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EIGHT

The boy was confused. It all went pretty fast those fifteen minutes ago in his bedroom. He just didn’t understand where the accusations of Glory had come from. Did she have a very realistic dream or something?

As he walked he began to notice how it got cooled down quickly when night has fallen. He buttoned up his shirt. The only light in the vast outdoor space was that of the moon. It was so much darker there than in the city. Not that the absent of light scared him of course. Sleeping on benches in the outdoors at night was one of the first things he’d tried in his quest to feel fear. He’d heard many people got scared by the strange, unidentifiable noises they heard in the night. Some would get the feeling something was watching them. Something unseen. Oh, if only he could have those feelings.

That’s when he heard something scrape the sand behind him. He turned around. It was so dark he could hardly see anything. He switched on the flashlight of his cell phone. He looked right into the eyes of a coyote. Most people would have screamed or put a step back. He just stepped forward, slowly reaching out a hand to the animal.

“Hey there, fella… How are you?” he softly said to it.

The coyote was the biggest one he’d ever seen. It bared bright white teeth. There was a low growl, coming from the back of the animal’s throat. The boy felt no fear, but knew to be cautious. He slowly got his backpack from his back.

The coyote attacked, jumping at the boy, snarling. The boy managed to get his backpack in front of himself, the coyote’s teeth sinking into the fabric instead of his flesh. The animal hung onto it, trying to wrestle it from the boy’s grip. As a devoted vegetarian the boy hated hurting animals but knew he had little choice in this case. He kicked the animal as hard as he could. The coyote let go of the backpack and landed on its back. It yipped but got ready to attack again, back legs getting ready to jump again.

Bright lights bathed the boy and the coyote. The sound of an engine, a car coming to a halt. The boy turned to see the arrival of Blackcrow’s car. The conservation officer jumped out of the car and shot a round from his gun in the air. The coyote ran away.

“Thanks,” the boy said.

“Thank me later. I need to get a tranquilizer gun from the car to shoot that coyote. I don’t want it attacking other people,” Blackcrow said. “You can hop in.”

The boy got in the car with the conservation officer who was busy getting something from behind the seat. He produced a tranquilizer gun and put it on his lap.

“Okay, let’s get that animal,” Blackcrow said and fired up the engine, headlights searching for the coyote.

“I don’t see it anymore,” the boy said. The only animal in sight was a nighthawk flying up into the sky.

“Me neither. How did it get away like that?” Blackcrow wondered.

“No idea. The night is full of strange happenings, it seems.”

“Like? Why were you out there anyway?”

The boy shrugged. “That’s what I would like to know, honestly.”

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Jochem Vandersteen

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