Tommy had been in his house all day long, completing one seemingly endless chore after another. Cabin fever had set in around 9 p.m.; he knew that if nothing else, the least he could do was go for a walk.
He left the house, being sure to lock up tight, and headed down his walk toward the street. Earlier, he could hear the rain as it pelted the roof and streaked the windows; now, the storm had passed, leaving everything shiny with a cool breeze floating up from the west. It was perfect walking weather, Tommy thought.
As Tommy walked the dampened sidewalks, listening to the chirping sounds of crickets and relaxing for the first time that day, he suddenly heard a voice behind him.
“Have to get him, Fido. He’s bad. Have to get him.”
Tommy craned his neck around to look over his shoulder, catching the dim outline of an older man walking his dog, a Labrador by the looks of it. The man was coming steadily closer to him, grasping the leash as he trailed behind the jogging canine. Tommy listened to hear if he said anything else; but there was nothing more. Probably just my imagination; it’s been a long day, Tommy thought to himself, turning back around and walking just a bit faster.
“Have to get him. Can’t let him get away, Fido. Have to kill him.”
Tommy knew that it wasn’t his mind playing tricks on him; he had heard that for sure. He looked back at the man and his dog, amazed to see that they had closed the gap significantly since his last peek at them. Tommy really only had two choices now: run or deal with it. He decided that if he ran, the dog would only end up getting him anyway. At least he had a chance if he did something first. He turned around, standing still, waiting for the pair to catch up to him.
The man came into view, exposed by an overhead streetlight. He was thin, with wiry arms and legs that seemed to move everywhere at once while he walked. He had pale skin and receding black hair, and there was a look in his eyes that wasn’t quite right. That wasn’t quite there. The dog was a black Labrador, its sleek body and powerful legs propelling the man onward. Tommy could have sworn something was wrong with its eyes, too, if that was at all possible.
They approached him warily, stopping a few feet back. Tommy stood there, waiting to see what would happen. Suddenly, further down the street and behind him, there was a loud bang as somebody’s muffler backfired with exhaust. Tommy instinctively glanced towards it.
“Kill him now. You have to kill him now, damn it. Do it, Fido. Now.”
Tommy spun back around to see the dog coming for him, not running, not pouncing, but sort of meandering toward him like it had all the time in the world. He decided it was now or never. Before the dog could get any closer, Tommy quickly sped over to it, throwing a well-aimed roundhouse kick into its head. The dog whimpered softly and immediately struck the ground, knocked out cold.
Tommy looked at the dog, glad to see it was still breathing, and tried to catch his breath. He became vaguely aware of the man standing beside him. Tommy faced him, looking into those weird, vacant eyes. “Look, man,” he said. “I don’t know what the hell you think you’re doing, but I-“
Tommy was abruptly silenced when the man threw his head back to the darkened sky and let out a piercing, braying howl. Saliva dripped from the corners of his mouth as he focused his dilated pupils on Tommy. And then, he barked. A vicious bark, that sent shivers down Tommy’s spine. With his teeth bared in a gruesome snarl, he steadily advanced toward Tommy.
“Hey, hold on, wait-“ Tommy pleaded, seeing something on those teeth he didn’t quite like. The red tint of blood.
The man lunged at Tommy, pulling him down to the ground beside the fallen dog, wasting no time in locking his bite down around his squirming neck and clamping down with all his might. Tommy screamed, watching in horror as his arterial blood sprayed out from the gaping hole in his neck in fine jet sprays that covered the sidewalk. Before the darkness overtook him, Tommy could have sworn he saw the man lap his tongue toward the blood as a dog would at water from a fire hydrant.
Some time later, as the man patiently waited for the dog to revive, scratching his shoulder with one claw-like hand, the Labrador opened its eyes and looked around. It took in the man’s mouth covered with caked blood, and Tommy’s cold and lifeless body lying on the red cement of the sidewalk. With a sense of unbelievable compassion in its eyes, it regarded the man for a long moment. “I hope you put him down quickly,” it finally said.
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