A Familiar Monster
by Dan Dillard
A nose whistle.
That’s what it sounded like to her. Janet rolled over in bed and waited for it to come again. Ten seconds that time. Before it seemed longer. There it was once more! She plugged her own nostrils and breathed in through her mouth to make sure she hadn’t woken herself up. Then she waited, only the sound of her own breathing. Five… six… seven…eight… nine…
Again. The small squealing sound, breathy, like… like a nose whistle. Only nine seconds though. She sat up, realizing she’d been having a nightmare, and she was drenched with sweat. Her thin cotton t-shirt clung to her body like packaging tape.
“What the? What is that noise?” she said, trying not to disturb her husband, who could sleep through an explosion. She could have sex with another man and two prostitutes in that bed and he would sleep through it.
Whistle. Although that one was a little different. More of a wheeze. Yes, a wheeze. Maybe it was him? She stepped around to the other side of the bed and leaned down toward her sleeping husband. His usual snoring was silent, only the occasional, light growl as he dreamt of golfing or whatever the hell was in his head.
“Have a nice nap, dickhead,” she said and patted him on the leg as she walked by.
Wheeze. It was a wheeze whistle. A new term, she thought and smiled. Then she looked down at the foot of the bed, and the dog’s pillow, which was strangely empty. She’d named the dog Machiavelli after a book she vaguely remembered reading in school. They shortened it to Mack and the dog had slept faithfully at the end of their bed ever since it was a … Wheeze.
“Mack?” she said. Panic in her voice. Was he hurt? Was he stuck somewhere? Was he sick?
She burst into the hallway expecting to see the animal retching up something it had eaten earlier.
“If I have to clean up puke at three in the morning…” she said as she flipped the light on. At the end of the hallway, she saw the dog. It was in the bonus room, lying in a pitiful heap. Seventy pounds of Labrador, cowering and sucking wind. Wheeze.
“Buddy? What’s wrong?”
She quickly stepped toward the animal, its huge brown eyes glowing green in the low light. Mack wagged his tail, but only the tip, he was weak. She grabbed his head with gentle hands.
“What’s the matter, Mack?”
The dog released one more wheezing sigh and went limp. The tail was still and the wheezing stopped. Janet sat stunned, unable to speak, unable to comprehend in her state of frustrated sleepiness.
“Brad,” she said. Then she stood to get her husband.
“Brad,” she called a bit louder and turned around to face something hideous. Something inhuman.
“He won’t wake,” it said. “I’ve already finished with him.”
Janet couldn’t move, only stare at the pig-faced creature that stood in her home. Her face twisted into a scream, but no sound came.
“Shh,” the pigman said, and he held up one hoof-like hand. “This will only take a moment.”