“Dark they were and golden eyed”, is the topic for this week at our creative writing group. Try as I might I could not get any inspiration and so turned to GOOGLE.
“Dark They Were and Golden Eyed” was the title of a science fiction short story written by Ray Bradbury and was originally published in the magazine “Thrilling Wonder Stories” in August 1949. For some reason this information coupled with the words “Dark” and “Golden Eyed” jogged my memory about some news articles I had read about a real, or mythical, Blue Mountains Panther. Sometimes I worry about how my mind works, but usually just go with the flow. You surely remember the stories of people sighting these large black animals that resemble panthers. They have been sighted from Penrith to Bathurst.
Anyway last night, still lacking inspiration, I took myself off to bed. As usual when something is bugging me I could not sleep. Thoughts of things with “Golden Eyes” and stories of wild animals ran like an annoying TV advertisement, round and round in my mind. Finally, exhausted, I rolled on my side and expelled all thoughts of such things and drifted off to sleep. “Drifted off to sleep.” What a strange expression. Why don’t we “float off’ or even “undulate off”. See I told you that I worry about the strange sidetracks that my mind sometimes takes.
Well, I must have been asleep for hours when I suddenly became aware of a presence. It did not frighten me. In fact it excited me, with a feeling of tremendous power and energy. I was aware that my body was still lying asleep in my bed but my mind was telling me that I was outside the house. It was so real that I could feel the cold on my skin and the rough grass beneath my feet. I was hungry, with a deep, sickening, empty feeling that told me that I needed to eat very soon.
I felt young again. My body was tensed and I could feel my muscles flexing beneath my skin. Adrenalin was pulsing through me like small electric shocks. Danger was all around and the smell of my most feared enemy was strong in my nostrils. Normally I would not venture this close to where he slept but hunger had driven me out of the dense bush where I usually hunted.
The full moon escaped from behind a cloud and I froze fearing that I might be seen. The light was so bright that I could see the steam of my breath on the cold night air. I waited, poised for instant flight, but no shout of alarm came or any dog started barking. Slowly, carefully, I inched my way forward. Just in front of me was the strange den of some of the enemy. Carefully I looked inside. With a jolt that made my whole body spasm and paralysed my mind I saw myself asleep in my bed.
A noise outside the window disturbed me and for an instant my mind was in turmoil. Where was I? I sat up and looked outside. Bright moonlight, a dark shape and two burning golden eyes.
I tried to scream, to warn my wife but my vocal chords were frozen. I could not move. Invisible forces were holding me down, constricting my arms and legs.
A voice intruded. My wife’s. Wake up! Wake up! You’re yelling out in your sleep. It must be a nightmare. Wake up!
It had been so real; but it was just a dream.
As I was having my cereal this morning my wife who had been out picking some camellias for the house came inside and said, “Come out and look at this.” Still munching on my toast I followed her out to the front path.
There were huge muddy paw prints everywhere.