Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Eek! (02/25/10)
TITLE: Midnight Madness
By Bryan Ridenour
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She swatted blindly again. “Scotty, don’t’cha hear that carrying on?”
“Hear what?” came the sleepy response.
“The dogs,” she said, yawning. “Scotty, I have a 3:00 am feeding coming, and I need some sleep.”
A flailing kick sent Scotty reeling onto the hardwood floor, crashing soundly on his rump.
“Okay, Okay, I’ll go see what’s goin’ on,” he grumbled, rubbing his backside.
Walking past the nursery, Scotty quietly padded down the hallway, eased open the back door, and peered through the screen. He made out the silhouettes of two pouncing, pawing, and circling dogs.
“What on earth?” he thought aloud. “Probably fightin’ over that dirty old sneaker the kids tossed int’ th’ yard.”
Scotty slipped outside, clapping his hands. “Dogs, hush up!” he snapped.
Ignoring their master’s pleas, the dogs yipped incessantly, their barks echoing through the neighborhood like two booming tenors spending considerable time sucking on a helium balloon.
Flipping the porch light switch, Scotty glared at the bulb. “Dang,” he muttered, “burned out.” Refusing to waste precious time scavenging for a flashlight, he stepped into the inky darkness, ready to snatch away the distraction.
“Hush,” he snapped again, stooping to grab the shoe,
“Aughhh…” he yelped, stopping short of adding a word worthy of a bar of soap.
A hot hissing breath greeted his fingertips. Jerking away, Scotty scrambled to the porch, dashed inside, and leaned breathless against the door.
“What th’…?” he asked squinting into the darkness.
Scotty stomped into the kitchen and rifled through a utility drawer, grabbing a flashlight. From a storage closet, he swiped a broom and stormed outside to battle the rasping creature.
Beady eyes blazed as the flashlight flooded the spot causing the commotion. Hunkered down in the grass, an opossum hissed and snarled as the dogs advanced. Scotty twirled the broom above his head and rushed into the shadows. “Get outta here y’ dirty varmint!”
Tails between their legs, both dogs scattered to the far corners of the yard; the opossum stood his ground. Scotty jabbed the mangy animal; the opossum hissed and snapped at the broom’s handle. Scotty considered his gun, but reasoned a shotgun blast in the middle of the night might raise eyebrows and the local authorities. He thumped onto the porch step, his light beam trained on the marsupial.
“I got it,” he snapped.
Scotty approached the opossum tentatively and with the bristled end, swept it across the sprawling yard. With each sweep, leaves, dust and a terrified opossum went airborne. A rhythmic swat…hiss…swat…hiss…entertained the huddling dogs from a cautious distance. Nearing the fence’s exit, Scotty unlatched the gate and wound up. “Four,” he called imitating a professional golfer. With one last grunting swing, the opossum took flight, sailing into the neighbor’s yard. Shaking off a bone-jarring landing, the opossum waddled under the neighbor’s desk.
“Take that,” he yelled, waving the broom triumphantly. He knelt down, giving his dogs a quick head rub. “It’s okay now, boys,” he assured. “We can go back to sleep.”
In the bedroom, Scotty collapsed onto the foot of the bed. “Whew,” he sighed, obviously shaken.
“Hey Scotty, you’re crushin’ my feet,” his wife complained, kicking.
Scotty propped on his elbow. “Sorry, honey. Listen,” he encouraged cupping his ear.
Only a chorus of crickets broke the night’s silence.
“Thanks for taking care of the dogs Scotty,” she said gratefully. “You gonna come back to bed?”
No response. Scotty flopped to his back.
“Scotty, what are you doing?” his wife asked, groggily.
“Nothing, dear,” he said proudly. “Just playin’ a little ‘possum.”
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