Maria thinks her Charlie's return a pleasure. But she is soon to be surprised..
|I flicked through the channels trying to find something of interest, maybe a good movie or a nice new reality show, but just my luck; I found nothing worth watching. It was one of those boring Sundays when you have nothing to do and the day seems to drag on slowly the more you want it to end. I found a tattered copy of the Kite runner, and started to read it just to pass the time. "If only Charlie had been here, maybe we could have gone for a nice walk together" I thought. The day he had disappeared was still vivid in my mind and I knew would always be. I had searched everywhere, called for him even dreamed about him but Charlie never came back it had been a whole year now and I could only hope he was not dead. Charlie was my five year old, border collie. I had found him as a puppy, scared and wet, cowering behind a broken fence because of, a cat. I had known the dog was meant for me the day I saw him and so I took him home and cared for him. But one day, while walking in the park I left him to buy an ice-lolly and when I turned around he was not there. Most people don't think much of animals but for me they mean a lot. They are companions that will never be traitors, never leave you in your time of need and they can sink deep in your heart and make a place for themselves. I looked for Charlie everywhere for six whole months, always hoping he would be back. But he never came.
My chain of thoughts smashed as the book fell from my hands. I sighed and started reading again. Page after page line after boring line my eyes started to close themselves.
Thud. A loud thud on the back door made me jump. I stood up half asleep, wondering who it could be knocking at midnight. Then I realized it, it was the back door, the only people who could come by that door were my mom and my boyfriend Will, who was in London for a month. I pulled over a sweater and hurried to the door.” Who’s there?" I asked, and there was no vocal response only another thud. Something seemed to shiver in me but I tried not to notice the strange feeling and slowly inch by inch opened the door. A low painful woof filled my ears, I looked down and gasped. The blood in my brain, I thought must have frozen there and my eyes must have tried to pop out of their sockets. It was him. Charlie. Only somehow a very different one.
There was thick muddy blood all over its pearl white fur and one of his ears was seriously wounded. Maybe it was the blood or my imagination but his black eyes had a surreal red tint in them one that I had never seen before. "Charlie. My baby" I whispered in a shaky voice and he rubbed against my leg, covering it in sticky warm blood. I cautiously called him in; he still had on the gold and black collar with its name carved on it. I filled up the tub and bathed him gently. The water turned light red with all the blood and the stench was unbearable. But it was my dog; the happiness removed all traces of fear and disgust. The next few days passed on in caring for Charlie taking him to the vet and re bonding with him. I could not help but notice how changed he was. Not that he had grown violent he just seemed too distant and too mature. Gone was the time when he would lick my face, run all around the house and try to catch butterflies. Now he spent most of the day curled up on the rug in my bedroom and avoided the dog food I gave him. The only thing he wanted to eat was raw steak so I bought meat and fed it to him semi boiled. I tried to take him to a park but he only dragged me back home. It must have been all the hardships that had changed him so much I thought. But there was nothing more I wanted then to have him with me or so I thought, then.
Time past quite quickly then, even though Charlie was not quite so active he surely had adjusted back in his old home. Everyone including me thought if Charlie’s return as a miracle from God. I spent all my time after returning home from the bank lying on the couch with him snoring at my feet.
