Wordcount: 2,349 words
Summary: In which Jon’s life gets slightly more complicated.
Please note, this is currently a very rough draft from NaNoWriMo 2007. There will be spelling and grammatical errors afoot as well as flat out bad writing, info dumps, plot holes, flat out contradictions, and uneven characterization and pacing. (Content is also subject to constant change as I take an editing chainsaw to the story.)
The Chapter Without a Silly Name
The next morning he woke after a bad night’s sleep. He’d had disturbing dreams that he could not quite remember, except for the fact that they centered around the dogs. Thus he was not sure if he’d just dreamed the encounter last night, or if it had actually happened. He took a few minutes that morning to search the area where he had seen them, but there weren’t any paw prints or marks on the fence or anything to suggest that they had actually been there. Then again, they had been ghost dogs.
He headed into work slightly less disquieted, but alert to anything out of the ordinary. There was not anything strange on the drive in or in the yard surrounding the house, so he more or less relaxed. Most of the work he had to do was inside, which was a comfort. But when they broke for lunch he caught sight of the dog he’d seen the first day waiting under a nearby tree. Although not the same tree.
“Hey, [coworker], you see the dog over there?” The tree was far enough away that it was not an odd question. Well, not that odd anyways. He pointed in the general direction of the dog.
“Nah, it is just a log.” His coworker seemed unalarmed at either the question or the implication that Jon had seen a dog that apparently was not there.
Jon looked over again, and there was indeed a log behind the dog, and that just freaked him out a bit. Because they might be ghost dogs, but they were ghost dogs that only he could see and that was a little creepier.
“Ah, okay, thought I saw something for a minute there. Hey, pass the mustard.” And they went back to normal lunchtime conversation. Sullivan provided lunch for the workers, but it was just basic sandwich stuffs. Everyone chipped in and brought various condiments and extras to make the sandwiches more palatable to their individual tastes. Like the guy who loaded everything with sweet peppers.
[Jon steadfastly ignored the dog, and it seemed content to let him. He went back inside and finished off the bathroom plumbing (he was learning the basics of plumbing from [coworker], but only simple things. He still was not ready to actually apprentice to anyone, preferring to do a little of everything instead of committing to a specific skill set.)
When he left the house again for the meeting before everyone headed home the dogs was still there. As he was putting things away in the truck and saying goodbye to everyone a second dog showed up. Then a third. When he looked over the last time all four of them were there staring at him with out of shadowy eyes.
Now suitably freaked out he doesn’t head home, but over to his friend Keith’s Dad’s mechanics shop. Mostly because he knows there will be people there and thus he will not be alone (like he would at the house). Also, Keith is there and he needs some backup because this is really creepy.
The dogs watch him pull out of the parking lot and do not do anything. They just watch him leave from under the tree, intensive gaze, but no indication they are going to chase him.
Over at the shop he explains what’s going on to Todd, who really doesn’t believe it, but he gets off work and the two head over to see Sebastian at the local college.]
“Hey!” Sebastian’s expression changed from annoyance to good cheer as soon as he saw who it was at the door.
“Hey.” Jon ducked inside as soon at the door was open far enough, Todd following behind with an overly dramatic eye roll.
“What’s up?” Sebastian closed the door (with one last glare towards the room with the stereo with speakers that went to 11) and made a grab for his textbooks before Todd sat on them. “you look sorta freaked.”
“I am sorta freaked,” Jon collapsed into the futon that served as both bed, couch, and textbook repository. “I’m being chased by ghost dogs!” Which was overly dramatic, if only to avoid the fact that it did sort of demand some sort of drama. It was not every day a person got chased by a pack of otherworldly canine. Not that they had been chasing him, per say, but it was rather stalker ish of them.
“Ghost dogs?” Sebastian looked over at Todd who shrugged and fished a soda out of the mini fridge next to the other futon. “You’re kidding, right?”
Jon just gave him an annoyed look.
“Okay, maybe you’re not.” Sebastian grabbed the computer chair (which was the only other thing clean enough to sit on). “So?”
Jon ran down the story again, this time trying to make himself sound a little less crazy. He really was not sure it had worked.
“I think he is nuts.” Todd was halfway through one of Sebastian’s random architectural magazines randomly flipping pages.
“But they have not done anything?” Sebastian was looking less impressed, which means Jon might have gotten the level of ‘crazy’ vs. ‘understandably concerned’ right this time.
“Well, guess not, but it is still creepy.” Jon finished off the soda and though about getting another one, but the futon was comfy and he’d had enough movement for one day. “I mean, they could.” He waved the can in a general ‘great doom is upon us all’ motion.
“Mmm,” Sebastian turned to his computer, rescuing the keyboard out from under something that looked like a scale model of the downtown library. or at least a good 40% of it. Jon took the moment to wonder if he could build anything that small while Sebastian puttered about on Wikipedia. He’d more or less decided that he could not when Sebastian make a sort of aha noise.
“Per the combined brainpower of the internet… they do not exist. At least none of the dogs in here match.” He pushed back from the desk and rescued a bag of half full Doritos from under the futon. “I’ve got black dogs and fairy hounds and divine dogs, and nothing that matches your pack of mutts.” He made an unhappy noise at the staleness of the Doritos. “If it helps, I do not think they’re out to kill you.”
Jon was not impressed. “And you got this from..?”
“Well, you’ve seen them, what, three times now? And it is not like they’ve done anything but be creepy.”
“Plus, there is not much you can do to stop them.” Keith pointed out, now slightly tipsy and staring at the sky map Sebastian’s roommate had taped to the ceiling.
