Spooky Science

“Be afraid. Be very afraid.”

“That’s a bit vague, isn’t it?”

“…what?”

“How afraid is ‘very’? Is there an exact measure?”

“No! You’re just…very afraid!”

“But how much fear is that? Like ‘spider’ fear or ‘wetting your pants in public’ fear?”

“Hauntings were so much simpler in my day.”

Dog Eat Dog, Part 3

I woke up with a start. That was a hell of a nightmare.

Shauna sat by me, watching me with wide, fearful eyes. When I came to, she started sobbing and hugged me tightly. I looked around. I was in a hospital room. A doctor walked in to check on me. Apparently, I’d passed out in the middle of my living room and had been unresponsive for a long time. Shauna had found me and called 911.

My head throbbed like someone was trying to punch a hole in it. Everything felt upside down.

“It’s ok,” the doctor said. “You’re going to be just fine.”

He smiled at me then, and started to bark.

I stared at him. He kept barking, with a smile on his face.

I looked up at Shauna to see her smiling down at me. She ran a hand along my cheek, then emitted a high-pitched series of yelps.

A nurse walked past, growling. I could hear howls from another ward.

The doctor collapsed to the floor and crawled about on his hands and knees, barking wildly. Shauna followed suit. The entire hospital was a chorus of barks, howls, growls and yelps.

I closed my eyes and clamped my hands over my ears. It wasn’t real. None of it was real. I opened my eyes again to an empty hospital, dark and abandoned. There was only darkness around me, and not a single sound. No. Someone, or something, was breathing. Even without seeing it, I knew exactly what it was.

“What the hell do you want?” I yelled out into the blackness. “Why is this happening to me?”

There was no answer. I’m not even sure why I expected one. There was only the sound of soft, even breathing, and what seemed like a low growl, building up in volume and intensity.

My heart was pounding through my rib cage as I stared into the darkness. I could see the dog, pitch black but still forming a distinct silhouette, sitting at the foot of the bed. As I opened my mouth to speak again, it lunged at me. There was only darkness and silence after that.

********

I woke up the next morning and went to work as usual. I wasn’t even allowed through the building’s main door. Joe, who’d been greeting me with a smile for the past 8 months, wouldn’t even listen to a word I said and threw me right out. I wasn’t welcome there anymore. What the hell happened?

People on the street stared at me as I walked past. I headed straight for Shauna’s office. She was the only piece of sanity in this nightmare.Once again, I wasn’t allowed into the building. Furious, I called Shauna’s cell phone only to discover that my phone connection had been cut. That was impossible. I always paid my bills on time.

With no other option, I wandered around the area until noon. I knew Shauna would be coming down for lunch, going to the little cafe across the street from her office, as she always did. I’d talk to her then, explain what was going on and hopefully, we’d find a solution together.

As Shauna exited the building, I expected to be greeted with a smile, or concern. Instead, she looked at me without any recognition. She walked right past. I tried to stop her, to talk to her, but she seemed annoyed, and then, terrified. The security from her office drove me away this time as she continued on her path, not even looking back at me.

What was happening to me? Everything was spiraling out of control. I could hear barking again, but there were no dogs in sight. Not even the big hound. With a growing sense of horror, I realized the sound was coming from me.

Dog Eat Dog, Part 2

The night was a little cooler than the day, but that wasn’t saying much.

Shauna had left a few minutes ago. She had an early morning meeting and needed her sleep. We’d talked about moving in together a few times, but I kept stalling. I couldn’t keep that up forever.

I brushed my teeth, took off everything but my boxers and collapsed into bed. It had been a long day. And there was that weird dog. The hairs on the back of my neck stood up. I’d completely forgotten about that encounter. Thinking about it again made me uncomfortable, though I wasn’t sure why. I put the thought out of my mind and closed my eyes.

I could hear barking. Had some strays wandered into the area? It was getting louder. Thousands of voices, barking in unison. Barking, I realized, at a steady rhythm. A film of cold sweat formed on my body as I got up and walked to the window. The street outside was covered in dogs, all sitting down, staring up at my window and barking. Together. They were all looking right at me.

Feeling a wave of nausea coming over me, I backed away so fast I almost fell over. The barking stopped. For a few moments, I could only hear the sound of my heart pounding in my chest. I edged toward the window and looked out again. The streets were empty. Not a soul in sight. No, that wasn’t quite true. There was a large shadow under a streetlight across from the window. It was the dog, the one I’d seen earlier. It was sitting in silence, looking up at me. I could feel its gaze boring into my skin. I retched, splattering the windowsill with vomit. There would be no more sleep that night.

The next day I was a zombie. People talked to me, but I didn’t hear them. I spoke to people and couldn’t remember what I said. Calls were missed and clients were annoyed. My boss called me in at the end of the day, asking if I everything was alright. What could I tell him? That I was kept awake at night by phantom dogs? He asked me to take a few days off.

I walked back home from the train station, hoping I wouldn’t run into the dog on the stairs again. Thankfully, I didn’t. The stairwell was empty. Breathing a sigh of relief, I stepped onto the landing and turned the keys to my apartment door. I walked in to find my living room covered in dogs, on the floor, on the furniture, all staring up at me expectantly. The large black dog sat in the middle, silent and unblinking.

Dog Eat Dog, Part 1

It was a warm day yesterday.

Of course, every day was warm here. The naming of the seasons was only a formality.

I had just gotten off the train and was heading back to my apartment after work. I worked for a food website. Not as a developer, though. That was for the smart kids, buried elbow deep in coding, fingers tapping away at their keyboards as if they were part machine themselves. My job involved calling up restaurants and obtaining information from so we could add them to our website database. It was pretty glamorous. All day tied up on the phone, trying to charm people who had no interest in talking to some guy from a website they’d never heard of.

It didn’t matter. It was just a temporary gig anyway. I really wanted to be a scriptwriter, but the job was a way to pay the bills until my big break came along. Shauna was pretty understanding about the whole thing. We’d been dating for about two years. She was a ‘marketing associate’, whatever that meant. Sometimes, even she wasn’t sure what her job was about. But things had been good for us. I worried, though. We were getting to the point where we needed to look at the next stage of our relationship, and I wasn’t sure if I was ready for marriage yet. Shauna was the one earning the big bucks in the relationship, and she could easily have decided to pack up and move onto someone more put together. She wasn’t shallow or anything, but even my charm could only work on her for so long.

As I headed up the stairs to my apartment, I saw a shadow out of the corner of my eye. It was a dog, a large hound of some sort, sitting on one corner of the landing. Odd. There were no pets allowed in the building, and we didn’t really have any strays in the neighborhood. It just sat there, black fur blending with the shadows of the poorly lit staircase, staring at me. There was no collar or tag, so it definitely wasn’t a pet. Where did it come from? I walked past it slowly, afraid it might bark or attack, but it didn’t. It just sat there. Unmoving. Staring. Was it even real? I didn’t really want to find out. One more set of stairs took me up to my apartment. I peeked over the railing. It still sat there. Staring at me. Right at me. Feeling very uneasy, I entered the apartment and shut the door. I realized my knees were shaking.

Foreboding

I walk back home from work, as I’ve always done.

But the walk feels different today.

There’s something in the air. An odd feeling.

Worming its way through my skin, my bones, boring into my gut.

A terrible, inescapable sense of dread.

I left my apartment keys at the office.