An excerpt from a novel


Washington, DC is awash in rumor: the government’s flying armed Predator drones over the city, or strange shadows haunt Rock Creek Park, or actually they’re just kites with really long strings. A professional impersonator plots revolution. And early one morning, at a Southeast precinct…






“And one donkey.”

“In a graveyard?”

“We prefer cemetery, officer, sir.”


“And one donkey. Sustainable lawnmowers. Grass in, fertilizer out. Been doing it for a few years now.”

“Where do they live in the winter?”

“Oh, we truck them in for a few weeks every spring. During which they stay in a temporary enclosure.”

“In the graveyard.”

“Cemetery. Yes.”

“And you’re here to report…what? Goats not eating the grass?”

“Once they’re done with the grass they move on to the brambles. Goats’ll eat pretty much anything. The donkey’s a little more picky.”

“Police reports are usually about something.”

“Sorry. Brambles aside, goats are actually really smart. They know what’s up, so to speak. And this morning if you’ll excuse the language they went absolutely apeshit.”


“I think I mentioned we use it for fertilizer.”

“So they went crazy? Like, eating the dead crazy? Because I’m hearing goats that eat anything plus graveyard plus sudden-onset insanity and I’m immediately thinking zombie goat uprising, which if that’s the case I’m going to need to make some calls—”

“They don’t eat the dead. Have you ever met a goat?”

“I’ve seen a goat. I haven’t met a goat.”

“How close were you to this goat you saw?”

“Average petting zoo distance.”

“Petting zoo distance. Perfect. Petting zoos aren’t exactly relaxing environments, goat-wise. Put yourself in their hooves for a second: you’re in a small fenced space surrounded by hairless apes all gawping and reaching out to you. Children are screaming and crying. It’s a goat nightmare.”

“I don’t need a sermon. I get my kid every other weekend.”

“Well so in that nightmare zoo of frazzled goats did you ever see one of them execute a sort of rapid head twist, one of these kind of motions—ah, not pleasant—sort of wringing their own—ah—neck while yelling in a voice that sounds I personally think like a wizened old man who’s been startled? Wahhh!”

“Jesus, keep your voice down. People are going to film us.”

“But have you ever seen something like that?”

“I don’t think so. Might have. We mostly did the hedge maze.”

“You’d remember. It’s eerie. That yell…it haunts you.”

“Like a ghost goat thing, then?”

“A scared goat thing. And so this morning when I went to go let the goats out of their pen and into the cemetery proper—”

“Wait, let me write this down…what time was this?”

“About four AM.”


“You’re telling me. Goats. I walk over to let them out. Their temporary enclosure is on the cemetery grounds.”

“You’re walking through a graveyard at night to a pen full of wild goats.”

“Ceme…yes. And one donkey.”

“Just trying to get this all straight. For my notes.”

“I’m walking to the goats. I get to their pen. Everything is normal, okay? Lock’s untouched, half the goats are still asleep on their sides, they sleep like the dead, literally just keeled over as if dead, but the other half—”

“Are any actually dead?”


“Or the donkey.”

“No. They just sleep like it. On one side with their legs stuck straight out. And you’ll never see a dead donkey, they say. Shame of death. They hide.”

“Keep talking, I’m looking up pictures of sleeping goats. For the report.”

“Okay. Great. Thank you. As I said there’s no evidence of a break-in, nothing moved or tampered with, totally normal morning, and as I reach for the keys in my pocket I notice that the goats are all—”

“This is fucking adorable! Look at these fucking goats! With the eyes just kinda barely closed. We need to go back to that petting zoo.”

“That’s a sleeping goat. When a goat sleeps it looks like that. Were you…did you get everything so far?”

“No evidence of a break-in. Half the goats sleeping adorably.”

“And I’m reaching for my keys when I notice the other half, the awake ones, are all staring up at the sky. Not moving. Then I heard the noise.”

“Describe the noise.”

“I’m about to. That’s what I was about to do. It was a rhythmic thumping, like someone listening to a steady bass line very very far away. Short little beats—whup-whup, whup-whup, like that. I can tell the sound is way further away than someone on Potomac Ave or whatever. It reaches the goats and the donkey and me, it’s bouncing off the graves—wait, no, the mausoleums, the goats are kept behind the mausoleums—it’s everywhere and the goats lose their minds. Doing the neck twist, yelling the old man yell, the goats that were asleep hear the yelling and stand up and look up and start twisting and yelling, too. The yells bounce around with the bass noise and drive them all even crazier. They’re trying to jump the pen’s walls. I coo some nonsense at them that they usually like, noth hierth malk man, but nope still crazy. So I back up: goats bite when they’re riled.”

“And the donkey?”

“He also bites, sure. His yell’s more child-like, sort of innocent, like he’s mostly yelling because everyone else is yelling.”

“Let me get that down: donkey also yelling but innocently, like a child.”


“Could you tell where the sound was coming from at all? A general direction?”

“Yeah. I think it came from above.”

“From the chapel, then? The bell tower?”

“Way further. Like I said.”

“From the sky.”


“So—just reading off my screen here—you walked through a graveyard at night to a pen full of wild animals that feed on the dead and when you got to the pen everyone got real spooked.”

“Because of the sky sound.”

“Because of the sky sound. That’s not my exact report, mind, more of a summary. Because I can’t file this report. Because this report is insane.”

“I was there.”

“The goats probably got into some mushrooms or something. They were probably tripping out of their adorable goat heads.”

“I heard the sound. I’ve never heard that sound before. The goats now refuse to eat. It’s entirely unsustainable.”

“Look. The department can’t take this case. You can try the Park Service, maybe, or—okay yeah there are these private contractors I heard about. Run their shop out of a van, The Mystery Machine.”

“They’ve been neck-twisting so much we had to apply plaster casts. We’re pre-masticating brambles. I don’t have dental.”

“Wait! I actually saw this episode. That bitter old man you employ to cut grass all but the two weeks of the year the goats horn in? He did it.”

“The donkey is exhibiting signs of PTSDD.”

“How old are the goats? Because he woulda got away with it, too, if it wasn’t for those meddling kids.”

— 🐐 END 🐐 —