By: Kristian Gore
By: Kristian Gore
It was just me and Marlowe now. Marlowe, an elkhound mixed with who knows what, was a rescue dog. The truth is he rescued me from many things in my life. He was grey with the curled tail of a Norwegian elkhound but maybe a bit larger. I always suspected a little shepherd or husky in him but it didn’t matter much to me but the point is he could be intimidating when he wasn’t being friendly.
It had been quite a while since Marlowe had become my only real friend as I had withdrawn more and more after my marriage ended. I could trust Marlowe and no one else. I dated now and then but it never led to anything long term. The advantage only had to share the small house with Marlowe.
The house was old but it was my sanctuary and I owed nothing on it, which was a rare feet true but it had been in the family for quite a while. The house was a pale blue of my own doing thus making it stand out in the otherwise brick and white house neighborhood. It wasn’t a great neighborhood but it wasn’t bad either. I suppose you would call it a buffer zone between the bad part of town and the good.
As for me I guess I would say I’m average. Average height, weight, hair and eye color. I’m what one could say was a typical white guy, so you can draw your own generic picture. I decorated my house rather sparsely since I didn’t entertain guests all that often but if a friend was in need the couch folded into a bed.
I was unusually motivated for some reason to take the Christmas decorations down early this year and figured that would be how Marlowe and I would ring in the New Year. I saw no point in really celebrating it just as I seldom saw reason to celebrate any other day. Unless a party I was invited to was worth the trouble then what was the point.
I finished packing up the boxes of Christmas and Hanukah stuff with plenty of time until midnight. I had given up on watching the symbolic ball drop and had been playing video games instead. I had gotten a special treat for Marlowe even though he really didn’t know what if anything was special about this night. I really wasn’t so sure myself since I saw it as the turning of a page on a calendar and the time to purchase a new one.
I went to the hall and grabbed a later to pull away the covering of the attic crawl space and carefully headed up with a box. I had half my body in the attic so as to push the box as far back as needed before going back down for the next box. In the living room the T.V. suddenly switched from the paused video game to the cable channel just as a report of the New Year changing over in some other time zone. I looked at Marlowe but he was near the box.
“That’s odd” I told Marlowe who looked at me quizzically before starring back towards the living room. He seemed anxious but was otherwise unfazed. He didn’t seem to indicate danger so I let it be and went back about my business. The second box was a bit heavier and I didn’t intend to push it back as far. Before I was finished I had the feeling that something was out of place but I wasn’t sure what. I stood at the top of the ladder for a good long while before I went to the kitchen to grab a flashlight.
Marlowe still seemed a little on edge but even that seemed a little vague. I thought maybe some raccoon or possum was up there hiding but there was only one way to find out. I climbed back up with the flashlight in hand and had a look around. I had to move some boxes to get a clear look at it and even then I wasn’t sure what I was looking at or how long it had been there. It may have been there all along and I just had not noticed in the last few years I had lived in the house.
It was a strange statue of some sort of figure that seemed neither animal nor person. It was grey and hand carved and it was rather large, about the size of a watermelon and looked to be made of some sort of stone. The flashlight shined too brightly on the statue for me to make out the features so I crawled in to take a closer look.
I was already starting to feel claustrophobic in the tight crawl space as I edged closer to the figure. I started to make out tusks protruding from its plump lower lip or maybe fangs. Closer still I crawled and started to itch from the pink insulation as I was now off the path I knew would accept my weight. The eyes seemed cat like and rather unkind. The ears were pointed and at first I thought they were horns. It was a strange little plump cat person in strange carved garments difficult to discern without lifting it into better light but I was sure it was some sort of robe.
When I wake up I’m still dizzy and Marlowe is licking my face. The floor is wet and sticky and the statue is blurrily close to my face. I try to get up but my head is in too much pain to move. I try to look around but the blurriness follows my line of site. The hardwood floor near the throw rug in the living room where I had been laying for an unknown amount of time seemed to be covered in what I thought at first was water. Even with the blurred vision I could see the red on my hand and new it was blood before tasting it.
Looking at the statue and trying to focus I realized I was lucky the thing didn’t kill me. If it had landed solidly on my head I would have expected to see bits of my brain. There was still a lot of blood and I knew I should call an ambulance but first I would have to find my cell phone. I had never bothered with a land line phone and suspected they would be obsolete soon.
I got to my feet and started to look around for my cell when I heard Marlowe growl. As a guard dog Marlowe was much like a Norwegian elkhound in that he would intimidate without biting. I knew if someone broke into the house while I was away I would probably come home to a burglar begging for me to call the police.
It was difficult to make it out but it looked like Marlowe was growling at me. I wiped some blood from my face and Marlowe continued to growl. I thought maybe I just looked a bit different but still I would expect Marlowe to recognize my smell. I started to make my way to the kitchen but Marlowe got in the way and once again growled.
I went to the medicine cabinet and then under the sink for the first aid kit and fumbled through finding the bandages. I still couldn’t see straight but I checked my wound in the mirror as best I could. I figured I would need stitches but I wasn’t sure how many. I bandaged my head the best of my ability under the circumstances and tried to think of my next move.
For the first time I had a chance to think through the pain and wondered how and why all this was happening. I did my best to examine myself in the mirror but I was still blurry eyed but it did look like blood had soaked through the bandage. I’ll say this for head wounds; they sure know how to bleed. I went to the bathroom window and tried to open it but it was stuck and I couldn’t remember the last time I had opened it.
I still wasn’t sure how bad my head injury was or even if I had other injuries. If I had any other pains they were well hidden by the throbbing in my skull. I started to probe my head with my fingers but it was far too tender for me to get an idea of how bad it was. “What the hell is wrong with you Marlowe? Calm down boy.” My heeds went un-noticed by the dog that seemed to be feral all the sudden. I looked around the room for something to break the window open with.
“If I can get to my car…” I thought but the thought tapered off. I remembered I didn’t have my keys on me. I went through the first aid kit and used the last of the bandages hoping that the blood loss would slow down some more. If I was going to survive I was going to have to get by Marlowe and I wasn’t sure I could do it. It wasn’t just that he was a strong dog but also that he had been a loyal dog for so long.
Whatever was going on though, I was going to have to swallow my love for the animal and muster up the strength to survive. I looked around the room again for some sort of weapon. I thought of hairspray and a lighter but there was no lighter in this room and I didn’t use hairspray. I could use the shower rod but I can’t imagine being fast enough to fend off Marlowe. I grabbed a towel and thought of the window again. Perhaps I could get out to the side yard and to one of the neighbor’s house. Marlowe had a dog door but I thought I might beat him and besides if he is too quick he may give me time to shut him out of the house.
I broke the glass as quietly as I could but I could hear Marlowe move away from the bathroom door so I went for broke and made as much noise as I could while breaking out the rest of the glass. I opened the bathroom door but the T.V. was still making random word stops. It seemed to say “Fool… You… Will… Die…” mixed with static. I thought this whole thing must be something to do with the statue I found.
The lights flickered out leaving the light of the T.V. as the only glow in the house and of course I tripped over the damn statue. Marlowe was on me in moments and I did my best to fight him off with the towel still wrapped around my hand. What adrenaline I had left pumping through what blood I had left was not enough to fight off Marlowe.
All it took was one good tear of the throat and Marlowe was back to being a good dog liking my face and then lying down beside me. I lie on my living room floor next to my dog while people on T.V. laughed and cheered in the New Year. As the blood flowed from my throat I heard the countdown on T.V. “5… 4… 3… 2… 1… Happy New Year!” It’s the last thing I hear.