After two more hours of gabbing, dancing, and fending men
off Jessa, I managed to herd the girls into a taxi and drop
all of them off without any missing shoes, lost purses, or
the maiming of clingy guys who didn't know "you leave with
who you came with."
Applauding myself for remembering cash for the taxi, I
paid the driver and trekked to the red front door of my
little two story townhouse. I was nearly to the door when a
noise from the alley way echoed between the two buildings.
"Not again. Stupid dogs."
Now normally, I'd have let my trash bags fend for
themselves. But I had a few drinks in me and had managed to
block a Dallas Cowboys linebacker from taking Jessa home, so
I was feeling braver than usual. I was going to teach those
stupid mutts a lesson: my trash is not a free buffet.
The broken safety light in the alley left me tiptoeing
through darkness. Luckily, I knew my way around: four steps
and a gutter ;three and a dip to the left in the sidewalk.
Now, I write for a low-budget horror movie company whose
creations are only found on the highest numbered cable
channels. Even in cult circles, Cloak and Dagger
Productions is well known for taking the imaginative leap a
little too far. But nothing, even in my line of work, could
have prepared me for what I saw, actually saw, as I stepped
into the alley of garage doors.
A dark, solid shadow loomed over the pale fur of Happy,
my neighbor's golden lab. The dog lay limp under the
crouching form. By the snap of tendons and slow smacky
chomping that echoed around in my ears, it was leisurely
eating man's best friend.
I cupped my hand over my mouth from the stomach churning
sight. Part of me had known it was Happy eating my garbage.
But this? I would never wish this on anything.
As I tried to stealthily back away from the gruesome
sight, I bumped my garbage cans, sending them clattering
loudly behind me, spilling my white bags all over the
I could only make out yellow eyes in the inky blackness
as they snapped towards me. Double Crap.
Frozen in the eerie stare, I didn't move again until the
shadow growled. The low earthy sound echoed off the long
corridor of metal garage doors.
Alone, in the darkness with a monster, I panicked. I had
keys in one hand and a small purse with a credit card,
cherry lip gloss, and loose powder in the other. None of
that was going to do any good unless the black figure felt a
The shadow began to move, its dark legs slowly stepping
over Happy's golden fur. Its long body stalked towards me. I
used the only weapon I could think of: my shoe. It was big
enough to knock out anything.
My patent heel bounced off the black mass and clattered
on the cracked driveway. The creature growled again
unaffected by the barrage, keeping me in its sights.
One shoe off and three drinks to the wind, I darted back
down the shadowy sidewalk between the buildings as fast as
my tired size tens would carry me. Even with the adrenaline
pumping through my veins, I couldn't push my legs fast
Fire ripped through my body as the thing leapt and sharp,
steely hooks pierced into the muscle of my shoulder and tore
down my back.
Falling forward with its weight, I hit the sidewalk hard.
My hands caught my fall, saving my face from the concrete,
but losing a layer of skin in the process. My glasses flew
off my face, landing just far enough away to be lost in the
The shadow ripped deeper into my shoulder. It shredded my
shirt, snapped my bra straps, and tore through the tender
I must have cried out because, suddenly, help arrived in
the form of black boots. The thing on top of me growled or
screamed; I wasn't sure. The pain seeped into my ears making
them useless, as spots filled my blurry vision.
There was a hollow click and I saw another sequence from
the movies: the world fading to black. I could only hope
that along with those big black boots came a white hat.