“I know what I saw. There was a great-cat.”
“There is no evidence of such an animal in the area.”
“And you are an expert on great-cats?”
“No, but I do know enough about animal sign in general. Aside from a local ghost story of cat spirits who live only on one mountain top, the only other feline is at best a pygmy version of a jaguar. There isn’t any indication of a larger cat in this area.”
Grant could spit he as so angry. “So I am seeing things. I just imagined a crouching puma stalking me.”
“No, but we are all tired. It could have been that you saw one of the small local felines and it just seemed large in the dark with the night vision goggles.”
Boris seemed like he was about to say more, but Laura cut him off. “It doesn’t matter. We will be a little more cautious since there is at least some local president regarding larger cats. If it is out there, I doubt it was stalking you. The locals haven’t been plagued by deaths from large animals and don’t seem worried about being outside alone regardless of the time of day.”
Grudgingly Grant nodded. None of them had stayed up. Just because he had an interest in insects didn’t mean he didn’t know what a cat looked like. He hadn’t been that tired! His anger roiled in him and his eyes reflexively scanned for some indication of proof. Visions haunted Grant’s peripheral vision eventually, making him nearly paranoid. Abstractly he knew it was an illusion of his own making, but emotions were something else. By the time they moved out, he was feeling like the thing was breathing down his neck.
Laura offered a pat on the back about halfway up the grueling climb. “I don’t really like you much these days, but I do know you wouldn’t lie. I trust you did see something, even if it isn’t clear what.”
“Thanks.” As ex-girlfriends go, she was not bad in his estimation. At least she wasn’t holding a grudge. Her father being in trouble might be reason enough to invite him. Her words now were unrelated to the desire to save her father and that made it better. He would have said more if he wasn’t seeing a set of large slitted eyes watching from the canopy ahead.
She turned at the look on his face and her own eyes went wide. She saw it too.
“Was that…?” The eyes were gone as soon as she looked.
“Yeah.” Was all he could offer.
“HOLD IT!” She called to the rest. “We have a serious problem.”