Adrenaline flooded my system just before my peripheral vision detected the leaping Dalmatian. I saw him leap, silent and intent, over the wheel of my riding companion on that night ride. My co-rider had no idea the dog was coming at me; no idea why the dog had chosen me as a target rather than him. In the dark, the Dalmatian had completely surprised us. The cast of our night lights extended in front of us but there was very little light to the sides, and none behind us. The dog had approached from my companion’s right rear, about 5 o’clock, if the rider’s front wheel is high noon on a timepiece. I had nowhere to go – no way to outrun a canine 4 feet from me in mid-leap.
The ‘water horses’ that Glorfindel formed from the river at the Fords of Bruinen in Tolkien flashed through my mind. Those had risen quickly and relentlessly as a defense against the Black Riders. This Dalmatian had leapt just as quickly and remorselessly on offense. Complete surprise. Battle over, then and there. All the animal had to do is complete the attack.
My legs churned on. What other option did I have?
3 seconds later, a LIFE time later, I realized this was merely pebbles from the gravel road being thrown into the light. Somehow, my most primitive brain had created a predator where none existed. The discomfort of a night bike ride had put my subconscious on full alert.
As the adrenaline drained, gratitude at safety took its place. I said nothing.
We rode on.