• Vicki Sweedman

Cycle of the Night

Joseph was finding it very difficult to sleep in this new country location. The westerlies blew boisterously at the tenuous foundation of the building where he lay. The walls shook. Branches tapped at the roof. A frog he had watched hungrily devouring, crunching at an insect by the window, trumpeted, keeping up the deep croak for what seemed to be hours. He rolled onto various side of his body and finally gave in, looking for help to his torment. A mouthful of whiskey, and another. Back in bed, he felt the home quiver. The wind howled, he faded off to sleep.

There was a scratching in the roof, a scratching on the walls, a screaming, a high-pitched shrieking of a frog in distress. Joseph dived from the bed grabbing his phone, pointing it out the door, in the direction of the terrified animal. Dark green leaves struggling to stay attached to their bushes thrashed about with the wind and at the base he spotted movement. He waited. The large green frog sprang forward and in an instant a phascogale was upon it. Phascogale held the frog with his front claws, and bit savagely with its long protruding teeth into the frog’s head. The frog screeched and shrieked in that way you just want to help by the sound alone. The two disappeared again in a blink of an eye. Joseph heard one smaller shriek and then no more. He staggered back to his bed and lay prostrate, listening for similar sounds. The wind continued to buffet the trees and the home. Finally, he heard the scratching on the walls, then the roof, and he must have drifted back to sleep.

The cuckoo clock announced it was seven am followed by the Auld Lang Synes first verse. This was Joseph’s first day in this new job. He had moved in yesterday, survived the blustery night, and was looking at a day of learning the job while fitting in to the country surrounds. He spotted the phascogale, fur on the end of its tail, scurrying around the rafters of the shed that afternoon. Its rapid movement stopped for a fraction of a second, with large eyes stared at Joseph, then scurried away disappearing into a small hole between the wall and the roof. After dinner the cuckoo once again played Auld Lang Syne, and Joseph excused himself, going off to bed to read and recover from the information overload of the day.

There was no wind this second night. Joseph lay awake listening for the scratching. He remembered all the details of the encounter between the frog and the phascogale. Nature was interesting, beautiful, and harsh. Up in the ceiling there was some noise. He heard a thump, then a scratch, a shriek, a thump, thump, thump. For the next half-an-hour, a strange shuffle in the ceiling, and then all was quiet.

In the shed, where Joseph visited many times during his second day of work, he did not see the phascogale. He spotted a glistening carpet python with a large lump in its belly region, comfortably laying on a high platform. Its bright yellow and browns stood out against the lightness of the corrugated roof.

Josephs third night in the country, he lay listening for a scratch or a thump or a slide, thinking the python may come back into his ceiling. He heard a strange screeching outside the room. A rasping screeching, and a flap of wings. From the shed the screeching continued. There were squeals and screaming screeches. Another thump, followed by screeching and the flutter of wings. Joseph looked from his door and saw the largest bird he had ever seen, flapping, and struggling with a long rope like object dangling from its beak. He grabbed the spotlight as his phone light was not enough, and as the bird struggled in the light of the spotlight, Joseph realised it was a barn owl with the snake. The owl lifted into the air quietly flying into the trees, taking the snake along for what was to be its final ride. Joseph heard a rasping screech, and they were out of view.

The nocturnal incident sent Joseph to the shed early the following day. The snake was not where it had been the day before. He put in a full day of work speaking to the boss about the occurrences when he could.

Going to his room that night Joseph heard a howl in the hills.

Out in one of the paddocks the following day a few large feathers fluttered in the grass. They were lovely big brown and white feathers near a regurgitation of what looked like bone and perhaps some fur.

It rained that night. The cuckoo clock played Auld Lang Syne. A frog crunched at an insect on his window and croaked for what seemed like hours – until it screamed.



Vicki Sweedman

0488081243

Vickihiggins64@gmail.com

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