Canis and I visited the church where Gabe attacked me the other day. He was looking for any clues to who and what the Masks might be. He didn't find any clues in the church itself, but he said that it provided him with a good place to think.
"I think I can see a pattern emerging," he said, "but I'm not sure enough of it yet. Even then, I can't use it to actually predict anything. The next Mask could be anyone, anywhere, at any time." He stood up. "I'm sorry, Kenny. All I can do at this point is use you as bait. Withhold your location from the blog if you need to, but give me all the details you can in an e-mail. Where you were, where you were headed, what time it was...I want everything. I don't think they'll kill you. Not yet. I'm so sorry that I can't act as a bodyguard at this point in time, but I'll be trying to stay one step ahead of them for your sake."
We started driving back but stopped at a Burger King to grab a bit to eat for lunch. As we headed back to Canis's police cruiser, he held up an arm, stopping me.
"Kenny," he hissed, "don't move." I looked up and saw something move around from behind the car. It was some form of dog, or wolf or something, standing at least five feet from ground to back. Night-black, with intense red eyes and gleaming white fangs, saliva dripping from them as its lips pulled back in a snarl.
The Black Dog. But what was it doing here? From what I had learned, the Black Dog was the Fear of being found out. Of being hunted down or having your secrets exposed. But I don't have any major secrets, and I don't have to worry so much about being found now. Why was it coming after me now?
"Kenny," Canis said in calm, measured tones, "on the count of three, I want you to run. It doesn't matter where. Just down the sidewalk there. I want you to run as fast as you can."
I nodded, and he started counting. On "three," I bolted. I sprinted for about a minute straight, and finally slowed when I realized that I couldn't hear any sound of pursuit behind me. I looked back. Neither Canis nor the Black Dog was anywhere in sight.
After a bit of hesitation, I decided to take a chance and head back to the parking lot. Canis was there, winded, fumbling with his keys. "In the car," he said with a sense of urgency that I didn't ask any questions. He had barely started the engine when I saw the Dog come barreling around the street corner. It barely lost any momentum coming around the curb, and Canis wasted no time putting the squad car in gear.
"Why's it after me?" I asked, craning my neck around to watch. It was keeping pace with us. Maybe even gaining on us.
Canis turned the sirens on, plowing through red lights in an attempt to lose the beast. "It's not. It's after me." I stared at him. "Don't look so shocked," he said flatly. "You know that I'm familiar with the Fears. Did you think I'd never had any encounters with them myself?" He paused. "Don't worry, we're not in any danger. I've done this before." Sure enough, after a few twists and turns, he managed to shake the Dog from our trail.
I've been spending the time since thinking. Obviously, if the Black Dog is after him, he has his own secrets he wants to stay hidden. Are these secrets that could hurt me, or just things he doesn't want to share very easily? What other Fears has Canis encountered? Has he helped people like me in the past?
All I know is that I'm thinking it maybe would be a good idea to split from Canis soon. I don't like that he's essentially using me as bait, but I trust him when he says that there's no other way. He can't protect me without knowledge, and he can't get that knowledge without putting me in a tricky position. I just wish that there was some other way.