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datatime: 2022-11-27 11:10:34 Author:pArgqquT

Now and then the house creaked with ordinary middle-of-the-night settling noises.

The dog dropped onto all fours and hurried out of the bedroom.

Wind murmured and moaned in the bungalow's eaves.

Travis could see nothing threatening on the front lawn or on the street. Then a thought struck him, and he said, "Are you worried about whatever was chasing you in the woods this morning?"

The sky was clear. The air was warm. With vivid green spring growth, the trees looked fresh; they stirred in a breeze just strong enough to take the searing edge off the hot sunlight.

Travis had to coax him back into the bedroom. There, the dog wanted to lie on the bed beside his master, and in the interest of calming the animal, Travis did not object.

The dog dropped onto all fours and hurried out of the bedroom.

Exhausted from the emotional as well as the physical exertions of the day, Travis was soon asleep.

The dog regarded him solemnly.

Einstein pressed his snout to the glass and mewled nervously.

Einstein pressed his snout to the glass and mewled nervously.

The dog regarded him solemnly.

The day following her encounter with Art Streck, Nora Devon went for a long walk, intending to explore parts of the city that she had never seen before. She had taken short walks with Violet once a week. Since the old woman's death, Nora still went out, though less often, and she never ventured farther than six or eight blocks from home. Today, she would go much farther. This was to be the first small step in a long journey toward liberation and self-respect.

"What was it out there in the forest?" Travis wondered.

The dog dropped onto all fours and hurried out of the bedroom.

The day following her encounter with Art Streck, Nora Devon went for a long walk, intending to explore parts of the city that she had never seen before. She had taken short walks with Violet once a week. Since the old woman's death, Nora still went out, though less often, and she never ventured farther than six or eight blocks from home. Today, she would go much farther. This was to be the first small step in a long journey toward liberation and self-respect.

The dog woofed once, quietly.

Now and then the house creaked with ordinary middle-of-the-night settling noises.

Einstein nuzzled and licked Travis's hand as if reassured and grateful. But he looked out the window again and issued a barely audible whimper.

The sky was clear. The air was warm. With vivid green spring growth, the trees looked fresh; they stirred in a breeze just strong enough to take the searing edge off the hot sunlight.

Remembering the retriever's-and his own-stark fear in the Santa Ana foothills, recalling the uncanny feeling that something unnatural had been stalking them, Travis shivered. He looked out at the night-draped world. The spiky black patterns of the date palm's fronds were edged in wan yellow light from the nearest streetlamp. A fitful wind harried small funnels of dust and leaves and bits of litter along the pavement, dropped them for a few seconds and left them for dead, then enlivened them again. A lone moth bumped softly against the window in front of Travis's and Einstein's faces, evidently mistaking the reflection of the moon or streetlamp for a flame.

Because Travis was not much of a drinker, three beers were enough to insure against insomnia. He was asleep within seconds of putting his head on the pillow. He dreamed that he was the ringmaster in a circus where all the performing animals could speak, and after each show he visited them in their cages, where each animal told him a secret that amazed him even though he forgot it as soon as he moved along to the next cage and the next secret.

Because Travis was not much of a drinker, three beers were enough to insure against insomnia. He was asleep within seconds of putting his head on the pillow. He dreamed that he was the ringmaster in a circus where all the performing animals could speak, and after each show he visited them in their cages, where each animal told him a secret that amazed him even though he forgot it as soon as he moved along to the next cage and the next secret.

Near dawn he came half awake and realized that Einstein was at the bedroom window again, keeping watch. He murmured the retriever's name and wearily patted the mattress. But Einstein remained on guard, and Travis drifted off once more.

Now and then the house creaked with ordinary middle-of-the-night settling noises.

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