Tiggy had always been timid. A rescue dog was always going to have some trauma, and Tiggy's were brooms. Peter's blood boiled at the thought of the callousness someone needed to hit a dog with a broom.
But the cry that came from the front room sent a shiver of terror down his spine. Part cry of someone mortally wounded and a banshee terrorising a child's dreams. And all from a medium dog.
Peter stumbled over himself as he catapulted himself down the hallway. He felt his fingers graze something, saw in his periphery it wobble, and heard it smash.
Tiggy was glued to the other side of the door as Peter had to shove his way in.
In less than a heartbeat, the cause of Tiggy's blood-curdling cries was clear.
A boy, no older than twelve, stood as frightened at the other side of the room. Short, shallow breathing punctuated the standoff between boy and dog. He was dressed up as if he was in some avant-garde dance troop. The skin-tight lycra glistened in the afternoon light.
Peter noticed the outside door locked.
He stumbled over some words, unsure of what was more pressing.
"Who are you?" Peter finally uttered.
The boy's eyes flick over to him as if this was the first time seeing him.
Seeing the boy distracted, Tiggy scampers her way out of the room. The boy relaxes a little. His little shoulders fall and his chest rises with a deeper breath.
"Manny," the boy says.
"Hi Manny," Peter says, unsure about the accent. "Where do you live?"
Manny's eyes narrow and he looks around, suddenly aware of being in Peter's front room.
"Here," he says, pointing to something only he can see.
"This is my house," Peter says.
"Is this the past?"
Peter gives a snort. "The past?"
"This," he says, holding out a small phone from his cupped hand. "I time traveled using this."
"Oh, of course. Makes sense."