Printer Friendly
The Free Library
22,728,960 articles and books

Dreadful Screams and Horrible Hisses.



Becky slid open the massive barn door and searched in the darkness for the light switch. She could hear her horse, Joco, pacing in his stall. "Hold on, Joco, I'm coming," she called. Joco leaned over the stall door and answered with an impatient whinny whinny

the horse's call that expresses pleasure and expectancy.
.

"Sorry I'm late, boy," Becky said, giving the horse's velvety vel·vet·y  
adj. vel·vet·i·er, vel·vet·i·est
1. Suggestive of the texture of velvet; soft and smooth: velvety skin.

2.
 nose a pat. "Play practice took longer than I thought. Jon promised to feed you. But brothers can be real jerks sometimes."

She pulled the hose to the horse's stall, slid it between the boards, and filled the bucket. Joco took a long drink and then nickered softly. Becky dumped a scoop of sweet-smelling grain into his trough Trough

The stage of the economy's business cycle that marks the end of a period of declining business activity and the transition to expansion.
.

Becky sensed an eerie quiet in the huge, old barn. Dad and Jon had finished the milking hours ago. In the shadows, the farm machinery stood idle. Only Joco's soft munching munching - Exploration of security holes of someone else's computer for thrills, notoriety or to annoy the system manager. Compare cracker. See also hacked off.  broke the silence.

"Now for your hay," Becky said. She started to climb the ladder to the hayloft. Last fall, the loft had been filled with hay. But now that winter was over, the few remaining bales were stacked in the farthest corner.

"That light up there looks kind of dim, Joco," Becky said as she climbed. "I hope I can see to find you some hay."

In the loft, the faint light cast shadowy figures on the dusty floor and high walls.

"Kitty, kitty, kitty," Becky called, hoping Patches would come and chase away the uneasiness she felt. She tugged a chunk of hay from an open bale bale

1. a package of wool in a wool pack weighing 150-250 lb depending largely on whether it is greasy or scoured.

2. a compressed bundle of hay, either about 100 lb tied with wire or twine, or large, round, untied bales, as big as a small hay stack and referred to as 'big bales'.
 and then called again. But the familiar meow did not come.

Instead, a long, evil hisssSSSS filled the air. Becky stopped. Then she heard another. even longer and louder, hisssSSSSS.

Becky clutched the hay and raced liar the ladder. The awful hisssSSSS followed, seeming to reach out for her and nip at the tail of her sweatshirt. She tossed the hay to the floor below and scrambled down the ladder. her feet barely touching the rungs.

When she was safely down, Becky listened again. She heard only the pounding of her heart and Joco's peaceful munching. Becky wrapped her arms tightly around Joco's neck searching for warmth and comfort in his silky silky

female spirit who does household chores. [Br. Folklore: Briggs, 364–365]

See : Domesticity
 mane mane

the region of long coarse hair at the dorsal border of the neck and terminating at the poll in the forelock. Present in the horse and other Equidae. Similar gatherings of coarse hairs are present in the giraffe, gnu, various antelope, cheetah and lion. Called also juba.
.

"Maybe it was only the wind," she whispered, trying to comfort herself.

Becky looked out the barn door. The night was quiet and still. The moon and stars sparkled in the sky. Up at the house, a faint light glowing in the kitchen window reassured Becky and helped to calm her fears.

"Goodnight, Joco," she called. "Sec you tomorrow."

Becky tugged on the big barn door and it rumbled closed with an unusually loud bang. Suddenly, from out of nowhere, a chorus of unearthly screams ripped through the darkness. With the echo of the dreadful screams ringing in her cars. Becky ran to the house.

"Mom! Dad!" Becky yelled yell  
v. yelled, yell·ing, yells

v.intr.
To cry out loudly, as in pain, fright, surprise, or enthusiasm.

v.tr.
To utter or express with a loud cry. See Synonyms at shout.

n.
 as she threw open the kitchen door.

"They went over to the Martins'," Jon called front the den. "Do you have to make so much noise? I'm trying to watch a movie."

"But, Jon, there's something terrible going on in the barn."

"What kind of terrible?" Jon mumbled, his eyes never leaving the TV.

"An awful hissing hiss  
n.
1. A sharp sibilant sound similar to a sustained s.

2. An expression of disapproval, contempt, or dissatisfaction conveyed by use of this sound.

v.
 noise," Becky cried, "and then a loud scream--like someone is being murdered!"

"Sure, Becky," Jon mocked. "You get a little part in the sixth-grade play, and now you think you're the world's greatest actress."

"I'm serious, Jon!" Becky pleaded, but he just ignored her. "Oh, forget it!" she shouted.

Becky ran into her room and fell across her bed. Hot tears of frustration welled up in her eyes. She pulled the covers over her head and sobbed quietly in the dark.

Becky awoke a·woke  
v.
A past tense of awake.


awoke
Verb

a past tense and (now rare or dialectal) past participle of awake
 to find the bright morning sun shining through her curtains. As she rubbed her swollen eyes, last night's dreadful memory slowly returned. I don't even remember Mom and Dad coming home, Becky thought.

"Hi, honey," Mom said when Becky finally stumbled into the kitchen. "I hear you had a little scare last night."

