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There is something in this more than natural, if philosophy could find it out

-William Shakespeare’s Hamlet

Upon my most recent visit to Woman’s parents’ home, I heard from Edgar once more.  That is, I received a message concerning him.  Let me begin at the beginning.

Mr. Bailey met me upon my arrival.  He had a social event coming up and had gotten his hair cut and donned a vivid bandana.

“Hello, Humphrey,” he said, as we gave each other a sniff of greeting.  “The chickens have been talking of you lately.  I think you should stop by their coop.”

“Thank you, Mr. Bailey.  I will.”

As I approached the chickens’ coop, they were nowhere to be seen; they were inside their coop, sheltering from the inclement weather.  I did not know what to do.   Then I heard clucking and a hiss–

“Psssst.”

I came closer to the wall of the enclosure.  “Yes?” I asked.

“Humphrey?” One of them asked.

“Yes.”

“We have a message for you from Edgar.  He says to meet him at the water tank on top of the hill.  We have not seen it, but that is what he says.  It is through the woods  behind our coop, he said.”

“Thank you,” I told them.  Will he know that I’m coming?”

“He said he’d be there today and tomorrow in case you visited.  Don’t stay much longer.  The coyotes have been about.  We are keeping a low profile.”

Another voice cut in–“I still think we should stand up to the coyotes.  Who cares if they know that we work against them.  I think–”

There was a ruffling of feathers and hissing.  “Go now, Humphrey.”

I went.

When I got there, I sniffed around, and I did detect faint traces of Edgar.  I waited. Then, he came.

We greeted one another joyfully, circling.

“Humphrey, I have learned more.  There’s something I want to show you.  Follow me.”

We flew through the woods.  The snow swirled around us, I could feel the ground rise up to meet my paws again and again in rapid succession.  I followed close behind Edgar, and the joy of running as fast as I could with my brother filled me up.      It almost felt like when we were puppies, back in the home where I was born, and he was the playmate of my every waking hour.

Eventually, Edgar slowed down, and we approached a patch of woods.  This is what he showed me:

When I first looked upon it, I a chill crept into my heart.  I saw the shape of the head, the brow, the spaces where the eyes were–I was looking at death in a more  intimate and naked fashion than ever I had looked on it before.

“She was one of the coyotes in the local pack,” Edgar said.  “She was blind in one eye.  I saw her often when I was spying.”

“What happened to her?” I asked.

“I’m not sure.  I hadn’t seen her for some time, and then I came upon her…here.”  Edgar shook his head.  “The pattern of the bones–the way the scene is here–I think there may have been a struggle.  She may have tried to leave the pack.  I had made myself known to her…she was having qualms about the pack’s decisions, and she hinted that she might be willing to help me from the inside.  I’m worried that her duplicity may have been discovered.”

We both gazed at the eyes which were no longer there and sighed.

“Edgar,” I said.  “Can’t you tell me more of what you know–or think you know?”

Edgar paused.  “Yes,” he said.  “Yes, I suppose it’s time I did.”

“From what I’ve pieced together, this is what I suspect.  There’s some sort of structure to it all.  It seems like a cult, almost.  Not all the members know very much, but they all complete various rituals–howling at certain times on certain dates, messages left in code…  There are animals in charge of smaller groups, but they somehow communicate as a whole organization as well.  The lady whose bones lie here–she implied that the group was making decisions she was uncomfortable with.  We think that there is a group of dogs and cats which is trying to maneuver in order to make a deal with the coyotes.  I’m not sure yet what each side will gain.  We have more to learn.”

I was silent for a moment, taking in my brother’s words.

“Now you know what I know,” Edgar said.

“We have more to learn,” I said.

“Yes,” he said.

“But we’ll do it together,” I said.

Edgar looked at me and wagged his tail.  Then he left, vanishing into the trees as the snow fell.  I stayed for a few minutes, sniffing here and there at the nearby trees and collecting my thoughts.

There was a dark maze of mysteries opening up before me, but at least I would walk into it knowing my brother was with me.

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