I opened my eyes.  I had gone from a deep sleep to being wide awake in an instant.  No traffic, no city lights … the silence was deafening.  I was wide eyed, listening.  Then I heard it – the huff huff huff of a jackal.  His mate answered in the distance.  Suddenly the night was filled with their loud mournful wails.  I was spellbound.

I threw off the thin sheet covering me.  It was a warm African night.  I sat on the side of my bed, my feet not touching the floor – I was six years old.  Bright moonlight was flooding through the window.  The deafening silence was back.  The floorboards creaked with every step as I approached the window.  I went onto the small balcony overlooking the stretched out African landscape.

The red sand was a dark grey colour.  The Acacia  trees were painted silver.  Dark shadows gathered under the trees – the moon almost blindingly bright.  The scene was surreal.  Sounds started to register.  The occasional  metallic ping of a bat.  The African nightjar far away, calling  “Good Lord deliver us”.  The rustling of leaves in the gentle breeze – I could feel the welcome coolness on my skin. 

The jackals started calling again.  They were very close now.  I strained my eyes for any movement – they were playing tricks on me.  I thought that I could see fleeting movements in the shadows but when I looked intently they were gone again.  The only real movement was a glimpse of a barn owl silently flying past.

Back to bed, at sunrise I will be out there…

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