Hi. I’m Tonia Thompson, writer and creator of NIGHTLIGHT, a horror podcast featuring creepy tales from Black writers across the diaspora.
Season 2 has finally begun, and we are thrilled to kick it off with a tragic and touching story from C.J. Silver, but first I’d like to thank our newest patrons: India, and Vilissa from Ramp Your Voice. Because of you and the other members of the NIGHTLIGHT Legion, this podcast lives on. NIGHTLIGHT is completely funded by our members. If you enjoy our stories, or want to help #PayBlackWriters, you can join the NIGHTLIGHT Legion for as little as $1 per month. We’ve reached our goal of funding 1 episode per month, but we’d love to be able to bring you new episodes every week. If you want fresh horror in your ears every week, join us so we can bring Black horror out of the shadows. Go to patreon.com/nightlightpod to join right now, then share on social media. At the end of this month, one member of the NIGHTLIGHT Legion will get some swag for helping us spread the word.
And now, here’s Blitz by C.J. Silver.
Victoria Crow’s funeral must have been beautiful. Morgan was there, but didn’t remember much about it. He couldn’t remember anything other than witnessing the horror of that ugly pine box lowering the love of his life into that dark, inescapable pit.
He didn’t attend the reception at her parents’ manor. Instead he retreated to the mud-splattered bungalow where he’d grown up. The spurs from the wild grass caught his socks as he pushed past the chain link fence and up the cracked, weedy walkway. The smell of boiling fat and stemmed collards greeting him before even reached the door.
Little Moeressa was messing over a plastic plate of Brunswick stew when he arrived. His weight pressed into weak floorboards, announcing his arrival. His daughter paused. Then possibly detecting the smell of his cologne called out.
“Daddy!” Her sweet baby-tooth grin was framed by her mother’s high cheekbones; her dark complection mirrored his and complimented her cool silvery eyes. He buried his pain into a gentle kiss upon her forehead. After only a few hours with Grandma, Moe smelled of Ultra-sheen and Cornhusker’s lotion.
“You back already?” His mother asked. He didn’t respond. She continued as if he had. “Why don’t you eat something? Biscuits just came up.” She fixed him a plate of brunswick stew.
He caught a glimpes of himself in the living room mirror.
“I bought this suit for her.” He said. He held out the wings of the blazer. “She wanted me to bring her to the city. She just wanted to go dancing. I would never take her out. Then when she got sick, I bought this suit. I promised her that if she got better I’d take her dancing every weekend.” His voice trailed off.
Mama sat the plate of stew and biscuits on the coffee table in front of him. “Well, she’s in the city now.” She said. He took off the blazer then slumped into the old sofa.
Moeressa moved like a doll through the unfamiliar house, her outstretched fingers detecting the chair Grandma had moved, the threshold between the kitchen and den, and finally the sofa where her Daddy sat staring at his shoes. She took one of his fingers into the palm of her tiny hand. He swept the little girl up into his arms, and held her in a loving embrace, afraid the winds of hell would take her away too. She held his neck and hummed into his ears “I’m here, Daddy.”
After a while Grandma interrupted the silence. “Come on Moe. Let your Daddy breathe.” The old woman reached out her hand. “Grandmama bought us a new puzzle to work on.”
Moe made her way around the table. Grandma smiled as Moe reached her knees. “You are a strong little girl, ain’t you?” She held the girl away from her so that she could behold her in earnest. “Grandma sees it! You got that old blood in you, sure do.” Moe lingered on unsteady feet holding onto her grandmother. “All it takes is willpower, sweet girl. You just have to know what you want, and want it more than anything else. And you can make things happen.”
Moe nodded obediently.
“Ok, Moe.” Morgan stood up. He lifted Moressa out of her grandmother’s grasp and held her to his hip. “I think it’s time for us to go, darling.”
“Hold on!” Grandma said. “I have a present for you before you leave me.” The old woman shuffled down the hall.
