Big mistake. Whatever it was, it roared and spun around and flashed in the sun, bobbing up and down and cutting sideways in a way that wasn't natural, even for an antelope. It swooped down at me, and something slammed into my shoulder. From there on, things get pretty fuzzed out.
I went, like, totally limp, and the big-metal-insect-or-whatever thing came down out of the sky, and I was being lifted, lifted, up into the air. The next thing I knew I was in a strange den, metal all around, strange scritchy surfaces, bright lights, voices that were high and squeaky but not really howling.
I could feel things being stuck into me. In places I don't want to mention. And it gets crazier.
You know those hairless animal tales? The stories Grandpa used to tell over and over about the wolf who tried to keep nature in balance by bringing down an old, decrepit hairless female on two legs; and how he was sleeping it off when a screechy little one with a loose red skin came after him? And how he was found later, cut open, but not eaten? It always gave me the shivers when Grandpa got to that part.
My friends used to tell me to lighten up, not to swallow those old folk tales. But here's the thing, Mom. Grandpa was right! I guess my friends and I - well, you know how it is, you think you know everything when you're one; we just lived too deep in the woods, you might say. Now I've seen the hairless ones. They only come out in the daytime, that's part of the trick. And they hide in these whizzing metal things; and they wear lots of skins, which I would, too, if I was hairless. But they're real. It explains a lot of things. I mean, think about the cattle we've mutilated. If an animal that stupid can exist and survive, anything's possible, right?
Anyway, there I was in this metal room with the hairless ones. Totally grogged. This is for real. It was hard to see, the lights were so bright. Strange smells - stinky, really. They gave me some kind of drug thing, I'm sure. I'm embarrassed to say my tongue was hanging out - I was too weak to pull it back. Then I passed out again.
I'm not some nut case. You know that, Mom. For three years I've kept my nose clean, followed the alpha wolf, helped bring down the elk and kept my tail between my legs until the grownups had eaten. I didn't howl when it wasn't appropriate, and I never hung around with dogs or any other weirdos.
When I came to, I was in a new forest. The surrounding country was really fine, quite similar to where I grew up, except that in this new place we were in a cage, six of us, including a couple of friends of mine from Alberta - you remember Wet Nose? (He still does that sicko licking thing.) Nobody said anything about the gizmos out of the sky, or the hairless ones, not at first. I mean, we were in a cage, and you don't want anyone thinking you're crazy. Who would believe? But the weird stuff just kept happening.
For instance, every now and then a carcass would appear - an elk, usually, sometimes a deer, a rotty old bison once. Like it just fell out of the sky, dead? I had the feeling that someone was watching us. Call me paranoid, but I wasn't the only one.
One morning I saw Wet Nose licking (of course) this red spot, this puncture, inside his leg. Hey, I had one, too! And for a while we pretended we didn't notice these things around our necks, but we all had them. You couldn't get them off, either, and you could be mistaken for a dog wearing them. So finally, we came clean with each other. And it turned out we'd all been through the same thing.
Then we saw them again - the hairless ones. They opened the doors to the cage. Of course, we didn't go out - but after awhile the carcasses weren't showing up very often, so we sniffed around a little bit. Once we were out, we started exploring. Every now and then, in the distance, we'd see the weird metal ships skimming along the ground, stopping, disgorging hairless ones. We kept our distance. We tried to live normal lives, but they were watching us. You must think I'm crazy.
And that's why I'm writing. I really think, Mom, you ought to come down, and bring the triplets. Now you must really think I'm crazy. But here's the deal. There's room here. We're talking lots. I haven't seen a second pack since I landed, not another son of a bitch for miles.
Besides, it's nice country. Creeks, mountains, trees that nobody else has marked except a few mangy coyotes. There's a down side, sure. Every now and then the hairless ones show up and grab one of the gang.
It's getting a little old. Same old stories - pricked and handled and carried off - but so far, they've always brought us back.
Here's the best reason to come on down: Elk. There are lots of them. Breakfast, lunch and dinner walking around with an "Eat me!" sign. Some of these elk are almost as stupid as cows, like they'd never seen a predator before. It's so easy, we haven't even had to look twice at these other hairy, humpy animals walking around - but I'm thinking, dumb and dumber.
Plus, Mom, I've been thinking about heading off to check out some other places around here on my own, and, you know, it'd be nice to have some help. I'm not asking you to wash me, or do the hunting, but a little company would be nice. I mean, Wet Nose is an okay alpha, but he's really getting on my nerves.
Geoff O'Gara usually writes serious stuff in Lander, Wyoming.