Watchdog

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Welcome to another Friday Freewrite. Some days I just need to sit down and write. Some Fridays I share what I’ve written with you.

The dog was our first sign that the plan was fucked.

As soon as Joanie stepped into the basement office, we heard the metallic clank of a chain as it scraped across the concrete floor. The dog got to his feet, tugging at the collar.

“Shit Grant. It’s up.” The words weren’t even spoken. More like they were forced from the back of her throat and out through the spaces in her clenched teeth. She was frozen in mid air, one foot planted in the center of the table I’d lowered her down onto and the other one braced up against the concrete wall, as if she wanted to climb back up and out through the narrow window. I had to swat her hands away when she tried.

“Just go,” I hissed back urgently. Paranoid, I quickly flicked my head around to glance at the yard behind me. Didn’t she realize we were fucked either way now? There was no going back on the plan. The lights had already come on when we cut across the lawn. Joanie thought we’d triggered a sensor. But we couldn’t have. I was sure of it. I’d checked the electrical plans five times before deciding on this house.   Something was wrong.

Joanie scowled up at me. Then she let out a hushed grunt and swung her other foot down onto the table. Gripping onto the sill with her girthy fingernails, she lowered her body down, her stomach scratching against the wall’s rough texture. I went after her. And when I dropped into the dark room I saw him too, pacing along the far wall.

“You think that’ll hold him there?” Joanie asked me, her mouth a tight line, her eyes on the dog.

Hell no.

“Yeah, just go.” I pressed my palm against her back. I didn’t have anywhere else to go until she stepped down off the desk. And I didn’t know how long the flimsy plywood would hold us both. She tipped forward and lowered one foot, scanning it six inches above the dusty floor. Her knuckles curled around the edge of the table.

“Are you sur-” I pushed her off. Bait.

“What the hell?!” She landed softly in a crouched position and immediately rolled around to face me. There were flames in her eyes. She lunged back at the desk to escape the dog, but I put my hands out to keep her from climbing back up.

“Look,” I said, raising one hand in the dog’s direction.

His chain was fastened to the wall beside the doorframe at the top of the steps. The moonlight streaming in from the window we’d opened was reflected in patches along the cold metal links. The chain snaked its way down the stairs but anchored the dog to that side of the room. Leashed, he couldn’t reach us.

“He’s stuck where he is,” I said, slowly getting down off the desk. Careful not to make any sudden movements, I slide behind Joanie and made my way over to the safe. The dog watched me as I stepped, a low grumble vibrating across his lips. I watched him too. His eyes were like black marbles. Cold. And blunt.

I placed my feet gingerly, aware that even the slightest sound would undoubtedly set him off. “We’re fine as long as we don’t get any closer,” I said. “Come on.”

 

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