"It wasn't exactly a little scare, Mom. How did you know?"

"Jon told us. He and Dad heard those same weird hissing noises when they went to milk the cows this morning. Your dad wants you to go out to the barn as soon as you finish eating breakfast."

"I'm never going into the barn again ... even in daytime, even with Dad there, even to take care of Joco," Becky cried. "Joco! Is he all right?"

"Joco's fine. Jon fed him for you. I think your brother feels bad for ignoring you last night."

"Well, he should," Becky said indignantly in·dig·nant  
adj.
Characterized by or filled with indignation. See Synonyms at angry.



[Latin indign
. "But what about those terrible screams?"

"Your dad didn't hear the screams, Becky. That's why he wants you to go out to the barn. He wants you to help him figure out what's going on What's Going On is a record by American soul singer Marvin Gaye. Released on May 21, 1971 (see 1971 in music), What's Going On reflected the beginning of a new trend in soul music. ."

Becky picked at her breakfast. She knew she would have to go to the barn sometime. She couldn't just abandon Joco and Patches. Finally, she could delay no longer.

As she trudged through the barnyard, Becky saw her Dad waving from the open barn door. She hurried on despite the knots in her stomach.

"The hisses seem to be coming from somewhere in the loft," Dad said after hearing her story. "Maybe we should start looking there."

Becky took a deep breath and followed her dad up the ladder to the hayloft. This morning, bright beams of sunlight filtered through the cracks in the old barn walls. From somewhere under the stacked hay bales, Patches strolled out to greet them.

"Hello, Patchy-cat," Becky crooned. "I'm so glad to see you. Where were you hiding last night?"

With Patches purring purring

a physiologically very complicated, semi-automatic, cyclic, controlled respiration involving alternating activity of the diaphragm and intrinsic laryngeal muscles in cats. The frequency of the alternation is about 25 times per second.
 beside her, Becky thought the loft seemed friendly again, just like always. She lay down in the hay while her dad looked around. Up high near the peak of the roof, Becky noticed something that she didn't remember seeing before.

"What's that way up there, Dad?" she said, pointing over her head. "It looks like a box hanging on the wall."

"Jon and I put that up there three or four years ago," Dad said. "We thought it might attract some barn owls barn owl

Any of several species of nocturnal birds of prey (genus Tyto), sometimes called monkey-faced owls because of their heart-shaped facial disk and absence of ear tufts. Barn owls are about 12–16 in.
, but nothing ever came of it."

"Oh, I love owls, Dad," Becky said, completely forgetting the reason they were there. "Maybe they came, and we just don't know Don't know (DK, DKed)

"Don't know the trade." A Street expression used whenever one party lacks knowledge of a trade or receives conflicting instructions from the other party.
 it."

"Well," Dad said, "why don't we both climb up there and take a look?"

They climbed over the stacked hay bales and onto the platform. Becky slowly opened the hinged lid.

Soft morning light beamed into the box through a small rectangular opening. Becky stared in amazement at the five white and fuzzy, heart-shaped faces.

"Oh, Dad," Becky whispered, "baby owls."

At the sound of the voices, the five frightened fright·en  
v. fright·ened, fright·en·ing, fright·ens

v.tr.
1. To fill with fear; alarm.

2.
 owlets began to sway slowly side to side. And then they let out a low, spine-chilling hisssSSSS.

"That's it!" she gasped. "That's the noise I heard."

They peeked in again.

"The screams I heard must have been from the parents," Becky said.

"Probably so," Dad agreed. "Maybe we should leave these little guys alone now."

"Yeah," Becky said, heading for the ladder, "the parents would make a terrible shriek shriek - exclamation mark  if they saw us here."

"I had almost forgotten about that nest box up there," Dad said, brushing the hay off his jeans. "And when the owls finally came, they just about scared our Becky half to death."

"The owls can hiss and scream all they want," Becky said with relief. "They won't scare me again. In fact, I have a great idea."

"What's that?" Dad asked.

A mischievous mis·chie·vous  
adj.
1. Causing mischief.

2. Playful in a naughty or teasing way.

3. Troublesome; irritating: a mischievous prank.

4.
 grin formed on Becky's face. She said, "I can invite Jennie and Sarah over for a slumber party. We can sleep in the hayloft and tell ghost stories ghost story
n.
A story having supernatural or frightening elements, especially a story featuring ghosts or spirits of the dead.

ghost story ncuento de fantasmas 
 and -- "

"Shame on you, Becky," Dad laughed. "You wouldn't scare your best friends like that, would you?"

"Sure I would," Becky said, chuckling as they closed the barn door and walked to the house.
COPYRIGHT 2000 Benjamin Franklin Literary & Medical Society, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2000 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

 Reader Opinion

Title:

Comment:



 

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Dixon, Catharine Peirce
Publication:Children's Digest
Article Type:Short Story
Date:Apr 1, 2000
Words:1324
Previous Article:The Raindrops.
Next Article:My Nature Journal.
Topics:



Related Articles
Dreadful screams and horrible hisses.
THE VIEW FROM ALGER'S WINDOW: A Son's Memoir.
VENONA: Decoding Soviet Espionage in America.
Shelter.
Notes & Comments: April 2001.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2014 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters