Today’s flash is all the fault of Momdude, who has a blog We Love the Stars Too Fondly. If you want to know where I got this idea, check his post here. I’m still not back in the flow of story-writing, but I hope you like it, all 750 words of it.
The screams from next door were certainly piercing. Despite closed windows, drawn curtains, and the dance music from the tv, she winced as her ears were assaulted once more by the sounds of children enjoying themselves. I’m sure we were never allowed to scream like that, she thought for the hundredth time.
She sighed, rose and went into the kitchen to make tea. Anything to keep her mind off the raucous laughter. She couldn’t hear her programme properly, so she gave up and took her mug upstairs, setting it beside the computer, as she leant over the desk to close more windows. She paused, looking down on the partygoers. There was no pattern to the game that she could see. Nobody seemed to be being chased, or tagged, in fact it all looked completely random. A new peal of squeals announced something, but she could not tell what.
She considered putting her ear-plugs in, but the sound of an adult calling to the children led to a reduced noise level, and she looked out again to see everyone traipsing onto the terrace. Maybe it was time for food at the long table set out there.
She breathed noisily in relief and opened her emails.
Sorting through was comforting. Nothing of interest, really, copies of postings on Facebook from people she didn’t know, probably friends of her nephew. A few offers of special prices on gardening ware from her favoured supplies. The perpetual recycling items.
Above her a gentle pitter-patter on the roof subtly wove its way into her consciousness. She paused from replying to a friend, looking up at the yellowing ceiling, assessing the noise. Turning her head this way and that, she located it at the peak of the roof, near the chimney.
It’s those darn raccoons again, she muttered. Pesky beasts. Nasty scratching claws. They’ll be digging up my spring bulbs and scraping the bark of my new fruit trees as soon as night falls.
It was the advertisement for garden netting that gave her the idea. She left the computer to its own devices and slid out of the back door to the shed. Neatly tucked away on a shelf she found the ideal appliance – a roll of bird netting, used each year to keep them off her raspberries. Now it would have another use.
The raccoons were almost hidden in the shadow of the chimney, their beady eyes watching her every move. She knew they were there, how they got up there, and where they went. She wasn’t bothered about them being there, only when they dug in her garden. She strung the netting out in a particular part of the garden, went indoors, grabbed a broom, then went upstairs and opened the loft trapdoor, letting down the ladder as it came.
She smiled as she slid back the hatch on the roof; such a simple idea the roofer had to give her easier access to her perpetually fouled tv aerial on the chimney. The broom preceded her head as she looked out, which had exactly the desired effect: the raccoons scampered in the other direction and down their various lines of escape. She dropped the broom and raced down the stepladder and stairs to the netting. Success! An adult and two young pests rolling about, getting more and more tangled. Now to release them where they’d do most damage.
The noises from next door resumed their 100 decibel level. Tea must be finished. Squeals and shouting preceded a stampede of feet over the terrace and back into the garden. The noise cowed the animals in their trap, and she was able to pull the net into a simple basket for them. Now the most difficult manoeuvre — getting it over the fence without being seen. The children seemed to be yelling at something near her tree. Well, then, she’d go to the far end of the fence….
The eruption of the raccoons as they escaped to freedom caused all the necessary terror that she had hoped for. These were real screams, but the raccoons had found the food abandoned on the terrace, as she hoped they might. She put her hands over her ears to keep the intensity of the children’s vocal chords from damaging her ear-drums, but it sounded like the raccoons were doing a great job.
She retreated to her computer room to watch. It was a most satisfying end to the celebration. Raccoons were such great party animals; it was a scene of total destruction.
© J M Pett 2016
Raccoon photo courtesy of Paul J Willett