Here's the story:
So there I am at that house again — the house I know I always have to be careful at because it’s under guard. It’s patrolled.
Patrolled by… things.
I make my way up the walkway, moving quickly but cautiously. I need to move right along, but I’m still trying to avoid any inadvertent sounds that might trigger an attack. I tuck my mail bag tight against my hip, swiveling like I’m doing the bump to avoid scraping on the bushes to either side as I pass by, placing my feet carefully rather than just clumping along in my big winter boots. I’m holding my breath, listening, trying to pick up any sign of where they are, hoping they’re in the house somewhere, not lounging by the mailbox, either hiding in the bushes or concealed by deck-furniture, just lying in wait to pounce.
I hate it when they do that.
Sometimes they lunge at the big plate picture window along the front of the house as I walk by, their ferocity shaking the very walls of the house as they thrust themselves toward me again and again, slaver coating the window before each terrifying beast as it sprays from their open, howling jaws — jaws filled with sharp and savage teeth. When this happens I try not to look directly at them, try not to make inadvertent eye contact: they take that as a challenge, increasing the ferocity of their display until I begin to doubt that the house itself lacks the strength to contain them.
The house, which even now stands silent, looking almost vacant in its stillness.
They can’t fool me.
I know they’re there!
I have the mail all sorted and together as I approach the mailbox, fastened as it is to the railing of the rear steps. It’s bundled together in one hand, rolled into a sort of tube that will slide easily and, more importantly, soundlessly into the waiting mailbox. I lift the lid with the back of my fingers, a smooth, practiced motion I make with the hand still cupping the mail. The lid rises. I swivel my wrist, push my hand down, release. The bundle of mail, one smooth catalog wrapped about the outside, slides into the box with all the sound of a light breeze gently nudging a stalk of grain.
I pivot on the balls of my feet and begin to make my way back the way I have come, the steps already marked out in my head, the path already clear of obstructions as well as anything that might wake the sleeping beasts.
Behind me, the breeze nudges the raised and balanced mailbox lid with all the force it would use against a stalk of grain.
The lid, of course, slams down with a report like a cannon.
Within the house the beasts awaken.
Bellowing, shrieking, snarling with rage at the prey that nearly got away, that dared to make its way into their territory and think it could get away with it, they come through the house. I can hear them, the sounds of them, getting closer and closer. I could run — should run — but instead I stand there like some poor damsel in distress in the old movies about the Mummy, or the Creature from the Black Lagoon, those women I used to think were so stupid, used to yell at the screen ‘just run, run and you’ll get away from that slow thing easily, what are you standing there for run!’ But just as they stood there, paralyzed by horror, mesmerized by fear, so stand I waiting for the monster to get me.
The pet door built into the back door of the house thumps once, twice, and they are outside with me, separated from my flesh by a mere fence, a fence they sprint the length of, snarling and slavering. Looking for an opening. Looking for a way through.
A way through to me.
I watch them run, horrified by what I see before me, a pair of otherworldly things, creatures not found in any zoo you might visit, Animal Planet special you might watch or taxonomy you might find. These are things straight out of a Stephen King novel, something found only in our own nightmares, only these nightmares have refused to be left on the pillow in the morning, defied our efforts to shake them off upon waking like water sluicing from a duck’s back as she leaves a pond, left to dry, evaporate, and be gone. These beasts have followed us into the waking world, and from the look of them they’re hungry.
Balls of fluff like you’d see under your sofa, or maybe your bed, tiny tumbleweeds of dust and hair and God-knows-what that blow hither and thither across our floors and up our hallways to collect on our stairs and in our corners, only to be swept up and thrown in the dustbin. Vacuumed up and thrown out with the trash.
These Dust Bunnies, however, move.
Somewhere, somehow, they’ve been given a terrible, monstrous life, whether by the hand of Man’s science or some perversion of God these things live, and I can not look upon them without feeling a shiver of fear that runs through me to my very soul.
Huge compared to their mundane brethren they remain small in our world, barely a foot tall, but they seem to gain stature through their rage and ferocity. Like Tribbles on steroids, out of control with rage, these nearly featureless balls of fur and dust and whatnot race up and down the fence on what must be rudimentary legs, puffballs of spite, snapping at the very wood that stands between us, protecting me from their savagery.
Their terrible high whining cries cut through the air, a dark sound filled with menace, reminiscent of bus air brakes squealing or nails dragged on a chalkboard. The long cries break down into a series of shorter, staccato squeals of indignation, barks of anger that hurt the ears and turn the bowels to water as I back away from the fence, wracking my brain for something, something I can give these small white demons to appease them, to somehow satisfy the incredible want, the need that fills their piteous barking so they might stop hounding me for…
…waitaminute. Barking? Hounding?
I stop backing toward the street, take a half-step closer, leaning down slightly, squinting to see through the fence pales at the small shapes flashing by…
Son of a bitch. Those things are…
Huh. Imagine that.
Talk to you later!