Night at the Office

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April, 1987

Margaret and Henry were a young, affluent couple who lived in a large, sprawling brick house in northern New Jersey. They were the very last house on a dead end road, somewhat isolated from their neighbors. The sides of their house were lined with rows of tall bushes punctuated by beds of various flowers. Their lengthy front lawn and driveway stretched on for what seemed like miles, typical of the upper-class suburb in which they lived. Henry worked long hours at a bottling factory he inherited from his recently deceased father, while Margaret worked a part-time job at a nearby dry cleaners. The two had met at university and Margaret had eventually moved from her home state of Massachusetts to be with Henry. They had lived together for a few years before they finally wed.

One morning, they awoke to an unseasonably warm spring day. Henry began getting ready for work while Margaret made coffee for the both of them. “Are you working late again this week?” she asked him.

“Yes, unfortunately,” he replied, folding up the newspaper. “It’s been busy, but we’re gaining a lot of new clients.” He walked to the door, kissed Margaret goodbye, and was off to work. Margaret then began her morning ritual for she would soon need to leave for work as well. She ate breakfast, showered, dressed, sprayed herself with her favorite perfume, brushed her teeth, and did her hair. She opened her bedroom window and lowered the screen, allowing the pleasant smell of blossoming trees and flowers to enter her home. After washing the dishes, she grabbed her keys and purse and made her way for the door. When she opened it and gazed out upon the front yard, something by the road caught her eye. As she looked closer, it turned to face her and she realized it was a dog—a Rottweiler, possibly the largest one she had ever seen. It sat out in the road, panting and watching her. Margaret locked the deadbolt on the front door and began walking down the front steps to her silver SUV parked in the driveway, keeping an eye on the animal in the street. As she took a few more steps down the stone walkway, she noticed the animal was no longer panting. Its mouth was now shut, but its eyes were still fixated on her. She began feeling increasingly anxious and walked a bit faster to her car. With her eyes on the large canine, Margaret’s shoe caught the edge of a stone in the walkway that protruded slightly and stumbled forward. Catching herself before she fell over, in her peripheral she caught movement, and she heard the treading and rapid clicking of long canine nails on the driveway. The Rottweiler was now running at full speed straight toward her. Margaret hastened to the SUV, now fearing the dog’s intentions. Reaching the driver’s side of the vehicle, she scrambled to put the keys in the door to unlock it. She could now hear the clicking of the animal’s nails on the other side of the vehicle. Quickly, she opened the door and leaped inside, slamming the door behind her. She sat back in the leather seat with her sweating hands on the steering wheel, breathing heavily. She climbed over to the passenger’s side window to see the animal looking around with its mouth open, panting. The dog was now close enough that she could see no collar around its neck. When it looked up and saw Margaret through the window, the dog’s mouth closed and it sat down in the driveway, staring up at her. Margaret, now feeling uneasy, sat back down in the driver’s seat, started the car, and backed it down the driveway. As the car pulled away, the dog stayed in the driveway, unmoving.

As she arrived at the dry cleaners, she greeted her two co-workers. One was a tall, thin, blonde woman roughly her own age, also a part-time worker. The other, a short, stocky, dark haired woman, the wife of the owner. She told the two women about the bizarre encounter with the dog. They laughed when Margaret told them she dove into her car to avoid the animal. “Well, call animal control if you’re that worried about it,” the blonde woman said still smiling. “It couldn’t hurt,” the other woman added.

Margaret hesitated, but then decided it’d be best, considering the dog’s odd behavior. After a brief phone call, animal control agreed to send someone out to Margaret’s neighborhood, much to her relief. She eventually allowed herself to relax and the day progressed as usual, with Margaret and the other two women chatting and doing minimal work. The lackadaisical work environment was sustained by the owner’s wife, who insisted to her husband that she needed help to keep the place running. However, it was merely a place for the three women to converse when the vapid comforts of home began to wear on them, they all being married to men of wealth. Each of them shared unflattering stories about their husbands and talked of future vacations and fine dining experiences in between servicing the few clients who came in throughout the day.

Later that evening at their home, Henry came through the front door. “Margaret, you will not believe the day I’ve had,” he shouted, taking off his shoes at the door. He stretched and gazed over at the clock yawning. 9:04 p.m. Walking over to the kitchen, he heard Margaret laughing. When he reached the end of the hall, he saw her hang up the phone, trying to conceal her laughter at the kitchen table, covering her mouth with her hand. There was a half empty bottle of Cabernet on the table and she gleefully sat up from her chair and kissed Henry hello. “Who was that?” Henry asked.