“No, Ma! We haven’t got time for any of your bones, or stones, or whatever!”
He put Moe down and began to grab up anything that looked pink, or pastel – stuffing it all into her clear plastic carry bag. “Where your shoes girl? Hurry up!” Moeressa didn’t budge. She waited to find out what the gift was.
“Ma!” Morgan called. “Don’t bother! Keep that voodoo to yourself!”
Grandma returned holding a bundle of dark gray lumps in her outstretched arms. To Morgan, it looked like a sack of dirt.
“Here you are darling. Isn’t he precious?” Moeressa reached out to examine her gift. It was soft, fuzzy and warm. It reacted to her touch – moving away at first then leaning into her fingers. Something cold and wet tickled her cheek, then a warm slug wrapped and unwrapped itself around her fingers leaving them covered in slime. Finally she felt the hard sharp bits beneath all the warm slime.
“What is it!?” she gasped, delighted. She couldn’t see its horrible little bent nose, or bulging eyes, or crooked jaw. As far as she could tell it was a living teddy bear with teeth.
“It’s a puppy darlin’.” Grandma explained. She lowered the fat little body to the floor. “A sweet little puppy dog just for you.” Moe lifted the thing into her arms. It squirmed then licked her face as though she was made of candy. She screamed with joy, overcome by instinctual maternal devotion. Morgan’s mother clapped her hands together, amused with herself.
“No, Ma,” said Morgan. “The girl doesn’t need a dog! A trained seeing-eye dog maybe, but not this ugly little mutt.” Morgan noticed that one of the puppy’s floppy little ears had been pierced – a gold studded earring, much like the ones Moe wore, glistened off the corner of one black triangular lobe. “What have you done to it?” Morgan demanded.
“Oh hush! Of course she needs a puppy!” His mother countered. “Yo’ baby is grieving too! She just lost her mother. This will give her something to love.”
“No! Do you hear me?” Morgan said as he swung the little girl’s bag onto his shoulders. Moe turned towards her father.
“Please, Daddy?” she sang. Her silvery blue eyes shimmered in the light. Her missing front-tooth only added to her charm as she smiled up at him. “I’ll take care of him!” Morgan turned away from his mother’s vulpine grin. The screen door slapped against its wooden frame behind him as he retreated from the women he loved; Moe did not follow right away. She lingered with Grandma for another full minute. A minute Morgan could never get back, but would regret for the rest of his life.
* * *
Morgan woke one beautiful late summer morning to discover that his rooster and three young hens had been ripped apart. Their innards were splashed across the coop like crushed fruit. Tan and spotted feathers fluttered about the carnage as he paced the scene of the crime.
He’d always been a light sleeper. The growl of the deep forest choir that surrounded the Circling Crow Stables was a kind of lullaby to him. But the snap of a twig, or rumble of an engine – even the rustle of unannounced guests in his yard, would have him dressed and on his feet with rifle in hand without a moment’s hesitation. So he couldn’t figure how he’d slept through such a calamity in his chicken yard.
Blitz sat on the other side of the screen door watching Morgan from a safe distance. “Stupid mutt!” Morgan shouted. “I ought to plant a bullet in your fucking head for this!”
“It wasn’t him!” Moe shouted. She was standing beside her dog; her new buck teeth flashed like an angry squirrel. Even when she pouted she looked like her mother. She held the brute’s head to her chest protectively, as though she knew Morgan was pointing his rifle at it. “It was the monster, Daddy!” She shouted. “I told you there was a monster in the hen house!”
Morgan gestured at the gore all around him as though the girl could see any of it. “Ain’t no monsters but the one you holding!” He shouted back. “Now you let that damn dog out by himself again and I’ll pop him one good!”
“It wasn’t him Daddy!” Moe shouted. “Blitz is a good boy! He’s my friend!”
