Ever since the night of the terrible thunderstorm, Susan, the Bull Terrier, had a suspicious turn of mind. Everyone knew it. The Anderson family worried something fierce over her, for she no longer spent her time loping in the back yard or playing ball with the children. She wasn’t an old dog, either. In fact she was quite young. There was still that cute puppy look on her face and her tail still managed to wag whenever that certain spot just above her stomach was rubbed. Well, it did wag, before the awful thunderstorm. The fact is that no dog ages that fast. No dog. But it wasn’t until the night of the 7th, just as the old clock in the den struck 9:00, that Mr. Anderson started believing that the Bull Terrier was no normal dog.
He was writing in his record book, of course. Mr. Anderson, being a man of stature, always kept to a schedule. Starbucks coffee and the newest innovations could wait if it meant going over their allowed budget. The children were tucked in their beds. Mrs. Anderson was upstairs in her bed, thinking about the many chores that awaited her the next day. The grand old house was clean as it could be, yet Mrs. Anderson could always find something out of place. About the time Peter Anderson closed his record book and started to stand he noticed that Susan had crept into the study. This was odd. Susan was usually asleep at the foot of Charles’ bed at this time of night. Peter regarded her as she sat before him, staring. “What’s the matter, girl?” he asked, never anticipating that she would actually reply; and yet, when it happened, there was the surest certainty that he was not imagining things.
The night passed very slowly for Mr. Anderson. He couldn’t sleep. All night he stared up at the ceiling. Next morning Peter wrapped a chain around Susan’s neck and tied her off to a tree in the back yard. When Mrs. Anderson and the children asked what he was doing, he replied: “Never mind. Susan must get happy again.” All week Mr. Anderson ignored Susan. He never went out to visit her. He refused to allow anyone else to visit her. Time after time Susan’s words would play throughout Peter’s mind. Often Peter would wake up in the middle of the night drenched with sweat and shaking all over.
He tightened their budget. The children couldn’t understand why he no longer wanted to play with them. He never smiled, he never laughed. With everything he did he kept a close eye on the back yard where Susan sat, silently staring at the house.
One day he woke up and stomped out and shortened Susan’s chain. He kept doing this day after day; Susan willingly edged closer and closer to the tree, until only three feet of chain remained.
On the 23rd Mr. and Mrs. Anderson got into a fight. Mrs. Anderson demanded that he tell her once and for all what was going on. “It is the only way for Susan to straighten out,” he would say. “You, fix us a meal. Do something besides clean!” Charles, the oldest, decided he would sneak out one afternoon and pour some food into Susan’s bowl, for she hadn’t eaten in almost a week and all the water she received was what came in the rain. Mr. Anderson caught him in the act and spanked him and told him to never try such a foolish thing again.
On the 25th Mr. Anderson awoke with a start. He carried a rifle with him as he walked out the back door. He aimed, pulled the trigger, and killed Susan right on the spot. As he walked back to the house he felt a relief in his heart. “It is over,” he thought. “Now I don’t have to worry anymore.” He told his family that Susan had tried to attack him so he had to shoot her.
A bad storm was forming outside. Peter Anderson took his family and together they huddled closely in the storm shelter. “It’s over,” he kept saying to himself, a wad of anxiety stuck in his throat. He swallowed deeply. “My worries are over.”
At exactly 3:00 that day a huge meteor entered the earth’s atmosphere. It fell closer and closer to the ground, until it came to rest atop the storm shelter in which the Anderson family huddled. Everyone was killed instantly, except for Peter, who, struggling to breathe, said, “If only I had listened to you, Susan. If only I had listened to your warning.”
In heaven, Mrs. Anderson and her children stood next to Susan, who gazed downward at earth with tears in her eyes.
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