I did once.
It happened as I was walking around the track one night. The high school track is always open to the less than adventuresome perambulator, but the lighting is generally non-existent. There are two security lights, one at each end, but both are about to burn out, so they only wink on and off, mostly off.
As I rounded a curve and entered the far side straightaway, I saw a black house cat come tearing out of the darkness and down the tarmac, headed straight for me. It ran full tilt then suddenly launched itself at me. As it flew for my throat it changed in mid-air into a snarling beast, baring a maw of razor-sharp teeth dripping hot slime.
Then it disappeared.
The whole incident lasted less than a second, but it was really sort of amazing. The right side of my brain screamed for me to make peace with the creator because I was so going to die. At the same time, the left side of my brain was completely cognizant of the fact that this was a hallucination - a complete fabrication of my very own mind.
I can't think of another time when two sides of my head have been working completely independently of each other like that. Now I understand the allure of a good LSD trip.
A couple of months went by before I mentioned this to anyone. It's not the sort of thing you can tell someone without them suspecting that you've lost at least a wee bit of your ever-lovin' mind. I wracked my brain, trying to think of a reason why I'd suddenly start seeing things and wondering if it would happen again. I finally did some research and found out that none of the medications I was taking caused hallucination. However, if you took a combo of two medicines that I was briefly on, hallucination was a reported side effect.
This disappointingly plebeian discovery admittedly granted a bit of relief. It's generally good to learn that you are not a bit nuttier than you originally thought.
I remain hopeful, however, that I can still see things that aren't really there. I've had a little plaque in my office for years that says "Only those who can see the invisible can do the impossible." I want to see invisible things.
So, when I first saw the Midnight Rabbit, I thought maybe he wasn't real.
Two things you should know: First, when it's dark outside my house, then it's dark inside my house. Secondly, I never close the curtains.
A few weeks ago I couldn't sleep. I'd like you to think it was because my mind was churning with the possibilities for a final denouement to some epic murder mystery I was writing or perhaps I'd been dreaming of the exact chemical compound that would cure cancer, only to have the details stripped from my mind by dawning consciousness. Unfortunately, I couldn't sleep because my hip hurt. Like some old woman. So I got up to take some Advil.
The sliding glass door in the den gives one a full view of the back yard. As I walked past, the gawd-awful orange security light that the electric company repaired last month more or less illuminated the yard and alley. I noticed a big rock sitting exactly in the middle of the open space. I wondered - fleetingly - how it got there.
I took my drugs and trudged back towards the bedroom. I glanced out again. It wasn't a rock! It was a rabbit.
That hip gave me a lot of problems for a week or so. Each time I walked past the door, deep in the night, I could see the rabbit sitting in the same spot. Each time he ignored me and pretended to be a rock so I wouldn't be able to see him.
He was just an over-sized cotton tail, but he really started to creep me out because every night he sat in the same exact same spot, all through the wee hours. If he was a raven, I'd be worrying about the future of my immortal soul. If he was a wolf, I would've followed him into the great adventure beyond. If he was a unicorn, I'd lay off the Fruity Pebbles, for good. But a rabbit? What the hell does a rabbit portend? Bounciness?
It's like having a pair of fuzzy slippers for a patronus. Why is this rabbit appearing every night? And if he's got some sort of larger meaning for my life, why can't he at least be a bad-ass jack rabbit?
I saw him again a couple of days ago. For the last time it seems. I was walking around the track in the dark again. This time he was sitting in the grass on the inside curve. Still perfectly still. I watched him as I rounded the corner. When I made the turn and was facing away from him, he bolted. I kept turning and was walking backwards down the straightaway to watch him. He caught me staring and stopped in mid-mad-dash on the fourth lane of the track. I stopped as well.
We both waited - silent, wary, stationary.
Steadfast, torpid, somewhat petrified.
Then nothing happened.