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Watching

Jake MacDonald

     "We're ready when you are Doctor."

      "Thank you Cindy, call them in."

     The men were getting impatient, their millions of dollars for funding had them waiting. The room was white, pure white, with five blue chairs against the left wall. Four of the chairs were filled. The fifth was empty. A short man, dressed in hospital attire entered the room. "Gentlemen, we are ready to show you what you paid for." The men got up and started through the doorway behind the doctor.

     "Shouldn't we wait for Johnson?" asked the tallest man.

      "He can find his way in here, lets go I want to see this!"
 

     The bathroom door closed behind him as he approached the stall. Carl Johnson was one of the chief geneticists in the state. Having written three books already, this project was the biggest of his career. He had initially turned it down, but for that much money, he would have done anything. An alarm interrupted his thoughts. Carl finished washing his hands and exited the bathroom. The scene in the hall shocked him. The clean white floor was splattered with blood, and the furniture was scattered all over. "What the hell!?" With the emergency alarm howling, he looked towards the Genetics lab, the door was slightly ajar. Apon entering the room, a wave of nausea came over him. The sight that he encountered made him vomit. Bodies were strewn all over.Four men, dressed in Italian suits, and three doctors. He counted seven, but only one was recognizable. Dr. Jeff Morello, his long time colleague and good friend, lay in the corner nearly ripped in half. Carl vomited again. The bloodbath that had occurred made Carl collapse in shock. His experiment had gone wrong and he was responsible for this gruesome disaster. Getting up, Carl was light headed, and collapsed to the floor, unconscious.

          Shortly after the death of his father, Tom decided to move out of the city, to a small town just outside of Seattle. His fathers death, although not a surprise, was untimely. The two had recently opened up a small law firm in the heart of downtown Seattle. Joadand Son. With only two months of business under their belt, it was already becoming one of the fastest growing businesses on the west coast. Tom sold the firm and bought a large plot of land with a beautiful house fifteen miles out of town. He had wanted to get out of Washington completely but due to his wife's success they could only move a little ways from Seattle. Allison finally hit it big and had a practice of her own. She was quickly becoming one of the nations top child psychologists and with that came great wealth. Although Tom bought the house and gotten them started in their new life, Allison was going to be the big bread winner for the family. She knew it would bother him not to be a big money maker, but Tom was strong and loved her too much to get down on himself. For two years now the couple had been happily married and managed to raise their daughter. Whitney, now sixteen months old, was a very smiley baby with just enough hair on her head to see. She had the deep blue eyes of her mother and the adventurous attitude of her father. To them she was the perfect child.

     For the first week in the new house Tom kept busy unpacking their things while trying to keep little Whitney busy. With a big front yard and an even bigger three car garage, the house was the most awe inspiring sight Tom had ever experienced. It was not the biggest house he had seen, but there was something about it that opened his eyes in amazement. The moving truck had been there Tuesday and moved the big screen television and the pool table down into the basement. Pool was one of Tom's passions. They had played every night after work until his father died. The cement layers were coming on Friday to install a basketball hoop outside on the driveway so Tom could participate in his other passion. For six years he had been the equipment manager of the Seattle Supersonics and a season ticket holder for the past five, only missing one game to witness his daughter's birth. The Sonics won that night and so did Tom.

     Asleep in the backyard, Tom was stolen from his slumber by a noise. It came from the woods behind the house, not fifteen yards from him. At that moment a green Lexus rolled into the driveway, Allison was home early from the office. He picked up Whitney and walked up the house to greet his wife. He kissed her on the lips and followed her into the house.

     "I've got to go out of town tomorrow for two days, there is a conference in New York."

          "Again? You just went to L.A. not two weeks ago. I thought you said they were going to let you off the hook and send someone else?"

     "There is no one else qualified, plus if this is a success, I could have a book published within the year."

     Tom, frustrated, began preparing dinner. After eating dinner, the two were relaxing enjoying coffee and a cigarette when again Tom heard the noise. He sat up and leaned toward the window. Not a thing in sight, just the woods.

          "Well, I've got a long day ahead of me tomorrow, I'm heading to bed, you going to join me?"

