Okay, maybe not so stealthy, but he sounded like he was trying to be – With a hole in the tent wall caused by the fire, a hole big enough for a human to enter, I was very aware of our vulnerability to animal intrusion – We were new to the acreage of wilderness in the Top End of Australia, and innocent as yet to the ways of Nature.
I’m an incredibly light sleeper. Tents are noisy, they billow and flap, they also leak rain when a sagging roof allows for a hefty collection of water – and you don’t want to touch it because that lets the water through. Anyhow, the winds had died down and we were both sleeping well. It was the middle of the night and I awoke for some other reason.
Listening in the dark, I soon discovered what had disturbed me and set my inner alarm off. It was a footfall. Someone was being very careful to keep quiet and was very close to the tent. Out here? The nearest neighbor was literally miles away. But it was a footfall. A careful tread in leaves and grass. Right. By. The. Window.
It had to be an animal, I told myself. Not a person, an animal. But what? How dangerous was it? Was it seeking a way in?
Silently, I reached down by the side of the bed and found the torch. I aimed it out through the screen before switching it on. I wanted to be sure to see it. Oh, I saw what it was, all right, and as I watched, it moved and made that same sound – so there was no mistaking THIS was the culprit. I could hardly believe my eyes.
What was it? It was a cockroach! That’s right. A bush cockroach, about the size of a thumb, big but hardly a monster, its movements in the leaves not hushed at all and suggesting something much larger.
I smiled. Welcome to the Wilderness, I told myself as I switched off the torch and went back to sleep, plotting plots and making up alien adventures that would become the Khekarian series.
Cheers, all! 😀