Frantically I tossed the necktie away from me as fast as I could. That option was lost to me now. The words “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall” kept going through my mind.
For just a second, I considered opening the door and trying to run from the room. It was absurd of course; it might be lurking just on the other side of the door, supernaturally quiet, gleaming teeth waiting to sink into my fading flesh.
It was the one thing all of these terrible scenes had in common, the unearthly dogs. Every one of them ended with the dogs.
The window was just above the toilet, if I climbed on top of the precarious porcelain, maybe I could crawl out. Maybe the creature would not be able to follow me if he slipped out this way.
The tank was cool and slightly slippery as I tried to balance on it. It rattled alarmingly when I put my weight on it and pried open the glass. “Thunk, clack, bang,” the noise seemed loud enough to wake the dead, but no noise came from the other side of the door. I was beginning to think it had not been able to find me behind the closed door when I heard it. Just a small sound, but not one made by the wind. It was the sound of something dry and course being dragged across the door.
I tried to hurry, but it was slow work. I was tired, the window was high on the wall, and to be honest, it was smaller than the vent shaft. There were a couple of moments where I was afraid I would be trapped half in and half out of the window when the thing came in from behind me.
That thought of being caught like a pinned butterfly gave me the incentive I needed to wriggle the rest of the way through the opening and tumble onto the ground below with a thump and a curse.
In a matter of seconds I was up and running as fast as my exhausted legs would carry me. The crunch of gravel under my shoes and the whistle of the wind through the leaves were at first the only sounds I heard and briefly I thought of trying to run back to my car. Surely the adrenaline would give me the boost I needed to make it back to the crippled vehicle.
Maybe if I locked the doors and hid on the floor boards I would be safe until morning. I tried to imagine myself curled into a cramped little ball, head pressed as far under the dash as I could get it, hoping nothing would look in the windows until the sun rose. It wasn’t appealing, but it beat being eaten by a demonic dog beast.
My breath began to come in gasps much sooner than I had expected and I began to wonder about the practicality of my plan when I heard the crunch, crunch of something large and multi-legged on the gravel behind me.
I did not turn around to look, but I did get a temporary burst of energy as I imagined the great black beast loping toward me in the dark.
It looked like the boat house was my only option. I shoved the door open and immediately slammed it closed with my body weight. Heart pounding I braced my feet against the worn and warped boards and waited for the thump of a giant body slamming into the door.
Nothing. Nothing at all. It was as if it had not been only feet from me, but I was certain it had been. Certain that the sharp pale teeth had been on my heels. I had almost felt the hot breath on my legs.
I could not find a lock on door. The staff must secure it by a pad lock outside. I needed something to brace the door with. Frantically, I scanned the dark room. Anemic light filtered in the window from the moon and I saw something that might help. There was a flimsy wooden bench under a window across the shed.
I waited, ear pressed to the door, trying to hear any sound on the outside. Quiet. The only sound was the gentle sloshing of the lake against the boat house. It was only now that I realized that I had stopped hearing the sounds of unseen people around me. I didn’t even hear the normal sounds of bugs and animals that I would expect to hear on a lake.
I didn’t have time to ponder the mystery of the missing sounds, I needed to get something in front of the door before that dog came back. I hesitated, I kept one hand on the door and tried to reach the bench with my foot, but i was nowhere close to it. I tried stretching out until only my fingertips touched the wood and swung my foot blindly in the direction of the bench. No luck, it was just too far. I was going to have to let go of the door and cross the room to retrieve it.
I took a deep breath and launched myself across the room to the window. The bench was old and dry and much too light, but I was out of ideas and time. I grabbed it by an end and started to pull it back to the door.
I wasn’t paying enough attention. I should have seen it, but I was too focused on the door and the bench I was dragging. I must have gotten too close to the wall, and my shoulder brushed something hanging down from the dirty windowsill. It was a chord attached to a pair of mirrored sunglasses. I didn’t even get a chance to react before I was jolted out of the boathouse and into another hotel room.