Tuesday, April 3, 2012

A-Z Blog Challenge "C"-Chupacabra

Day three and the letter "C" for the A-Z Blog Challenge. If this is your first time here, my A-Z challenge is based on Urban Legends, and follows the life of a small town Nevada reporter, Adele.
If you are stopping by from the challenge (or anywhere else, like the Parajunkee Hop)-feel free to join the Bluestocking Club, or follow me on Twitter!  

Adele's story continues...

Bodies often end up drifting up like flotsam pushed up on shores. No surprise, the entire state of Nevada was once underwater, and you can see the mark it has left on the landscape: its in the cliffs and the canyons, in the roll of the sage covered ridges and hills. Hikers often stumble on random skulls--mostly animals picked dry by carrion. Cattle often wander away from their herds, and die of hunger and exposure, and their rib cages rise like white wings from between rocks and cedar trees.

This is what happened to me one afternoon.

A big hobby of people out here is to go out antler hunting--if you don't know what that is, its just going hiking in the ranges to see how many dropped antlers you can pick up. We have herds of mule deer that shed their antlers every season, and spring is the most popular time to go looking for them-after the snow melts and before the snakes wake up.
It's not always a good idea to go out by yourself--you never know if you'll twist an ankle or (highly unlikely) be set upon by a mountain lion, or just get plain lost. The landscape is repetitive (like the ocean) so its easy to get turned around and lost if you don't know where you're going, or your GPS (that you had the foresight to bring) craps out on you.

That's what I was doing when I found something that changed my life forever. I wasn't turned around, I wasn't lost, exactly, but I had been out longer than I thought and lost track of time and the shadows of the canyon I was exploring were starting to stretch in front of me. I had a bottle of water with me and my jacket and mag light, but I wasn't more than a mile from my truck, and that's not that far away. So I kept telling myself I had time to get to the truck. You can't really hunt for anything in the dark.

So when I heard the cry, I froze in my steps. Usually the presence of a human will make animals wary, and for the most part they don't bother you if you don't bother them. But still, it was getting dark, who knows what kind animal's territory I was in. It had been a hard winter. Nevada winters are typically harsh.
And then I heard it again, coming from the direction of a cluster of cedar trees--a favorite of bobcats. While bobcats are not man eaters, they still can fight pretty hard to protect their territory.
But the cry wasn't a warning to stay away, I could feel it. It was an animal crying out in pain, crying out for help.
Normally, I would have ignored it, but something in me made me seek it out. I can't ignore another living thing in pain.
As I approached the the cluster of trees where I thought I heard the sound, I saw a dark bundle of shapes under the tree. Something was clearly nesting there. The sounds were more like moans now.
I stopped about three yards away from the shapes under the tree, and as I got closer, I could see in the swiftly dying light descending behind the mountain ridge behind us, the miracle of a birth.
It was a female animal of some kind, dark skinned and hairless, who was very clearly pregnant with a distended belly that--I thought, it could be a trick of the light--was moving.
She raised her head at me, and I could see the tremble in her neck. Her breathing was labored, and her eyes were round and glassy and my heart just broke into a million pieces. It let out another pitiful cry.
I slowly approached with my hands out-the universal symbol for "I'm harmless and unarmed and won't hurt you" and crept to her side, descending next to her on my knees.
She was unlike any animal I had ever seen before--like a dog without it's fur, kind of, but with a pointy head and large teeth.
Although I was familiar with the stories I had heard about ranchers helping cows give birth, I'd never done it myself.  
And there, dear reader, I must stop for today. Don't forget, the plan is to publish these stories in their entirety at the end of the month!


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