All I could see of the beast at the bottom of the garden was a pair of red eyes shining out from the thicket where it hid. A trail of blood on the grass told me it was wounded and all the more dangerous for it.
The question was: what flavour of beastie was I entertaining in my own backyard? Judging by the neon glare it wasn’t one of the usual suspects. Or at least none of the critters that usually roamed the mean streets of Bruntsfield.
A low, trickling growl grew in ambition to a full throated roar. What the hell was I going to do with the damn thing? It wasn’t exactly a SSPCA or council call-out because if it was what I suspected, everyone would die. And die hard as Bruce Willis would no doubt have said if he’d known.
Then I remembered the steak in the fridge. It was to have been my Sunday night treat: burned to a crisp and washed down with a bottle of Talisker. Now it was bait for whatever skulked in the bushes. A beast whose tastes, I was willing to bet, were rather more rarefied than my own.
An icy north wind nipped the back of my neck and I noticed for the first time that no birds sang. It would be dark soon and whatever it was I was going to do, I needed to do it now. I turned to head back to the house until a desperate rasp stopped me in my tracks.
It took a few precious moments to figure it out, but when I did there was no cigar.
The thing was laughing.