Shrieks from monsters in the woods …

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Far out in the Northumberland Strait lies a tiny island where maybe even today imaginary monsters roam in its woods …

I recall my earlier years living on Pictou Island when monsters supposedly lurked in the woods behind our homes. You see every Pictou Island landowner had their own woodlands. Just about every islander would always have a fresh cut of firewood each year. Usually a year later, new raspberry bushes would spring up on this newly cut land and produce beautiful raspberries every summer.

Understandably so, several landowners would want these berries for themselves and would not want others roaming their woods in search of the tasty berry. It was assumed that if something scary was supposed to have been witnessed by someone, others would be afraid to go into the woods. A rumour would start nearly every summer stating that someone had seen a monster in the woods. We immediately knew then that the berries were nearly ready for picking.

Some Pictou Islander’s, however, were very precautions of certain things and would believe that maybe the monster was possible. Whenever this first creature was reported to have been seen, some islanders would not venture anywhere near the woods.

I recall one day in early fall when I, for whatever reason, was not required to go to school. Being a young practical joker, I was going to have some fun with the other kids when they were walking home from school. I was probably about eight or nine years old at the time of this scheme. A couple of nights prior, the MacMillan girls, Sandra, Ann and Debbie and Billie MacMillan, Robert and Elwood Rankin and myself had been walking home after dark from attending some event at the hall. We were walking pass the old pioneer cemetery on this bright moonlit night when suddenly a high piercing shriek fills the night air. Now as I had said, about this time the word of a monster was circulating around the island. Being close to the cemetery after dark was scary enough but then when this scream filled the still night air, hairs that we didn’t know we had on our head stood on end.

I remember we kids all holding each other’s hands and running as fast as our legs would move. We all made it to our homes safety and I related what happened to my dad. I remembering him laughing when I told him about our experience and then he told me what probably made the noise. The only things that were in the woods on Pictou Island during those years were a lot of foxes and rabbits. Dad told me that this high piercing screech would probably have been that of a rabbit being caught by a fox. When a rabbit is injured, it will sometimes make a hair-raising squeal. After being reassured that it would have been a rabbit and not some big ugly monster, the practical joker within me immediately saw its chance to play a trick on my friends.

At this time, devious planning raced through my mine. I knew the time of day when the other kids would be walking past the cemetery on their way home from school. I was going to be the monster hiding in the woods as the other kids walked past and squealing those frightening sounds. I remember going through the woods by the cemetery to where I was planning my nasty deed and creeping behind some alder bushes about 75 feet from the road. Sure enough, there were my friends coming along the road. I can’t help but smirk as I bring to mind that day. I recall them being almost to me when I started to imitate the squealing noises that we had heard the night before. I can still picture the look on their faces, as they stood frozen on the road and not knowing what to do. Then someone shouted that they were going to get a gun and ran towards Duncan Rankin’s house.

I started to get a little concerned when I heard that and said to myself, oh oh, now what?

Elwood Rankin was a little more suspicious then the others and started to cautiously approach the bushes where I was hiding. I can still remember Elwood peeking through the bushes and seeing me. I remember him grabbing me by the arm and hauling me out to the road piece by piece. As hard as I try, I can’t remember what happened next. Oh well, I guess that little joke seemed like a pretty good idea to me at the time.