I probably looked really stupid with that incredulous look on my face.  My eyeglasses were skewed and I just stood there with my mouth gaped open, catching flies.  I was conscious of every breath, could hear my heart thumping away in my ears, could feel it pressing almost painfully against my ribcage, could feel it throbbing at my temple in an agitated rhythm.  My arms were limp at my side.  I was amazed my legs weren't jelly.  They sure felt like it.

"Thomas?"  My voice shook but I didn't think it was from fear.  I was just confused.  As the inquiry left my mouth, my vocal cords once again shut down.

A damp, hot breath cascaded across my face in a single breeze, smelling of unidentified things.  Things best left unidentified.  I closed my eyes reflexively and cursed myself.  Man, that was a bad move.  A low rumbling sound caressed the air and I flinched.  

Then, all at once, it was like time sped up.  a loud roar echoed off the walls and "Thomas", or what was left of him, started moving.  I screamed and ran, backpedaling, no longer caring that thing had once been a friend.  I stumbled but righted myself before falling, picking up speed and thanking all those years of high school track.  Thomas was big, but he'd always been the slow poke growing up.

I tore out of the house with no real direction in mind.  I glanced at the houses on either side of me but kept going straight, convinced that slowing down enough to get help would only get me killed. It isn't Thomas anymore, I reiterated in my head.  He can't keep up with you.  He was always slower.  I screamed a few times for good measure, hoping someone would hear and call the cops. It ate up much needed stamina but I could only run so long.  I was fast, but I was a sprinter.

I looked back as I turned a corner and stumbled.  This time I did fall.  The old Thomas would have been eating my dust.  He would have lumbered behind me for a short period of time, then given up entirely.  A runner, he was not.  This new, debatably improved, Thomas was no quitter.  And he wasn't slow.

He pounced and landed, his weight nailing me to the rough road.  He growled in my face as if demanding my submission.  I didn't know what to do and my mind ran in a never ending litany of disjointed thoughts, circling and circling like a hamster wheel.  He held me down with a hand around my throat as he sat on my chest, my vision erupting into patches of black and white, my head starting to feel thick and sluggish.  He started to sniff and almost purr, my brain taking in his actions in garbled freeze frames along with teeth, drool, fur, and pointed ears.  Grey, grey fur.  Why did he have fur?  I blinked my eyes, attempting to clear them, but my eyes weren't the problem.

The purring continued and he leaned in.  His long tongue coated me from chin to forehead, granting me a moment of clarity long enough to think, Ew, dog slobber.  Soft fur rubbed against my cheek and the purring continued near my ear.  

*****

When I woke up, I felt like I'd been beat with a sledge hammer.  I hurt everywhere.  I groaned and shadows erupted from the background.  I flinched and jerked away, hitting cold metal with my arm.  I jumped back and felt a tug at my other arm.  A voice was trying to sooth me, its tones softly lilting and beckoning me from my ledge.  I looked down and everything made sense.  There was an IV in my arm.  I was wearing one of those horrible hospital johnnies.  The metal I'd come in contact with was the railing on the bed.  I looked up and the shadow and calming voice was identified.  Thomas.  I sighed.  Normal, he looked normal.  No monsters here.  I'm just crazy.  And strangely, that thought was comforting because the idea of monsters was just too petrifying.  That, I couldn't handle.

I looked at Thomas with a small smile, the best I could do with how much pain I was in.  But the look he returned made me pause as it sunk in.  Remorse.  Fear.  Agony.  "I'm so sorry."  His voice broke and I knew.  I knew and I screamed.



Leave a Reply.