There were times I felt like slapping Stan. There we were, in the abandoned station, tracking down whatever it was that was dragging people away, and he was singing, “Who let the dogs out? Who? Who? Who? Who? Who let the dogs out?” Grinning like he was in high school.
“Would you shut up?”
Stan kept right on singing, and added dancing, right in front of me.
All I could do was look at the roof of the station, and stare through the windows. “This is Gods punishment for me, isn’t it?”
After Stan sang another verse, I interrupted him again, “I can’t hear the dogs, you know.”
He stopped, cupped an ear, and pretended to listen intently, “Can’t hear the dogs bark? Bark? Bark? Bark? Bar?”
We’d set the dogs loose five minutes earlier. They knew what to do, very special dogs, very trained dogs. Damn expensive ones too. They moved like a team, with one goal. Find anything that looked interesting. Anything human, or anything that might interest their handlers. Dead bodies. Body parts. Bombs. A drug cache. Whatever. When the found it, they’d corner it, and bark like crazy.
Our job was to follow them after ten minutes. Give them time to make certain the area was safe, and then move to the next area. We’d follow behind, within earshot, and listen.
Stan looked pretty stupid with an AR-15 over each shoulder, a belt of grenades across his chest, and kevlar body armor all over, as he sang that damn song. “Who let the dogs out?”
Yeah, we were armed for bear. Actually, we were armed for God only knew what, ‘cause no one knew what we were hunting. No one alive had ever seen it. All anyone knew was something strange was happening. It’d started a couple months ago, with homeless people living outside the station. They’d started to disappear. After three of four of them vanished, the other started reporting them as missing. By the time six had vanished, the homeless moved. All of them. Moved.
That’s when people in the nearby buildings started to disappear. After a few of them, the landlords put in guards at night, to make the buildings safe, and reassure the residents. Then, the guards started disappearing.
Locked doors, armed guards, no gunshots, no signs of a fight or struggle, and the list had grown to nineteen names missing. And no one knew where, or what had happened. The only thing anyone had were stories. “He walked past, going down the hallway. I know ‘cause his flashlight lit the hall as he walked past. Shined under the door, then faded. And then, he didn’t come back. All night. Never came back.”
The stories were all the same. People just vanished. “We need a clue. Call the guys. Send them in. Have the look. That way, we can tell them it’s nothing from the old station. It’s just people. Being people. And leaving for some reason.”
So, there we were, at two in the morning, walking through the old train station, and the parts of tunnels tied to it. Looking for nothing.
“Who let the dogs out?”
Steve didn’t get to finish. The dogs were barking. All the dogs were barking. And their barking was getting louder. Steve pulled an AR-15, got ready. I pulled one too. The barking was louder, and in a few seconds, the dogs came running back into the station. It didn’t take a genius to see they were terrified. And they didn’t stop. They raced past us, and toward the exits. I mentioned they were smart dogs, well trained? They let themselves out, and kept right on running.
Steve looked at me, he scowled, “Well. That can’t be a good thing.”
And we waited. Ready to shoot at anything that moved. Even the shadows. We waited. And sure enough, the shadows moved. Steve emptied his AR’s entire clip into thin air. I watched, as the shadows detached from the wall, from the corner, and spread across the room, where no shadows should have been.
They reached Steve. Covered him. He pulled a grenade, threw it into the shadows. There wasn’t even a flash of light. Then, he was gone.
That was two weeks ago. That’s the last time anyone saw Steve.
Miranda Kate‘s weekly short fiction challenge is in it’s 17th week (I missed Week 16! AIEEE!). You can read about the challenge here. This week, I can’t help but wonder what the heck I’ve started this time. Please, go read Miranda’s short tale this week, and any others that show up. They are always little works of art, crafted with words, meant to be shared, and enjoyed.