting through garbage cans, the occasional fluttering bat, and a lone paper delivery man, who raced through empty streets as if fleeing some unknown horror, we were completely alone.

      I think even all the muggers had called it a night, and were home, safe under their blankets with their Scooby Doo night-lights left on to help beat back the darkness. It was so scary that when I finally got home, it took me an hour to comb down the hair on the back of my neck that was standing up.

     I don’t know if it was my imagination, but I swear I saw the misty, ethereal presence of floating ghosts, large-headed aliens prowling the landscape for test subjects and possible mating opportunities, and reanimated corpses prowling the local graveyard in search of unwary victims. I think I even saw Sasquatch. It was either the huge, fur-covered, ape-like creature of legend, or Sal Tortellini, my Italian neighbor leaving early for work. The guy is so hairy, he makes Chewbacca from the Star Wars movies look like a smooth and aerodynamic porpoise.

     Today, I decided to write down a few things to possibly help other brave souls who may be forced to face their own personal demons on early morning walks. Besides a light and comfortable pair of running shoes, a dependable flashlight with spare batteries, and a steaming cup of strong, caffeine- infused coffee, here are a few rules to remember to ensure a safe return home.

      If you hear an indeterminate, stealthy sound somewhere in the impenetrable darkness, don’t loudly shout out, “Who’s there?” Not only will multiple porch lights go on around you, but the chances you’ll get an answer are pretty slim. Don’t expect to hear,

“Sorry, it’s just me, Ed, the local crackhead. I was sneaking up on you with this two by four in the hopes of  possibly clubbing you senseless, taking your wallet, and scoring some drugs. I guess my answering you, kind of ruins my plans, huh?

     You may even hear something you’re not prepared for, like,”This is death! I have come for you. That tightness in your chest isn’t indigestion from those twelve burritos you ate last night.” Even worse and more terrifying, you may hear a cold and dark yet familiar voice from your deepest, darkest nightmares whispering in a heart-stopping voice,

“This is your ex-wife Cheryl. I’ve come back to either get back together or emasculate you one more time.” Is it just me, or is it getting cold in here?

     As you slowly meander off safe sidewalks onto roads abutted by woodlands or endless cornfields, do yourself a favor. Do not, and I mean this sincerely; do not shine your flashlight into the nearby forest, towering corn stalks, or trash strewn abandoned properties. Keep your weak and dying light firmly trained on the path ahead.

       If you do swing your light to one side, chances are you will see either glowing, evil red eyes, a huge fur-covered head with razor-sharp canines, a living, demonic scarecrow, or something so frightening and horrifying I hesitate to even say it.

     I made the mistake of panning my flashlight out into a small grassy area near a pond that lies across from an old farmhouse located at the far end of my development. I caught a fleeting, but shocking glimpse of old man McDougal and his Wife, Bernice, celebrating sixty years of wedded bliss with a late night skinny-dipping session in the cool clear water of their fish pond. I’m not ashamed to say that what I saw will haunt me for months!

     For all of you brave men and women out there who are forced to trek the lonely, frightening, and dark nether world with a bag and pooper scooper clutched firmly in your hands, I have some final words of advice. If your dog stops, remains perfectly still, begins a low guttural growl, breaks free from his leash, tucks his tail between his legs, and races for home; For the love of God follow him, and don’t look back!

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2 Comments to “A Little Slice of Life-Just a Walk in the Dark.”

  1. “…If you do swing your light to one side, chances are you will see either glowing, evil red eyes, a huge fur-covered head with razor-sharp canines, a living, demonic scarecrow, or something so frightening and horrifying I hesitate to even say it…”

    I’ve stopped cold in my tracks when the beam of my light confirmed that something was out there; for me – my worst fears stared back at me in the glowing golden orbs of a jaguar’s eyes! That final one-minute walk to my studio was one of the longest of my life, and I will never forget when I lived ‘in harmony’ with nature in Costa Rica! Z

  2. Now, that is terrifying! The worst danger I face on my morning walks is at- best, my over-active imagination, and at the worst, a skunk, or a prowling house cat. My facing a jaguar would be enough to require depends adult diapers. I’m glad you survived to visit us today.

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