“You know, Kane,” Mary began while chopping vegetables for dinner. “I was going to say no. But I think I made the right call!” She looked at Kane who lay on the cool tile of the kitchen floor. He tilted his head and barked once in agreement. She smiled at the pup and continued her meal prep.
Her neighbors, the Parkers’, the wealthiest family in their small town, had asked her a month ago to house sit while they are gone on their two week vacation to Aspen. Mary had at first been reluctant, but they offered to match whatever her retail job would have paid her. They also have her free reign over the sprawling home. They also told her she could bring her dog, and eat, drink, or use whatever she wanted. “Just don’t destroy or steal anything!” Mrs. Parker joked as she closed the door behind her as they left that morning.
And so Mary and Kane had the huge house to themselves. The first night was almost through and Mary had finished her dinner and fed Kane. “What to do now,” Mary wondered aloud as Kane retuned from his bathroom break. She closed and locked the door behind him, setting the alarm as she’d been instructed. The dog yawned and stretched and stared at her, as if waiting for his cue.
Mary climbed the large spiral staircase toward the bedroom she’d left her things in, Kane close behind. When she opened the double doors to the bedroom and gazed upon the massive feather bed, she sighed. “To bad we can’t just stay here forever, right boy?” He nuzzled his face against her head and she scratched him behind the ears.
Out of curiosity she walked to the adjacent bathroom. “As large as the bedroom is, the bathroom must be epic!” She thought. She was not wrong.
Not only was there double sinks, and an enormous glass door tiled shower but, and this the best of all, a large claw foot, soaking tub. “Oh my,” Mary thought. “I’ve always wanted one of those.” She suddenly pictures herself reading the historical romance novel she’d packed, while soaking in that very welcoming tub.
“Maybe tomorrow night, she told herself.
Instead, she threw in her pjs, propped herself up on the soft pillows, and pulled out that book. Kane curled up at the foot of the bed and made himself comfortable as she prepared to read herself to sleep.
Outside the summer air was still and quiet. No noise save for the sound of a gentle breeze sweeping through the trees surrounding the estate. Few lights downstairs shine through the many windows, piercing the darkness.
Placed at every entrance and at each corner were motion detecting lights, always in guard and ready to detect all movement. About an hour after Mary and Kane drifted off, a single light suddenly glowed in the darkness.
Mary was startled out of her dream by the barking of a dog. It took her a moment to remember where she was. When it hit her, she looked around and saw Kane, who stood defensively and at alert, growling at what seemed to be nothing. “Kane?” She climbed out of bed, rubbing her eyes and pushing her glasses in her face. “What is it? You need to use the bathroom?”
She opened the door to the bedroom and he rushed out, barking frantically, before she could catch him. She rushed down the carpeted stairs in her sock feet, trying not to slide as she went. When she found Kane at the patio doors he was staring into the darkness, a low growl pouring from his muzzle. The sound have Mary chills. She’d never heard it from him. She looked out into the night, trying to see what he saw, with no such luck.
“It was probably just a dream, bud.” She scratched his ears to try and calm him. He shook her off, ignoring her, and continued to stare and growl.
Not knowing what to do, wondering if he was sick, maybe, she sat down at the nearby table and watched him. After a few minutes she picked up her cell and texted a friend for comfort. Explaining what happened. “He probably got spooked is all.” Crystal responded. “My dogs bark at the wind, and Kane’s in an unusual place. Just woke up from a dream, and confused him.”
Mary thanked her friend and told her goodnight. Kane was still staring out the door, no sign of movement in sight. “Alright, dude. I’m going back to bed.” She turned toward the stairs, phone in hand, but before she took her first step, Kane’s barking commenced. It was loud and frightening, nearly scared Mary into falling. Her phone slipped from her hand, landing on the stairs.
“Kane!” She yelled. “Kane stop!” She walked to him, reaching out to try to pull him away by the collar, but he was defensive and distracted. He snapped at her, paying little attention to who was bothering him. His teeth were bared and he stared, barking at the window. Mary looked out into the darkness once more, and finally saw what he saw. The motion detecting light had turned on, and at the edge of the light were two men, dressed from head to toe in black.
