ing above the treetops, diffused its lightrnhke a silver gas as far as the black, impenetrablernshadow of the surroundingrnforest.rnThe Bionic Ear magnified our ownrnbreathing and the sounds of sleep fromrnthe tent next door, and after we turned itrnoff and lay awake in the darkness, listening,rnour own ears, aided by the imagination,rnpicked up impulses the electronicrnmodel did not. The horses, confined inrnthe trailer, stamped and pawed; caughtrnin the Mag-Lite, their faces hangingrnthrough the open mangers looked impatientrnand alert, not quite apprehensive.rnDeep in the night I awoke and moved tornthe door of the tent. Something was talkingrnfrom the darkness a quarter-mile orrnless from camp: the voice we had heardrnthe afternoon before, modified from arncalling volume to an almost conversationalrnpitch. It ran on and on as if talkingrnto itself, and once there was anotherrnsound—two spaced clicks, as if a couplernof rocks were being knocked sharpU’rntogether. I waited to be certain it was notrna dream, and then shook Dick awake.rnHe reared from the bag like a galvanizedrncorpse and lay back down again,rnhis beard white in the moonlightrnthrough the open flap of the tent. “Dornyou hear it?” I whispered. He signaledrnaffirmatively but he was not really awake,rnand when the talking in the woodsrnstopped and did not resume I lay downrnmyself and slept until first light, when Irnthought a heard a crow calling from therntrees behind the camp. Only I didn’t rememberrnseeing crows or ravens in thernmountains since we arrived.rnAt breakfast Keith mentioned a clackingrnsound he had heard from the forestrnduring the night, like two rocks knockedrntogether. “That’s primate behavior,” hernremarked. “Dominance display perhaps.rnCould be a threat, even.” He left withrnAndrew to look for footprints at the bottomrnof the talus slide and cast for troutrndown on the river while Dick and I saddledrnthe horses and rode out to the end ofrnthe logging road. Where the road quit afterrna mile we dismounted and tied up.rnFrom the broken rock lying around onrnthe ground we selected a couple of handsizedrnchunks, and Dick climbed astridernone of the barked logs. “The way to findrnthis thing,” he said, “is to make sure itrnfinds us first.”rnSeated back to back to survey thernwoods around we banged rocks togetherrnand, using a single rock, pounded the logrnuntil it reverberated like a drum in thernhot resinous stillness of midafternoon.rnThen we untied the horses and returnedrnto camp, which stood intact and unmolested.rnWe built the fire back, set the potrnto boil on the grate, and sat at the table tornwatch the afternoon storms build abovernthe bare red peaks. “Even if we don’trnfind it,” I said, “it’s wonderful to be in thernmoimtains again.”rnThe sound arose in the southeast,rnoverriding the confusion of the approachingrnstorm: a oluniinous roar withrna scream above it, a two-track cry likernseparate voices bonded to produce a singlernone. It came and came again, eachrnattack following instantly upon the release,rna surging crv echoed repeatedlvrnacross the darkening wilderness, diffusedrnby distance but oerwhelming still andrnterrific, lasting three and a half minutes.rn”It’s too far out to pick up,” I said asrnDick went for the Ear and his recordingrnequipment. “Keith must have gotten anrnearful where he and Andrew went torncheck bait, tiiough.”rn”As far as tonight goes, I’m afraid we’rernthe bait,” Dick said.rnAt bedtime I tied the horses to standrnsentry behind the trailer. Dick and Irnwere working hard to talk ourseKesrnawake when we woke suddenh’ outsidernthe tent, in our sockfeet clutching 12-rngauge shotguns among flashing lights, arnwailing siren, and a car horn sounding,rnwhile somewhere in the darkness KeithrnHawkins shouted, “F’alse alarm!” Wakenedrnby a prolonged episode of rockrnclacking at a distance of about a hundredrnyards from camp, he listened for 20 minutesrnbefore setting off the car alarm accidentally.rnIt was \o in the morning andrnalmost as bright as dav in the full moon,rnexcept for the black forest that seemed tornhave moved in closer during the night.rnKeith laughed. “I bet that thing is stillrnrunning,” he said. “We won’t be hearingrnany more from it tonight.”rnHe returned to bed while Dick and Irnlay talking until dawn. Once, hearingrnfootialls in the woods behind the camp,rnwe emerged from the tent into the coldrnpredawn to scan the treeline through thernNight Vision apparatus. Panning withrnthe Mag-Lite, I caught the horses standingrnat attention, ears forward as theyrnstared across camp to the trees where thernfootsteps had come. Beyond the yellowrnshine of their eyes, two points of red lightrnthat could have been spots on the surfacernfilm of my eye winked in the darkness inrnthe direction of the suspended rockrnsounds. The grass wetted our sockfeetrnwith a cold dew, and the woods breathedrnsilently in and out as if the moonlightrnwere their vaporous breath, hanging onrnthe cold mountain air.rnWe spent the morning looking forrnsign in the surrounding woods. Insidernthe treeline 125 yards out from camp thernforest duff was disturbed as if some softfootedrnthing had paused there in thernnight, leaving nothing plainly identifiablernas tracks. The sun climbing abovernthe pine trees burned the dew from therngrass and penetrated deep inside thernwoods, lighting the ragged tree spires,rndepth on depth. Wildflowers unfolded,rnsmall white clouds appeared in the sky,rnand on the mountainside above a herd ofrngrazing elk slipped imperceptibly intornthe timber and disappeared.rn”If you guys were to stay another nightrnI think you’d be okay, probably,” Keithrnsaid, but Dick shook his head.rn”They had us surrounded last night,”rnhe said. “Mv quesfion is. Why? I knowrnyou think these things are basically benign,rnbut I’m not so certain. I keep goingrnback to my Marine Corps training, whenrnthe only reason you were told to surroundrnsomething was to take it out.”rnWe broke camp in the still somnolencernof noon, watched by the woodsrnthat had had us under surveillance forrnthe past ftiree days, and drove out the loggingrnroad winding down from the mountain.rnThe road skirted for some milesrnbelow the summit of the ridge, thenrnswitchbacked in a steep canyon withrntowers and knobs of rock rising above itrnto the river. We rumbled across thernbridge and stopped to turn the wheelrnhubs out, looking back at the country wernwere leaving.rn”What do you think now?” I askedrnDick. “Is it in there, or isn’t it?”rn”It’s in there,” Dick said.rn”Then—what is it?”rn”I don’t know. For now I just want torncall it a Being. Something much smarterrnthan if s ever been given credit for.”rnI remembered something then.rn”Did vou catch those points of red inrnthe Mag-Lite?” I asked.rn”What points of red?”rnI told him about the red spots the lightrnhad picked out from the darkness in thernearly morning.rnHe looked startled. “You didn’t tellrnme about that.”rn”I forgot. Do you think it’s important?”rn”They’re reported to have red eyeshine,”rnDick said. crn50/CHRONICLESrnrnrn