One day, a week before Christmas I brought home a stack of movies and decided on watching the most I could. I put on “A walk to remember” as I munched on buttered popcorns. Charlie, I noticed, was having one of his weird moments. He circled around my sofa, sniffing at the rug and the wood. “Charlie Stay!” I ordered and of course he did not obey in fact circled the sofa faster. Outside there was a light winter rain, making it even colder than it was already and cold always made me sleepy? I do not know when, but I fell asleep while watching the movie, and woke up to the sound of a low growl. It was a deep throaty sound, feral and menacing. I did not get a chance to look up at the direction the sound came from for the giant dog jumped right on top of me. Charlie’s mouth hung open, his eyes squinted and a long trail of saliva dribbled from the sides of his mouth onto my shirt. I grasped his front legs with my hands trying to make sure he could not attack me but Charlie had gained a strange kind of strength for a dog of his size. It was like fighting off a grown heavy man not a medium sized dog. He growled, jumped right above my head and sat on the floor panting. Those eyes! God, I will never forget them till the day I die. They were not black not partly red but deep rich red. It was such a dry solid color, so lifeless that it made me sick to the stomach. I was not fooled, slowly but cautiously, inch by inch I started to slide off the leathery sofa and reach for the phone. I could call Crystal from next door or maybe the vet to send someone over. I needed help and I did not need to wait any longer I knew. I could feel my dog’s gaze fixed on me, like he was dragging me into that lifeless pit in his eyes. I glanced at the locked door and then at the other locked back door. The windows were sealed shut, the TV volume turned up high. My chances of screaming for help were low,
“Aha!” my mind smiled in glee. I took out my key chain, jingled it in front of the now horrifying Charlie and threw it in the air. “Go fetch Charl!” I closed my eyes gaining strength to stand up and as I opened them, he was still there no longer panting. His mouth seemed to have curled up in a grin as he crouched, and his eyes burned like red flames now. I cowered in the corner of the couch, pressing a cushion against me for defense. Charlie walked slowly towards the wall. No he was walking towards the light switches. “Hell no. this is not true”. I whispered to my shivering self. His paw smacked again the switch and in a second the lights were out. Then before I could even scream or beg, the TV switched off. It was pitch black in the room now and I strained my ears trying to figure out where Charlie was. I could hear his raspy breath, maybe he was behind me I thought. Slowly, carefully I moved my head and looked back. Nothing. There was nothing, not even when I gained the courage to reach out for the darkness with my hand. I held my breath and turned around very slowly and screamed. Two little balls of hot fire stared right back at me, so close that I could even see the small black dots in the middle. They seemed to get closer and closer and the darkness instead of getting lighter felt thick and soupy on my skin. It was as if I was floating in a room of black paint. The lights went out and so did the slight stench. Adrenaline rushed in my veins and I ran wildly to the switch and banged them on so fast that one of them broke.
“Charlie? Charlie? What the hell? Where are you, bad dog come right back here?” I screamed at the top of my lungs, my voice shaky and loud in the silence.
“Charlie?” Softly, very softly as I stood alone, shaking, a light paw of fur brushed on my shoulder and then fell on it heavily. I turned around saw the dogs face nest to mine.
His mouth opened and stretched into a grin, I could see his eyes up close now; not only did they burn red liquid red also covered the eyes swollen corners. The stench of his breath was sickening, like rotten meat or yoghurt. I gulped, as I stared at all its pure horror.
“Yes?” he growled, and everything went dark.
I woke up, with the sun shining faintly in through the curtains, in my, bedroom? How had I reached there I did not even remember then it all came back to me. The chills came right back up and I shuddered under the covers. Downstairs, the bell rang. I opened the drawer next to the bed took out a letter knife and stepped out. I had never once even slapped an animal and I would have rather died, Now, I wanted to throw up on myself and the knife shook in my hands. But, the very thought of that crazy animal attacking me was too much. He was like a wild devil, a real one I thought. There was no dog anywhere not even any traces of fur, the couch was a mess and Charlie’s collar lay broken on the floor. The bell rang continuously till I hurried to the door and opened it, frustrated. It was Tracy, my best friend, presenting me another one of her baking experiments that she called wonderful and I only took a bite off and gave the rest to the homeless man downtown, who I bet also took a bite and threw it away. But things like these are better kept secret even from your best friend. I took the box and she came in/” Whoa Maria! Have you got a new dog or what?” Then I realized that for the past whole month that Charlie was with me, I had not gotten a chance to tell anyone about him. Between my demanding job and Charlie’s treatments I had hardly met anyone and if I had there had been no talk of Charlie. It was so strange and yet after the events of last night quite believable.
“Uh no. It’s just that I was thinking about Charlie. Just like that” I stammered playing with my hair. Tracy clearly in a hurry rolled her eyes and drove away. I went back in, picked up the collar and locked it in my tiny box . The bell rang again, and this time it was Crystal. She asked about the dog food bowls and irritated i said,"Duh crystal they are for Charlie! My dog remember?".
"The one who vanished an year ago?.Aw you're remembering him this way is it his birthday today?". Is stood their still, she was not joking. I nodded and smiled till she shut the door. Then I fell down on the tiled floor and cried. I don't know whether they were tears of fear or pain or the knowledge that my dog had died a long time ago maybe.I cried till there were no tears left and remembered the burning eyes. My poor little dog was possessed, it was not Charlie anymore. I stood up and went to my room. As I closed the door, a voice growled,"I'm right here love. Come and get me".