And now, fresh from a pilgrimage to the famous Guinness brewery, Brent lay in his bed at Dublin's cozy Tathony House hostel. Tomorrow, it was back to London and from there the long transatlantic flight home to Calgary. As much as he'd loved Ireland, the young man looked forward to getting back, with his bag full of photos and his head full of stories.
It didn't take long for Brent to fall asleep that night (he had thoroughly sampled the Guinness family's fine products). But he didn't snore peacefully for long. At about two o'clock in the morning he began to dream, a dream more immediate and vivid than any he'd had before: a vision of the death of one of his oldest and dearest friends.
In his dream, he found himself in the familiar surroundings of Calgary's Nose Hill Park, a little piece of unspoiled wilderness in the midst of modern housing developments, not far from his parents' home. Brent often spent hours hiking through the park, enjoying the quiet and solitude. The dream sight of its foothills terrain -- wild grasses and scrub rustling in the dry summer wind, the evening sun throwing its long shadows -- filled him with a mix of happiness and homesickness. But something wasn't quite right. Everything looked familiar but somehow different. When the dream revealed his pet cat, Moby, loping through the familiar grassland, he realized what he was seeing.
"I was down almost at cat level," Brent remembers, "not seeing through Moby's eyes, but still somehow experiencing what he was experiencing." The big old platinum Siamese was moving unusually fast for his advanced age -- over 16 years and counting, with more than a touch of arthritis in his back legs. Brent's parents were cat-sitting; he had left strict instructions for them not to let the aged but feisty tomcat out. Moby was far too rickety to deal with any trouble his temper might get him into.
Brent knew his dream was actually happening. As the vision continued, the reason for the old cat's painful sprint became clear.
"He was being hunted," says Brent. "There are lots of coyotes in that area, and they take what they can get. They can't usually catch cats, but Moby was a pretty easy target: old, fat and slow." The cat tried to make a run for it, but adrenaline can only make up for so much. Brent could feel Moby's exhaustion, feel the pain in his legs, feel the electric panic of a frightened feline. Worst of all he could feel his childhood pal losing steam, and with the cat's senses he could hear, smell and even feel the canine predator closing in. Yards behind, feet, inches...
It was all over in an instant. The golden sunshine of a clear mid-July evening in southern Alberta vanished, replaced by the close darkness of the Dublin night. Brent awoke suddenly, disoriented, his heart pounding.
"I knew Moby was dead, and I knew that I had watched it happen," Brent says. "It was an absolute conviction."
The strange dream left him mystified and disturbed but, oddly, Brent didn't feel upset by Moby's death itself. "Maybe it was the certainty of knowing," he speculates, "that sort of calm that comes when there are no questions or loose ends. I knew he'd been killed, but I also knew that he was beyond the reach of pain and suffering. I think it would have been worse if I had arrived home and he was just gone."