Lightning flashed above them, and thunder cracked. It was a sharp, ragged sound—like the crunch of a busting tree trunk. The man flinched, and Napoleon turned to face him. The two of them stared at each other through the rain and the steel mesh.
“So, we meet again,” the man joked. He expected the sound of his voice would set the animal off.
But nothing happened.
The man swallowed.
“I know you can see me,” he said at last, and found he had to holler just to pierce the storm’s din. “I know you can see me—because I can see you!”
The Nano-T didn’t move.
The man laughed brusquely, and shook his head. “What’s the matter—forget about last night?”
Rain pounded on metal and roared down the gutter. The T remained still.
Why wasn’t it attacking? Was it wary of the shock prod? Was it sick? He readied his thumb over the prod’s switch. There was only one way to find out …
The Nano-T dipped its head to the ground suddenly, sniffing the mud, and the man hesitated. He withdrew the prod and shuffled forward, peering through the mesh …
It wasn’t mud the animal was sniffing. It was its own—
Something wet and foul hit the fence, splattering, and the man jerked away. The T’s narrow muzzle darted between the bars—and slammed to a stop. Its teeth gnashed; the fence shook. Its eyes stared out at him from its wide head, their golden coronas close to the mesh.
The man fumed; it had flung its shit at him! He hit the LADDER DOORS plunger and the PADDOCK plunger simultaneously.
Steel pulleys whirred, and iron doors slammed into the mud. Napoleon pulled back from the mesh, bleeding. He looked at the closed gates, owlish eyes blinking, and brushed at his lacerated snout with a fore-claw.
The man closed the control box and jabbed him in the hip with the prod. The Nano-T jumped, squealing, and banged its head on a crossbeam. Hot orange sparks rained down in the mud. The man laughed, his mouth hung wide, and struck the animal again.
Napoleon howled at the sky.
Wayne Kyle Spitzer (born July 15, 1966) is an American author and low-budget horror filmmaker from Spokane, Washington. He is the writer/director of the short horror film, Shadows in the Garden, as well as the author of Flashback, an SF/horror novel published in 1993. Spitzer’s non-genre writing has appeared in subTerrain Magazine: Strong Words for a Polite Nation and Columbia: The Magazine of Northwest History. His recent fiction includes The Ferryman Pentalogy, consisting of Comes a Ferryman, The Tempter and the Taker, The Pierced Veil, Black Hole, White Fountain, and To the End of Ursathrax, as well as The X-Ray Rider Trilogy and a screen adaptation of Algernon Blackwood’s “The Willows
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