'twas exactly like that; the almost-witching-hour of 11:00 pm last night found us searching for an almost-black-cat
we spent ½ hour playing the following game: we'd locate the bright green eyes, get down to ground level and beg "here Pepper, come over Pepper, it's ok" for a few minutes and then he'll ZOOOOOOOOOM past us to the next hiding spot. I must say he is a lot faster than I expected.
at some point during these fruitless attempts, I happened to be standing between the back porch door and Pepper's-hiding-spot-of-the-moment. as teh SO came upon Pepper from behind, he ran towards the door, saw me and veered left. this was the moment we realized the poor li'l fellow was trying to get back home.
so, on to Plan B. found the other two cats, locked them upstairs, open all doors downstairs, be quiet. not even two minutes passed when we saw the flash of white feets running into the house. we ran after him, slammed all doors shut and went looking for him. found him huddled in the bathroom, terrified.
Pepper was fine after a few minutes and even purred. so on to bed for everyone