     "I'll be up in a little while, I'm going to catch the Sonics highlights and finish the paper. I'll give you a ride to the airport tomorrow though."

     She kissed his cheek tonight, whispering I love you, and went up to their bedroom. As dreams weaved in his head, Tom was startled from his alternate reality. The Sonics had won again, a thirteen game winning streak and the announcer's call had brought Tom back. Tom drifted back into his sleep with dreams of a championship dancing in his head.

     The lights on the first floor had gone out and the only light beamed into the night from the upstairs bathroom. Dark, the light had vanished, and it was time to venture out from the camouflage. Creeping across the yard towards the house, pausing only as the lights of a passing car on the hill rolled into the night, eyes focused on the window, safe.

                "Ah!" Tom awoke in a heated frenzy.

          "What is it Tom?"

     He had been loud enough to wake Allison.

     "Nothing, just another nightmare, go back to sleep dear."

     Tom had not had a good nights sleep since the passing of his father and nightmares troubled him a few nights a week. He got up and made his way across the hall to the bathroom. Tom clicked on the light and splashed his face with water. His father had been a busy man but had always found time for Tom. Life had escaped him at age forty-seven, much to young to leave the world. Tom had hoped that the two could run their business and then pass it on through the family, but cancer had demolished any hopes of that. Out of the corner of his eye, Tom caught a glimpse of movement in the yard. Looking out the window to see what disturbed his thoughts, he saw a shadow fly into the adjacent woods. Maybe a neighborhood dog chasing a rabbit. Except there were no dogs in the neighborhood Tom knew of unless the Morello's had gotten one. Tired, Tom returned to his bed and forgot what he saw. Five o'clock came a bit early for Tom, but like he had said, he was to take Allison to the airport that morning. After a shower he was ready to face the day, and ventured downstairs for breakfast. Allison was amazing. She had a big time job and a very busy schedule, but managed to mother him best she could. Every morning she cooked breakfast for the two of them and made sure Tom had his vitamins. In the car Tom asked.

     "Did the Morello's get a new dog?"

          "Not that I know of. I know they were thinking about it, but not till this spring. Why do you ask?"

          Inquisitive she was, always asking questions. "Nothing really, last night when I got up I saw what appeared to be a dog run into the woods."

          "Weird. No not that I know of."

     After kissing Allison goodbye, Tom took Whitney home.

     "Two days just me and you Whit, what do you think about that." She just giggled and smiled back. After running some errands, Tom put his bundle of joy down for a nap. Grabbing the baby monitor, Tom headed out into the yard to satisfy his curiosity. It was muddy as Tom approached the edge of the woods. Examining the ground, he noticed tracks that resembled those of a dogs, but much larger. "Shit." Tom heard little Whitney crying over the monitor.

          With glowing eyes it watched as the man descended towards the house. Mouth watering it took every ounce of strength not to attack. One more step in and he would've been lunch. Frustrated, it retreated back into the woods. When night fell, it would taste flesh again.
 

     "Hey honey how are you?" It was Allison from New York.

          "Very well, how is the big apple?"

     "Fine, the conference is boring, but it has been a success so far."

     Whenever she left town Allison always called to check up on Tom, she was worried about him constantly. It was just part of her motherly ways, that and she loved him with all of her heart. The day they had been married had been the single best day of her life, it had made up for every bad thing that had ever rested on her shoulders.

     "Can you pick me up at the airport on Saturday afternoon?"

          "Yup, I'll be there for my princesses homecoming!"

     "Well I should go, but the flight arrives at two-thirty. Oh yeah, and Tom."

          "Yes?"

     "I love you."

          "I love you too."

          Tom was not feeling ambitious about dinner so he decided on macaroni and cheese. As he fed Whitney, Tom saw that the Bulls and Sonics game was televised from Chicago. After putting his daughter to bed, Tom sat down on the couch to pick up the second half of the game, Sonics down three.

     When Tom awoke, it was quarter past eleven, he had missed the rest of the game. Sitting out on the porch smoking a cigarette, Tom let his mind wander into the stars.

