By: S. Sadie Burbank

Ka thump! The noise startled the woman awake. She sat up in bed straining to detect what had made the sound but she could not; not for a moment that is. Then nausea gripped her as she heard a crunching slurping sound that seemed to come from the kitchen.

She was trembling as she poked her husband in the ribs and whispered, “Wake up! There's something eating something in the kitchen.”

The man moaned sleepily.

“Wake up,” she hissed. The man sat up fumbling on the nightstand for his glasses.

“What is it,” he demanded loudly.

“Shh!” She hushed him, “it'll hear you.”

“OK, Jesus!” He lowered his voice to a whisper and they waited a moment then he quietly said, “Well I don't hear anything. Go back to sleep.”

But just then he did hear something. He heard the gory-sounding crunching slurping sounds too. Adrenalin tingled the backs of his hands as for the first time since his heart attack five years earlier the man realized he was afraid; deathly afraid.

He whispered, “Some watchdog we've got! Why isn't he barking? That sound should be more than enough to get him going.”

The man turned on the flashlight that he kept at bedside and aimed it at their dogs' empty bed.

He waved the light around the room looking for the dog, “Where has he gone,” the man shouted.

Suddenly aware that he was shouting he resumed whispering, “He's not in the room. He's gone. But where and how? The door is shut!”

He asked his wife, “You didn't let him out did you?”

Shaking her head she asked, “Oh where could he be? If he was in the kitchen he'd surely be barking at that noise.”

Both of them were out of the bed in seconds grabbing their robes and stepping into their slippers. They crept to the bedroom door.

“I hear him,” the man whispered, “he's whining. I hear him whining.”

“Me too,” confirmed the woman in a hushed voice; then asking, “Do you think he is OK?”

“Of course he's not OK. If he was OK he wouldn't be whining would he,” the man hissed with agitation.

The little white dog had come to live with them years ago when he was just about the size of a 6-incher at Subway. He became the closest thing to a child that they'd had since their grown kids had left home.

The thought of their precious one being in the same room with something that could make the grizzly crunching slurping noises they heard was impossible to tolerate.

They held hands (something they didn't do a lot anymore), to boost their courage. The old man's free hand shook as he reached out and grasped the doorknob giving it a silent half turn. Whatever had been making the unsettling, crunching slurping noises stopped abruptly.

They held their breath just a few seconds then they heard a long low guttural growl punctuated by a high pitched yelp.

They looked at each other in fear as the old man quietly pushed the door open just enough to peek through. Expecting the worst they looked in and sure enough there was their baby. But he was all alone in the room.

He wasn't hurt or at least he didn't look like it. Suddenly he resumed whining and started drooling. Even though he surely had heard them open the door he didn't look at them. He was just sitting on the floor in front of the TV staring blindly at the blank screen.

Since they now appeared to be alone it no longer seemed necessary to whisper. The man spoke sharply, “Come here. Come here right now!

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About the Author

S. Sadie Burbank enjoys what are often referred to as her Golden Years. She's written a prize-winning published essay, scores of songs (music and lyrics), some short stories and a personal account of her time in Liberia in 1971 called, Red Hills, Green Vines and Dried Monkey Meat for Dinner.
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