“That was just Janice. You know how much she loves to talk,” Margaret replied, appearing flushed from the wine.

“She sure does, you don’t have to tell me,”answered Henry, now smiling to himself. Margaret grabbed her wine glass and began washing it in the sink.

“Oh! I need to you tell you what happened to me this morning!” she exclaimed, her attitude and tone now completely shifted. “There was this dog, a huge Rottweiler in the street as I was leaving for work. I walked to my car and the thing started running right for me,” she explained, vigorously washing her wine glass trying to remove a stain from the bottom.

“What? Are you okay?” Henry replied hanging his coat on one of the kitchen chairs.

“Yes, I’m alright. I called the animal control office just in case the thing had rabies or something.” She walked over to Henry wrapping her arms around him. “It was so strange, when I was in my car leaving the driveway, it just sat there staring at me.”

“That is strange,” Henry concurred. “Nobody in this neighborhood even owns any dogs.”

Awakened by the sound of the alarm clock, Margaret stretched, crawled out of bed, and went downstairs to the kitchen to make coffee for herself and Henry. She poured the coffee grounds into the machine with some water and turned on the television in the kitchen while she waited for it to brew. She leaned against the counter and changed the channel over to her favorite morning talk show. As it came to a commercial break, she flicked through the channels to find something else to watch when she came upon the news. The headline of a woman having been murdered in her home with images of police cruisers and yellow tape caught her eye. The newscaster read the terrible details of the incident involving a woman who had had her skull caved in with brutal force. Her husband is currently missing, and an unknown third party had also been killed in the home, with the police finding chunks of flesh ripped from each of the individuals. Margaret closed her eyes shuddering, turning the television off before she could hear any more. Moments later, the coffee had finished brewing and she heard Henry start the shower upstairs. She poured herself a cup of coffee and sat down at the table, letting the steam from the cup rise up to her tired face. She sipped her hot beverage, looking around her kitchen with its cream-colored cabinets, spotless countertops, and mahogany flooring. Tracing the grain of the kitchen table with her finger, she let her mind wander. Eventually, her thoughts were interrupted as she heard the shower stop, and a few minutes later Henry made his way downstairs wearing his office attire. “I’ll see you tonight,” he said kissing Margaret goodbye, and walked out the door taking his coffee with him. Margaret finished the rest of her coffee and, after having decided to forego breakfast, put the glass in the sink. She listened to Henry’s car pull down their long driveway and fade away down the street. She then showered and completed her typical morning routine. When she was all ready to go to work, she grabbed her keys and made her way to the front door.

Still remembering events of yesterday morning, she cautiously and slowly opened the door and looked around, but was only greeted by her tranquil front yard. As she climbed into her car and pulled down the driveway, she looked through her rear view mirror, remembering the spot where the dog had been sitting, watching her, as if waiting for her to exit the vehicle.

At the dry cleaners, Margaret’s co-workers jokingly asked her if she had been chased by any more dogs that morning. “No, no dogs today,” she laughed. Her friends’ continued lighthearted comments made her think that perhaps she had exaggerated the whole incident. The day carried on with the women chatting and barely working. Eventually, Margaret’s next-door neighbor Janice came in carrying one of her husband’s suits. She and Margaret greeted and hugged one another, and Janice presented to her a gray suit with a large purple stain on it.

“Julie did it, I was drinking a glass of juice, set it down, and the next thing you know it’s all over Phil’s suit,” Janice said, shaking her head. “You know how two year olds are. Can’t trust them near anything. I tried to rush it over to you this morning, but when I looked out my window, you were already pulling out of the driveway.”

“Oh, it’s fine, I can have this ready for you by tonight,” Margaret said, smiling.

“Great!” replied Janice, “I’m sure he will be happy.” She dropped the suit onto the counter and paused. “So,” she said, lowering her voice and looking over Margaret’s shoulder toward the other two women in the back of the dry cleaners. “Did you do it?” Suddenly, the door creaked open and another customer entered the dry cleaners, holding several articles of clothing. “We can talk later,” Janice said, pulling out some money from her purse to pay for the suit cleaning. Margaret nodded and took the money and suit, setting it on the rack behind her. “Call me later!” Janice yelled back to Margaret as she walked out the door.

Later, as Margaret and the blonde woman were gathering their things to leave for the day, she overheard the owner’s wife talking on the phone. “What? Is he okay? No, I can make it, don’t worry. Yeah, I’ll be down there soon.” She hung up the phone and walked over to Margaret and the other woman. “Guys, I hate to do this, but I have a family emergency, I need one of you to close this place up.”

