That was my response when my fellow Purple Ink Tribe members asked me how I got inspired to write Crow Creek Road, one of the stories in our newest anthology. A few snorts of laughter followed, but as I leaned over the table and began to tell my tale a hush fell over our table (and the table next to ours, which was pretty cool!!)
It all started one hot summer night about two years ago….side note- ever notice how monster stories either start either on a really hot night or a really cold night or in the middle of a terrible storm, you rarely hear one begin with “One pleasant, mid -seventies afternoon…” Food for thought…anyhoo…
It all started one hot summer night about two years ago…it was late, after nine o’clock(yes, I think that is late!) and my family was all tucked away in their respective bedrooms when suddenly a terrible screaming could be heard outside!!!!
My husband put down his book and asked me to go look outside–so much for chivalry. I insisted he come with me because I tend to have a shortage of bravery and I don’t want to use it up all at one time.
When we opened the door not only was the screaming continuing, but most of the other neighbors were standing on their porches or in their tidy middle class yards, looking up and down the street, pretty much taking a head count of who was there.
The screaming is a little hard to describe, it was human like in a way, like a woman almost, but not really, it had an animalistic edge to it, an otherworldly emptiness, if you will. It came from all around us, yet is was just one voice. The neighborhood dogs were uncharacteristically silent as it screamed on. It lasted for about three minutes before it stopped.
The silence that followed was almost worse than the terrible noise proceeding it.
For a while the screaming could be heard every couple of nights. My husband goes into monster hunt mode each time. Jumping out of bed he grabs his phone and heads out, often hooking up with Chuck, a former Marine from two doors down. They boldly walk up and down the street in search of the noise, but they never can find it.
He told me once they thought they were right on top of it when it suddenly came from behind them and there was no sound of movement before the change in location. Every time it happens the dogs fall quiet, but the neighborhood cats become frantic, desperately clawing and yowling as they beg for entrance into the closest house they can find.
Some say it’s a red fox or even a coyote. Other’s are sure it’s an owl and many have pulled up You Tube videos to support their case. Even my monster hunt obsessed husband assures me it is nothing more than a common place animal either in distress or attempting to lure out prey, he’s just curious he says….
While the screaming is less frequent now, it still comes. As the summer heats up, I know it will come again.
I will never search for it nor will I speculate on what it might be….I know all I need to know. It is scary and mysterious and exciting and strange and haunting lovely and horrible and wonderful.
And when I was seeking inspiration for another short story, I was thankful for the elusive creature. It provided me a great question as a jumping off point….
What nightmare creatures could be lurking outside the well ordered suburban houses, outside in the dark..in the heat of summer?