Peter was startled by Anja’s growling almost as much as by the policeman stepping into their house. His mouth still open to speak to the officer, Peter twisted his head to shush the dog. But before Peter could say anything, Anja launched herself at the man. At the same moment, the officer abruptly flung his bare hands out at Peter, with palms out and fingers aimed at the ceiling. Even though his hands never touched him, Peter was hurled up and backward. As if in slow motion, Danielle watched in horror as her father sailed violently past her, flying through the length of the house until he crashed into the rear wall, narrowly missing the picture window looking onto the patio. The look on his face told her everything she feared. But what drew her attention was Anja impacting the policeman, chest high, with enough energy to knock him off the front step and into the grass beyond. Furious barking was quickly drowned out by an unearthly howling. Danielle’s blood ran cold.
“Oh, no! It can’t be!” Danielle screamed. “Daddy! Anja!”
Moments later, she heard a great yelp from Anja and then her faithful and brave dog hurtled through the house, knocking Peter back down, just after he’d stood up. Both slid, piled into a heap, and crashed into the back wall. Danielle heard a sickening crunch. Her father grunted, struggling for a moment to get out from under the unconscious dog, and then passed out.
Danielle’s feet were leaden. It took great concentration to move them. Worse, paralyzing fear clouded her mind. She couldn’t decide which she wanted more: to see to the welfare of her dad and beloved dog or flee from the policeman. She took too long to decide. A scraping noise at the door drew her eyes back to the front of her home.
Danielle blinked and shook her head. Her eyes must be deceiving her. Had the man grown taller? He was nearly as tall as the doorway! How could that be? His clothes were ragged and torn. His shoes! The man’s feet had burst through them. Leather flopped at either side of the soles. And his skin began to change color, first from a tanned, blond man to the mixed colors of granite, then deepening to dark slate, until he finally shimmered obsidian. His features changed as his body expanded. No longer did he resemble a normal human man, but a horribly disfigured one.
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