“I have to pick the kids up from school, sorry I can’t,” the blonde woman said. The owner’s wife then looked at Margaret.

“Oh, I can do it, it’s no trouble,” Margaret said reassuringly.

“Thanks so much Margaret, I’m sorry but I’ve really got to run.” After giving Margaret the key to lock up the dry cleaners, she thanked her once more and left. A couple minutes later the blonde co-worker finished gathering her things.

“I’ll see you tomorrow, Margaret. Thanks for covering,” she chimed, and moments later was out the door as well. The rest of the day was uneventful with only a few more customers coming in. Margaret nearly dozed off from boredom, her eyes straining to stay open under the overhead fluorescent lighting. Even with the other women gone, there was barely any work to be done. She stared out the windows of the shop into the empty street, leaning on the counter with one hand on her cheek as the hours ticked away. Finally, came 7:00 p.m., time to close.

Margaret locked the front door, swept the store and collected all the trash. She reconciled the money in the register and prepared it for the next day. She then took the trash bag and walked to the back door where she had parked her car. As she pushed open the grating metal door, she could see the sun was setting through the trees. She locked the back door and gave it a quick pull, as she always did, to make sure it was locked. The dry cleaning facility was tucked away off the main road, and she could hear the traffic in the distance. She walked over to the dumpster in the back of the shop, lifting the lid and throwing the bag inside. Letting go, the lid slammed shut and she walked to her car, still admiring the distant red and orange sunset with its distorted purple clouds.

As Margaret unlocked and opened the door to her silver SUV, she remembered Janice’s suit— she hadn’t come back to pick it up yet. “I’ll bring it back to her tonight,” she thought to herself. So she shut the door and walked back across the parking lot to the rear entrance of the dry cleaners. She unlocked the door, listening to the wind blow through the nearby trees. Quickly grabbing the suit off of the rack of cleaned apparel, she made her way out the back door and locked it once again.

The wind was still blowing loudly through the trees as she watched the large branches sway. The cool evening air felt welcoming after the heat of the day had lifted. Walking to the car with the suit in hand, her ears picked up something through the cascading hiss of the wind through the trees, a sound she had recently heard before. She froze. It was the clicking of nails on pavement. Her heart sank and she spun around to the location of the noise to see the large animal she had seen the day before, darting at her from across the parking lot. The Rottweiler’s mouth was wide open as it tore forward. Margaret screamed, seized in a panic. She made a couple more nervous strides toward her car before the Rottweiler was right beside her. “GO AWAY!” she screamed. The animal paused for a moment, then bared its teeth, letting out deep, quick, intermittent growls. Margaret backed a few more steps toward her vehicle, and the enormous canine thrust forward, sinking its piercing teeth through the plastic and into the suit she was holding in front of herself. The animal shook its head back and forth. Margaret could hear the fabric beginning to tear and dropped the suit. While the animal was still shaking the piece of clothing in its mouth, Margaret fled for her life, dashing the remaining twenty feet to her car. She flung the door open and lunged inside, slamming the door closed behind her. She reached in her pocket for the keys with trembling hands and before she could start the ignition, she heard a loud thud on the driver’s side window followed by an awful frenzied scratching.

She shrieked and jumped in her seat, looking over to see the Rottweiler’s face as it stood on its hind legs, leaning on her car. Margaret could hear the beast’s teeth clink against the glass as it tried to thrust its jaws forward at her. In a state of panic, she fumbled the key into the ignition and started the car, accidentally putting it into neutral instead of reverse. She stomped on the pedal and the engine revved loudly. The animal, seemingly unfazed by the noise, appeared to only grow more aggressive in its scratching and gnashing at the window. Reaching again for the shifter, she furiously put it into reverse, slamming on the gas pedal and speeding out of the parking space, running over a curb. As the car pulled away, the Rottweiler dropped back down to the ground. Margaret then put the shifter into drive and quickly drove to the edge of the parking lot. She looked in her rear view mirror before pulling into the street. The animal was still there, sitting in parking spot with its mouth closed, staring at her vehicle.

