Here's an excerpt from a new novel I'm working on, entitled TALES OF A VOLKSWAGEN GYPSY. I hope you'll enjoy this little story from the 1970s.
In bed on the cabin’s screened-in sleeping porch, Jessie jerked awake. Jarred and half asleep, she searched the inky-black darkness with wide eyes. Nothing but black Montana night.
“HELP MEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!” came the spooky wail again, its mournful tones echoing off the island cliffs across the Narrows. It sounded like two children calling from somewhere out on the lake.
Jess lay there in the pitch-black dark, her eyes popping out of her head, her heart pounding. She lay on her back in her warm sleeping bag, stiff as a board with fright. She was alone in the cabin, her uncle having gone home. It was plenty isolated out here, especially in May. There was no phone, and none of the neighboring cabins she knew of were occupied this time of year. She cursed herself for not thinking to have a good flashlight handy. This was her first time staying by herself in the woods, and she had everything to learn. Maybe living out here was a bad idea. She--
“HELP MEEEEEEEEEEEeeeee!” the eerie wail sounded again, its haunting notes slowly fading into the Flathead Lake silence.
The hair on the back of Jessie’s neck stood straight up. She couldn’t move. Not even an inch! She wondered if she was hearing a ghost. It was that kind of spine-chilling, unnerving sound. What should she do? What if someone needed her to help? She felt paralyzed, but her mind was racing. The only thing she could do was drive into town, she figured, since no one was staying out here this early in the season.
Again she tried to see something in the moonless night, anything. The lake was quiet. Through the screen, she finally could make out a patch of starry night sky and the dim silhouettes of the fat old ponderosa pines that stood just outside the sleeping porch. After a few more seconds she could see the lofty tamaracks, too.
Once more the call pierced the night. “HELP MEEEEEE!”
This time it was strangely dissonant. What if she lay here doing nothing, and whoever was out there drowned? What if they were children needing her help? Sometimes boaters out here needed rescuing. She waited, listening hard and barely breathing. Maybe someone had broken a boat propeller, or couldn’t get their boat motor started. She had to get up and try to find the flashlight in the kitchen.
But she still could not get her legs to move.
Then a weird yodeling punctured the silence. It was long, rising, and crazy-sounding. Now what the heck was it? This was not children, for sure. Relieved, Jess took a deep breath. Just then another shrill yodel reverberated across the water.
She’d heard about loons yodeling like this. That must be it. It was May, probably their mating season or something. The loons were having a spring fever party on the lake.
Jess took some more deep breaths and finally relaxed enough to turn onto her side facing the trees outside the porch. A gentle breeze rustled the pine needles.
All was quiet on the lake once again.
But it took hours for Jess to fall back asleep.