I woke up in an excellent mood, my body didn’t ache anymore and Max hadn’t slept in my bed. I felt like I could conquer anything and everything life threw at me. I stretched and wandered downstairs for my first cup of coffee. I held in a giggle when I heard Chase snoring. I peeked into the living room, his head stuck out of a bundle of blankets, Killer snuggled up to him, similar to a big tumor on his side. I tiptoed into the kitchen, poured coffee, headed back upstairs, took a quick shower, and got dressed. When I strolled back downstairs Chase’s blurry eyed gaze glanced up at me, he gripped his coffee like his life depended on it.
“I take it you didn’t get much sleep last night?” I asked, trying not to laugh. He looked pretty bad.
“I’ve been so busy lately; I haven’t had time to watch any movies. Resident Evil rocks!”
“How many did you watch?”
“Almost all of them.”
I laughed at the thought of him and his movie marathon. “Maybe you should slow down a bit. You can borrow them any time.”
“Thanks, I need another cup of java.” He said, rotating his now, empty cup upside down.
I refilled both of our cups and sighed. “I need to get out today. You’re more than welcome to come with me, but one whole day stuck in this house is enough.”
“That’s cool, if you don’t mind me using your shower real quick we’ll figure out something to do.”
“You’re not afraid Max will get upset with you?”
“Nah, he was supposed to come back last night and he didn’t. Besides I could use some fresh air too.”
While Chase took his shower I busied myself picking up and checking my messages, something I should probably do every day, but hadn’t bothered to do since I’d been here. Rose called to say thank you for the necklace and she’d call back on Thanksgiving. My sister called sounding like her happy normal self and my mom called. They all promised to call me back on Thanksgiving and reminded me to turn my phone on that day. I cringed, Thanksgiving Day would soon be upon me and I’d forgotten all about it. I needed to go shopping. I wanted to donate food to the shelters anonymously.
“Hey Chase, how would you like to go shopping with me today?” I asked as he came trotting down the hallway.
I told him my plan and made sure the chamber in my gun was loaded while Chase put Killer’s leash on. As soon as we opened the door Killer growled, we both looked outside, the blood drained from our faces. Chase closed the door and we gazed at each other for a moment, not sure what to say.
I cleared my throat, “I’m going to get my camera and take some pictures. We need to check the back door too.”
“Afterward, I’ll check the barn. Do you still want to go shopping?” Chase asked.
Hell yes! I still wanted to go shopping, well, not necessarily shopping, but I wanted out of my house badly. I wasn’t in the right mind set to deal with this thing right now, and might never be.
“Yes, we’ll get pictures, check the barn, and let Max deal with the rest if he shows up.”
I grabbed my camera, we tugged the door ajar and I scoped out the area around the front of the house and deck. Killer growled low, under his breath. I didn’t see anything and my radar didn’t ding, so we carefully stepped outside. Another nest sat in front of the door. This nest was built bigger than the first, with dead bugs and dead birds tucked inside the cave like structure. An offering? For me? My gut said I was right. I shivered, these nests were the creepiest things I’d ever seen and chilled me to the bone. I took as many pictures, from all angles, as I could stand then proceeded to the back door.
Apparently, whatever had become enthralled with me had nothing better to do with its time than stalk me in it’s own unorthodox way. The nest by the back door took up almost a half of the width of the frame, stood at least a foot tall, and was more intricately made than the dwelling on the front deck. Dead bugs, birds, and a couple of squirrels were crammed into the burrow for good measure.
My gag reflex flared, I came close to emptying the coffee out of my stomach. The thing had taken its time twisting twigs and branches together into a cone shape pocket, leaves inter-weaved around and through the cone to block wind and weather. Dead birds lay against the back of the nest, dead bugs lay haphazardly around the inside, and the dead squirrels rested at the front of the entrance.
My heart beat double time, my skin crawled, and I had to keep swallowing hard to keep bile from rising into my throat. I needed to get out of here and I didn’t have to glance at Chase to know that he was ready to get out of dodge too. I tried to keep my hands from shaking as I snapped off more pictures of the dead creatures inside the nest.
Killer stopped growling once we stepped off the deck to check on Pumpkin and the horses. After making sure Pumpkin and Lightning were alright we locked up the barn. Ace’s stall stood empty, I figured Max had him. I shook my head, amazed at how often I looked for Max’s horse to tell me if he was around. I had to stop doing that.
We both heaved a big sigh of relief once we loaded into my truck and hit the road. Chase closed his eyes as soon as we turned off the dirt lane and onto the pavement. He slept for the whole trip into the city, which was fine by me, it gave me time to ponder my predicament, and he would need his energy to keep up with my power shopping. If we were lucky we’d only have to stop at a few stores. I glanced at the horizon, big, puffy clouds were beginning to cover the mountains and dim the sun, snow would start falling soon. I stepped on the gas to make good time and stopped in front of the first organic food store we arrived at.
I nudged Chase, “Time to wake up sleeping beauty.”
He opened his eyes and squinted, “I need coffee, I was having a really bad dream.” He blinked a couple of times then jolted fully awake. “Oh shit, it wasn’t a dream was it!?”
“I wish it was a dream. Come on we’ll get some lattes. Do you have any idea what is making itself at home at my house?”
“You need to talk to Max, I’m sure he knows. If I knew I’d tell you.”
“I will.” The next time I see him.
We ordered our lattes and I gave him the list for the deli.
“I’m going to get the other things and meet you at the cashiers.”
We parted ways and I sped walked through the aisles. I bought the store out of corn, potatoes, yams, stuffing, and cranberry jelly, then piled most of the pumpkin pies the store had left in my cart. I stopped for whipped cream and tea bags, put all of those in my basket and almost ran into Chase rounding an aisle. For some reason I couldn’t sense him as well as everyone else I knew. I briefly wondered why as we waited for the cashier to total everything up.
We loaded the bags into the tool box in the back of my truck and stopped at two more stores before we had enough goodies for the shelters. Starving, we bought burgers and fries from the nearest drive through restaurant and sat in the parking lot to eat. While we ate I put my hair up under a big floppy hat and changed out my sunglasses for some big face covering ones.
My face still appeared to be news worthy from winning the lottery and I was getting tired of it. I had also helped enough small businesses out that newspapers constantly wanted the next story and a few news shows wanted to put me on the air. I sighed. When reporters dug in their claws they never seemed to retract them. I wanted to be able to give without being the hero of the moment.
“How do I look?” I asked Chase.
“Goofy.” He said, laughing.
I’ve always believed if you were going to give to a charity, then you should give to that charity, without having to fill out the paperwork for the purpose of getting your money back on your taxes. I didn’t want my money back, I just wanted to be able to drop the food off without being recognized, and since this was my first time doing it I was sure I needed a disguise. I moved the rear-view mirror so I could check out my disguise. I did look goofy. I briefly fantasized about wearing the get up at home and the psycho creature leaving because it thought I was someone else, but knew that would be too easy.