(Because I awoke at 4:30 this morning, I had a chance to squeeze in one more Dream Sequence - SMW)
WHILE LIFE WE CHERISH
Life had changed. The canopy created by its massive wings hovered over the ground casting a huge shadow on the small cat outside, my cat, Petta. The whole thing reminded me of a PBS "Nature" show, where a raptor swoops down on some defenseless rabbit and rips its neck open to disable it, then collects the dead thing within its leathery talons, bats its strong wings and flies off to an intimate boulder where it can mantle over the kill and fill its belly. However, I reacted before the thing could complete the mission. I lurched out to my cat, gathered her up, and rolled under the inverted boat for cover - for the thing could have easily lifted us both. The mammoth eagle hybrid stood 8-feet tall and boasted a 17-foot wingspan. Its head, as big as a medicine ball, was intensified by an evil and fowl-looking, blood-stained beak.
It angered him when it saw me from the sky, make my dash for cover and duck under the dry-docked canoe. I saw his eyes tighten. His meal, my cat (and possibly me), had vanished. The enormous shadow he cast on the ground frayed and I heard the air split, like a vacuum, and rush in a way that sounded like a kite whipping in the wind. Then, its huge talons landed just outside the canoe where we hid. It stalked just inches outside our hiding place and snorted with displeasure. My cat wriggled and clawed. I'd had her in a strangle-hold, it seems, from the moment I'd caught her. Poor thing. If the mutant eagle hadn't killed her, I might've had I not realized. She hissed and bit my arm. My shriek sounded as if I was in church - half cry, half whisper. I hushed her and restrained her more comfortably while the freakish bird stalked outside our sanctuary.
As I listened, I could hear the thud of its feet pound against the dirt, and a scrape like a flat shovel as he dragged behind his long dung-crusted tail. Petta sniffed the air and hissed.
When it seemed the thing had gone around the other side, I made a break for it. "Hold on, Petta." I whispered, poking my head out first to see if I could determine the eagle's proximity to us. I hushed Petta once more before easing out from under the lip of the canoe. As I ran, the cat's head bobbed wildly and I steadied her as though I was cupping an infant's neck. But, the thing must've seen me for we both heard the whoosh, whooshing of its enormous wings batting up behind us. Petta yowled and stabbed her claws deeply into my arms but I wouldn't release her.
We barely made it inside the house. Still, we were far from out of danger. It was summertime. Once the weather had turned warm, we'd thrown open all the windows. Although the thing was far too large to get in through a window, it could easily fit its head inside and snatch anything within its reach. I ran to the nearest one, but the mutant was ahead of his game and met me with a raging sneer. I tucked Petta under my arm and raced her over to a closet and shut her inside. She might be a little perturbed but she was safe there so I ran to the back of the house and flung the windows shut. I could hear the quick beat of its talons as it sped back to meet me. As I closed one window, it appeared there, and so it went until it figured out to go around in the opposite direction - it was intelligent.
The last window I'd closed was the diciest. The bird was only feet away and it jabbed and thrust its soiled beak at me when I reached for the bottom of the window's casement. I feigned a move back to a closed window but it wouldn't follow. The thing understood the difference between an open and closed and refused to venture from the last remaining one open. It placed a dirty talon on the bottom edge of the sill. That's when I got the idea. I ran to the pantry and yanked out the mop and ran back to where the bird posed the greatest threat, to the open window. I flipped the mop around and held it like a sword by the mophead and with one hard swack, I cracked the bird's talon.
The howl the thing let out sounded as if the world split apart, like an oak being ripped from its roots. It made one quick jump backwards onto its good foot and I slammed shut the window. Its angry face came down in a heartbeat and met my stare. We were only inches away from one another, each on a safe side of the window. It peered at me with only one eye then it switched its head and looked at me with the other one. It sent a loud puff through its bill and sprayed spittle that covered the pane.
The shutters added extra protection. As I closed them, again the bird followed me to each as I made my way around the dimming house. When I got to the last one, the bird glared at me once more then beat its wings and flew off. Its heavy body was slow to rise, with its talons hanging from its legs like gigantic spiders, until it caught enough air to tuck them under.
For now, we were safe - for now. I'd have to get that cat box I'd been avoiding all this time, and an elephant rifle. That evening, I sat and contemplated how life had changed, how it would continue to change. Was there a mate to this thing? Where was its nest? How big were the eggs? Questions came to me in tides. Really, it was only a matter of time before the bird would figure out the glass, how breakable it is, which made me think about screwing in bars to replace them. Life had changed in so many ways. It wasn't safe like it used to be. Life had changed - it became precious again.
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