One of the most delicious aspects of Adi Rule‘s magnificent debut novel, Strange Sweet Song, is the mysterious, murderous Felix–who may or may not really exist. But in honor of her legendary throat-ripping capabilities, we Emus have banded together to share stories of dangerous animal encounters that really did happen. We swear. (Some of us have even provided photographic evidence.)
Enjoy our tales, and please feel free to share some of your own in the comments!
Tara Dairman‘s Ape Escape:
My husband and I were hiking with a group near an orangutan preserve in Sumatra when an enormous orangutan with a baby on her back lumbered into our path. Our guide immediately recognized her as “Mina,” an orang so notoriously violent that she has her own warning box in the Indonesia Lonely Planet guide. He knew that she was after food, and threw her our fruit scraps to try to placate her. She ate them up…and then attacked him anyway. One moment he was standing there, and the next he was rolling around on the forest floor in a clench with an orangutan! He managed to get away with just a couple of bites, and we all tore down the trail as quickly as we possibly could. We’d already been hiking for hours and I had been exhausted just a minute before, but let me tell you: Adrenaline works wonders. I have never run so fast in my life.
Penny Parker Klostermann‘s Inception-worthy Insects:
In high school, I shared a room with my older sister. We had twin beds. One night she dreamed there were ants in her bed . . . crawling everywhere. She woke me up and asked to join me in my bed only to wake me up about an hour later because she dreamed the ants were now crawling in my bed. She insisted I move to the living room couch with her. And, yes, she woke me AGAIN because now the ants in her dream were crawling all over the couch. She must have been pretty convincing because we got little sleep that night and I agreed to sleep on every bed, piece of furniture, floor, etc. in our house. I don’t have a picture of these ants to share, of course, but let’s just say they were scary and not to be deterred from following us from place to place in the wee hours of the night.
Lindsey Lane‘s Rat Restaurant Closure:
I heard it when I was writing. About 10 am. Rustle. Rustle. Scratch. Scratch. I knew it where it was. In the dog food cabinet. I knew it because I’d noticed a hole in the bottom of the dog food bag and little nuggets of grain-free goodness trickled out the bottom of the bag every time I pulled it out to feed the hound. I ignored the creature in the back of cabinet. We could co-exist, I thought. But every morning as I wrote, I imagined it growing bigger and bigger. Every evening, when I pulled out the dog food bag with a bigger and bigger hole, I imagined a gargantuan rat lolling in the cabinet with a belly only outsized by its teeth. I called a manly man friend. We went to the hardware store. He told me not to pussyfoot around with have-a-heart traps (they will always come back to their favorite hole-in-the-wall restaurant, so to speak) or sticky-feet traps (ick…imagine listening to them gnaw their feet to escape). No, the best trap snaps its neck just as it is creeping toward the hole-in-the-wall special: a delicious bite of dog food slathered in peanut butter. A cruel twist of anticipation. So we set the trap. I sat down to write. I heard the rustle, the scratch, the SNAP. Silence. I wish I could say I gave it a decent burial. I didn’t. I did leave an empty, un-set trap in back of the cabinet. I think of it as a “closed for business” sign in the window of my hole-in-the-wall restaurant. So far, the restaurant remains empty.
Joshua McCune‘s Cheezy Tale:
Okay, not so much dangerous, unless you count possible exposure to rabies. Was at the Devil’s Punchbowl on the Oregon coast a few years back when several of the local residents scurried from the brush to surround me. They’re normally halfway hesitant around human folk, but not when you’ve got the scent of food on you. The chirped and chittered and finally I succumbed to their cuteness and sat among them, playing C-3P0 to their Ewok cuteness. The suckers swarmed me. I was no God to them, merely a hindrance on their quest to attain the delicious, almighty Cheez-It.
