The mist settles on the expanse of grass as night begins to descend. It is late to be out walking alone in this area of town, but I feel safe clutching at the lead of my dog. Our daily exercise ritual is not usually so late, but time escaped me somewhere today and we have just rushed out now, cloaked in darkness. The lack of street lights in the park is making it hard to see and I find myself fumbling in my pocket for my phone. I nearly drop it as the dog yanks me in the direction of a shadow he is trying to chase. I tighten my grip on the phone and get my footing. Shining the light on the ground in front of me, the reflection off the gravel stones paves the way ahead. Just then a deep woof erupts from the throat of my dog. I find myself impatiently shushing him, worried his barks will disturb the peaceful homes skirting the edge of the park. My thoughts quickly turn darker and I wonder if I should be more aware of the dog’s warning. I squint, looking into the darkness, making out shapes in the distance. Just a bunch of trees, no other signs of life apart from the odd lone bird cooing. As I shiver with cold, I think about hurrying back to the warmth of home, joining all the other sensible people who are on their sofas watching television. Reassured it is just us in the park I give a quick tug on the lead to signal we should move on.
A shuffling of leaves behind me catches my attention and I shoot a glance over my shoulder. Nothing. It must have been the wind agitating the leaves I think as I notice the brisk air blow past my ear. I return to our walk, but my paranoia is peaked and I find myself anxious to get back to the lit pavements. I know a short cut, through the cemetery and out onto the street the other side. It is then just a short walk home. I nervously laugh to myself about the cliche of walking alone in the cemetery at night. My humour a vain attempt to lighten my darkening mood and I feel goosebumps erupt on the back of my neck. I tell myself to stop being silly and speed up.
The gravel crunches under my feet as I quicken my pace. The dog walks ahead on the lead, only stopping for the occasional sniff. I can see the street lights at the end of the cut-through, which signals the street ahead. Reassured, I don’t respond to the shuffling behind me. As the dog growls, heckles raised, I feel a strong hand grab my arm. I spin round to face a tall man, clad in dark clothes. His face serious and abrupt in the dim light and I find myself letting out a panicked yelp. Sensing my fear, the dog charges towards the man ready to protect his owner. A look of concern etched over the mans face, he loosens his grip on my arm and I yank it out of his grasp. I feel so relieved in that moment. What a stupid man, trying to attack me when I am armed with the ultimate protector. I look at the dog, which has launched into the air and I nod my head in some kind of approval. As his teeth sink into the neck of my attacker, I feel the warm splatter of blood splash my cheek. Adrenaline courses through my body as I will the dog to bite, claw and rip his way through this evil man. He won’t be able to hurt anyone else again.
As he falls to the ground, blood gushing from his neck, I stand over him and peer down at my assailants face. I want my face to be his last image before his death. I catch sight of his left hand, pale fingers tightly clasping a set of keys, reaching out to me. A familiar silver heart-shaped pendant hangs from the key-ring. As I reach into my pocket to find my own keys, I already know my pocket is empty … I must have dropped them. Through the clarity of retrospect, the obvious conclusion surfaced: things don’t always turn out as planned.
This post has been written for the Yeah Write Speakeasy #154.