I thought I could smell something strange, unhealthy, foreboding. I've smelled that smell before. Like something rotting in a wooden basement — maybe even the basement itself.
Now I can see him. He's lying there. Right in front of me. On the carpet. Big, and shaggy; unkept, filthy. Like a very over-sized wolf, but far more muscular.
His nails are like serrated knives. His teeth are like ice picks. Long and sharp are his claws and teeth. And ready. Ready for me.
Now is NOT the time for this sort of battle. I'm already tired. Very tired. So, so very tired. I don't have the energy for this fight.
He starts to slink around, moving this way and that. Circling around me. I back myself into a corner, for protection. But I know that won't work. He can come right through the walls and get me. Get me from any angle. Get me anywhere I stand, or sit, or lie, or climb.
So now it begins. The way it always does. I have to keep circling, keep my eyes on him. He fakes an attack, then falls back. He does it again. And again. And keeps circling. He's trying to wear me out. He is succeeding.
Sadie cannot see him. She cannot sense him in any way. She wonders at my behaviour. I call her to come to me. But there's something different in my voice. She stands motionless, confused. She cannot help me now.
Aaaaaahhh! He's got me. He's taken the first chunk out of me. I feel the deep, throbbing pain; I see the blood. No one else can see or feel any of this. Just me. While I was focused briefly on Sadie, the other Black Dog got me. Got me good.
But he's not really eating my leg, that other Black Dog. He's eating my heart, and my soul. Little by little, hour by hour, he keeps at me. I get weaker, more confused, less steady.
I do not know what to make of this. Why is he here? Why now? Why, when I could be doing so many things — interesting things, good things?
Slowly I shrink in his presence, as he chews the life out of me — bit, by bit, by bit.
Will this be the time he finally does me in?
I hope not! I hope not! I really, really hope not!