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New-Town Trials

by G. R. Reed about a month ago in bird

And Old-World Trails

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Male_Barn_Owl_3_(6942373687).jpg

The night was cold and moving on toward morning when Trevor finished with his jog. He was on the running trail about a quarter mile from the trailhead - and standing out in the middle of the field nearby was a rickety old barn. Nothing special nor noteworthy in his opinion, but for some reason it caught his interest this morning. Looking around, there weren't any "Keep Out" or "Private Property" signs posted. No fence to cross.

Trevor had been along this trail dozens of times but never paid the old place much attention. Having just moved to the area half a year ago, he was still adjusting to the move and had not explored much nor heard much in the way of gossip or rumor about this trail except it was a nice long run with a few challenging spots - but otherwise easy-enough to suit him. There was no word spoken about any barn, and he came this way to go for jogs before heading to work for the early-morning rush at the bagel-shop. At twenty-three years old it was a decent enough accomplishment to land his position as morning baker and shift manager and he did not mind the hours, so he had no cause for complaint about rising before the sun every morning when he was scheduled.

The trail was on the outskirts of town and was only two miles from the little country cottage he was renting. Although Trevor did not have to work today, his normal waking schedule and internal alarm did not allow him to sleep in like he usually liked on his days off. The glow of the sun was barely starting to illuminate the sky in that strange false-dawn phenomenon when he started across the tall grasses and into a closer position to check over the barn. The outside paint was worn, but at one time it looked to have been a dark reddish auburn. The roof was slanted in the (almost) A-frame style most barns are found in, and it was covered over by tin sheeting at one point in time. Looking upwards at the upper second-story double-doors that were flung wide and left open to the elements, and the glimpse of the underside of the roof, there was a momentary flash of white and the flutter of movement. His heart began beating faster as he scanned the upper floor. There was no sign of whatever had stirred for that brief moment.

With his palms beginning to sweat at the idea of going into the building now, Trevor considered things. What if there was a drifter or other transient person living in this place? The prospect of danger began to erode away at his sense of adventure, but something was drawing him in. After a moment of indecision he decided to enter and check out the upper floor of this barn. Trevor cautiously opened the main ground-floor door (which creaked and groaned loudly the entire time it was being moved.) Without another thought he moved into the darkened interior and stopped to allow his eyesight to adjust to the dimness. To his left and in the middle of the barn was the dim shape of what he assumed was a tractor. Over on the righthand side he could barely make out the outline of a thick wooden ladder that led to the loft above. Moving swiftly over to it his ears caught the flap of what sounded like a sheet hung out to dry and left to flap in the wind. He immediately stopped to listen but could hear nothing, and Trevor assumed it was just a bit of fabric that caught the errant breeze. He began to climb up to the second floor when he caught the same sound coming from above. He hesitated but a moment.

With his curiosity peaked, Trevor climbed up swiftly but slowed as his head was just cresting above the floorboards of the upper floor loft. The barn seemed to creak and moaned from the shifting weight caused from his climb, but the air seemed to take on a sudden stillness as he stopped to take in the scene. Trevor was very aware of his breathing and could suddenly hear the sound of his heart beating in his ears. Thump-wump. Thump-wump. The upper story was a little brighter than the lower floor of the barn. Old farming tools and implements hung from the walls and roof or were scattered here and there along the floor. An old engine, probably belonging to the tractor below, was partially disassembled with pieces scattered across the loft. A few square bales of straw and a few of hay were stacked close to the double-doors Trevor had made out earlier. Bringing himself to a stand, he backed away from the ladder. It was like the barn protested his every step because the creaking and groaning of wood seemed louder than ever.

Trevor did not get to move very far before something white came streaking down out of the darkness above his head with the soft flapping of wings. Trevor cried out in alarm and could only cover his head with his arms and crouch down in a moment of fright before whatever-it-was had come to a stop - perched upon a bannister nearby. Trevor took all of it in as it was happening, but for some reason his body seemed to just shut down all movement rather than respond with flight of his own. After his breathing had calmed and his heart had quieted, Trevor stood up straighter and took stock of the situation. There on the bannister was a large bird, white of face and breast with brown coloring on the upper portion of its wings, while the underside was mostly white with a few brown streaks. An owl. A barn owl. A chuckle escaped his lips before he could stop himself. The owl cocked its’ head and stared before giving out a rather unusual screech. It continued to stare at Trevor and bob its head.

Having decided he’d had enough adventure for one day, Trevor went over to the ladder and was beginning to climb down when another owl came ghosting down from a position higher in the rafters. It alighted close-by to the other owl and began to preen its feathers. Both owls must have determined he wasn’t a threat because the last glimpse he took showed that both owls were enjoying a bit of a game spent chasing the tailfeathers of the other.

Without looking back, it did not take long for Trevor to reach the trail again - and eventually his car. Then he looked back, and standing there he briefly contemplated the events of the night. He was barely able to make out the top of the barn from between a few trees that lined the trail. Considering his moment of fright, he chuckled again to himself. Trevor resolved to visit the pair of owls again tomorrow before unlocking his car and settling into the drivers’ seat.

bird
G. R. Reed
G. R. Reed
Read next: Calling All Wannabe Pet Owners
G. R. Reed

Mr. Reed is an entrepreneur, writer and lover of art that lives with his two children in Southeastern Utah. Between work, his hobbies (dabbling as a beekeeper and gardener) and raising his children as a single father, he keeps himself busy.

See all posts by G. R. Reed

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