Parker Peevyhouse‘s Adventures in Babymonkeysitting:
I once babysat a baby monkey. Here’s what it was like:
oh man oh man — a baby monkey I’m babysitting a baby monkey — this is the most adorable thing that has ever happened to me — how is this legal — it has its own baby blanket– so to recap, a baby monkey with a baby blanket — and a baby bottle!!! — it is so cute — so cute how it shows its pointy little teeth when it’s hungry — and makes that terrifying screech like it’s going to eat my face if i don’t feed it — is this at all legal — this is the most terrible thing that has ever happened to me
Christine Hayes‘s Husband’s Paper Route Rout:
When my husband was 11, his mom drove him around on the back of a moped to help him with his paper route. One fateful morning, an angry dog chased them down the street and actually bit my poor, defenseless husband-to-be on the uh…posterior. There were shots involved. Surprisingly, he is not afraid of dogs, but paper routes are another story!
Laurie Ann Thompson‘s Scream-Inducing Skull:
One of my earliest memories from childhood involved an animal encounter in the woods, not with a live animal, mind you, but with a dead one. It was an experience I’ll never forget, and remains one of the most terrifying experiences I’ve ever had in my life. I must’ve been around four years old, and had wandered past the edge of our lawn into the woods behind. Our beagle, Chipper, was on the scent of something interesting, and I tagged along behind him, secure in the knowledge that he would protect me as well as lead me back home again (obviously wrong on both counts, if you know anything about beagles). Anyway, he soon started baying and digging in the leaf litter. I expected to see a cute little bunny or something hiding there, but when I looked down into the hole I saw… a SKULL. And not just any skull, either, but one from a rather large carnivore, with strong jaws and very, very sharp teeth. The skull terrified me. The teeth terrified me. And now the darn dog had disturbed its resting place. I was sure it would exact revenge. I ran through the woods and across the yard as fast as I could, out of breath but somehow screaming the whole way. I was sure the skull was right behind me all the way, and the relief I felt when I finally slammed the house door shut behind me was immense. Somehow, all Chipper got out of the incident was a dirty nose, but it would be quite some time before I forgave his betrayal, and even longer before I would step into those woods again.
Amy Finnegan‘s Tropical Terrors:
I’ve had many dangerous animal encounters, mostly because there is a large number of animals—and insects—that scare the crap out of me. But allow me to summarize a recent trip to Costa Rica (no offense to this beautiful country, it just wasn’t a dream vacation this particular time). Within one hour of arriving, my 10-year-old was stung by an unknown insect that left a large welt on her back for about two months. The first night in our room, we were swarmed by giant red hornets that had made a nest in a ceiling light. The next night, a crazy bunch of enormous raccoons tried desperately to break through our sliding glass door. Then we discovered that, despite what the brochure said, monkeys are more likely to smear their feces on your shirt than cuddle with you. The next day, our lovely guided, two-hour tour on horseback had barely begun when I was bucked off and landed just inches from a sharp protruding rock that could’ve split my head in two. (“Sorry, Senorita! Your horse is muy loco!”) When moving my toddler’s blow up mattress, I found a shiny black scorpion under it. And then . . . and THEN . . . when driving our rental car the night before we returned home, I ran over a huge freaking PYTHON. Oh, but don’t worry, it scrunched up like an accordion right as I passed over it, and was just fine. I was not. But, my dear amigos, the iguanas were AWESOME!
Megan Morrison‘s Fearsome Felines:
They were small and black, breathing together, curled like one creature in the cage. Eight legs. Two heads. One of them yawned, exposing sharp teeth and a ridged palate. Against my better judgment, I brought the beasts home and set them free, unleashing a reign of terror. They urinated on my clothes. They turned my wood furniture to sawdust with their claws. They vomited in my bed and deposited hair in my ice cream. Eight years later, I remain in their thrall, taking them to the vet and buying them Friskies pate. Their hold on me knows no end.
Giveaway reminder: Just leave a comment below (or on any other post from this week) to be entered to win a copy of STRANGE SWEET SONG. Feel free to share a dangerous animal encounter in your comment!