Last night, at about 4:30 AM (I don’t know what time that is UTC), Margaret and I woke up to a mysterious sound that called to mind an infant being dismembered. The uncanny cries showed no sign of phonetic articulation, so we were that hesitant to think it was a human voice — but if we were hearing a person in torment, perhaps their pain was so great that they no longer could form the cry “Help,” and even then, could we afford to take a chance?
Pippa staggered into our bedroom, and that settled things. All three of us made our way downstairs; I realized that the sweat pants that I’d grabbed on my way out of bed were in fact a sweatshirt, so I dashed back to grab something to cover my boxers. As Margaret and I cautiously approached Seabury’s West Garth, we spotted a coyote slinking across the street, headed north.
Margaret spent the next hour or so researching coyote sounds online, finding nothing that perfectly replicated the sound we had been hearing. Still, the evidence suggests that coyotes’ range of vocalization might include a sound that curdled our blood and lured us out to help a possible innocent sufferer. And we won’t be letting Beatrice out alone at night for a while.
AKMA, years ago my wife Carole & I were sleeping at a campground in our VW camper (that is a hint how many years ago!) in the mountains east of San Diego when we were both awakened by a sound similar to the one you describe. We knew we were safe locked in our steel box, but boy did that sound go to the gut. Here in northern NY, we’ve heard them in the distanced — they’re called coy dogs here — but never close enough to give us that whole body shiver.