@loripalminteriTweets by @loripalminteri
I’m thankful for any night I can fall asleep before 1am. If I fall asleep before midnight it’s usually at the cost of a sleep aid, or illness. But on this night, I drifted off to sleep pondering this strange dream I had the night before where I was locked in a rehab, except the other ‘patients’ had smuggled drugs in and there was a lot of sex involved until the drugs made us hallucinate monsters and everyone started losing their shit. Strange dreams, indeed.
My alarm was set for 8am, as I had to review and edit jokes for the two services I write for (radio and Gutfeld!) in the morning. Except, I was jerked awake suddenly sometime between 5am and 5:30am by a lightning storm.
Flash! My apartment was briefly filled with white light, and the shaking of thunder. My heart bounced but only for a moment. I like lightning storms. Truthfully, I could watch one for hours. But I was not happy to be woken up at this hour. I needed the sleep so my brain could be creative in the morning (not always easy). Still, the storm raged on. Embracing a pillow, I looked out my window, hoping to catch some of natures show before it settled down enough for me to resume sleep.
But it was LOUD. It felt like lightning was striking all around my home. It has before. A few summers ago, lightning took down a dozen trees in Astoria park. Trees burnt and snapped in half. It was crazy.
A violent crack burst not too far. And then, something odd. A screaming. No, not just screaming… more like a screeching.
“What the fuck is that,” I said to no one.
Worried it was a person, I went to my window and tried to look outside. I couldn’t see much through the sideways downpour, but the lightning would temporarily illuminate the street. The screeching scream continued. At first, I worried it was a person. I even debated going outside to investigate, though my logic brain was like, “um, no, don’t go outside, you idiot. Does that even sound human to you?”
No. No it didn’t sound human. I have never heard a human make such a sound. Nor were there words such as “help” or in that case I would have risked the storm. In fact, I had no idea WHAT was making such an awful noise. It sounded to me like a dinosaur or alien. Ironically, I’d be far more excited to save a dinosaur or alien than a human. Not that I’ve ever met a dinosaur or an alien, but I have met plenty of people and I think I might prefer the company of extinct animals or creatures spying on us from beyond.
The horrid sound of fear continued. I crawled back into bed and pulled covers over my head and listened to it.
“What if it’s a baby? A baby needs me.” I said to myself.
“Okay, Lori. But what KIND of baby? This ‘maternal hero’ inner dialogue you have going right now is an instinct that is useless to you and probably whatever THING is out there screaming.”
“Valid points. Should I call someone?”
“Yeah. Call the police. What are you going to tell them? There’s some animal, I think anyway, screeching outside my apartment building. 99% sure it’s not a human. Don’t waste the cops time. They have real shit to deal with.”
After some time, the horrible screams did stop, and I briefly went back to sleep before I had to wake up and work. I texted my neighbor and good friend, the Doc, and asked if he woke and heard anything. He said he hadn’t, but his guess was raccoons. I spent some time listening to the sound of raccoon noises in distress on YouTube and I believe the Doc is right. And I think now, what happened, is the raccoons have been habituating in this construction site a couple doors down and it may have actually been struck by lightning causing a frenzy of fear with the furry creatures. On my run the next day, ConEd was out there fixing stuff, so I speculated my hypotheses was at least close.
What a horrible sound. I suppose there was nothing I could do but listen. Sometimes it’s hard being a witness. In my fantasy, I would have found a litter of baby raccoons, like Rocket in Guardians of the Galaxy 3, and cuddled them, made them safe and warm. But this, is just a fantasy. The reality was just screams.