Saturday Morning

His wife noticed it first. Not surprising; Linny was an attentive, observant person. Just a blur of motion near the back fence preceded by the crouching attention of the family cat. The animal was in that attitude of intense concentration only felines can display: body low, ears sharply erect, tail waiving and quivering.

“What’s that?” she asked. There was an odd lilt in her question.

Don looked up from the newspaper.

“What’s what?” He was slightly annoyed because he was reading the comics, and because it was early on Saturday, and because the funny page was his 9 a.m., second cup of coffee ritual.  So Don didn’t like the disruption at all, but he noted the pronounced edge in Linny’s voice.  She was standing by the sliding glass door of their TV room and staring intently at something in the backyard.  Don exhaled a sigh of husbandly patience.  He folded the paper for easy access back to the comics once this trite, bothersome mystery was concluded and placed it alongside his coffee cup.  He walked to the sliding glass door and followed Linny’s gaze to the cat.

“Where?” he asked flatly.  “All I see is Oreo.”

“Over there near the fence.” Linny’s finger jabbed the direction.  She could be very impatient at times.

He looked again.  On a direct azimuth from the nose of the cat an odd creature shuffled along in the grass.  Don squinted and tried to focus. The thing was about thirty meters away, clearly limned against the base of the wooden fence at the rear of their yard, yet the silhouette did not convey any familiarity.  In fact, it was weird.  He slid the glass partition open to get a better look.  Linny put her hand on his shoulder and peered around him.  They stepped to the edge of the door, vainly attempting to identify the creature clambering through their backyard.

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“My God. What on earth is that thing?” This time Linny whispered. Don wanted to provide a logical answer but nothing in his experience would provide it.

“Let me get closer and I’ll see,” was the best he could offer.  He really did not want to walk out toward the strange animal.  But in manly fashion he ginned courage over reluctance, bowed to the wishes of his wife, and stepped out of the house.

“Be careful.” Linny offered.  She did not see Don’s rolling eyes.

He slowly crossed the yard in the direction of the mystery, certain that at any moment his eye would report a familiar living shape; that he could turn to Linny and say “Oh it’s just a —-.”  No comforting revelation appeared, however, just a bizarre, fleshy shape groping along the ground close to the fence.  Oreo stayed prudently at his side. Cats do not take chances.  Don and his self centered companion advanced a few more steps.  There were behind and within ten feet of the thing when it stopped and hissed – an ugly, guttural, noise; a rasping, flesh prickling warning.  Certain sounds fill humans with quick terror: the buzz of a rattlesnake or the low, angry growl of an enraged dog.  It was that kind of sound.

Man and cat stopped at the instant. Before them, vicious and strange, was a loathsome enigma.

About the size of a small pig, it looked like it weighed forty or fifty pounds. In shape and posture it was toad like, but it had four very muscular arms, that jutted out at awkward angles. These stubby arms bent at the elbow and concluded in small, clawed hands.  Oily, faded yellow skin prickly with sparse black hair covered the beast. This bizarre morphology alone was sufficiently unnerving, yet it possessed a greatly more disturbing feature.  Solidly attached, to a squat hint of a neck, jutted a distinctly human head.


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