Animal Ghosts or Animal Hauntings and the Hereafter by Elliott O'Donnell
V WILD ANIMALS AND THE UNKNOWN
"I never hated anything so much as I had hated that baboon. At my hands it had undergone a thousand subtle torments. I had pinched it, poked it, pulled its hair, frightened it by putting on masks and making all sorts of queer noises, and finally I had secretly poisoned it. And now we stood face to face without any bars between us. Never shall I forget the look of intense satisfaction in its hideous eyes, as its gaze encountered mine.
"In that strange forlorn world we faced each other; I, the tyrant once, now the quarry. In the wildness of its glee it capered about like a mad thing, executing the most exaggerated antics that augmented my terror. Every second I anticipated an assault, and the knowledge of my fears lent additional fierceness to its gambols. A sudden change in my attitude at length made it cease. The use had returned to my limbs; my muscles were quivering, and before it could stop me I had fled! The wildest of chases then ensued. I ran with a speed that would have shamed a record-beater on earth. With extraordinary nimbleness I vaulted over titanic boulders of rocks; jumped across dykes of infinite depth, scurried like lightning over tracts of rough, lacerating ground, and never for one instant felt like flagging.
"Suddenly, to my horror, I came to an abrupt standstill, and the cry of some hunted animal burst from my lips. Unwittingly I had run against a huge wall of granite, and escape was now impossible. Again and again I clawed the hard rock, until the skin hung in shreds from my fingers, and the blood pattered on the dark soil, that in all probability had never tasted moisture before. All this amused my pursuer vastly; it watched with the leisure of one who knows its fish will be landed in safety, and there suddenly came to me, through my olfactory nerves, a knowledge that it was speaking to me in the language of scents--the language I never understood till now was the language of all animals.
"'Reach, a little higher,' it said; 'there are niches up there, and you must stretch your limbs. Ha! ha! Do you remember how you used to make me stretch mine? You do! Well, you needn't shiver. Explain to me how it is I find you here.'
"'I cannot comprehend,' I gasped with a gesticulation that was grotesque.
"The great beast laughed in my face. 'How so?' it queried. 'You used to quibble me upon my dull wits; must I now return the compliment? Ha! There's blood on your hands. Blood! I will lick it up.' And with a mocking grin it advanced.
"'Keep off! Keep off!' I shouted. 'My God, will this dream never cease?'
"'The dream, as you call it,' the gorilla jeered, 'has only just begun; the climax of your horrors has yet to come. If you cannot tell me the purport of your visit I will tell you mine. Can your lordship spare the time to listen?'
"I gave no answer. I clutched the wall and uttered incoherent cries like some frightened madman.
"The gorilla felt the muscles in its hairy fingers, and showed its huge teeth. I looked eagerly at my enemy.
"'Come, you haven't yet guessed my riddle; you are dull to-night,' it said lightly. 'That old wine of yours made you sleep too soundly. Don't let me disturb you. I will explain. This moon is now my home--I share it with the spirits of all the animals and insects that were once on your earth. And now that we are free from such as you--free to wander anywhere we like without fear of being shot, or caught and caged--we are happy. And what makes us still happier is the knowledge that the majority of men and women will never have a joyous after-state like ours. They will be earth-bound in that miserable world of theirs, and compelled to keep to their old haunts, scaring to death with their ugly faces all who have the misfortune to see them. There is another fate in store for you, however. Do you know what it is?'
"It paused. No sound other than that occasioned by his bumping on the soil broke the impressive hush.
"'Do you know?' it said again. 'Well, I will tell you. I'm going to kill you right away, so that your spirit--it's all nonsense to talk about souls, such as you have no soul--will be earth-bound here--here for ever--and will be a perpetual source of amusement to all of us animal ghosts.'