Time slipped away slower than the pendulum as I tossed about in bed. No amount of rearranging my pillows or shuffling the sea of sheets was helping me tonight. And so I lay there, reminiscing on abstract phases of my life, when it all began.
Fishing for my phone, I eventually found it at my feet. '1:30 AM'. I sighed to myself. The street dogs had begun their choir practice ... again. This is was a routine observation I made. The howling always began around 11:30 pm and went on till 2:30, every hour on the hour. This annoying habit of the dogs broke my attempts at sleeping almost every day. But today, I wasn't going to try and sleep. Today, I was going to see what the noise was all about and instead lay my curiosity to sleep.
I padded my away across the house, feeling colder than usual. One quick scan at the dark spaces and I was at the window that was letting a cold draft in. I slid it shut as slow as I could, glancing at the sight outside. The empty streets where lit golden, the trees were at complete standstill and yet there was a draft. The dogs were howling away at a plot outgrown with weeds and whatnot. I squinted and looked on hoping to catch some movement. I got nothing. I needed to get closer.
Pulling the sleeves down my arms, I hugged myself and made my way to the kitchen balcony which, I assumed, would offer the perfect view. The howling continued. 'Longer than usual'.
All caught up in the rush of excitement, I closed the door behind me and leaned over the railing from my fourth floor. More dogs had gathered now, some barking, some howling and some just watching. Well, I was watching too. A sudden breeze picked up and ruffled my clothes a bit. I held my breath as the howling fell into a perfect harmony with my deep, slow heartbeat. I watched on unblinkingly afraid to wake up and chalk this all up to a dream. The dogs shifted themselves into a semicircle and paused before they moved in unison, maintaining the formation, the open end facing me.
My knuckles turned white as the temperature fell and I tried to keep clam as the dogs moved towards my building. There was obviously some force in the circle and this was obviously something I did not want to watch any longer. I didn't want to get any closer. I detached myself from the railing and reached out for the handle when it struck me.
'Holy crap' I muttered.
Our flimsy lock worked in a way that you always pull it shut to lock it and turn the key to unlock it. But I was on the other side of the door. The dogs didn't stop. Some barking, some howling and some just watching. But now, I was panicking.