The story so far:
Exhaustion was setting in on Chris. He felt something warm on his face and reached up with his left hand and touched his cheek. He flinched when he realized the warmth was coming from the tears that were dripping from his eyes. He gave in to the emotions that were welling up inside him and dropped to his knees and wept. The foul odor of rotted meat, decomposing plants, and human waste started to get stronger. He knew the dog was near. He fell back onto his buttocks and resigned himself to the beast.
"Come get me!" he screamed. "Let's just get this over with!"
His body started to tremble as his voice echoed back to him. He sat there for several minutes weeping and cradling his wounded hand against his chest. The dog never appeared. The stench still lingered stronger than ever, but everything remained still. Chris finally picked himself and up slowly descended the escalator, no longer interested in food. The only thing that he cared about was getting out of the mall. Fresh air. That just might settle his frazzled nerves.
Chris stumbled out through the skeleton of the main entrance, his head was reeling from the overpowering odor that still lingered in his nostrils. His mind was flying in a thousand different directions. One thought kept dominating every other. Home. He needed to get home. He had no idea why, but he had an urgent need to be in his own territory. The fact that he had a .357 in the hall closet didn't hurt the situation either.
The center of town was still deserted and eerie looking. As he passed by The Roadhouse, Chris saw something that dropped him to his knees. He started emptying the contents of his stomach onto the pavement. When his stomach was completely empty, his body was wracked by a series of violent dry-heaves. When his body finally stopped revolting against him, he slowly hoisted himself to his feet and dragged himself to the doorway of The Roadhouse. He peered down at the bodies lying there in the piles of garbage that had accumulated in the entrance. He had recognized his belt buckle from the street, but needed to see the face for visual confirmation. There he lay, Stasia clenched tightly in his arms.
The sight sank Chris' heart. So, he was dead? How exactly did that make sense? The pain in his hand told him otherwise, but there lay his dead body, plain as day. If he were a ghost, would he feel pain? The sight of the corpses disturbed him so badly that his entire body began to shake uncontrollably. He backed away slowly, turned toward home, and broke into a sprint at top speed.
Chris didn't even make it a block. The dog stepped out of an alley and cut him off. He slammed into it and went sailing to the ground. The dog dove on top of him and started to maul him.Chris howled in pain as the dog's teeth sank into the flesh between his shoulder blades. He could feel the flesh rip away from his body. Moreover, he could feel the dog's flesh pulsing against his own. It felt as if somethiing were inside the beast's body, trying to escape. He screamed again and struggled to get from beneath the monster.
He managed to flip onto his wounded back and began to fight back, the survival instinct in full gear. He struck the dog, which no longer looked like a dog, several times in the head, but it did not relent. In fact, the thing's face had started to somehow take on humanistic characteristics. The snout was shorter and narrower. Its eyes were a little more almond shaped and its ears had shortened and become semi-rounded. It kept ripping and tearing at him with razor sharp teeth. Chris screamed into the beast's face. Then it was gone. Simply disappeared. Vanished. As if into thin air. As if it had never even been there to begin with. The lacerations covering Chris' body told another story. The beast had indeed been there.
Chris lay on his back, nearly hysterical, and screamed into the sky. He picked himself up and started to tend to his wounds. The ones he could reach, anyway. He ripped strips from his jeans for makeshift bandages for his arms. Feeling defeated, he slowly made his way back to his house. The urgency that he felt earlier was gone now. He looked to the sky curiously as he realized it was starting to get dark already. It should have been early afternoon, the sun just getting to the top of its crest, but there it was, hovering just above the horizon line.
"Musta passed out again, but when?" he questioned aloud.
The wounds on his back itched and burned. He wondered exactly how badly the flesh was torn. He limped along in a daze. Maybe he would just place that .357 in his own damn mouth and end this once and for all. The image of the dog-beast's changing face continually popped into his mind. Goose bumps rose on his flesh and his blood started to run cold. Chris couldn't shake the thought that none of this would be happening if he had not gone drinking.
The sun sank further down the horizon as Chris turned onto his street. He half expected the beast to be waiting for him again. He no longer cared. If this was what was going to pass for life, he didn't want it anymore. Nothing was worth a lifetime of this craziness. He stopped once he was in front of his own house. He stood there, broken, defeated. That .357 was looking awful good to him. He slowly walked up the front steps and entered the house. The world went black.