A flash fiction piece inspired by my dog, Xena
Two long scratches squealed against the glass of the patio door. Xena lowered into a scared pre-pounce stance, eyes trained on the blinds for any trace of movement. Her nose sniffed heavily towards the sound as she approached.
Her instinct spun stories of robbers and intruders, murderers and mastiffs, but to her surprise, she picked up no scent at all. A quick whimper reverberated through her bones and into the thick fluff of a black coat that stood stiffly above her shoulders.
Two even longer screeches pierced her ears, now with the hint of a small shadow in the bottom corner of the glass. Something was there, after all. This was urgent. A direct threat had manifested right on her porch, a violation that would not go ignored. Xena’s front claws slapped against the ground as a full-fledged bark woofed out from deep in her chest, as if to sound the alarm bells.
An exhausted groan echoed down the hallway. “What, Xena? How many times do we have to do this? There’s nothing there. Just hush.”
The shadow swooped across her view once more, and she knew the time for hushing had long passed. Xena yelped one loud bark before taking both paws and punching into the blinds to scare the threat away.
“Xena!” Noah stomped down the hallway. “What is your problem?” She stood stoic over her, disregarding the screeches, mocking her warnings, and ignoring her desperate cries. Xena wanted to scream at her owner, demand that she open the door, and for once take her alarm seriously. But that didn’t happen.
Arooo. She hummed a low and long moose-like growl and punched at the ground with all her might. “Go lay down, now!” Noah snapped and pointed toward the bed in the far corner of the room, but Xena didn’t budge.
Two, now unignorable, twisting metallic whines echoed through the doorway, and Noah froze with wide eyes. No longer able to deny that there was, indeed, something.
Xena took a running start back to the patio entryway so fast that all four paws ran in places before taking grip and smashing her nose into the crease of the door. Still no definite smell was detectable, so she pulled in air so hard that her nostrils almost suctioned to the wood.
She glanced back at the human, who crept cautiously back from the doorway as they turned the knob. Their sweaty palms lost grip of the handle, allowing time for three more rabid screeches to sound off. Both the dog and her human jumped.
Hearts on the edge of cardiac arrest, they braced as the door swung open and bounced off the overstuffed bookshelf against the wall. Xena bared her teeth to the gum, a menacing feature she’d practice every day of every year of her life, while Noah leaned, eyes squinted, as far away from the opening as possible. But nothing was there.
The pair relaxed, Noah laughing at themselves for falling for Xena’s continued bouts of paranoia.
Mew. A high-pitched weep called out, followed by a small gray face poking around the corner of the porch wall. “Ugh, Castiel! Get in here.” Noah said, rolling their eyes as he scampered into the apartment. Xena huffed and stomped away, disappointed. Another day, another false alarm.
Xena hopped onto the couch and burrowed back into the blankets.
“Awe, good girl, Xena.” Noah scratched the base of her head a few times before ruffling the dog’s ears. “You did well this time.” She said, but Xena only looked longingly at the doorway, still.
Next time. Next time it’ll matter. And next time, I’ll be ready.