The Watchdog

This is a story that I just kinda made up one day. It definitely has a classic feel to it, though.

The Watchdog

By: Amanda L. Bray - © 2003

It was very late, nearly ten o'clock, and Hallie Sullivan was just leaving her friend Stacey’s house. Her mother had told her to be home by ten and if she left now she would have just enough time to walk home.

Just as she was leaving the house she heard her friend’s mother say, "Hallie, why don't you wait until I get my coat and shoes and I'll drive you home. I hate to think of you walking after dark."
"That’s ok, Mrs. Jameson", Hallie called back, "It’s not far. I can cut through the wheat fields and get there even faster."
"Alright, Hallie. Just be careful. Call me when you get home."
"Yes, Mrs. Jameson."

Hallie hurriedly said goodbye to Stacey and opened the door to leave, just then an old gravelly voice said in her ear "Look out for the watchdog." She turned and saw Stacey’s grandfather Morrison standing beside her.
"The who?" she asked.
"The watchdog." the old man replied "I heard him tonight. The howls he makes when he’s out a-huntin. Look out for the watchdog!"
"Oh pop!" said Mrs. Jameson, coming in from the kitchen, "Let the girl go. No sense in scaring her with another silly story of yours."
"Look out!" he whispered, winking, as he shut the door.

That was weird, Hallie thought. Then again, Stacey’s grandfather was kind of strange. He was a genuine Indian and told many strange stories and myths. Hallie’s dad said he was getting Alzheimer’s and he told the stories because they were all he could remember. Hallie herself wasn't so sure. He seemed to still have his wits about him, although he did smell funny, and sometimes did odd things like mixing milk with his orange juice. Eh, Hallie thought, Let’s just get home.

She stepped off the porch and walked down the front path. Just then a lonely howl came floating across the field of wheat to her left. "Look out for the watchdog!" She heard the old man’s voice in her head. "He’s just a senile old man." She said to herself "What does he know?"
She stepped into the field and started across. By now, it was very, very late indeed. It was a dark new moon night. The sky was cloudy, hiding all but the brightest of the stars. The unceasing Kansas wind blew through the wheat, sounding like a thousand whispering voices. She could see the lights of her house across the large field and it brought her a bit of comfort. It had been raining earlier in the week, making the way through a bit muddy, but not enough to slow Hallie down-- not much anyway.

She walked through the rows of wheat, listening to the mud suck at her shoes- step, lift, step, lift, step, lift. Squoosh. Shluck! Squoosh. Shluck! Squoosh. Shluck! The sound made her giggle. She walked faster. Now the sound went squeesh-shuck-squeesh-shuck-squeesh-shuck! She was enjoying herself quite a bit and started singing "I may never march in the infantry!" Squoosh-shluck! "Ride in the cavalry" Squoosh-shluck! "Shoot the-"
Another howl came floating on the wind towards her. The song died on her lips and for a moment she stood perfectly still. The howl came again, low and mournful, like an animal in great pain. Yet a third howl came. This one sounded closer, like the dog was just on the other side of the field.

Hallie was beginning to feel more than a little scared now. She was afraid of dogs to begin with, and this one sounded big. She put her head down and began to walk quickly through the field, no longer enjoying the sound of the mud.

The field seemed to have grown. No matter how long or fast she walked, she didn't seem to be getting any closer to her house. The clouds were getting thicker and darker and every once in a while a low, threatening peal of thunder would roll across the ground. The wind started to pick up, whistling and moaning through the stalks. It was starting to get cold. Hallie pulled her little pink jacket close and tied its hood under her chin.

Lightning suddenly lit up the entire field. Hallie jumped. She hugged herself and walked even faster through the muck. She heard yet another howl. Now it didn't sound hurt or sad. It sounded angry-- and closer. Too close for Hallie’s own comfort. Thunder BOOMED against the sky and Hallie screamed. She was getting very scared now. She hated storms almost as much as she did dogs.