Kane crouched and growled and snarled angrily at the patio door, to Mary he looked ready to fight. And if the door had been opened, she knew he wouldn’t, though he’d never shown aggression before.
She checked to ensure the door was locked, it was, though she knew if whoever was standing out there wanted in, they’d get in. The back of her mind she pictured her phone on the stairs, knowing it wasn’t far behind. Leaving Kane, for he wouldn’t move—she’d be afraid to try at this point—she backed slowly up while watching the trespassers closely. When she neared the stairs she turned.
The moment she turned she heard a loud bang, and the shattering of glass. Turning back before she reached her phone she watched Kane choose an attacker, and he lunged for them, white teeth bared, an angry growl echoing in the large room. Kane’s victim called out in fear and pain, as the other man beat at the dog’s head.
In that moment Mary was angered. “You don’t hit my dog!” She screamed lunging at the knotted group of man and beast. With her hands in tight fists she beat his arms and shoulders, trying to stop him. He lay off Hitting Kane long enough to push her hard to the tile floor, where she hit her bottom hard.
Kane immediately let go his vice grip on the arm of the first man, to attack the other, who he’d seen attack his owner. He snapped at the man’s legs and ankles, missing as he dodged the animal’s attacks.
The man kicked at Kane, the toe of his boot finding its mark in the dog’s ribs, making the poor animal yelp in pain, stagger back and fall. He crawled over to Mary, but still looked back at the men and growled angrily.
With the two of them down, they were able to continue with their task. They pulled out their guns, and pointed them, one at Mary and the other at Kane. “Where’s the safe?” One of them said. The other pressed his freehand on his bite wound.
“I don’t know!” Mary said. “I’m just house sitting I don’t live here!”
“Liar,” he said. “Where is it?!”
“I said I don’t know! The Parkers are on vacation for two weeks. I’d never been in the house until today!”
they stepped closer to where Mary and Kane sat in the floor. Kane began to growl, and tried to stand but slipped back down, whining once more.
Mary gently stroked Kane’s fur and glared at the men holding the guns. She never would have thought she’d be staring into the barrel of a gun, held by someone who meant to do her harm. She wanted nothing more than to go back in time and say no to this house sitting crap.
“Listen lady,” the man said. “We came here for one thing and one thing only. If you tell us where the safe is, and you and your dog don’t give us anymore trouble, we will let you go.”
“I don’t know, I really want to shoot that mutt!” The other man grumbled as he clutched his bleeding arm. “I bet he has rabies.”
“No, he doesn’t, he’s just a loyal, protective, smart dog! You deserved it.”
“Listen here you—“ he started to say, lunging forward with his hand raised to hit her.
Kane jumped up, though he was hurt, and lunged at the man again, latching on to the same arm he’d tore into before. The man screamed in pain as Kane shook his head as if trying to tear the arm loose. Both man and dog fell to the floor, both screams and growls filling the air.
The other man turned his back in Mary, in order to try to get Kane off his partner, and she saw an opportunity she couldn’t pass up. She seized a large candlestick off the entryway table, and swung at the gunman’s head as he kicked Kane off his partner and into the wall. There was a yelping from Kane, a screaming from the man he’d been attacking as flesh was torn brutally from his forearm, and a THUNK and a THUD as the other man was smacked in the head and fell to the floor.
Mary rushed to Kane’s side, checking him for further injuries. He whined as she touched him, and she grimaces at his pain. He had blood in his muzzle and she hoped it was human and not canine. “You’re a good boy, Kane.” She said quietly as she held him.
Mary turned when she heard movement behind her. Kane’s victim lay still in the floor unconscious from pain and blood loss. So the only other movement was from the man she’d hit over the head.
“You should have just cooperated.” She heard him say. She turned around and he had the gun to her head. The ever vigilant Kane growled despite his injuries and stood up, ready to protect once more.
In a split second two things happened. First Kane lunged at the attacker with speed belying his injuries and size. Second, heard but not seen, was the firing of a gun.
Things suddenly went black for Mary. Though her hearing lingered for a moment. As it faded away along with all her worries, a screaming drifted away as if on the wind. Then suddenly, silence.