On summer solstice, I tossed an apple that had gone soft out under my bird feeder. Just sliced it into quarters and threw it out the window. I didn’t know what might eat it – finches maybe, or bunnies – but I knew I wouldn’t.
The mid-summer day was warm, so I left my windows open as I went about my tidying. The night stayed warm, so I left the windows open when I went to bed, as well. That night, after the sun had set and the stars had come out, I woke up thirsty. I made my way in the darkened house to the kitchen, got a glass of water, and paused for a moment to appreciate the warm night air coming in the open window.
Something crunched in the darkness beyond my window. Like something eating an apple. It sounded loud, though, like a person biting into an apple slice, not a bunny nibbling. I strained to look out the window, but the night was moonless. The calendar on my kitchen wall said tonight was a new moon. I live in a small town on the edge of a forest – no nearby streetlights, either. The stars weren’t showing me anything. My backyard was a black-on-black landscape of shadows.
The crunching went on. Loud, open-mouthed crunching.
A deer? I wondered. But I thought I would have seen some sort of shadow-shape if it had been something that large. I couldn’t see anything at all. No movement, no shadow-form.
A few minutes later, something large moved off through the grass. The munching stopped. I still couldn’t make out any sort of shape in the blackness outside. I puzzled over it, then finished my glass of water and went back to bed.
The next day, I woke to discover my neighborhood had been hit by vandals overnight. Car windows had rocks thrown through them, garages had been broken into, gardens uprooted. The whole street was a mess.
Nothing happened to me. Not one rock on my property was overturned.
There were some odd footprints in the wet grass and mud under my bird feeder, like a cross between a monkey and a raccoon. No sign of the apple I’d left out.
We haven’t had trouble with vandals in my neighborhood lately. Some of the farms outside of town have had livestock turned loose or corn fields trampled flat. Not too near city limits.
I put another apple under my bird feeder. Nothing ever came for it but finches.
At the start of this story it says that it doesn’t resemble anyone living or dead. The thing is, this is based on something that actually happened to me. A lot of my stories are. When a friend of mine got a grant to put out a writing zine and asked me for a submission, this story popped into my head. Of course I had to give it an otherworldly twist.
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