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Tranny noise - 5kTQ

On Thursday on the way to an interview in Annapolis I noticed (at a stoplight)
that my car had developed a neat new noise.  Kind of a grinding nasty
self-destructive sort of noise.  I got home too late on Thursday to mess with
it, same deal Friday, Saturday I worked 'till 3 then came home with the flue,
went to bed, got up this morning.  now the noise is gone, but I still haven't
crawled under the dumb car to figure out what the problem is.  Back to the
noise.  It really sounds like a shield is dragging on the rear driveshaft, but
I can't be sure (haven't looked!)  The noise is speed dependant, not RPM
dependant, doens't matter what gear the trans is in.  Are there shields in the
very near vicinity of the transmission?  This doesn't sound like when my
catalytic converter self-destructed last year, so I don't think it's that.
 Maybe a shield for the cat?  the noise came and went on Thursday and Friday,
when it was there it was loud and obnoxious, but when it wasn't there you
forgot all about it.  Wierd.  Anyhow, Anybody gotta clue what I should be
lookin' for when I crawl under there?  Would low fluid in the tranny cause a
dragging noise?  TIA for any tips!

87 5000CS TQ
84 5000S (2,000 miles away and a mile high)
90 80 (sibling's mode of transportation I get lynched into working on)