          Staring intently at his victim, the time had come, it was dark and they were alone. It crept along the edge of the woods so it's presence would not be seen by the man. The scent of flesh was masked by another, something burning. The only things standing in between the two was the yard and a small railing, wiÿh a staircase. The smell of his flesh mixed with smoke made its mouth water and its rage reached a furious level.

     He and Allison had always said that no matter where they were, they could see the same star, he thought about her. Her wonderfully blond hair and her electric blue eyes. She had always struck Tom as the most beautiful woman in the world. A low pitched growl tore him away from his thoughts.

     "What the.." There, standing at the foot of the porch was the ugliest, most hideous thing Tom had ever seen. It's big green eyes were glowing underneath its menacing brow. Tom thought at first it might be a dog, but after a closer look, it was something much worse. Teeth snarled, it watched him. Tom, a bit nervous, finished his cigarette and flicked into the yard. the beast took a step back. The more it starred at him the faster his heart raced. He wanted to run inside, but turning his back would mean almost certain death. Tom tried to stare back, like you were taught to do as a kid if a dog threatened you, but it was no use. Slowly backing up, Tom blindly reached for the handle behind him, the creature moved forward. After fumbling for the handle, he found it.

     The man starred back into it's eyes. Smelling fear, it moved forward, growling a bit louder. It pounced at its prey. SMACK! Shaking off the collision it decided to reroute the attack.

     Tom had been quick enough to open the door and close it behind him as the beast ran right into the door. He ran upstairs to check on Whitney, she was fine. Now he had to worry about protecting himself and his home. It looked like a dog and acted like a dog but this was definitely something else. Much more sinister, it obviously had all intentions to kill. Normally Tom would not have worried about it getting in the house, but in its eyes there was a much greater level of intelligence than in any other animal he had ever seen, he could not be too cautious. He ran down stairs to get a weapon of some kind. Searching all over, the only things Tom could come up with were a baseball bat and a large cleaver from the kitchen. Glancing around, Tom noticed the front door was forced open and there were muddy paw prints all over the front hall. "Oh God."

          The door had been a synch, and now, padding through the narrow hallway, it looked for it's prey. Pushing the door open, the room smelled of sweet flesh. A cage of some kind stood before it, something unfamiliar. Peering over the edge, there lay a small baby, a snack. It turned and looked at the door, nothing. Listening for a moment, it turned its attention back to the baby. How was it going to get into that cage at its snack. Backing away, it planned on jumping in to catch its kill. The beast was about ready to jump, a scream. It turned to look but too late, a blade sunk into its side.

     Tom had struck gold, landing the cleaver into the beasts left hind quarters. It yelped in pain, but was not about to give up. They stood face to face, both intent on getting what they wanted. For the beast, it needed food, and Tom needed his family, a duel of pure will. Lunging at Tom, the beast tumbled into the hallway, as he turned and drew it out of Whitney's room. Grabbing the bat he had placed at the end of the hall, Tom swung for the fences. The beast went crashing to the floor, teeth and blood scattering all over the hallway. Tom took off downstairs.

     The beast, shaken, was not ready to quit. The man had stabbed him and smashed his face, it was personal now. It didn't care about getting food, it just wanted that man dead. Cautiously, it moved to the stairs. Taking a look around, the man was unseen, but it knew he was waiting. Into the kitchen, nothing, his scent led him outside, perfect for the beast.

     Tom closed the garages' side door behind him and flicked on the light. Scanning his surroundings, he found what he wanted. Grabbing the axe off the wall, Tom prepared for the worst. Although he hadn't been bitten, Tom had been scratched by it's claws and was bleeding on his forearm. "Jesus, Whit!" In the fury, Tom had forgotten about his daughter. Flinging the door open, Tom had to get back upstairs to his daughter. There at the front door of the house was the beast. It's face deformed and a knife protruding from it's leg, it still looked intent on killing Tom. For what seemed like hours, they stood and starred at each other, but the time that passed was merely a second or two.

     "Make your move you stupid fuck!" Scared and hurting, Tom had nothing left, this thing would die and he would make sure of it. As he took a step forward, it pounced.

     The man was scared, it could smell the fear overflowing in him, it attacked. Bounding through the air, it knew the man would not survive, he had nothing to protect himself. His time of vengeance was at hand.

