He Only Hunts At Night
© by Gary Morton
It was a distant summer day. Sunbeams the color of fool's gold lanced through snow-white cumulus towers, and I believed in rushes and energy … not the cruel machine at the end of the world. I was strolling down Huron Street, an easy street of old houses - frame, brick and Victorian - stretching down into the University of Toronto campus. A good neighborhood, I thought -- lots of energy to absorb from the students and the ghosts of the cool people that hangout in this part of town.
My thoughts drifted on the summery breeze, and the motion was perpetual inner peace. Then I saw something interesting - a building with a beautiful aura of energy. It was an apartment house. I crossed the lawn of a co-op, and within fifteen minutes was writing a check for apartment 203.
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While unloading the van, I looked over at the sprawling architecture of the university library. It gave me a good feeling, but when I got into my place and opened the windows, I had a bad feeling - a concrete tombstone loomed out the window. It was a new building; sinister-looking, with big tinted windows. Everything about the design was too big, square and efficient.
I let Shadow out of his cage - he'd been sleeping of course - and he popped up on the windowsill, hissed at the building, stretched and went back to sleep. It dawned on me then; I'd seen the building in the newspaper - a place of animal experimentation for the university. Most people know the issue, but take away the passion, and you still can't avoid the fact that animals are just flesh to researchers - living cadavers that a god in a white smock has condemned.
If you saw all of the ugliness in the world as a face, it would be the Gorgon and you would turn to stone. That was the thought that stuck in my mind as I tried to write that night. Light blazed from the research building and my agitated cat hissed, spat, and caterwauled as he paced back and forth on the sill. When I'd had enough, I went over to close the curtains, and there, directly across from me, I saw a Frankenstein monster of a cat in a cage. The sight of objects protruding from an animal's brain makes for the creeps, and I suppose it gave my black cat more than the creeps. It bothered me, and I wasn't quite sure what to do about it, but mainly I was exhausted from the move. I sat with tension knotting in my head and painful thoughts about the human condition. The end justifies the means - people had all bought that lousy argument. It didn't matter whether the subject was animal experimentation or human cruelty, like our governments trading with totalitarian dictators while pretending the suffering to be just a cultural quirk of foreigners. Evil makes only more evil - I was sure I believed that, and I decided to sleep on it.
I slept soundly until three a.m. when a crash woke me. My window was busted. I rushed to it, figuring the cat had gotten agitated and knocked something through it.
Shadow was gone so I went outside. A warm wind was swinging the maple boughs, and a full moon hung in the black sky. On the south side, supermarket-bright light spilled from the research building. I figured I could catch Shadow there before he got too far, but the explosions had already started. A blue ball of sparks took off over the rooftops like a UFO, and Shadow's silhouette dimmed the building. He suddenly leapt up and came down like thunder on the roof of the university building; his eyes glowed like hunter's moons as he struck the front walls with giant paws.
A crowd of workers streamed out of the building's rear doors. They were panicky, and none of them spotted Shadow on the roof. He was the best of hunters, a monster shadow of night with eyes, teeth and claws of pure energy. Then he vanished through the roof and went inside. I knew his power was ancient, but I couldn’t believe it when I saw animals … cats to rats to dogs and rabbits, clean of electrodes and drugs, running full of health to freedom in the night through a hole suddenly blasted in the wall.
Then Shadow appeared on the roof, looked to me and suddenly leapt down - a black monster as big as the building itself. Anyone watching from the rear must've thought the whole wall was coming down on me, but all that landed beside me was a shrinking outline and a small black cat with a fluffy tail.
He meowed, and faded like a ghost, leaving me to listen to the approaching wail of fire trucks and emergency vehicles. The entire spectacle had me off balance, and I could feel the energy shooting through me like metal to a magnet. A man in a bloody white smock was staggering near me and I noticed my hand beginning to glow, turning to transparent green fire. The change was coming on so I had to get out of there.
It's a good thing Shadow only hunts at night, I thought. I grabbed him by the scruff of the neck and dashed off, heading for a safe area of boarded-up warehouses . . . an area where I could hunt at night.
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