The Shriek

I’ve lived as long as I have (120 years) because I take care of myself. Which is to say I exercise strenuously every day. I always have, and always will. I’m in such good shape, most people take me for only seventy. And, because of my prowess in the “sweet science” (I’m, for one thing, a former middleweight champion of the British Army), I can still knock out most of today’s young men in any bout of fisticuffs.

Hiking up and down mountainous terrain – a prominent feature of the northern Pacific Rain Coast where I now live, near a city I can’t name for reasons of security – is one of my ways of keeping in good shape. I did such a hike today – in the course of which something odd happened.

It was becoming dusk when I heard a very loud, hoarse, piercing, anguished shriek up ahead the path I was walking on. The shriek was of short duration, and almost unearthly. I heard it again a few seconds later. It was, being a shriek, high pitched, and could therefore have come from a human female, or perhaps from an ape – like a Sasquatch, which have been seen by some in these parts.

On hearing the unearthly shriek I quickened my steps, expecting to stumble upon something extremely unpleasant – like a murder. Then, from around a corner, a lady came towards me, walking a largish, long black-haired, Alsatian-like dog. Twenty yards behind her, also coming towards me, was a youngish man walking alone.

When the lady was about to pass me by I looked at her closely. She was, I surmised, fortyish, and she looked little fat. She was walking at a normal pace and was looking fixedly down at the ground. The dog seemed calm. The man behind her was of nondescript appearance, and therefore not alarming-looking. Which is to say, he didn’t look like a man who I couldn’t knock out in any bout of fisticuffs.

I thought of asking the lady if she’d heard the unearthly shriek. I decided against it because – who knows – she might have been the shrieker, and I wished not to embarrass her, for to publicly embarrass a lady is something an Englishman just doesn’t do.

If the shriek hadn’t come from her, it must have been from a non-human – like, as I’ve just said, from a Sasquatch, or even an extra-terrestrial alien, that have also been seen by some in these parts. The shriek could, I suppose, have come from a bird, maybe an exotic bird. But the shriek was somehow too loud, and too unearthly, for a bird – whether or not exotic.

Could, though, the shriek have been my imagination? Psychotics do, after all, hear noises that only they can hear. My being so old, and my brain likely deteriorating, it’s entirely possible I’m sliding the slippery slope into psychosis. However, and more happily, the shriek could have emanated from a parallel world – whose vibration frequencies my brain was able to tune into.

Whatever the shriek was, it will remain forever a mystery……..

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4 comments on “The Shriek

  1. Richard says:

    My grandfather, who is only half your age, tells me that his dreams are now so vivid that he cannot always tell whether they are indeed dreams or rather reality. Sometimes what he believes to be reality turns out, in fact, to be a dream. Could he be on to something here? Is everything merely a dream in the mind of a supreme being – I’ve read about that somewhere.

    You, in your great wisdom, will be able to tell me if your mystery was a dream, the meaning of which can never be revealed.

    Are you the supreme being?

    • Jeremy says:

      The longer I live, the more I realise I don’t know who I am, or who anyone else is, either.

      I could simply be a dream I’m in, whose dramatis personae are all the people I’ve known, or know about. So, you, yourself, may merely be just one of the many thousands of characters who have peopled this ongoing dream of mine. Therefore I don’t know that you actually exist, or that anyone else actually exists, either.

      I don’t even know that I exist, for I may just be a character in someone else’s dream.

      But, assuming my life is a dream that I (if I exist) am dreaming, I will begin dreaming another dream at the moment I breathe my last in this dream.

      If I do exist, I may – who knows – be God. Who are you, or who is anyone else, to say I’m not……..

  2. Richard says:

    Since the revelation of your true Identity, I have travelled around my neighbourhood and imparted to them the good news and described heaven where you reside with angels – or likes – who attend upon you. I was, of course, careful to avoid disclosing any location, for security reasons.

    When I recounted the parable of the shriek they unanimously declared me your prophet.

    My disciples now eagerly await your further commandments.

    • Richard says:

      Already a heresy has arisen. A would-be sect has arisen calling itself “The Munchies.” They have adopted weird smoking practices and worship painted images that they believe can scream.

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