Another howl rang through the field, seeming to come from right next to her. The wind picked up. It sounded like angry warning voices. Another howl came, loud, and angry. Hallie heard a steady sucking noise coming from her left. They sounded like footsteps. The wind whistled, "Look out for the watchdog! Look out, Hallie! The watchdog! Look out!"

Hallie started to run. The sucking noise was behind her now, chasing her. "Look out! Look out!" the wind said. Now the howls seemed to be coming from everywhere, surrounding the frightened girl. The lightning flashed and the thunder roared and the wind screamed "The watchdog! The watchdog! Look out!".

Suddenly, Hallie’s shoe sank into the mud and she fell to her knees. As she struggled to get up, she heard a low growl from in front of her. She stopped, listening. The growl came again. She peered between the shafts of wheat and saw a pair of large, red, glowing eyes. The eyes growled, deep and menacing. Hallie was so frightened she couldn't move. She couldn't speak. Each breath whistled painfully down her windpipe and her stomach was tied in knots.

She heard the wheat rustle. The lightning flashed and in its brief light, she saw what was attached to those eyes. The biggest, blackest dog she had ever seen in her life was walking through the wheat towards her. His fur was long and shaggy, and his teeth were bigger than any teeth had a right to be.

Suddenly, the great beast barked loudly and leapt into the air towards her. Hallie screamed and curled herself into a ball. The dog jumped over her and landed on top of something with a muffled thud. Hallie heard a surprised shout and turned to see what had happened. The dog had a tall, muscular man pinned to the ground. Lightning reflected off the large knife he had clutched in his right hand. In the next flash of light, she saw the dog put its teeth around the man’s throat. Then it stopped, looked back at her and growled, its teeth dripping with saliva. Hallie quickly turned back around. By now, she was too shocked to do anything else. The man’s screams were suddenly cut off short.

Hallie heard the dog coming up behind her. What’s he doing?! She thought. The dog grabbed the back of her jacket and pulled her to her feet. Then it left for a moment. When it came back, it had her missing tennis shoe in her mouth. He dropped it at her feet and waited while she put it on.
"Good dog" she murmured nervously. The dog started walking towards Hallie’s house. Now that it was very close to her, she could see that it was much larger than she thought. Its huge, shaggy head came nearly to her shoulder and his feet were almost bigger than her own. The dog led her all the way home, matching her stride. Once, when she stumbled, the dog stepped under her, catching her fall.

She saw a bobbing light ahead and heard her father yelling "Hallie! Hallie! Where are you?"
"Daddy!" she cried.
She ran toward him and he caught her up in his arms. She was bawling like a baby, but she didn’t care. "Hallie, what happened?"
"Oh daddy," she said in a tear-choked voice, "A man tried to hurt me with a knife, but that dog saved me!" She pointed behind her.
"What dog, sweetie?"
Hallie turned around. The dog was gone. It had vanished.
"I think it’s time we went inside." her father said.

He brought her inside and she told her mother what had happened. Her mom gave her a bath, took her temperature, and tucked her into her bed. Just before, Hallie fell asleep, she heard a mournful howl, very far away, but she was no longer scared.

In the morning, she woke up to here her parents talking downstairs. "The police found the body of an escaped mental patient in the eastern part of the field." her dad said. "He had a knife with him. It must have been the man Hallie saw last night."
"Oh my" said her mother, "Well, we won’t be letting her walk home through the fields anymore. Stacey’s mother called this morning and felt just awful. I took me ten minutes to get her calmed down."
"It was the strangest thing," her father continued, "The man’s throat had been ripped out. I mean the teeth marks were huge."
"Didn't Hallie say that she saw a dog last night?" her mother asked.
"Oh Ellen," said her father, "That dog would have to have been the size of a Shetland pony to fit into those teeth. It’s just not logical."
Hallie listened and grinned. She knew what had made those prints. She rolled over and went back to sleep.

Hallie never walked through the fields at night again. She never forgot the dog and the dog never forgot her. Sometimes, when it was late and she was all alone and scared, a low howl would come in on the wind. The howl of the Watchdog.

Submitted by Amanda, IL, USA