Wednesday, 20 December 2006

Something Else

Something has been digging in the garden. I first noticed it about a week ago. I was putting out some seed for the birds when I saw a pile of earth by the path. Then I spotted another pile a little further along.

Something had burrowed under the path. Something frantically digging, piling up the earth. What could it be, that something? I remembered the rat I'd seen a while ago. Had it returned to live under the path, near my daily piles of birdseed?

For the next few days, I watched out of the window for signs of the rat. Or something else. But nothing seemed to spoil the tranquillity of the garden and the birds showed no sign of being alarmed by that something living under the path.

Perhaps it wasn't a rat. It occurred to me that the two excavated piles of earth were very near what I'd always supposed were the entrances to the home of the woodmice. Perhaps something had burrowed under the path in pursuit of the mice.

I went to look. The earth showed signs of having been dug out in a frenzy. A blood frenzy? Stones had been pulled out from under the path as if some horrid force were desperately trying to reach the cowering mice. The two tunnels created by that something were large enough for .... what? A rat certainly, but what else? Might something nameless and vile even now be tunnelling not only under the path, but under the house?

At every opportunity I looked out of the window in the living room. When doing the dishes, my mind was not so much on cleaning the crockery, but on staring out of the window, searching for whatever might have dug those hellish holes.

At night, I caught myself peering into the darkness, the lights off in the house the better to accommodate my search. As I stared into the blackness, the light from the street lamp shone through the tatters of Winter foliage and as the chill breeze moved them I fancied I saw something move on the path. I stared until my eyes ached from the effort, but the movements seemed only insubstantial shadows.

Days have gone by without signs of any further digging. Yesterday I pushed some of the earth back into the burrows, blocking the exits. I'll check again in a few days to see if they remain blocked. Maybe I will have sealed the fate of whatever dug its way under the path.

But what if that something has indeed tunnelled on towards the house?

This morning I thought I heard scratching under the floor of the cellar.

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