Fair Warning

The dog was the first to know.

Izzy was a Miniature Fox Terrier who suffered an extreme case of small dog syndrome. She would pick a fight with anything bigger than her, from the Great Dane down the street to a horse, or even a moving car. So eager to prove herself even a stray breeze rustling through the trees would send her into a barking fit. So when she suddenly started growling at my grandfather’s old trunk we thought nothing of it.

My grandfather had passed away last August. In his later years he had become somewhat of a hoarder. When I saw the state of his house I realised just how long it had been since I had seen him. After we moved to Sydney I remember them coming to visit at Christmas but since Grandma had died the only contact we had was the odd phone call or a birthday card. I could see on Dad’s face the same expression of guilt that I felt, but the realisation came all too late.

Our house was only small so we were donating most of his possessions to a local charity group, picking only a few keepsakes to take with us.

“Remember it has to be able to fit in your luggage.”  Dad told my sister and me. But he soon forgot that rule when found the old leather trunk. It was the kind you would see old movies and it had originally belonged to my great-grandfather. Being a family heirloom it was not hard for him to convince Mum and though it would not fit in his luggage, he could definitely fit his luggage inside the old trunk.

When we returned home our dog’s excitable welcome turned into low growls when she saw the trunk.

“Well that’s a fine welcome.” Dad joked but the dog would not relax and just pushed herself into a corner and kept growling.

We assumed it was the new smell from an unknown object that had the dog rattled and figured she would get over it before too long. But it only got worse.

Every time Izzy came into the lounge room the fur down her back would stand on end and she would growl, low and deep. At first it was just the leather trunk that bothered her but at the days went by she started growling at other spaces. Sometimes it was under the lounge or above the china cabinet. One day she just sat, staring and growling at a corner of the ceiling.

It got so bad that we had to lock her out of the room. But still she sat at the door growling. She would look at me with large eyes, imploring me to understand. Problem was, we were so distracted by the dog bizarre behaviour that we didn’t notice the other weird things that were starting to happen.

Since my grandfather death my father’s mood rapidly deteriorated. Mum told us about the stages of grief and that his behaviour was to be expected. But the way he absently stared just unnerved me. I should have made an effort to be there for him, support him, but instead I avoided him.

A week later everyone’s nerves were on edge. Dad was just getting worse; he wouldn’t leave the lounge room. All day he would sit there slumped in his chair and at night if he did sleep it was with his eyes open. To make matters worse the dog persistent growling only increased the tension. She couldn’t reason with the dog so Mum decided it would be best to move the trunk. But when she tried to touch it Dad erupted. He screamed and shoved Mum away from the trunk; he pushed her hard enough that she crashed to the floor with a thud. Tears of pain welled in her eyes as her horror filled face stared in disbelief as my father ranted unintelligible nonsense. She scrabbled away like a crab on hot sand and as soon as she was clear of the room Dad settled down and slumped back into his chair.

For a long, awkward moment Dad seemed frozen on the chair before snapping out of his mood. He apologised as Mum cried; they talked and argued and in the end Dad agreed to move the trunk into the attic. After it was moved the dog stopped barking, but she still raced around the house with her eyes fixed on the ceiling all night. We had to keep her locked in the laundry over night. But one night she got so worked up that she tried to scratch a hole through the door; she was so frantic she didn’t even notice or care that she had ripped her claws bloody with the attempt.

She had to stay at the vets for observation but Dad was talking about finding her a new home.

I can’t explain what happened next but I’ve barely slept since. The night Izzy hurt herself I remember having a nightmare. I was trapped in darkness; I couldn’t see anything but I felt a presence. It was like a weight pushing against me. I was struggling to breathe.

The dog’s escape attempt is what woke me up that time, but I’ve had the same dream every night since. I know they are only dreams and I’ve tried to wake myself up but I’m trapped with that strange pressure pushing down on me. My chest tightens and just when I think I am about to suffocate I jolt awake. After that I’m too afraid to fall back a sleep so I just sit in the dark waiting for the sun to come up.

Tonight when I woke up I was not alone.

Crouching on the floor at the end of my bed there was something watching me. I thought I must still be dreaming; I couldn’t scream, couldn’t move. All night we just stared at each other. As sunlight streamed through my window it smile at me and waved. I burst into tears. Whatever that thing was it is coming for me, it may not be tonight or tomorrow night but I know it will come for me eventually.

The dog had known from the very beginning. Whether she had seen it attached to trunk when we brought it home or could just feel the evil of its presence, she had known. And she had tried to warn us even injured herself in the attempt.

We brought evil into our house, and the dog was the first to know.

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