mercredi 30 avril 2014

Screams In The Night - Not a very Quiet Night in the Corbieres

Living in isolation in the middle of the countryside is not everyone's cup of tea. We love it and have become accustomed to the noises, the way of the country life and the natural cycles of the year and weather. I can spend hours outside just listening to the birds and other wild animals, and our own animals. I suppose I am more in tune to these noises than most people because of this. The noises change with the seasons, and of course there are more human noises in the summer when so e people like to 'wild camp' in our area, or the keen hunters at the start of the season camp out to get an early start at dawn. One of the noisiest nights was when the Tour de France chose to come right past us on the nearest main mountain road. We were not expecting the amount of people that chose to bring their camper vans and tents here. Every corner of the road, on the grassy edges and in laybys were little gatherings of Tour followers, all excited, meeting up with old friends, and noisily eating and drinking the night away, to wait for the two or three second flash of their lycra encased heros cycling by the next day. So, it was strange, when at about 9:45 pm last night my husband went out to put the chickens away and shut the llamas in their home pen, he quickly came back to say he had heard shouting outside, like someone crying for help. I went outside to listen and sure enough there were several more, chilling screams. We could not understand any words, just screams, and when we shouted out in French asking if someone needed help, the screams stopped. We were sufficiently worried to think about phoning the Gendarmes, but as there is no night cover around here for 50 km, had anyone been hurt that could have serious consequences. A hunter was injured five years ago when a wild boar attacked him and one of its tusks gashed his femoral artery. He called for help on his mobile phone but the emergency services by road and helicopter were too late, he bled to death. So, my husband grabbed a high powered search light, jumped in the Land Rover and headed off in the direction of the screams, on a green lane next to the river. Meanwhile I telephone a friend whose husband I knew had been chainsawing and clearing a trail not far from us earlier in the day, the check if he was home, he was so we were relieved. I saw the Land Rover lights disappearing in the distance and I listened for more screams, but heard nothing. I frightened myself when there were rustlings on the opposite bank of the stream in front of me....I had left all the dogs inside so that I could I had no protection. My mind started working overtime, what if someone had been attacked? Our lights are the only ones for miles, could the attacker head in my direction. I rushed inside and took up position on the first floor at an open window. I heard nothing more. I rang a friend for advice, who in turn rang the mayor of our village who has the power of the
One of my guard llamas!! police here and I think can even arrest people in exceptional circumstances! The message back to me was that he had contacted my immediate (300mt away)neighbour and both were on their way. My husband was taking a long time and I had started to think he was now in trouble......anyway he arrived back to say that he had seen a stranger, a man, not dressed for the torrential rain that was falling, standing up at a crossroads about a kilometer up the road. There is an old, open fronted stone building at this crossroad and the guy was standing in there. My husband spoke to him, asked if he needed help but the man just stared at him. So my husband came back home. He arrived outside at the same time as our neighbour and the mayor, so they left together to investigate the 'man in the stone shelter'. We have another neighbour about a kilometer away, so I rang her to warn her that there was something going on and the area could be full of flashing blue lights soon. After about half an hour my husband returned and had not understood the situation up at the stone shelter. The man had been there, outside, leaning on the stone tourist map when they arrived and the two Frenchmen spoke to him, then looked in his only bag, a small plastic shopping bag, that contained a couple of tins of food. They then left the man up there! I was concerned about this, but when I rang the mayor a few minutes later he told me that the man was not drunk but very confused, not making any sense and no reason apparently for screaming. The mayor was sufficiently concerned himself that there was no real explanation that he had called the gendarmes as soon as he had got home. Since the mayor was talking to a town 50km away originally, there was a call back on the mayor's mobile from the local gendarme while I was on the phone to the mayor. The story was relayed to me by the mayor's wife.......the Gendarmes would cone and cruise the only two possible routes he could have wandered off along, and check out the stone shelter, but they would make a full investigation in the morning. They believed him to be a vagrant passing through? We locked everything up really well, put away the axes! And got some sleep, although I listened for a long time at the window. Now here I am waiting for more news or a visit from the gendarmes. Meanwhile I feel there are so many unanswered questions. He could have been in shock, after witnessing an attack, there could still be someone else somewhere. He could have escaped from a mental home, even vagrants dress for the bad weather, and why be a vagrant in such a remote area, not many pickings or donations from few passers by. Who knows? There may be a follow up to this post......or maybe not.....

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