Buzzards swoop on the wind drafts in the draw that extends from below my house to the bottom lands next to the remains of Uncle Charlie’s cabin. The same wind currents that provide the swirling, soaring air circus for the buzzards pushes the morning fog downriver to the sea where inland tourists toddle about in shorts, past shop after shop designed just for them, unperturbed by and unaware of the vagaries of nature.
But there is something in the woods, something to be wary of, if not afraid. I know. I have survived an encounter.
The moisture of fog and the smattering of spring rain helps this bloodsucker flourish. No, we're not talking tourists now. We're discussing a rider on the rain, a killer on the loose. It prefers a thoroughly tropical climate, but Mediterranean will do.
This bloodsucker will feed on birds like the common buzzard. It won't wait for nightfall to do it either, though very few ever witness the drinking of avian blood.
This is not some simple vampire bat. This bloodsucker is diurnal as well as nocturnal. It goes for the body and the neck. It will attack cattle in the field and hikers on the trail.
This is a beast stealthier than any mountain lion. In the Black Forest, Germans called it Zecke, and there are researchers who maintain Zecke has been around for more than a hundred million years.
Zecke's nutritional requirements amount to a singular dietary need: blood. It must have blood to survive, to evolve from one stage of life to another.
Zecke may be hard to find for you or me, but it is constantly on the prowl for the likes of us. You'd better brush your teeth regularly and gargle with mouthwash because, outdoors or in, Zecke can smell your breath. Keep that deodorant handy, Zecke is on to your body odor. Even if you stand stock still it can detect the slightest quiver of fear. It senses that single drop of sweat sliding down your skin.
On the other hand maybe it's best not to stand still, for Zecke is probably perched, waiting on a tree or branch. You're not much safer on the move either, Zecke can pounce from almost anywhere. And once it is upon you, the cutting begins, through your skin, in search of blood.
This bloodsucker likes to linger, perhaps fancying itself precise. it enjoys the wait of an hour before getting on with the cutting. Zecke is not satisfied with a solitary victim. It needs more, more blood. If left unchecked, Zecke will seek out at least three victims on any given day.
This is not a male bad, female good sort of killer. In the world of Zecke, which is the world around you, both the female and male of the seldom seen species feed on blood: buzzard blood, bovine blood, boys and girls' blood.
You may want to send children out of the room, if they aren't terrified already: for once the Zecke is upon you, slicing through your flesh, it may well invite another and they'll mate right there on top of you.
There are legends about the Zecke flying through the air, but no living soul has truly ever witnessed such a thing. Zecke is hard to spot, let alone control or kill, but there is one bird known to man who does not fear the Zecke. The seemingly simple Guineafowl is not afraid. On the contrary, they are known to take flight in search of Zecke. The Guineafowl have been known to hunt down and consume the Zecke in great numbers, for the Zecke you see is nothing more than what the Greeks and Romans classified as Acarina; ye olde English speakers termed it ticia then teke and tyke. From Uncle Charlie to the tourists afraid to leave town, we call them ticks.