On the drive home Margaret kept going over the incident in her head. “I don’t, how could it find... What the hell is wrong with this animal, why is it following me??” Tears were starting to form in the corners of her eyes from the terror and confusion. With her heart rate still elevated and arms shaking, she drove erratically, blowing through stop signs and constantly checking the rear-view mirror to see if the dog was following her car. She looked at her driver’s side window where the dog had been trying to bite through and saw some of its saliva smeared on the glass. Eventually, she reached her street and turned up her driveway. She parked, locked the car door, and ran up her front steps into the sanctuary of her home. She looked quickly at the clock. 7:47 p.m. Immediately, she dialed up animal control. They agreed to send a person down to the dry cleaners immediately. Margaret then called Janice to tell her what happened with the dog and the ruined suit. “I’m so sorry, I’ll replace the suit,” Margaret apologized.

“Oh, don’t worry about the suit, he’ll get over it. I’m just glad you’re alright! Two days in a row you said you’ve seen this dog? Are you sure it was the same one?” asked Janice.

“Yes, definitely!” replied Margaret. “It’s so strange, it’s like it has been following me around!” After her phone call with Janice, she made dinner and poured herself a glass of wine. About an hour later, Margaret decided to call animal control back to see if they had found anything.

“Nope, sorry ma’am, we didn’t find any dog near that location.” Distressed and exasperated, Margaret hung up the phone. Moments later her husband had come through the door. He greeted her with a kiss and before he could ask her how her day was, she had told him the story of the dog.

“How could it be the same dog Margaret? Did you call animal control again?” Henry inquired.

“Yes, and they didn’t find it!”

“I’m sure they will catch it. If the dog is running all over the place they are probably getting a lot of calls,” consoled Henry.

Later that night, Margaret, still restless, quietly uncovered herself from the bed sheets, careful not to wake her sleeping husband. She could not recall the last time she had had this much trouble getting to sleep. She walked down the dark hallway to the bathroom, flicked on the light, and squinted, adjusting her eyes. Reaching towards the mirror, she opened the medicine cabinet and pulled out a bottle of sleeping aid pills. She took one with some water, turned off the bathroom light, and walked back into her room, discreetly crawling under her covers. Margaret lay there silently, staring at the ceiling, waiting to drift off, the red glow of her digital alarm clock radiating across the room.

The next morning, Margaret was awoken by a warm beam of light edging around the blinds. Rubbing her eyes, she looked over at Henry who still lay in bed sleeping. Margaret looked at the clock. 7:02 a.m. The alarm had not yet gone off. She stretched, shaking off the lingering grogginess of the sleeping pill, and took off downstairs, deciding to begin her morning a little earlier than usual. She made a light breakfast of coffee and a toasted English muffin with raspberry jelly. Following her meal, she jumped in the shower and continued with her regimented morning routine. After her shower, she looked to see Henry still curled up in bed. Quietly, she opened the window and closed the screen, letting in the familiar scent of the springtime air. She admired the beauty of her deeply green, treeless front lawn as a subtle breeze swept in through the window.

She looked again back at Henry, who, with his back to the open window, lay motionless, with the exception of his breathing. As Margaret finished preparing for her day, she grabbed her keys and walked downstairs. Deciding to bring in the mail, she put on her shoes and opened the front door. It was a beautiful day with the temperature in the mid-seventies. She squinted a bit against the sun into the cloudless sky and walked down the front steps. She walked down the driveway to the ornate stone pillar mailbox, which protruded out from a mount of red perennials. Grabbing the mail, she looked down the serene dead-end road, at the houses with their inhabitants looking as if they had already gone to work for the day. As she walked back down the driveway, staring at the cracks in the pavement, triggered by no sense in particular, she turned and looked behind her. To her disbelief, staring at her from the road was the same enormous beast of a dog.

Margaret did not know what to think or how to act. Her breathing elevated and she stumbled as she continued walking to the house, her gait increasing in speed. Eventually, in an all-out dash, she reached the stone walkway and then the front steps. She quickly climbed the steps and ran into Henry, standing at the front door.

“Henry, this fucking dog, you see? It’s here again, it’s following me!” Margaret said, visibly distraught. The dog was moving at a steady pace toward them, crossing the curb and onto their extended front lawn. “I’m calling animal control right now, I don’t know how you keep getting away.” She stepped in towards the door, but suddenly felt Henry’s hand on her upper arm, with a grip to which she was unaccustomed. “What are you doing Henry? Let me get the pho-.”

