Howling in the Night

The howling is driving him crazy as Brian clutches the pillow around his head for the fourth night in a row.  “Somebody shoot the damned dog,” he yells as he throws his pillow, knocking a lamp off the desk. 

Brian stumbles across the room in the dark.  He trips on the clothing bundled on the floor he discarded last night and stubs his toe on the wall.  The lights flip on and he crosses to the window, opening the small crevasse to allow a gust of wind.  He pushes the blinds up and stares into the night.  His goal is to find the culprit of the voice so dry and cracked it sounds like an old nun trying to sing while chewing on The Daily News.  But the night yields no one and nothing as he peers deeply, leaning out the window. 

Just as his hands claps the blinds to bring them down, the crying begins again.  This time when he gapes, across the street beneath him, he spots a dog attached to a tree with a rope in front of the apartments.  The dog is large and its fur, probably white at one time, is matted.  Frankly, Brian cannot imagine anyone laying claim to it enough to keep it tied up.  “Just another mouth to feed,” Brian mutters as he rotates from the window, closing it tightly this time, hoping to halt the racket.

The noise quickly commences again as he leaves the window, allowing the blinds to drop.  He scans his room and finds his Red Ryder BB gun sitting atop of his bookshelf.  His junior high friend had been over a few days ago and they had been talking about the days they used to shoot together.  Although Brian hasn’t used the gun since he was a kid, this seems to be the perfect opportunity to bring it back from the dead.

Taking the gun in one hand and flipping the light off with the other, he hurries over to the window and pulls the blinds up again.  The dim lights of the street spray down on the pathetic mutt.  Paper scraps float through the air when a bolt of lightning streaks across the sky, warning of coming showers.  Seconds later, the earth grumbles its discontent.

The pitiable animal whines, squeaking and whistling at ear-shattering pitches until the rain begins to pour in buckets.  As if it can hide from the rain as it pours down, it huddles dismally under the tree.  Brian drops to his knee and sticks the barrel of the gun out the window.  Certain the rain will conceal the racket he takes aim.

The lightning flashes brightly and Brian releases the first shot.  No sound at all flashes from the gun, but it seems to have hit its mark, as the yelps echo through the night air.  The dog sounds like a wailing baby as it hobbles desperately around the tree, proving the hit is in the hindquarter.   “Shut up, or the other side is going to match,” Brian growls through clenched teeth, but the dog continues as he waits for the lightning to strike again.

This time when Brian takes aim, his finger prepares to pull the trigger, focused in on the dog’s face.   A bright light envelopes him and knocks him across the jaw, stunning him. The voyage from the window to the ground takes a fraction of a second, but seems like an eternity as his hip and shoulder slam into the concrete sidewalk.  Pain shoots up and down the length of his spine and he’s afraid to move.  But he needs to get help from somebody–anyone really.  He really needs to get back to his apartment.

Forcing himself to a standing position, his legs are barely able to hold him up, but he staggers toward the apartment building.  He needs to get out of this chilling moisture to warm up before he gets sick on top of being a cripple.   But as he begins his trek to the door, he stops abruptly as something pulls hard at his neck.   His head rotates around to find out what the problem is and he realizes a rope is linking his head to a tree.  Confusion is high, but doesn’t cease as he tries to unfasten it and realizes he has no hands, but tangled hairy paws.

Shaking and frightened, he knows he is alone with no one to explain his situation to, as he feels something odd rumbling in his stomach.  Brian wonders if he’s going to throw up, and tries to prepare, but when he spreads his front legs and points his nose to the ground, the reverberation strengthens deep in his gut.

“Ooooh, owwwwwww!” shoots from the back of his throat, repeatedly.  Having no control, only the gut-retching spasms, he attempts to close his jaw against nature but loses.  “Ow, owwwwwww!” he continues.

From in the distance, he can hear someone moving.  At last, someone who can help him!  He lifts his head and sees a light come on in the distance.  Taking a deep breath, he begins to howl….

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