Going against my fear instincts, I put my rifle down. I had no confidence that I could take down a creature that was already dead, anyway. Almost immediately, its countenance changed to a much more relaxed posture. The headless hound could somehow ‘see’ and knew what the gun was for. Ever so slowly, it crept closer. Realizing that my actions were setting the tone for the encounter, I made an effort to deescalate the tension further. I tried to adopt the least defensive posture that I could. With every action from me, the creature also made a parallel gesture. I could hardly believe that I could actually will myself into being calm under the circumstances.
In a scenario I would have never thought possible, the headless hound was within touching distance. The next natural progression of our meeting was tactile contact but I was still a long ways from summoning the courage. When I did finally raise my hand, it instinctively stepped back. I held my hand in a limp, unaggressive manner that seemed to reassure my reluctant visitor.
Just as a living dog might approach someone with nervous hesitation; my phantom ‘friend’ eased back over to me cautiously. The absent space for it’s non-existent head slowly moved near my hand; as if sniffing it to learn my scent. Instinctually I reached up and petted it’s fur. From every other regard, It felt like an ordinary canine. After a few soothing strokes, it’s tail began to wag and I pondered the bizarre circumstances. I could hardly believe that I was petting a headless dog in the middle of the woods at night!
Despite the facts, the two of us were alone in the wilderness and getting along swimmingly. I was extremely tempted to reach for the absent space above the shoulders but our bond was far too new. It was premature to take risky liberties like that with my new friend. I approached the situation like touching a pet’s sensitive wound. I continued to pet and stroke its visible fur. It’s tail continued to wag and once convinced that I meant no harm, the hound sat down on the ground beside me in a sign of trust.
For many moments I caressed the dog until I felt comfortable migrating my hand northward. When I began to draw near the void, the dog sensed my plan and stiffened up. Fortunately his tail continued to wag, albeit slower. I was clearly about to tread into uncomfortable territory. He started to whine in fearful apprehension. I adjusted my brush strokes until they were at the very nexus of his missing head. I didn’t know what to expect.
Would there be nothing in the absent space as my eyes suggested; or would I feel an ordinary canine’s head and ears, hidden within the visible nothingness? How would my new friend react to the invasion? Would he howl in pain and turn vicious on me? I was tempted to leave things as they were but I would always wonder.