“You need real friends Moe. Not no dog that chews up chickens!” All he could do was walk about with his hands on hips. “All this meat is wasted now! This is money Moe!” Morgan kicked a pile of straw, which sent another dead bird flying through the air. It might have been funny if he hadn’t been so mad. “You need human friends your own age!”
Morgan heard his baby girl sniffle; his anger dissolved. In an instant he was beyond the chicken wire fence and across the yard. He took her into his arms. With dirty fingers, he tried to straighten her hair. Her thick curling naps sat on top of her head like a crown. Morgan had no idea how to tend to a little girl’s hair. He’d been keeping it cut short like a boy. But somewhere along the way he’d lost track of it. Now it was a tangle of this black moss across her rich, dark brow.
“How would you like to go stay with your Aunt Janice in the city?” Morgan suggested. “You’re old enough to start school I think.” Moe’s frown deepened and she began to sob in earnest.
“Daddy, you don’t want me anymore?” she gasped into his shoulder. He hugged her so hard she nearly stopped breathing. “I’ll try harder to make friends Daddy! Honest.” He held her, but couldn’t speak against the strain in his own throat.
Morgan dropped the topic of the city, school, and Janice. But the idea stayed with him. A young blind girl had no business stumbling about the stables with a beastly pet like Blitz. He was about as big as she was now. He was always knocking her over, or dragging her on his leash. Morgan had instructed Moe to keep her dog inside, but he couldn’t blame her for wanting to go outside and explore the yard. She was still a child. And she spent long hours of the day alone in the house, unsupervised. It was no wonder she was starting to believe there were monsters everywhere.
He considered this problem as he left his daughter tucked away in the house for the day. There were a thousand things on his mind besides Moe and her ugly dog. He had horses to feed, and stalls to muck. He had colts to tend to, and buyers to contact. Lastly, he had Clarabelle Lee.
Clarabelle Lee had been a shy filly and was now a very timid Palomino maiden broodmare. Morgan spoke to her as he cleaned her up for the big day. “It’ll be a quick little pony show darling. He may huff and puff a lot, but Thor is all show. Just be calm.” Clarabelle Lee lowered her blonde head to nibble at a tuft of straw.
Thor’s Hammer was known to be especially aggressive with handlers on a good day. Hopped up on hormones, and with the smell of female in the air, he wasn’t going to be easy to handle. Morgan lamented not hiring some extra hands for this particular mating. He only hoped that he was right about Thor, and that the stud would exhaust himself pretty quickly.
He tied off Clarabelle’s tail, and checked her entry point once more for anything that might get in the way and cause infection. “Alright Ms. Lee, it’s show time.” He tied Clarabelle’s reins to the restraint post near the back of the barn, then went off calmly to procure her cover.
Thor’s Hammer was running across the field ahead of him. His beautiful honey gold coat glistened in the light, the thunder of his heavy hooves giving credence to his name. He’d gotten away from his restraints and was charging through the stud yard like his rump was on fire.
Behind him was a huge beast of a dog. It gave chase trying to chomp at Thor’s long golden tail. Blitz leapt with a puppy’s delight after the frightened horse, egging him to run faster. Morgan barely had time to think. He ran, waving his hat to attract the attention of at least one of the animals. This was in vain.
With one quick kick of his powerful hindquarters Thor ended the chase. Blitz flew backwards through the air. He hit the ground hard with a flat thud. Morgan reached the fence just as Thor brought his heavy front hooves down on the dog’s body.
It took Morgan a full hour to get Thor put away. Finally, he went to deal with Blitz. The dog lay still in the center of the stud yard. He was breathing but there was no way he would survive the night. His body had been crushed; his jaw was broken. He looked up at Morgan with frightened, puppy eyes. The rancher drew his rifle, and with it, took the dog’s pain away.
Morgan followed the sound of his daughter’s crying all the way back home. The sun had set hours ago. He was late coming back, late with dinner, and too tired to care. Moe stood at the door calling “Bllliiiiitz! Blitz! Come home!!! Bliiiitz? Here boy!”
