Winged Things

It is sometime between midnight and one in the morning, and I am in bed, the lights out, the radio on but barely loud enough to hear. The night air, beyond my windows, is cool, but spring-cool – there’s no bite to it.

Zorro is curled in a small ball, on top of the blankets, but pressed against my abdomen. Cleo is on her belly, stretched along the foot of the bed.

Outside, there is wind. I can hear the gentle tinkling of my windchimes, hung in one of the trees, and the soft clicking sound of the slats in the vertical blinds as they move, caught in gusts that blow through the partly-open window.

If there is a moon, I cannot detect it, with the blinds mostly closed.

The wind gusts stronger, stirring the trees, and the creatures within them, and suddenly my world is full with the sound of many many pairs of flapping wings, and startled cries. Cleo raises her head, and lets a low growl simmer in her throat. The neighbor’s dog barks, not at all aggressively, but more a mournful sound – if a bark can be mournful.

In my head, the real sound of the birds and (is it possible?) bats (it sounds more leathery than bird wings alone), mixes with the half-remembered short story I once heard, about a dark winged creature trapped inside an oberservatory on a dark night, with a lone human being. It’s a creepy story – the flying thing and the man battle in darkness, and at one point the man feels teeth on his flesh – but even in my sleepy semi-consciousness, I am not afraid.

The flapping subsides. There are a few stray warbles and chirrups, and then all is silent, save for the wind, and the chimes, the even breathing of my dogs, the soft murmur of the radio.

When I wake again, it will be to sunshine and birdsong, but for now, I sleep, guarded by the dogs, and the winged things in the trees, and in the morning, when I ask Fuzzy if he heard all the flapping, he will look at me and ask, “What flapping?” as if it was my imagination the whole time.