“This shouldn’t be taking this long,” he uttered, cutting her off. Pushing her out of the doorway and onto the front steps, he whistled and yelled, “Here, boy!” An expression of bewildered terror set in upon Margaret’s face as she looked into Henry’s eyes. Then, with his firm grasp still on her arm, he shoved Margaret backwards, causing her to fall off the front steps onto the walkway. She looked up at Henry for a split second, then back at the dog that was bounding across the lawn with vicious intent. She sprang to her feet, dropping the mail, and fled to her silver SUV in the driveway. As she reached the vehicle and pulled out her keys, she screamed as the Rottweiler closed in on her position. Unable to unlock the car in time, she dove onto the hood of the SUV and climbed to the roof of the vehicle. The Rottweiler jumped up on its hind legs, with its front paws flailing and scratching the side of the car. It snarled up at her as if too enraged to even bother barking. Margaret could see the white of its eyes as it continually lunged upward at her from the ground. She looked back over at the house to see Henry was gone from the doorway. She looked back down at the Rottweiler, its horrible scratching reminding her of the previous night she had been attacked.

Moments later, Henry reappeared in the doorway holding a rifle with a small box of bullets. “Henry, what the fuck is going on?! What are you doing??” Tears were starting to form in Margaret’s eyes as he looked up, and suddenly, she knew what he was going to say before the words left his mouth.

“Well, Margaret,” he spoke slowly as he began loading the gun. “I know about this divorce you’re planning. Did you really think I was going to let you get away with this?” he said, loading a bullet into the rifle. “Taking my money, fucking me over?? You think you’re going to take this house from me while I go live in some, some fucking shithole apartment downtown?” He loaded the final bullet into the gun and looked up with a slight smile on his face. “You know, you’re very predictable, Margaret. You know that perfume I bought you that you love? Well, he loves it too.” Henry motioned towards the hysterical dog. “He’s been trained to attack anything associated with that smell. Took me awhile to do it, but it looks like it’s working pretty well,” Henry chortled as the animal continued leaping and snapping at Margaret, giving off frustrated growls. “I noticed you like spraying it on your neck every morning, that’s good, because that is exactly where I want him to tear through.” His words as if spoken from another person’s mouth, completely alien to Margaret. “Now,” he said softly, barely audible over the ceaseless gnashing and snarling of the frenzied canine below. Margaret’s face was frozen, mouth half open in terrified apprehension as she swayed on her trembling legs. Henry cleared his throat and raised the gun. “Get off the car, Margaret,” he said with a detached stoicism, aiming the firearm at the top of the SUV. Her voice was choked and her movements seized with an almost stifling chill. She inched forward, her instincts conflicting, not knowing what action to take. She stared at the rifle now with tears streaming down her face and onto the roof of the silver SUV. The morning spring air blew her hair gently across her cheek. “This has to look like an accident, Margaret, but I’ll shoot you if I have to. Now please, step off the car.” Margaret, through her tears, could see the long menacing teeth of the Rottweiler as its lips pulled back, preparing to bite. The white of its teeth contrasting sharply with its dark brown and black coat, somehow making them appear even more deadly.

“I - I -,” was all Margaret could stammer.

“Get off the FUCKING CAR, Margaret!!” Henry blistered, repeatedly stomping his foot. Feeling that this was his final request, Margaret bent her knees. She slowly moved towards the edge of the roof of the car, now sobbing uncontrollably. “Do it,” she heard again from the doorway. Margaret slowly lowered one foot down towards the savage canine, still on its hind legs, leaning against the car. Then, with one more quick leap, the animal thrust toward her, plunging it’s mouthful of razor teeth into the back of her ankle. She let out a helpless scream from the searing agony, which dissolved into a frantic sobbing as the beast tried to pull her off the car to the ground below. Margaret clung to the roof of the car, trying to pull herself away as the animal shook and tugged at her ankle. Its jaws closed tighter around it, teeth carving deeper into her skin. Then, cutting through the morning air, there was the sound of a gunshot, followed by an enraged, guttural growl from the Rottweiler. Suddenly, the dog’s jaws loosened around her ankle and Margaret was able to pull free. She rolled back onto roof of the car, bleeding badly from her lacerated ankle. She looked across the yard to see Janice walking out from a patch of bushes holding a pistol. Margaret looked down over the edge of the car to see the canine lying on the pavement with a bullet wound in its hind leg.

“Are you okay?!” Janice yelled, running quickly across the yard towards the driveway. At that moment, Margaret looked over and realized, Janice could not see Henry who was standing silently in the doorway, obscured by the side of the house.