     The beast charged. Tom waited, axe hidden behind his back.

          "Hold. Hold." Tom whispered to himself.

     Tom swung the axe with his eyes close, not wanting to see his last moment of life. The weight of the animal bowled him over. Tom felt consciousness slipping out of his grasp, he had failed, and now he was dying.
 

     Opening his eyes, everything was blurred. The pain in his body was gone, this must be heaven Tom thought. As his vision cleared, he surveyed his surroundings. He was in a hospital room, at least that's what it looked like. To the right of him there was some machinery, and what looked like an IV bag rested above him. Scanning over to his left, there she was. In the corner, asleep in a chair, Allison held Whitney in her arms. Tom smiled, what a beautiful sight, the perfect wife holding the perfect child. Her eyes opened, she smiled at him. The nurse came in and tended to Tom, bringing him some water. He had lived, somehow, he was alive.

     The next morning Tom was drawn from his sleep by the nurse. "Mr. Joad? There is someone who would like to talk to you. He says he's a friend."

     Tom shook his head and the nurse motioned for his visitor to enter. He recognized the man that came in. A short man dressed in khakis and a button up, escorted by two security guards, approached the chair in the room. "Mr. Joad, my name is Carl Johnson, I was a friend of Jeff Morello."

     That's where he knew this man from. Tom and Allison had gone to a New Year's Eve party at the Morello's and they had talked for a while. He was some kind of doctor, no, a geneticist.

     "I worked with Jeff for the last seven years."

          "Worked?" Tom said confused.

     "You know the beast you encountered? That was our latest project."

     Carl continued to explain. "About two years ago I had an offer to create a genetic weapon for the military. I had always told Jeff that if I ever needed someone to help with a project, I'd request him. At first I didn't want to do it, because of the dangers involved, but after looking at the grant I was to receive I couldn't turn it down."

     He explained the procedure they had used to turn a simple German Shepard into a three hundred pound mutation that would kill anything its master requested.

     " When we decided to unleash the beast to show our investors......well Tom, it got loose. Jeff and six others were killed during it's escape."

     Meanwhile Allison was smoldering in the corner. She was burning a hole in Carls head with a glare of pure hatred.

     "You fucking pig! How could you do such a thing!? You almost took my family!"

     Allison got up, crossed the room, and slapped Carl across the face with such force that he nearly lost his balance. She went for his neck, but the guards restrained her and Tom asked her to leave the room. "Your time is up." The guard motioned to Carl.

     "Tom, I know there is no way an apology could repay you or anyone for this disaster, but here." Carl handed him an envelope and was taken out of the room.
 

     The next morning, Allison took Tom and Whitney home. Tom was still confused by the events of the previous day, not to mention the drugs they had him on. "What's that?" Allison asked regarding the envelope he was holding.

     "I don't know, something Carl gave me when he left."

          "You should burn that thing, it's probably some kind of bullshit excuse."

     Tom's expression went from confusion to one of total astonishment as he opened it.

     "What is it honey? Tom?"

          Enclosed in the envelope was a personal check, written by Carl Johnson.

     "Jesus. I have never seen this much money in my life!"

     Showing Allison, she gasped in amazement.

     "That still won't make up for what he did."

          "Very true, but it WILL pay for the damages to the house. Plus some."
 

     That night Tom and Allison held each other close.

          "What would've I done if I had lost you Tom? I couldn't go on living."

     He kissed her lightly on the cheek. She hugged him close.

          "I love you Tom. More than the world."

                "I love you too Allison. More than the universe."

          "Oh yeah? Well I love you more than that!"

     They smiled and kissed. They still had each other and they were greatful for that. As Tom drifted into sleep he saw those glistening green eyes. He could never forget those eyes looking into his, watching.
 
 
 

Acknowledgments

Thanks to everyone in Terry Heller's Introduction to Creative Writing: Fantasy class for your input and Ideas, Professor included. Also to Molly Crain, Allison Boettcher, Jessica Riggan, Grant Ashling, Rage Against the Machine, and Dean Koontz for providing influence for characters and settings in my stories.



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