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Don’t Watch the Skies [Part 1.]

Tags: uncle static owls

Before I started skipping from one motel to the next, before I screwed a GoPro to the hood of my car to watch me sleep through the motel’s window, I got a call from my Uncle.

I knew it was trouble the moment my uncle had called me.

Last year his dog, Sadie, disappeared for a couple of days. He lived out alone in northern Nevada, somewhere between nowhere and the horizon. His dog is all that he had, so when she went missing he damn near lost his mind. She was his only companion, and probably the only thing keeping his fragile mind even somewhat grounded.

He ended up finding her stuck in some asshole’s coyote trap, and he publicly threatened to kill any man setting them up within ten miles of where he lived. So when he called me and said that Sadie was gone again I knew that it was trouble. I told him that I would be there by morning to help look for her, though in truth I was going to make sure that he stayed out of prison.

“Bring a flashlight,” he said, “be careful.” Like I said, fragile mind.

The drive out was fairly uneventful and is only worth mentioning here in any kind of detail because of the radio. There is only one station that far out into the state, and the signal is a weak one, so when it started fraying with Static I paid it no mind. I should have paid closer attention.

By the time I got to my uncle’s property the sun had peeked out from the nearby mountain range, and the sweet wooden smell of sagebrush blended with the orange sky. It was easy to see why my uncle had traded isolation for beauty. The idyllic scene ended there, however, as the details of my uncle’s trailer were disturbing.

It looked like he hadn’t left his property in months. Trash had piled up high behind his trailer (that far out no one picks it up, you have to drop it off yourself) and his truck’s tires were nearly flat. Black plastic garbage bags covered his windows, held there by duct tape, and no less than two surveillance cameras had been erected. For some reason, they weren’t pointed out. For some reason, they were pointed at his door.

The old man came out of his trailer the minute I killed the engine. He was skinny, not emaciated but not healthy looking, and it was obvious that he hadn’t slept in days. This was exactly what I had feared would happen.

How quaint those fears seem now…

After greeting me I followed him inside. He took a swig off of a bottle of Wild Turkey and before I could ask about Sadie he said: “Did you bring a flashlight?” I nodded my head. “Good, we’ll need it if you are to believe me.”

I asked him where he had seen the dog last and it took him a good minute to actually answer the question. It was like he was afraid to talk about it. “I know who took her,” was all he would say about it. Well, by then my patience had run out. I demanded to know what was happening, who took her? Why were there cameras pointing at his door? He looked at me with wild eyes, poured himself another shot, then avoided my gaze. “The cameras are there to keep the owls out.”

Like I said, fragile mind.

“I’ll show you who took her tonight.”

I spent the rest of the day hauling his trash out (the old man stayed in the trailer) and though he looked grateful he kept repeating “Be back before sunset” with a manic smile. I thought this is it, time to commit my own flesh and blood.

Then night came.

He was silent until about one in the morning, insisting that I be patient and wait. We listened to his radio for most of the night, which was fine by me at the time. I just didn’t know what to say to the old coot. “They don’t like dogs,” he said offhandedly “they can’t fool them, I think that’s why they took her.”

“Who?” I asked.

He didn’t answer, instead, he put a single finger up to his mouth and lightly hushed me. “Did you hear that?” he asked.

The radio cackled in static.

“They’re here,” he whispered.

In an instant, my uncle opened his door. The dark of night is complete in the Nevada desert. It is so dark that the night seems like it’s a physical wall against the light. I could see nothing past him when he opened the door. He pointed out into the distance.

“There!” he said, “point your flashlight there!” I aimed my flashlight where he was pointing. In the distance, just past my car was a solitary owl. There are no trees out that way, hell, there are no owls out in that country. But there one stood, on the ground, looking straight at us. Its eyes intelligent, piercing, and large.

The static on the radio grew in intensity. “There!” my Uncle shouted as he pointed in a different direction. I aimed my light there and found two more owls, each looking directly at us. Each on the ground. “Do you see it?!” he said.

“Yeah, that’s weird” I replied, admittedly a little shaken.

He shook his head. “Not the owls, what’s underneath them.” I did not know what he meant.

The owls did not move, save for their heads. Those moved with us, they kept us in their view always.

The static on the radio cut out, music began to play once more. I blinked and the owls were gone.

Then the barking began.

I pointed my light at its source, and sitting in the distance was Sadie, barking up a storm. My uncle called out to her but she did not move, instead, she just wagged her tail.

“I gotta get her before they come back!” he said as he darted off towards her. By the time I noticed it, he was too close. I saw then, in my flashlight, what he was *really* trying to show me, what he wanted me to see under the owls: Sadie had no shadow. Static roared. The barking stopped.

If a dog can smile, it smiled then.

My uncle cursed, and turned around. “They tricked me!” he shouted before screaming “STAY INSIDE!”

I don’t know what happened to him then. I just remember doing as he said. I shut the door and the static became deafening. I thought I heard a scream. The static stopped.

“Give your uncle a hand!” I heard his voice say. “I’ve fallen, help me up!” It said.

I could feel the gaze of three heads even through the plastic bags on the window. “Come help with Sadie!” I ignored it. “Help! Come help me, you came to help me!” I plugged my ears. “Obey your uncle, come outside!” The static fried the air.

Its pleading went all night. Sometimes it was far away. Sometimes it came from behind the trailer. The music never played. I didn’t sleep. It wasn’t until sunrise that it stopped, it wasn’t until sunrise that the static ended. Still, I waited an hour before I peeked outside.

My uncle was gone. The dog was gone. The owls were gone.

I left with my radio blaring and with no destination in mind.

I don’t know where I am running to. I don’t know where to run.

[Part 2.]

The original /nosleep.

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Don’t Watch the Skies [Part 1.]


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