SPANIEL IN THE WIND – a 900 Club Short Story

The 900 Club have now posted their latest short stories for November. The two word phrase this month was “this time”. Please check it out if you enjoy fresh, original short stories. My offering, below, was inspired by H.P. Lovecraft, although it is probably not quite what you’re expecting….

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Spaniel in the Wind

by Martin Bolton

I, Fletcher Stanley Norman, write this now in the hope that I might deter others as foolish and unthinking as myself from perpetrating similarly vile acts. I fear that I have sunk too far into the murky depths of depravity, into realms beyond the light of the sun’s blessed rays, to hold any real hope for my own salvation. I can but warn others that this path I have taken leads only to eternal damnation, and pray that my warning is heeded.

The unwitting catalyst for the change in my previously mild and forgiving disposition was a cocker spaniel named Pete. His arrival in my garden one bright morning in early spring sparked a lamentable transition in my psyche, culminating in the dire events I am about to recount, the consequences of which are poor, innocent Pete’s shallow grave and my enduring slump into despair and darkness. Were it possible to turn back time, I would gladly give my own life in return for little Pete’s, but alas my despicable acts of blind jealousy can never be undone. I can only hope that Pete rests in peace, or perhaps exists in another sphere, beyond the shroud, where he is free from molestation and malice, where he bounds undisturbed through perfumed meadows void of the groping, fungal fingers of sin to which my soul succumbed.

At first, Pete’s boisterous, irrepressible zest for life was a welcome distraction from my permanent pond-side vigil. Each day he would breathe new life into the garden as he bounded back and forth, chasing his tale or following the scent of some long retired nocturnal beast, pausing periodically to slobber noisily over is testicles. There was a contagious energy in him that flowed into his surrounding environment, making every day seem like the first of spring. That energy has now left this derelict place, giving rise to a stagnant greyness that wreathes my pointy hat like a malignant smog and drains the light from my heart.

That first summer after Pete’s arrival seems like a painfully ecstatic dream that serves only to remind me with unrelenting brutality of all that I have destroyed. Pete was the sunshine, and every night as the moon shone upon my pond, I gazed at the water and pictured his manic tale and his thick, spongy ears dangling in the water as he lapped up mouthfuls of green slime. I would patiently wait, knowing he would be back at dawn to a lay steaming mound on the grass and mark me as his own.

But as I watched him, day after day, mindlessly urinating at every opportunity and relentlessly pursuing any hapless creature that ventured within the confines of the garden wall, something dark was nurtured within my soul. I gradually grew to despise Pete.

He became an insufferable annoyance, the constant scent marking seemed unnecessary and, in my head, became a mortal insult directed at me, and his incessant barking at every passer by an ear-splitting cacophony that cut me to the quick. I became irritable and developed a purple temper that flared up and threatened to explode whenever he was present. That indiscriminately affectionate, delirious young cocker spaniel became the secret focus for a deeply destructive, unforgiving hatred.

I was gradually gripped by a malignant, corrosive darkness that dug a fetid pit within my spirit, and it was two years after his arrival that I finally slid so disastrously to its very depths. I remember that morning so vividly that it tears at my heart like the claws of some ravenous raptor to recount it. It was early spring, dew hung heavy on glistening spider-webs, and the chorus of bird song was food for the soul – though mine had long since abandoned such sustenance.

I swear I did not plan what happened next, or perhaps I did in my festering, cursed subconscious. The sun was just rising and steam rose from the hedgerows. I heard the latch on the back door, the noise that signalled my daily torment. True to form, Pete came bounding onto the lawn, barking at the feeding birds, trying vainly to catch one in flight and sending them flapping to the tops of trees. He then squatted for his morning defecation – you could set your watch by his bowel movements. I had witnessed this very scene every day for two years, but this time it would have a different ending. As I watched him through eyes sooty with the blackness of hate, a terrible idea formed in my mind. As Pete squeezed out his final nugget of miasmic waste, I leapt from my rock as if controlled by some powerfully malevolent force, and mounted him roughly. Using my fishing rod as a miniature horse-whip, I gripped one of Pete’s giant ears and I rode him hard around the garden.

God forgive me, I rode him!

We cantered around the perimeter and out the gate. I did not see the range rover. God help me, I did not see it until it was too late! I managed to jump free in the nick of time, but poor, innocent Pete was not so lucky. His skull was crushed like an egg under the front wheel.

Shame and guilt are not my only punishment, for my porcelain heart will live on through the millennia and I shall linger in the knowledge of what I have done.

Dream #3 – Slobbered on by Tigers

This is an odd one. But then all dreams are odd, aren’t they? I don’t know why I keep saying that.

