We have a critter living under our house, and it’s not paying rent. It all started about six years ago. Techie McScienceGeek works the occasional night, and of course the critter came on one of the nights he was working.
We live on a beautiful piece of property on a hill above a small town in Washington. Many acres of woods that exist in deeded trust as greenbelt back our house, lining the entire acre of our land and extending far beyond. It’s peaceful here in our little piece of rural heaven. Stars twinkle more brightly because of minimal light pollution. We drift off to sleep in the spring, summer and fall to the croaking of frogs. It’s not uncommon to look out our back windows and see a family of deer, including adorable spotted newborns, wandering through on their early morning constitutional. So lovely. So lovely. And yet….
Those are the things that I like about having property backed by woods. The others? Those I can do without. I’ve told the story somewhere here in my blog of the great bat invasion of ’06, for instance, in which a tiny bat found its way into our home and terrorized me for weeks, prompting me to force the whole family to sleep zipped in a tent on our living room floor for several nights running until I was relatively sure that the rabid creature would not sneak out at night and share my bed. I’ll leave it at that, because I am certain that there’s no need to go further into my extreme fear of bats. And then there was the bat basement invasion of ’04. They were there, and for all I know, they may still be there. I haven’t gone down to the basement since.
Of course, there were also all of the things that the cat dragged in. Literally. Mice she found in the woods and shoved under a gap in the door so that I could stagger out of bed in the morning and find themselves dragging their half dead bodies down the hallway. The snake she proudly dropped at my feet one morning. The eviscerated bunny she left on our front doorstep.
Other critter events: a cougar ate my dog in October, which broke my heart. And then there was the night of the baby killings. Or at least that’s what I thought it was. You see, it was yet another night that Techie was working. I was nestled all snug in my bed sound asleep, when, at about 2:00 a.m., an ungodly pack of banshees began screeching and wailing in my back yard. I quickly called Techie to report in a quaking and terrified voice that someone was most certainly murdering babies in our back yard. Apparently it was coyotes. No babies had been harmed.
So you see – there is much precedent for the critter under the house – the one that first came the night Techie was away. It had already been a rough night. Our toy fox terrier, who we affectionally call Asshat, but whose real name is Spike, had gotten into some dark chocolate earlier. As the vomiting mounted on my brand new cream colored carpet and Spike got sicker, I called Techie in a panic. Lest you think this is a common occurrence, I never call him at work. Or very rarely. But a dying dog – that was worth a call. Techie raced home and we got our ailing pooch to the emergency vet. Returning home, Techie left for work and I settled in for the rest of my evening. And then, in the middle of the night, it started.
It sounded like it was coming from the closet – as if something was in there ready to jump out at me. Techie got his second panicked call of the night and raced home — the second of only three times I have ever begged him to leave work (the third was when I had a kidney stone). As I cowered behind him, he opened the closet door, baseball bat in hand.
But it was the start. The critter comes and goes under our house, scratching and thunking at all hours of the night. He sounds like he is in the house rather than under it, and I always have visions of his beady little eyes and ferocious teeth flying at me down the hall. One year, two critters battled it out for the space until the raccoon killed the possum, and Jim had to crawl under the house to remove dead possum before
it rotted and we couldn’t eat it it started to stink up the house.
While the critter is only here intermittently and seems to have an uncanny knack of knowing when we’ve decided to kill it or trap it, he came last night. Guess who wasn’t home? Normally, when something goes bump in the night, I bump Techie right out of bed to check it out. Instead, last night, I grabbed my taser with the laser and trekked through the house, shining the red dot in front of me as a warning that I was armed. The dogs watched my sojourn through the house from under the warmth of the bed covers. That’s how much help they were. After a trip all around, shining my taser laser behind closed doors, I realized. It was coming from the closet. Our critter was back, most likely hiding from the snow.
Throughout the rest of the night the critter bumped and thumped away. I stayed awake and listened to him. And so, here I sit, eyes half mast trying to stay awake as I slog through my day, hoping against all hope that tonight, the critter stays away.