She stopped at the sound of the gate opening. Morgan saw the hope in her face fade as she detected him with some sense he could not fathom. “Daddy?” she cried. “Have you seen Blitz?”
“I thought I told you to keep him inside!” Morgan snapped.
“I did Daddy! He was chasing the monster! It was trying to come into the house! Blitz chased it away!”
“No!” Morgan snapped. “No! I told you to keep that dog in the house! I–“
“Did the monster get him Daddy?” Moe’s voice crackled like paper; Her eyes glistened with tears. “Is Blitz ok?” She held her own shirt at the chest – the empty space where Blitz’s head should have been resting.
“Ooohhh, honey!” Morgan dropped to his knees completely disarmed. “Don’t do that Moe. Big girls don’t cry over dumbass dogs. Let’s make us some supper.”
“Daddy? Why do you smell like dirt?” Moe touched his face. “Have you been digging?”
“Yes, sweetheart.” He couldn’t deny that, but he wouldn’t go into details. Not today anyway.
In the night eight more hens were slaughtered. Morgan stood, studying the carnage in the otherwise serene glow of the rising sun.
“Don’t blame Blitz Daddy!” Moe said. She was leaning against the fence. She must have smelt the blood. She could read the tension of her father’s silent anger. “The monster is still in the hen house!” Morgan looked around him. He actually checked inside the hen house.
“If there was such a monster I’d be looking at it right now!” Morgan reasoned.
“You don’t believe me!” Moe shouted. “You’re never here so you don’t know! It always comes when you’re not around!” She ran back to the house and slammed the screen door as hard as she could.
He found Moe at the kitchen table. She barely acknowledged him as he drew out a chair and sat across from her. “What makes you think there is a monster in our hen house?” He asked her. She didn’t answer. “When did all this start?” he pressed. She only bowed her head against the silence. He leaned in, closing the gap between them. He softened his voice and asked again. “Tell me about the monster Moe.”
“Them Eastland kids sent it.” She said through a paper-thin whisper. “They said they’d send a monster to attack me and my dog.”
“Why would they say that? What possible reason could they have?” Morgan strained to keep his voice calm.
“Because I hurt one of ‘em with a rock.” Moe said her cheeks dimpled, suppressing a proud smile.
“You did what?!” The Eastland kids were a group of stray little white boys that trooped around the countryside unsupervised. They varied in age from eight to sixteen. Morgan didn’t even know how many of them there were. Moe was only six; he thought he’d have a few more years to explain race and boys to her.
“I did it because they hurt Blitz!” She sat up, gaining volume in self-defense. “They come ‘round when you go out to work with them horses, or go to market. They call me names. They push me down. They threw things at Blitz.”
Morgan stared at his daughter as she listed these offenses. This was the first he’d heard of such a thing. “Who pushed you down?” He had half stood, hovering over his chair, knees bent but body taut ready to fight a stranger’s child.
“Them kids from the Eastland Property!” She squealed indignantly. “You told me to make friends Daddy! I heard them playing in the woods and I asked them to be my friends. But they is mean. They asked me to play hide-n-seek. Then they hid all over our yard and called me names. They called me bat face. They said I was as ugly as my dog. They said I was so ugly that Mommy died when she first laid eyes on me.”
Moe stated these atrocities with an indignant calm, a smoldering anger whose fire had cooled but would never go out completely. Morgan absorbed the brute force of every word like the blow of her tiny fists directly into his heart. She’d handled all of this anxiety and hurt, all on her own. She’d fought this wild battle, while he was out in the fields worried over horses. Now, as she flooded him with her account of the events, it seemed to calm her as it enraged him. How long had she been cradling these secrets?
