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The Tyto Alba returneth

by Cheryl E Preston 11 days ago in Fantasy · updated 11 days ago

This nocturnal fowl that screeched like a banshee had not been seen in over a year. His sighting could mean nothing but bad luck.

He's Back

The familiar sound awakened me from a deep slumber so I sat up to pay close attention. It was real and I was not dreaming and it chilled me to the bone. I was hearing a sound in the night that had not been heard in over a year. It jolted me out of bed and I put on my robe and walked barefoot out the back door. The last time this noise invaded my atmosphere was the night before we got the call that my great grandfather had passed away.

My great grandmother referred to this creature as a ghost owl or hobgoblin owl and added that his sound was the music of death. My Grandma who was great granny's daughter had several names for this being. She called it a monkey-faced screech owl, and even a demon owl. The otherworldly cry of this feathered beast did indeed sound like it was screeching but upon research, I found that an actual screech owl was a different species.

I decided to follow the sound and locate this spectacular bird and catch an image on my cell phone camera before shooing it and death away. The hoot owls I heard during the day made a "who who" sound that caused me to think of Gomer Pyle from the television series, Gomer was supposed to say "Hooty who" to warn his friends that the sheriff Andy Taylor was coming but had food in his mouth and no sound came out.

This thing that was calling from somewhere up above me on this night indeed made a screeching noise that sounded as if it came from the pits of hell. On and on it went sounding like the noises in the haunted Forrest of The Wizard of Oz just before the flying monkeys came. I realized then that I also recognized this to be the sound effect utilized in movies about the jungle. I snickered as I recalled the Cowardly Lion saying "I do believe in spooks, I do believe in spooks, I do I do I do I do I do believe in spooks."

As I continued walking I was shining my cell phone light on the roof of the house, the trees, and the telephone pole. I finally located the beastly fowl perched atop the garage that was in the back of the house. Illumination from a street light is what made the heart-shaped pale white face visible. This combined with piercing black eyes made the owl both beautiful and horrifying at the same time. Its sunken face looked like a Halloween mask turned inside out and yet the bill was prominent just like a human nose.

The feathers were a combination of a light brown and gray which I thought to be an unusual pattern. The owl was looking straight ahead and oblivious to me as it continued to shriek at regular intervals. The sound unnerved me and yet another cartoon came to mind. It was the Happy Harmonies animated classic titled Bottles, where a skeleton cackles as it announces "Death walks tonight."

I decided that if this bird was indeed an omen of the impending demise of some unsuspecting person he was not taking anyone in my household. I began praying for protection for everyone I could think of as I prepared to snap a video and send the creature on its way.

Just as I set my phone to record this nocturnal Tytonidae literally turned its head sideways and I thought of Regan (Linda Blair) whose head would spin in the movie The Exorcist. A creepy factor to all of this is that as the head turned the eyes did not move. No horror movie could conjure up the brilliance of the fascinating abilities the Almighty has placed in His creation. Here I was standing barefooted outdoors on a cold January night in my nightgown and bathrobe gazing at this freak of nature.

I immediately corrected my thinking because I realized this Tyto alba (white owl) was doing exactly what it was created to do and looked the precise way the Creator had intended. Even so, I was both fascinated and frightened and too spellbound to snap a picture. I stood mesmerized as this elegant bird spread its wings and soared high up into the night sky with its body undulating in a rhythmic pattern as it flew out of sight.

I walked back into the house and eventually fell asleep but woke in the morning feeling unnerved. I could not shake the feeling that even though I had prayed for everyone I could think of, that something bad was about to happen. I tried to calm myself by saying it was all my imagination and that the sighting of a bird could in no way be related to someone's death. I was about to head out the door for work at 8:15 AM when the phone rang and my heart dropped right into my stomach.

I did not want to take this call but knew that I must. It was my grandmother who relayed to me that cousin Gary who was healthy and a bodybuilder had died the previous night of a massive heart attack at age 52. His son had found him unresponsive in his home at about 10:10 PM which was the same time I was confronting the owl.

As I thought back I realized that of the 15 or 16 family members I prayed for my cousin Gary's name never came to mind. Had the owl been an omen or was it a coincidence that two family members within a year passed away after a sighting of this creature? There is really no way to know for certain.


Cheryl E Preston

Cheryl is a poet, freelance writer, published author and former Newspaper columnist. She has degrees in Psycology and Biblical studies. She enjoys sharing natural cures, and Nostalgia related info. Tips are greatly appreciated.

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