Zeus is staring at me again. He doesn't blink anymore. He doesn't do anything anymore. He
just stares. From the day I moved in I've felt uneasy.
There wasn't anything specific that did it to me, not that I could zero in on. I just
had this feeling that something was pulling me out of balance. The sun almost never came
out here, so I figured it was that. At night it was worse. I got into the habit
of pulling the curtains of any room I was in. I had this nagging feeling that I was
vulnerable. I didn't think I was being watched, or maybe I did.
Whatever was going on, it was new and strange and I didn't know how to cope. I was a city
boy in the country and was probably feeling the jitters of taking on a mortgage. This
house was too big for my needs. It's almost as empty now as the day I moved in.
Zeus. Zeus is my best friend or was. I don't know what he is now. We had three great years
before this place. He never left my side. Now he blocks my path.
The day we moved in he went for the shed. He used the same cadence on the shed that
he did for the mailman, or an unexpected guest in the city. It was a mixture of bark and
howl. Half for warning and half calling for backup. I came to know this alarm meant he
wasn't fucking around. My new home is a castle next to my apartment
in the city. It's about average in my new neighborhood, although not as pretty. It isn't
even visible from the road. The weathered and chipped paint appeared older than the
sturdy wood underneath. The curving driveway is charming and the trees along side seemed
to me like ancient wizards guarding a secret forest. There was no garage or a shower that
hadn't been retrofitted over an ancient cast iron tub. The only things on the property
under a hundred years old were me, Zeus, and the padlock across the door of the shed.
Poisonous spiders in there, I was told. Infested, said the man. Zeus was barking
at the door. I don't see any spigots. I said. Zeus! Shut the
fuck up! You can call a plumber said the man.
If you add a spigot for watering don't get caught. Got a drought going on, none of
my business. No, I said. Just for my dog's bowl.
Don't drink this water and don't let your dog neither he said walking back to his
truck. He pulled the For Sale sign as he passed without looking and again said Infested!.
Zeus made it into the shed while I wasn't paying attention. He'd been barking and crying
all day and I honestly had tuned him out. While I tugged a garbage bag of random shit
up the stairs I suddenly became aware of the silence. After I threw the bag into the pile
of other bags (for later sorting) I went out back to see whatever it was that pacified
my dog's interest. This had to be good. The bottom plank of the shed door had been torn
away. Just enough room for a full sized German Shepherd to squeeze through. I bent low and
shined a light in while calling his name, but he wasn't in there. Didn't seem like much
of anything was in there. I called and called his name. I hiked back
into the property until I was knee deep in mud and shrouded in thistles. I drove up and
down my street crying his name but nothing. I gave up about 2 am.
After my shower that night I spent some time treating my numerous mosquito bites. When
I left the sink and mirror of the bathroom he was there in the hallway to greet me. I
ran and fell to my knees to hug him, but he didn't move. I pulled his mane towards my
chest, but his neck was stiff. That's the first time I smelled it. It's hard to explain,
but it cannot be described as a smell. But it was kind of a smell.
If the feeling that caused me to draw my curtains had a smell. If being slowly and maliciously
encircled had a smell and add the faint aroma of a far off roadkill. No that doesn't describe
it, but it's the best I can do. It doesn't matter now.
The next day Zeus just sat at my feet and stared.
He didn't eat. He didn't drink. He didn't ...fucking ...blink.
Zeus didn't follow me to bed that night when I got off the couch. He just sat where he
was and stared at the vacant seat. When I awoke for my 3 am piss he was waiting. Unblinking,
and it seemed, without breath. I went back to sleep.
The next day was sunny and I attempted to continue unpacking. Zeus followed me to every
room with that stare and that smell. He hadn't touched his food or had a drink of water yet.
And that night I didn't pull the drapes. The notion that somebody was looking inside the
house from the outside was gone. My gut was now telling me those prying eyes had already
made their way in and to pull the drapes now seemed like madness.
That night I awoke to a scream Help! Come down to the shed!. I jumped from my bed.
The cry seemed to come from the hallway outside my bedroom door. It was a woman's voice, but
it was only Zeus who greeted me. The day after I awoke with Zeus begging for
a walk. He had never done this before. He was there, leash in his mouth, eyes unblinking
and focused on me. I hooked up his leash and he pulled me down
the stairs. Down the stairs, through the kitchen, across the yard and stopped with his nose
against the door of the shed. The ancient wood that enveloped it trembled almost excitedly.
I dropped the leash and ran to my room. Zeus followed and sat in my doorway.
Hurry! Hurry! said the voice from behind the teeth of my dead dog. Come to