Morgan rarely saw the kids from Eastland. He usually dealt with the Eastland men. They were sharecroppers that raised goats on their outer fields. The men kept to themselves, mostly. He didn’t have a problem with the Eastland people, and he didn’t want to start none. He might need their help next time Thor and Clarabelle met up. But at this moment he wanted to set their children on fire. He closed his eyes and prayed to his wife for guidance. She’d been the diplomat, not him.
“So I told him to get off my property.” Moe continued. Morgan sat back down. “That’s when they started throwing things. They hit Blitz. So I started throwing things right back!” Moe demonstrated with a gesture of her throwing arm. “I hit one of ‘em too. He howled like a baby!” Morgan was sure his jaw would never close again. He would die from the shock of what he was hearing and flies would make nests in his molars.
“After that, the monster moved into the hen house.” Moe went on. “I hear it out there at night sometimes. Sometimes it goes to my window and it wakes up Blitz.” How long had she been enduring this bullying – and in her own front yard no less.
“I’ma call your Aunt Janice in the city tomorrow”, Morgan decided out loud. “It’s high time we got you off this farm and into school.”
Moe pouted again. “But Daddy! I handled them!” Morgan stood and started to prepare breakfast. He found it easier to ignore Moe’s miserable whimpers over the gurgle of boiling grits and the sizzle of sausages.
“What about Blitz?” Moe asked as Morgan slid a plate in front of her. Morgan didn’t answer. He just crammed the still steaming food into his mouth. Moe lingered, letting the steam wash over her face.
Finally he said: “If he ever comes back, Blitz will stay here! Bad dogs that kill chickens don’t belong in the city.”
“No, Daddy! Blitz is a good dog! When I screamed at them Eastland kids he chased them clean off our property.” This news did not help her case. He understood from the sudden sinking of her face that she hadn’t meant to reveal this information.
“So that’s when you lost him, then?” Morgan pressed. “He ran off chasing those white kids and that’s how you lost him. You realize what they do to dogs that chase people? And what if he bite one of them? You know they have a legal right to shoot him?”
Moeressa did not know this. How could she? The shock of her father’s harsh words hit her as though he’d slapped her in the face. She dropped her fork and pushed away from the table overtaken completely by misery. Nothing he could do would quell her tears now.
Morgan caught up to her in her bedroom. She lay down in the dirty, musky pile of blankets and pillows that had been Blitz’s bed. Morgan picked her up and held her to him.
“It’s ok.” She whimpered when she could speak again. “Grandma made him special for me. He won’t leave me Daddy. He can’t.” Her little voice was soft, but so confident. “Grandma said he’s my protector.”
Morgan lowered his daughter to the floor. She clasped her hands at her chest, where her puppy once rested his head.
“You know I try hard not to talk bad about my mother and her religion but I can’t have you spouting that stuff too. Wherever that dog is it’s probably a better place for him. We’ll see to getting you a better trained dog first thing-“
“I don’t want a better trained dog!” Moe snapped back. “I want Blitz!” She’d never raised her voice at him like this before. Her anger was silver and sharp. Morgan took a step back, staring at a face he didn’t recognize. Without the guidance of her mother, what had she become?
Morgan spent the day tending to the chickens. He buried the remains of the birds to avoid attracting predators. As he worked, he plotted out what he should do about his daughter. He’d start by taking Moe into town with him more often to get her socialized to people other than himself. Tomorrow he would take her to the market, sell off the remaining eggs, and buy some reinforcements for the chicken yard.
As he smoothed earth over the plot with his shovel, his thoughts drifted back to the Eastland kids. He’d spent the day at the house but hadn’t seen a trace of them. It was high time he went down the Eastland property to have a talk with Buddy Eastland and his brothers. Not a good idea to bring up parenting right away, probably. He’d talk about horses. Maybe even hire some help with Thor and Clarabelle. Once that was out of the way then they’d talk about kids. If the Eastland children were big enough Morgan would ask Buddy which schools they attended. That was the ticket! A school nearby would keep Moe at the stables and help her make some friends, good human friends, her own age. Then maybe he wouldn’t have to bring up the bullying at all. It was a good solid plan. Morgan fished out the last bottle of beer from his cooler and toasted to himself for being a calm, rational parent.
