The White Owl
“Matt, honey, wake up. WAKE UP. He’s here again.“
My evening routine has been the same for six straight sleepless nights. My wife sees the owl. She shakes me out of my sleep. I rush to the window in a daze and try to scare the damn thing away. I shake my arms like an idiot. I try to look menacing. I have even gone outside at three in the Goddamn morning just to try and move the branches of that massive oak tree like an idiot. But the albino little bastard refuses to leave. Eventually, the three of us fall asleep, staring and awkwardly awaiting the other’s next move. Last night, I had enough.
“Maybe he’s just lonely outside. Go to bed, bug.“
I could never quite figure out why the bird visited our house in the first place. Snowy Owls are native to the Arctic regions of North America and Eurasia. We live in New Jersey. We knew he was male because of the coloring, but beyond that, nothing else. The possibility always existed that it could be somebody’s pet. But even that seemed suspicious.
“Not outside. Inside. It’s in the house.“
My wife has a tendency to over-exaggerate any potential danger. I know that sounds harsh. But it would not be my first midnight stroll through the basement searching for potential dangers under sofa cushions. I waited a couple minutes before getting up. We both trained our ears and listened nervously. Moments later, we heard a crash in the kitchen, and I reached under the bed to get my bat.
“Probably just the cats,” I said, because they were usually the culprits.
But Mandy did not seem to think so. She dove under the bed-sheets dramatically and whispered from a crack in the covers with a voice that squeaked uneasily.
“Please check! Be careful!“
The door to our bedroom creaked hideously. I thought about that so much that my delirious mind must have missed the mundane obstacles scattered across the hallway. I stubbed my toe on the wood transition and shouted out. Whatever was in the kitchen shuffled a pair of massive feet for the door.
“Oh fuck, Mandy, someone is in the house. Turn the lock.“
The footsteps retreated out through living room. The back door swung open. It never shut. I stood there stupidly weighing my options. The entire encounter ended in less than thirty seconds. Adrenaline kicked in conveniently late as I stumbled into my kitchen and surveyed the damage.
It was ransacked in a very strange way.
Bits of Doritos and Del taco shells littered the floor. Budweiser and other beer cans were cracked open and rolling across the tile. The door creaked open awkwardly as a gust of rain soaked the floor. The awkward combination of coagulated food and liquid created a film like substance that stuck to my feet as I waded across. I powered through and leaped through the open door, bat ready.
But the walkway was empty.
I called out into the night. I paced back and forth to try and look intimidating. But nobody answered. I was left alone in the cool night with dripping rain soaking me to the bone. I almost called it quits altogether. Then I looked up.
The white owl sat in his perch watching me. The pristine clarity of his feathers stuck out like a sore thumb in the otherwise drab and dreary New Jersey early morning. I stared at him for a minute. I looked right into those eyes. They were amber on the inside and beady black in the middle. He seemed to mock me when he tilted his head. He seemed to think it was funny.
“Alright, tough guy. Time to say goodnight.“
I sprinted back into the house. Mandy called out over my shoulder as I pulled into the guest room and opened my makeshift gun cabinet. I grabbed a Colt and stuck it into the waist of my pajamas. My wife did not appear impressed.
“What the hell are you doing?“
“What we should have done three nights ago.“
“You can’t kill him!“
“I won’t. Just going to try and scare it off.“
When I got back outside, I found the owl had moved, and perched himself in the usual spot by our bedroom window. The audacity of that pissed me off even more. I fired a warning shot into the sky. But the bird didn’t balk. Mandy whispered through a crack in the door as I aimed a second time.
“You might wake neighbors!“
I muttered a retort and fired another shot accidentally in the direction of the tree. I never expected the bullet to meet its mark. The screech that followed was far louder than anything my gun could have produced. I covered my ears and ran for the safety of our house as a loud ‘thud’ smacked the bushes beside our bird bath.
It is difficult to describe how one knows a voice is human.
Maybe it’s the grunting, or monosyllabic groans, that we all utter to indicate discomfort. Maybe it’s the vague attempts at words and language. I don’t know. But the audible crunching of bones and slithering skin slipping off and shedding sure as shit seemed to indicate something else.
Nonetheless, a man appeared from out of the same spot a moment later.
He wore a tan trench coat with the collar turned up. You know, the type that is designed to hide the wearer’s face? I called out to the man in the night as he shuffled his way towards the road. Mandy pulled at my shoulder and begged me to come inside. The whole thing started to feel like a prank, or a scam. That made me even more mad.
“Hey buddy, the fuck you think you’re doing on my property?“
The man turned his collar up further and picked up the pace. He seemed to walk with a limp, but he moved fast. We stared dumbly as the man leaped off our front lawn gingerly and stutter stepped his way down the middle of our small road.
I followed him.
“Have you been watching us? Hey, I’m talking to you. This is not funny. I am armed.“
I cocked the cock again stupidly as Mandy all but closed the door on me. The man seemed to walk faster when he heard my threats. But he never turned around. I fired another warning shot, this time, perfectly placed a few feet from his feet.
He didn’t like that.
The man offered a horrible scream into the night that seemed more bestial than human. Then he started to run. I tried to sprint down the street in my boxers. But the man moved faster than any I have tried to seen. His shape seemed to meld into the horizon as it became harder to make out details in the distance.I stopped a quarter mile down the road and tried to aim the gun. Mandy screamed somewhere behind me. But before anything else could happen, a blinding, white light filled the streets.
I remember the motor humming.
I remember looking down the road and seeing the man jumping.
I remember the all encompassing feeling of pressure pushing down on my chest.
But I don’t remember the rest. As soon as the encounter started, it ended. The light faded. The obnoxious engine dissipated somewhere over a nearby hill and every trace of the man or owl down the street disappeared. The cool night stayed quiet, save for Mandy’s tortured cries. And then she became ill.
We talked to the police last night. They did not believe much of our story. So, we cleaned up the kitchen and tried to go to sleep. I have since tried to rationalize the situation. Maybe it could be a prank, after all, like the cops said. Maybe just some stupid kids.
But something inside this house does not feel right. Like it’s been touched by something that does quite not belong. The windows themselves feel violated. I can feel someone, or something, watching me; even while I write. Deep down, I now know why the white owl visits me every night. I know the source of that mysterious white light. His kind is watching, waiting, and learning before they return.
And then… there won’t even be a fight.