Another week has passed. I finally got this chapter done. The story is obviously still very rough but I hope that the story is beginning to take shape. Man, I will have my work cut out for me when I finally get around to editing this story when it finishes later this year.
Thomas was sitting in the sunroom eating a toasted sandwich when his mother’s Camry pulled into the driveway. His aunt’s dog started yapping and jumping about as if its life depended on it. The young man was quickly growing tired of the dog’s excited behaviour along with a host of numerous other bad habits, his aunt and uncle had never seen fit to address.
As for the duo in question, they were gone a lot during the daylight hours. They would usually return around four o’clock in the afternoon from whatever it was that they did. He still didn’t know exactly what that was and had thus far been too embarrassed to ask.
The engine switched off and Thomas heard the sound of two doors opening and shutting. He sat up slightly to see what was going on. He saw a strange long-haired man through the window walking with his mother towards the front stairs. He noticed their body language as the man carried the groceries that she’d purchased from the service station.
“Weird…” he thought. “They look chummy.”
Thomas got up and opened the door for them, the little dog continually barking and attempting to mark its territory as “top dog” and “defender of the household”. In contrast, Egg merely lifted his head from where he had been laying down beside Thomas’ feet and barked once. Thomas looked down at the dog and shook his head at the lazy response.
Maia laughed, then said, “Hey, kiddo. This is Michael a new friend of mine. We’ll be out back chatting about some stuff.”
“Want me to make some ham and cheese or something?” he asked.
She smiled, “That would be great but I was thinking that you might want to listen in to the conversation. I did promise to explain some things to you a few days ago. This might give you an opportunity to learn something about your dear olde mah.”
He sighed, “You seriously want me to come with, don’t you?”
Maia nodded, “It would save me explaining things again later.”
“Okay but you get to make the ham and cheese sandwiches.”
Maia smiled at Thomas. “Okay… fine…” she replied feigning defeat.
A few minutes later, the three humans and two dogs found themselves sitting around the small round table on the back veranda. In the middle sat a pot of tea as well as finger food such as grilled ham and cheese sandwiches and Iced Vovo biscuits. Michael and Thomas stared at each other, with Maia wondering which male would grab some food first. Eventually, she grew tired of the silence and the lack of food being consumed because of their odd staring competition. Her son looked at her with murderous intent when she grabbed a couple Monte Carlos from the biscuit sampler pack. She stifled a laugh.
“So, I guess that I need to explain a few things,” she said after a few sips of tea and finishing one of the biscuits.
Thomas looked from Michael to his mother and nodded, “The first thing is who this guy is.”
“I met Michael today. It appears that he needs help with an unusual circumstance…”
“And what circumstance is that?”
“Should you really be telling the boy…” Michael asked.
Maia looked at Michael and nodded, “Your situation is rather simple compared to some of the other things that I have seen since the attack. You and your tagalong are safe in comparison.”
Thomas wondered what the heck that the two were talking about.
Maia took a breath before seemingly getting an idea. She then looked at Egg who was sitting to her left in between where she sat next to Michael.
“Egg, please place your left paw on the table and bark three times.”
Egg raised his head and barked, “Why?”
“Thomas needs a demonstration…”
With nothing more than a reason, Egg walked around to the other side of Maia and placed a paw on the table. He then barked three times.
Thomas raised an eyebrow, “He knows a trick. So what?”
Maia grinned, “He is not doing tricks. He perfectly understands what we are saying even if he doesn’t know the meaning of some words.”
Thomas wasn’t convinced.
“Why don’t you ask him to do something yourself?” Maia suggested.
“Do I have to?” he asked.
“You don’t have to but you are a better judge of what you’d be willing to accept as evidence.”
As much as Thomas agreed with the logic, he also disliked the ramifications of what his mother was implying. It wasn’t like he hadn’t thought of it already but it also meant that a dog was capable of having higher intelligence beyond the simple act of eating its own poop and barking at its own reflection. It was easier to think of an animal as being led by instinct. There was something pure about that notion.
“Okay then.” Thomas looked into Egg’s eyes and said, “Well, turn clockwise three times and anti-clockwise once.”
Egg looked at Maia, “What is this clockwise and anti-clockwise business?”
Motioning with her left hand, “Clockwise is like this… and anti-clockwise is like this…”
Egg barked out a thank-you. He then looked at Thomas. Thomas was about to say something when Egg got up and walked clockwise around the table three times followed by a single time anti-clockwise. Thomas was more than a little surprised. He’d expected the dog to chase its tail instead of the elaborate show.
“As you can see, he understands what you are saying. When I saw him on the side of the road a few days ago, I recognised him right away.”
“When you were little, we got a puppy from the pound. Egg was that puppy.”
“He doesn’t look that old to me.”
“I was curious about that myself. I haven’t seen him is more than twelve years. Last time that I did, I took you to daycare on the way to work. I put up fliers to find him. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find him. I suspected foul play.”
Thomas recalled seeing some old photos from when he was a kid. He just couldn’t remember what the dog looked like. He supposed that was to be expected given how young he was at the time. He wondered what would motivate a person to kill an animal that was simply sitting in its backyard minding its own business.
“So, he didn’t run off or anything like that?”
“The thing is that he sort of remembers us but not specific details. There are times when his memory is more clear. What I do know is that Egg was always a lot more than he appeared even back then. He was never just a smart animal.”
Michael listened in silence as mother and son continued to discuss the enigma that is Egg. Every now and then, he noticed Egg watching him from the corner of his eye. As Thomas and Maia began to talk about Peggy and Alan’s little dog, Egg walked over to the man, sat on his hind legs and placed a paw on Michael’s leg.
Michael looked down at the dog curiously. He began to feel a wave of calm wash over him as the dog wove its own magic upon the stranger. The dog ruffed a few times and Michael found a part of himself responding.
“What are you?” he asked Egg.
“I am Egg.”
“No, Egg is your name not what you are. What are you?”
“I don’t know!” the dog replied truthfully. “I am not a dog as my small companion is. And yet, I understand it. You ask me what I am but what are you? ”
“I am a man that simply wants to live his life without being afraid that he will hurt those that he cares about.”
Egg nodded understandingly.
Michael looked up from the dog to see Thomas looking directly at him.
“Mum, you still haven’t told me who this guy is.”
Maia grinned, “Don’t worry, kiddo. Michael is just our resident werewolf.”
Thomas looked at his mother and shook his head, “If you aren’t willing to give me a straight answer…”
Maia’s face became serious, “I am telling you the truth. I wasn’t kidding when I said that he needed help either.”
“How pray tell, did you figure out this shit?”
“Did I mention that I am psychic now because I was attacked by a Grim Reaper? I could talk to animals before that, though.”
It sounded preposterous. Thomas promptly got up from his seat with a saucer of cookies on it and left for his room downstairs.
“Bunch of freaking weirdoes…” he mumbled under his breath as reached the bottom of the stairs.
“You do realise that he doesn’t believe you,” Michael stated.
“I know that but he will soon enough. This little town may not seem like much but there is a lot more than meets the eye. Take yourself, for instance. Of all of the small towns on the east coast, why did you pick this one?”
Michael considered it for a moment, then said, “For the life of me, I can’t remember.”
Maia nodded, “Exactly. When I lived here as a kid, I wasn’t able to see what I can now. I can’t help but think that things would have played out a lot differently if I’d known what I do now.”
Michael stared down at his cup of cooling tea. He couldn’t agree more. However, with all of the musings about the past both Maia and Michael knew that they would soon have to deal with a threat that they were currently unaware of the nature of.
Elsewhere, several other pieces of the puzzle would soon fall into place.