Ryan just couldn't take it any more. Living in a remote area was one thing, but letting your dog flip out non stop for two straight hours was just going too far. He generally tried to take a 'live and let live' attitude about how other people choose to go about their business, but this kind of tomfoolery was just not acceptable.
"How the heck is that man sleeping through all of this?" he asked himself. He didn't know his neighbor, Mr. Jansen, very well, but decided that the two of them were about to get to know each other a whole heck of a lot better.
Ryan crossed the Study and picked up the handset of the antique desk phone, which he had purchased from a thrift store after cancelling his cell phone plan, and brought the receiver up to his ear.
No dial tone, static, or anything else. Ryan jiggled the cradle several times and made sure the phone cords were all fully connected, but still nothing came from the earpiece. "Great. This is just great. First time I need to make a phone call in a month and the stupid thing is dead. I guess I'll have to call the phone company first thing in the morning to straighten this out!"
Ryan laughed at his little joke and hung up the phone. He decided to give Mr. Jansen another half hour to do something about the racket his dog was making before taking any further action. If the dog didn't zip it by that time, he would just have to drive up the road and call on the good neighbor in person. He really didn't want to, but "Enough is enough!" he added vehemently.
"Can a dog lose his voice?" he asked the empty room. "I'm thinking the evidence on hand is pointing towards a 'No' verdict, but perhaps this specimen is an anomaly, or some kind of mutant dog. I've certainly never heard one go on and on like this before."
Ryan only lasted another twenty minutes before the barking finally drove him out the front door and down the sidewalk. The barking was even louder outside, and Ryan wondered again how anyone could possibly sleep through this much noise. "It's enough to wake the dead," he told the night sky. It was still so dark he couldn't see more than the vague outline of his vehicle and he had to feel his way down the car's side to find the door handle.
Ryan knew that something was wrong the second he slid into the driver's seat of the car. He could not immediately identify what it was, but he definitely felt that something was not normal. He tried adjusting his seat and checking the mirrors, but neither of those things did anything to diminish his feelings of uneasiness. He went ahead and turned the key and the engine roared to life, sounding healthy enough. Deciding that it must have been in his head, he shifted into reverse and pressed the accelerator pedal.
This was the very first moment that night when Ryan felt afraid.
It wasn't the last.