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The plaintive howl pierced my sleep, bolting me upright in bed. The clock glowed 1:15, the only light in the room.
The howl rose again outside. Landon’s voice. Shrill. Sad. Lonely.
“But that is impossible,” I think. “Landon is inside. Everyone is inside.”
I search the dark bedroom. Frankie sprawled on the blankets beside me. Typhoon stretched across the floor. In the crates at the foot of the bed, Kiska sleeping upside down. Qannik softly snoring. Cheoah curled into a ball.
But Landon’s crate? Shadows. Dark shadows. Only shadows. I don’t see Landon.
The howl screeched again. Angry? Upset? Hurt?
No dog sleeps outside at night at Chez Herd. Too many wild creatures roam our mountain. Too many threats. The dogs are not even outside during the day unless I am home to monitor their safety.
How had I fallen asleep and left Landon outside? Inexcusable.
I leapt from the bed, raced through the house, and opened the sliding glass door to the deck. “Landon,” I shout.
A mournful howl replies. But the deck is empty.
With a flip of a switch, floodlights illuminate the yard. Shadows. Only shadows.
I eradicate the shadows with the 920 lumen flashlight. The light can flush out rabbits hiding in the grass in the darkest corner of the yard, a necessary precaution before releasing Typhoon in the morning. But in this dark, it shows only an empty yard. Nothing moves within the confines of the fence.
A shrill howl comes from the woods just beyond. Loud. Mournful. Unmistakably Landon’s voice.
How did he get out? Is he hurt?
I race to the bedroom, grab a pair of jeans and a t-shirt. Before racing outside, I take one last look toward Landon’s crate and spy his baby blue eyes blinking in confusion. “Why are we awake in the middle of the night?” those sleepy eyes ask. He had been curled up tightly, his black coat hiding his body in the shadows of his crate.
The coyote’s howl rose in the night, its voice remarkably like Landon’s, though Landon slept soundly in comfort right where he was supposed to be.
I crawl back into bed, sleep slow to come. In response to every howl outside, I sit and study Landon’s sleeping form, tucked away.
But six dogs safely slumber in our bedroom, the wild world outside, while the human sits awake.
Hu-Dad posts short stories on his website – and a new story appears today. Visit to read Magic 8 Ball!
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