Margaret shrieked wide-eyed, her voice warped from terror “Janice, NO!!!” Henry, looking expressionless, swung his right foot outward in a pivoting motion, stepping out from the doorway overhang into the morning sun. Too quick for Janice to react, he raised his rifle and fired a single bullet, tearing through Janice’s throat and out the back of her neck. Crimson ribbons of blood shot into the air, painting the grass. She grasped her throat and collapsed to the ground, lying motionless. Henry swung the rifle back over toward Margaret, just seeing her disappear behind the side of the house. The Rottweiler had picked itself back up with restored composure. Margaret’s severely injured ankle prevented her from running anywhere to escape. She hobbled to the garage door on the side of the house in a frenzied panic, unable to put much weight on her bitten leg. Quickly pulling her keys out from her pocket, she unlocked the door and from the corner of her eye, she could see the dark black coat of the Rottweiler careening around the side of the garage. She screamed, flinging the door open with the excitable malicious panting nearly beside her. She jumped inside and slammed the door closed, catching a split second glimpse of the giant dog’s head as she fell backwards to the dirty cement garage floor.

Lifting herself up, trying not to look at her ankle, she locked the door and shrieked, jolting backwards as the dog scratched feverishly trying to get inside. She made her way past Henry’s workbench and boxes of his factory equipment to the connecting door to the house. Once in the kitchen, from behind her in the garage, she could hear, in between the scratching, the furious trying of the doorknob. Margaret’s heart was pounding so hard she felt like she was going to faint, and everything seemed to be a hundred yards away. Moving through the kitchen, she grabbed the cordless phone off the counter and dialed 9-1-1. She then staggered to the front door with the phone to her ear and slammed it shut, locking the deadbolt with her free quivering hand. As fast as she could on her injured ankle, she trudged up the steps with one hand on the rail and one on the wall, noticing the trail of blood she had been losing across the kitchen floor, feeling even more lightheaded.

“Hello 9-1-1 emergency?” answered the person on the line.

“Yes, please come to 183 Briarwood Lane.” she pleaded. “One person’s been shot, she might be dead. My husband’s gone insane!” Margaret’s breathing intensified and she felt darkness encircling her vision. Her mind began to spiral into a state of sheer panic.

“Ma’am, we will have someone over there right away, are you somewhere safe?”

At the top of the stairs she walked into her room on the left. She locked the door and walked past framed photos of her and her husband on the dresser. They seemed foreign to her now, as if it was another person’s life that the photos were capturing, and she was just a stranger in this house. Her thoughts became fogged and she could not concentrate. The voice on the phone kept saying something, but Margaret could not make out what it was. Suddenly, from the window she had opened earlier this morning, she heard a voice which came clear through her clouded senses.

“Come on out, Margaret.. I’m gonna kill ya before the cops get here, Margaret,” sneered Henry, threatening as he walked across the stone pathway from the side of the house. Margaret, without thinking, slowly stepped towards the voice coming from the window. She was now at the window watching as Henry tried to open the locked front door. He turned and took a couple steps down the stone walkway and stopped, holding the rifle, with the beast right beside him. He paused, staring toward the house, then lifted the barrel and fired a round into the large front window. Margaret listened as the chunks of glass and smaller shards exploded inward into the house. She heard the voice from the telephone.

“Hello ma’am, are you okay??” shouted the person on the line. Margaret set the phone down on the bureau.

“I’m coming in Margaret,” shouted Henry, with unremitting contempt.

Margaret gently lifted the window screen as Henry and the Rottweiler walked across her below, towards the shattered window. Then, with barely a thought, she reached over on the bureau where she had set the phone down, grabbed her perfume bottle, pulled the top off, and lobbed it toward Henry. It flipped in the air several times with the potent scented liquid spilling out. The bottle hit Henry in the shoulder and he was splashed by the perfume in a diagonal streak across his shirt. Stunned and momentarily confused, he lifted his arms slightly, observing what had been thrown at him. The scent caught his nose and he looked upward at Margaret in the window with an indescribable, delirious rage in his eyes. He aimed the rifle upward. With an almost placid tone he spoke. “You - fucking - bi -,” his speech cut short by the sound of the rifle. The bullet sliced through the air, catching Margaret in her left shoulder. A scream of agony burst from her throat as she fell to the ground, blood quickly expanding on her shirt from the location of the wound. In unison with the shot being fired, a snarl from the monstrous canine was heard. Henry was knocked to the ground as the immense animal lunged at his upper body. Another shot rang through the air in an indistinct direction. Margaret sat up with her back to the wall underneath the windowsill, hands on her shoulder with her head to one side, listening, sobbing, laughing, as her husband screamed, torn to pieces by the beast.

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