“Keith, stop helping.” Sebastian glared at him. Keith didn’t notice the glare, too caught up in trying to read the tiny constellation names from a good five feet away.
“What? It is true.” He blinked and looked over at Jon, waving his beer meaningfully. “They’re ghosts, right? I mean what can you do against ghosts? You’re screwed.” He paused. “Well, I mean, not screwed, screwed, just not much you can do.”
“If you were Catholic you could perform an exorcism or something.” Keith wiggled his fingers. “Holy water and garlic ”
“A, I’m not; and B, garlic is for vampires. Besides I think exorcism’s only for places or possessed people. I’m just sort of, um, haunted.” He frowned. “Is there a word for ghost stalking?”
“Any reasons why they would be after you?” Sebastian looked up from the keyboard, still poking around looking for anything useful. “I mean, they aren’t haunting a place as far as we can tell. And you didn’t do anything to attract their attention, so why are they here?”
“Maybe you’re like the Dog Whisperer, only for ghosts. Err, ghost dogs anyway” Keith ignored Sebastian’s eye rolls. “So maybe they need you to right a wrong or save some dog in peril or something. Do not good ghosts normally want you to do something for them?”
“Well, if you are really really general about it, yeah.” Sebastian looked over the Wikipedia pages that he had open. “I mean most of the dogs are guardians of something.
“Or signs that I’m about to die.”
“Hey, I thought we had to stay positive here,” Keith sniffed. “No cheating.”
“And that would be a large black dog, these are, what, a random collection of multicolored mutts?”
“More or less, although one looks sort of like a mastiff.” Jon shuddered. “I do not think that one likes me much.”
“Hey, they could be the four dogs of the apocalypse!” Keith grinned. “War and Death and, um, the other two. Any red dogs?”
“No, no red dogs, and I think I would have noticed a pestilence or a famine. They all looked fine to me. Well, dead, but fine. I mean not starving or anything.” Jon leaned back in the couch. “Why can not they go haunt someone else?”
“Well, you do talk to dogs.” Sebastian shrugged apologetically, “You were probably the best choice.”
There was the faintest noise of a sound from outside and Jon frowned, looking over at the window. It reminded him or something, but he could not figure out what it was.
“What it is?” Sebastian and Keith looked over curiously.
“Did you hear that?” Jon looked over at them, worried.
“Uh,” he tried to figure out a way to describe the sound when it happened again, slightly louder. “That!”
“That what? I didn’t hear anything.”
But Jon was already standing and heading towards the window. “That, how can you not hear that?” It was not very loud, but loud enough that they should have heard something. He pushed a pile of clothes (clean, he hoped) away from the window and looked out in to the darkness. There was not anything for a moment and then he saw the shadows move.
The dogs were clustered under the shadow of a tree, outlined by the moonlight into faint echoes of dogs. They stared out, four sets of ghostly yellow eyes and then the first dog started howling again. Only he could barely hear it, and it sounded less like howling and more like music. Woodwinds, actually.
Sebastian and Keith were already moving over to the window, trying to figure out what he’d seen.
“There, you see them? Under the tree.” He pointed, but the dogs were already fading again, Cheshire cat like, only point of faint light for eyes.
Sebastian and Keith looked out, but saw nothing. Jon gave up and turned away from the window, frustrated and pretty creeped out.
“You didn’t hear that? Seriously?”
“Nope.” Keith settled back into his seat and gave Jon a thoughtful look. “So you’re still serious about this ghost dog thing.”
“Huh.” He sipped his beer.
“There are more things on heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” Sebastian quoted thoughtfully. When the other two looked at him he shrugged. “I dated an English major for a while, it is Shakespeare I think. Something about ghosts, seemed rather appropriate.”
“Yeah.” Jon finished off the beer and tossed it in the recycling bin. “So now what?”
“Well, I guess you go home and see if they come to you.”
“I still think they are out to get me.”
“No much you can do if they are.”
“You gonna come with me?”
“Hell no,” Keith shivered. “No way you’re dragging me into this.”
“I do not see how it would help.” Sebastian shrugged.” Keith’s got a point, there really is not anything we can do to help. Besides, they seem to want to get you alone. Err, I mean talk to you when you’re alone.”
“Thanks for your support.” Jon was angry, but he could also see where they were coming from. They probably could not help and he really didn’t want to risk his friends lives on something hopeless. “I’m gone then, I guess. See you tomorrow?”
“Yeah,” Sebastian nodded, getting up to follow them to the door. “Either way, gimme a call or something, k?”
“Sure,” Jon waited for Keith to polish off the last of his beer and hand the empty bottle to Sebastian. “I should be fine, right?”
“Right.” But Sebastian didn’t sound that positive and Jon was not sure what to believe himself.
[They drove back to Keith’s place without incident. They didn’t talk much, but that was mostly because Keith was inclined to be helpful and Jon really didn’t need any more help. So they bid adieu and Keith made him promise to try his best to stay safe and in once piece and did the little dance of pretending to be brave when they were both sort of freaked out.
Then Jon got to drive home alone. Nothing happened but he was constantly jumping at shadows. He pulled the car as close as he could to the apartment stairs, which was not that close. Then he ran up them, locking the door as fast as he could. Not that a door was going to stop a ghost, but maybe they were like vampires and needed to be invited in first.
He debated simply staying up all night, but he did have to work the next day and he really was not young enough to try that and then work with power tools. He surfed the internet for a bit and pulled out some of the simple house protection charms from the various websites. He did the ones that didn’t seem too out of whack and then curled up to sleep.
It took him a long while to fall asleep, but by the time he did he was more or less sure that the dogs were going to leave him alone that night.]