That night Morgan woke with a fright before he knew why. Moonlight through the bedroom window cast his comfortable clutter in a cool blue light. As a habit he reached a hand out to touch his Victoria’s shoulder only to find her spot in the bed still cold and empty. A scream pierced the calm of his bedroom.
This wasn’t an impassioned alarm, or a call for help. This was the scream of agony; of someone experiencing an orgasm of immense pain. It rang out long and horrified through his open window from the direction of his backyard. It must be coming from the hen house. He hopped one legged into the hallway struggling to get the second leg into his pants while holding his rifle.
“Stay inside Moe!” He shouted towards his daughter’s room.
He charged through the kitchen and out the backdoor. He half expected Blitz to come galloping around the corner and trip him up in hot pursuit of fun. The remaining hens scampered across the yard, each a ball of feathered chaos. Morgan readied his rifle as he approached the crumpled fence. He paused to get the flashlight working.
The hen house was empty. The hay from the coop had exploded out both entrances. None of the birds seemed injured but there was blood on some of the fresh straw. A closer look at the disarray in the dirt revealed prints too heavy for a hen. A trail of straw, blood, and disturbed dirt led across his yard towards the supply shed.
Morgan paused, staring at the dark mouth of the yawning old barn. The crumbling gray structure was as old as the house, possibly older. When Morgan was a boy it housed his father’s old Ford. Now it stored out of date equipment for parts. The roof was caving in. Its paint had long faded. It was a ghost of a shed. There was nothing in there of value. Whatever had happened, it was too late to stop it now. Everything was quiet and still. Surely, whatever discovery lay in the darkness beyond the door could wait until the light of day.
But the culprit might still be around. Whoever, or whatever, was disturbing the chickens might be hiding at this moment in the old shed. He might not get another chance to see it. Blitz lay buried out at the edge of Circling Crow property. If it wasn’t Moe’s pet killing the birds, then there had to be a fox, or God help him, some other kind of wild animal getting in at his chickens. Whatever it was had been hurt and was hiding on his land. An injured, scared wild animal was possibly lurking in his supply shed where his little blind daughter was sure to try and pet it.
Morgan readied his rifle and marched towards the gaping maw of the shed; its darkness was scarier than the night, for it lacked stars or any clue as to what lay within it. The flashlight lost its power; its beam abandoned him to moonlight.
The old barn looked somehow bigger, more oppressive in its eerie celestial glow. The doors stayed wide open day and night. Morgan figured that closed door invited thieves but open doors revealed his junk wasn’t worth stealing. He never considered creatures just taking up residence among the clutter.
At the door Morgan paused to slap the flashlight back into action. The weak beam cut through the gloom to fall on a small wet mass in the center of the floor.
It was a hand – a human hand. It was a small white human hand that was connected to a small white human body. His mind took its time spelling out the scene. “There is a little white boy dead in my shed.”
Morgan was not prepared for the quaking in his soul. He rushed to the boy laying there praying to any God that would listen for there to be something left to save, hoping there was something he could do to put the child back together! The boy’s throat was an crimson gash. His life force was pouring out all over the fermenting straw. His eyes were black stones in a bone white face that had been slashed into a red running sore.
For a moment Morgan was a mad man. He thought of burning the straw, and burying the body. He thought of leaving the state for a few months. Just taking his daughter and running for the hills.
But there were still three broodmares out in the fields waiting for Thor and one that was pregnant after months of preparation. She was a high risk and couldn’t be moved. He couldn’t just up and leave.
Besides, he’d lose all presumption of innocence if he ran. He’d be a hunted man, with a blind six year old in toe. No doubt they’d find him eventually. And then he’d have no defense at all.
