Last night I heard a fisher for the first time.
For those of you who don't know, a fisher (locally known as a "fisher cat," though all the on-line blurbs make sure to let you know this is a misnomer) is, essentially, a gigantic weasel with a rather sinister and ferocious reputation and an almost legendary scream. When people talk about fisher cats around here, you feel like they're telling a ghost story or something. The fact that almost no one ever sees them adds to the sense of horrifying mystery. I actually have seen one, or at least its silhouette; before I moved back into my parents' house, I lived in an apartment in a wooded area, and one night I saw one slollop across the road.
(I made up slollop. Say it out loud. And picture how a weasel walks. You'll know what it means.)
I only know one other person who has seen one, but I know plenty of people who have heard them, and they all say the same thing, "It's terrifying. It sounds like a baby screaming."
When the sound started last night, I was sitting in the Little Room painstakingly filling in a job application. I've been a nanny and I've also known cats, and at first the sound reminded me more of cats in heat than of babies. I don't know why none of the on-line definers don't posit this as one of the reasons people here call it a fisher cat. Whatever. Caterwauling isn't really that pleasant.
As the sound went on, it started to remind me of the two red foxes that used to run around the streets of East London near my house. Also a rather disarming noise. But it didn't stop there, either. The shrieking went on and on and on and on, and then it did start to sound like a baby. A very upset, demon-possessed baby. Sitting on the front step. Trying to get into the house.
I don't know that that's where the fisher actually was. Its cry was undeniably eerie and could have been coming from anywhere. But I didn't feel any better about the fact that the split second I stood up to see if I could see it anywhere, the cry stopped and never started up again. How did it know? Was it actually looking at me?
I went around the house and rechecked all the door locks, even though, as far as I am aware, fisher cats do not have keys.