Larry picked up the dogs from the boarding house Sunday afternoon while returning from his business trip. After being gone for a full week, he was surprised at their subdued demeanor, neither one seeming overly enthused to see him again. They must be tired from all the exercise they got, he thought. Those folks did promise to get them into shape with their new training routines. Quietly they hopped in the car for the ride home.
That night after his shower he caught them watching him as he dressed, rather than romping through the house playing as they usually would do. “Wow, you guys really must be zonked,” he told them. They just met his gaze in silence. “Well, I’m pretty worn out, too,” he added. “Time for bed.”
Monday evening he returned from work to find the pair intently watching the television during the evening news broadcast. “I don’t remember leaving the TV on,” he said to himself. He grabbed the remote and clicked the television off. Turning, he found both dogs staring at him. Was there accusation behind those eyes?
“What?” he asked. “Aren’t you two happy to see me?” After a few token licks to the hand and a quick wagging of tails, the two wandered off to the bedroom.
Tuesday night he arrived at the house and upon entering the kitchen, found the newspaper open to the classified pages. “It’s a wonder you guys didn’t tear it to shreds,” he mumbled to himself. “Maybe that obedience training did you two some good, huh?” The pair just eyed him silently from the corner.
Looking around to see of there was a mess somewhere else, he spied the phone book on the living room couch. Walking to it, he discovered that it was open to a page listing pharmaceutical supply companies. He gazed at the dogs, but they stood and left the room.
On Wednesday he came home to find his computer running. The Internet browser showed no signs of use, but a quick search revealed its history as well as the cache had been wiped. On a hunch he opened his email client and discovered that the last mail sent had gone out just minutes before to a group of addresses he did not recognize. The message simply read, “Items en route,” followed by the coming Friday’s date.
He closed out the program and ran his virus scanner for the obvious bug in his system. From the corner of his eye, he saw the dogs in the hallway, walking past the doorway to his office. A few seconds later he heard the flap on the doggie-door open and close, admitting the pair to the back yard. Too engrossed in damage control for his computer, he failed to notice that they did not return until well after dark.
He entered the house Thursday evening prepared to find something new and puzzling to confound him, but all seemed well. Nothing was out of place and the dogs greeted him perfunctorily before returning to their chew toys.
Larry decided since things were returning to normal, he’d splurge on a pizza for himself. He called and ordered a medium double pepperoni, but when opening his wallet to retrieve his credit card, discovered that it was missing. Short on cash, he was forced to settle for a can of soup. The dogs exchanged curious looks as he slurped down his unsatisfying meal.
Friday afternoon Larry awoke with a pounding headache to find that he had been drugged during the night and was now firmly bound to his bed by duct tape. He gazed towards the bedroom door where one dog sat, a roll of tape at his feet. A long steak knife hung from his mouth, firmly clenched between his jaws.
The other dog appeared at the side of the bed, a piece of paper in her mouth.
Looking close, Larry saw words written in a primitive scrawl. The top line read, “List of our demands.” The male jumped up on the bed, still clutching the steak knife. Glancing again at the paper, Larry saw what was listed as their first demand.
In the distance he heard the screams of his neighbors, accompanied by a chorus of barking dogs.