He closed his eyes against the galloping terror. He breathed deep, waiting for his thoughts to calm. He’d get on the horn and call the cops. He’d call his buddy Ted; he was one of the good ones. Surely, the cops would recognize that this had been done by some animal.
“What the hell are you doing in my barn anyway!” Morgan shouted at the corpse. He took a deep breath and finally noticed what the boy was wearing. He’d fashioned goat’s horns into a crown on his head. He had a cloak made of goat hide tied with a leather strap around his oozing neck. At his side was a long, rusty huntsmen’s knife. The knife still had a few tan and speckled feathers around the handle.
“What the hell were you doing boy?” Morgan whispered.
Something brushed his arm. He dropped the flashlight and readied his gun.
“Daddy?” Moe’s voice sent a horrible shiver across Morgan’s entire body.
“Moe!” He shouted turning around. “I thought I told you to stay-“ But she wasn’t there. Upon striking the earth the flashlight had come back on, shooting a beam of light at the ground deeper inside of the barn.
A little body was curled against one of the support beams as though hiding in plain sight. Her gray cotton nightgown and her dark brown skin made her difficult to detect. The light caught the silvery glint of her earrings as she stood. “I’m sorry Daddy” Moe said to the rafters. “But look!” Even before Morgan picked up the flashlight he could see his daughter’s joyous smile.
“Daddy! Look! The Monster is dead!” Moe said happily motioning to the vague spot where the little boy lay bleeding out.
“Moe. I thought I said- “ Morgan’s voice trailed off. It was obvious though. Moe had gotten here before him. She’d been here the whole time.
“Blitz came back Daddy!” Moe cried with excitement. “He came back, and he killed the monster!”
At a distance, Morgan searched his daughter’s body. She was clean, just a little bit of grime on her feet. The light danced all around her, behind her, above her. Old rusty saws and sickles hung on the wall decorated in dust and cobwebs. An antique reel mower lay on the ground still covered in rotting hay. Shovels, pick axes, and rakes dangled on hooks around her, and above her – all of them were grimy and too heavy for her to wield.
Then he noticed her posture. She was bending slightly, tilting as though something was pulling against her. Her right hand was balled into a fist, as though holding on to something. The fingers of her left hand ran along the darkness beside her, petting the air.
“He’s a good dog isn’t he!” She leaned in and reached out with both hands to caress the air – as if to bring a large brutish head to her chest in a protective hug.
Morgan grabbed at his girl and yanked her away. He pulled her away from the dead body, away from the odd space she was cradling, away from the shed, and the chickens, and the blood. He was half dragging her back towards the light of their home.
She gasped in shock and possibly pain. “Daddy! What’s wrong!?”
“I thought I told you to stay inside!” He roared. If Moeressa answered him, Morgan never heard it; her response was muffled by the sound of a low animal baritone, the same as the one he’d heard three days prior out at the stables. He became suddenly very aware that he’d dropped his gun somewhere and was using his gun hand to hold on to Moe.
Morgan aimed the flashlight back towards the supply shed; the light went out again. He didn’t need it to see what followed him. A shadow, darker than the ebony around it, emerged through the threshold of shed. It was bent into a vague dog-like shape – molded by a dim glow of moonlight which outlined, and defined the details of its features. Morgan recognized the shape of its skull, the bend of its muzzle, even the curl of its tail as its bulky form moved with the swiftness of wind across the dusty path. Morgan could even make out a single pinprick of light balancing on a black, floppy iridescent ear were a silver stud earring once sat. The dog lowered his massive head, baring his black teeth, edged in moonlight.
“Blitz! Be nice.” Moeressa commanded. The beast faded. The moonlight drifted back to the spots that made sense, and the shadows were solid no longer. Morgan stared at his child. He hadn’t had the heart to tell her that her dog was dead. Now it seems he didn’t have to.
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