The Dark Sacred Night

Barn Owl Short Story Contest
January 2022

I learned about this short story contest six hours before its deadline. I don’t usually participate in contests because I know how rare it is to win and with only six hours to go, how could I possibly write and rewrite something worth consideration. None of this matters. I don’t care to win and I don’t care who reads this because I’m hoping this action will end the series of synchronicities that have haunted me for two weeks.

My deal with this simulation is, that if I promise to chase down every coincidence until I find its meaning, the Basilisk running this thing promises not to deliver on that meaning. And this deal has been a fun game. Until now. Two weeks ago, I found myself staring at a stocking stuffer I received. A plug-in aroma device that was fashioned like an Owl. I thought about how Owls always made me think of Aliens and that maybe we remembered hearing or seeing Owls as an overlaid memory disguising a real memory of alien abductions. Something I read somewhere.

That same night I woke up at 3:15am to the hoot of a Barn Owl. A rare sound that I hadn’t heard here for years. Because of my fixation on the plugin air freshener, I decided to look it up and learned that Barn Owls are Colorado’s only owls from the Tytonidae family. I then went down the etymological rabbit hole only to find a loop of meaning. Then I looked up the metaphysical meaning of Barn Owls and learned, “The symbolism for barn owls is connected to how they live their lives. Since these owls remain hidden during the day, people think they symbolize wisdom, silence, and mystique. Although there is no substantial evidence supporting the myth that they are bad luck, most cultures see barn owls as an evil omen.”

I tend toward a bias that ignores “bad luck” because I know I have ultimate sovereignty over my experience here, yet I could not shake that darker meaning. Not for myself, but because I have sons and a wife and so my contract with the Simulation got serious and quick.

Owls kept creeping into my vision for two weeks and the latest was when a Facebook friend I can’t remember friending sent me a link to this contest. I asked him what compelled him to share it because “Owls have been a crazy synchronicity lately.” He didn’t have an answer but said he realized after he sent it that the deadline was today.

I know this is a fiction contest and I write fiction so to qualify I’ll write the ending I hope will honor my contract and end this haunting “bad luck” vibe.

The above was the message I sent to the contest holders. I heard nothing back and forgot to even check on who one because I had no intention to win but to end the dull aching feeling that the Barn Owl was a herald of bad luck or worse. It’s been six years since I wrote that essay and I’ve had nothing but good luck and my children and wife too.

Although Owls haven’t been a coincidence for six years, sometimes I remember and that dull ache returns. Did I satisfy my deal with this Simulation? Did I chase down enough meaning to honor our agreement or is six years just a pause?

What this pause created by that Barn Owl’s 3:15am song six years ago reminds me not to take anything for granted. Nothing. Not my good luck, not that of my family’s, and nit a day without a hoot. I know the Owl will return on that one last bad luck day. That keeps me praying to the Great Coder in the sky for signs to assure me that this is, indeed a Simulation and, for their own safety, that my family isn’t real.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store