All right, so I've always been a little freaked out by Bigfoot.
It started when I was a kid and saw one of those quasi-documentaries about mystery creatures. I was mainly watching it because it had a segment about Vermont's own lake monster, Champ, for whom I've watched diligently for years. But for some reason, the footage of Bigfoot really chilled me. Bigfoot doesn't live in lakes. He lives forests, and so do I. And that was enough to give me nightmares of a fleeting black shape in the twilight, especially at the far edges of headlight beams, triggered, I'm sure, by a segment in the film about a man who spent a terrifying night trapped alone in his car while Bigfoot prowled outside.
Now, I haven't really worried about Bigfoot a lot lately, I have to admit. But yesterday at school, a student showed me some new video footage of that old, familiar, dark, menacing shape. I was real cool about it, and went home and made sure my doors were locked and that all the cats were in. And nothing happened. No otherworldly sounds in the night, no sense of being watched, no glimpses of anything at the edge of the light.
Until this morning.
I leave for school about 6:30, and this time of year, it's dark enough for high beams. I headed down my narrow dirt road in my trusty little car, dodging potholes, wondering what the kids had in store for me today, and trying to find my phone in all my various pockets. It wasn't there. I was getting a vulnerable feeling just as I came to the bend, which is sharp, left-handed, and slopes downhill. And as my headlights swung around and lit up the darkness, I saw it.
A black, shadowy shape, hunched over, running across the road on two legs right in front of me.
I slammed on my brakes.
The shape came to a halt, turned, and looked at me. I could see its eyes, bright spots in the shadow. Yes, I screamed.
It was frozen, unmoving.
I stared at it in terror.
It still didn't move.
And then I realized that the shadowy creature really looked an awful lot like a shadow. The shadow of the one tree limb over hanging the road just ahead of me that still, for some reason, had leaves. A shadow cast by my high beams. I eased off my brakes, my car rolled forward, and the creature slowly made its way off to the side of the road, its bright eyes fading as my headlights moved off two glistening pebbles.
Heart pounding, my throat burning from my scream, I drove on down the road. And I don't care whether it was a shadow or not -- you could not have paid me enough to get out of my car until I was safely in the school parking lot. And then I dashed inside, safe in a crowd of students who would be much more tender and juicy mouthfuls than me.
Happy Halloween a day late, everyone!