I was on a coach. It was the wrong coach. I don’t know where I was going or where I wanted to go, but I know it was the wrong coach. It was night time and the coach drove all night. When the sun came up we were driving along a country road and it was really sunny. On each side their were fields with people in them and in each field, there were different extinct megafauna. There was a Mammoth, a Paraceratherium, an Arsinoitherium and an Elasmotherium. Then the coach stopped next a field with huge tigers in it.

The tigers were mingling with tall Indian mystics in purple robes. We all got off the coach and went into the field and the mystics all started looking at me. They came over to me and kept saying the same word over and over – “khani”. As they said it the letters went through my head – “k-h-a-n-i”. Then two of the tigers came over and started slobbering all over my head, and the mystics continued to chant “khani, khani, khani…”

The act of slobbering on me seemed to be some sort of ritual. Eventually they stopped and just wandered off and left me there covered in thick, gloopy, tiger spit. Nice.

MISSING: 9 YEAR OLD GINGER TOM – a 900 Club Short Story

Here is my latest short story for the 900 Club. Check it out for four more very different stories, all inspired by October’s two word “phrase”: Stephen Fry.

MISSING: 9 YEAR OLD GINGER TOM

by Martin

Hello.

What are you doing here?

I just thought I would say hello.

Hello. I didn’t think I would see you again.

You’re looking a bit dishevelled. What happened to you?

I’ve had a few beers.

Look at the state of you. You’ve got a rip in your sleeve.

I think I bumped into a wall on my way home.

And fell over.

Maybe.

And passed out.

Possibly.

Did you wake up on the floor outside the Broadwalk?

Yes, how did you know?

I recognise the pattern on your face. You’re bleeding.

It’s just a bit of a scrape.

You should really wash the grit out of it.

Later. I’m knackered.

It’s getting late, haven’t you got to work in the morning?

I’m not going in.

Why not?

I don’t feel well.

I’m not surprised, how long have you been drinking?

Since Friday, I think.

No wonder you’re such a mess. Have you been arrested again?

No, the copper gave me a lift home. He seemed to feel sorry for me. I woke up to find him peering down at me, it was the loveliest vision of a policeman I’ve ever seen.

Christ, you don’t even make them angry any more. When even the police feel sympathy, you know you are beyond pathetic. You look like you’ve just been dug up.

I feel like it.

Your knuckles are bruised, have you been fighting?

Well spotted, Columbo. Anyway, so what if I have, you’re always out there fighting.

That’s different and you know it, I am protecting the garden. When was the last time you ate?

I had a kebab last night.

Disgusting.

That’s rich coming from you, I’ve seen what you eat.

You’ve never had the decency to try it though, I always bring something back for you and you screw your face up and throw it out. That’s gratitude for you. I suppose I’m expected to make do with that tinned shit you bring home, well you can stick it up your arse, I require something a bit fresher from time to time.

What am I supposed to do? Cook you a gourmet meal every night?

It wouldn’t hurt, just now and again. You could be a bit more thoughtful.

I’m not Hugh fucking Laurie.

What?

Hugh Laurie, you know, the butler.

What are you talking about?

The butler on that programme. What’s it called? Jeeves and Wooster, that’s it. He’s always one step ahead of the game.

That’s Stephen Fry.

…Stephen Fry then. I’m not your butler.

He’s not a butler.

What? Yes he is. He does the ironing and breakfast and all that. He gets Hugh Laurie out of hilarious scrapes.

Yes, but he’s not a butler. He’s a “Gentleman’s Gentleman”.

What? What the fuck are you talking about?

Give me strength. He’s a valet. A butler works for a household. Jeeves is Wooster’s personal servant.

Shit, I always thought he was a butler.

You fucking moron. Don’t you read books?

Shut up you ginger bastard.

You cretinous stick-man, you stink. Why don’t you have wash?

We don’t all have the luxury of being able to just stop and wash whenever we like.

Once a day would do. You smell like a tramp’s dog. Have some respect for yourself.

I’m not sure I have any left.

Get a fucking grip, man. Do you think you’re the only one who’s had a shit time? There are people out there with fuck all, who struggle every single day of their lives just to survive, people who would give anything to have your life. And look at you, wallowing in self pity. You’re young, you’re intelligent, and you’re alive. What is the problem?

I don’t fucking know.

You can’t carry on like this. Why are you so angry?

I’m sure I had a good reason, but I can’t remember what it was. It was a good reason though.

A good reason? Good enough to destroy yourself and push away everyone you love? A good enough reason to hate yourself? Whatever it is that has made you angry, it is winning. It is winning easily. I suppose crying is a good start, at least it is a genuine emotion that doesn’t break anything.

(SILENCE)

I have to go now, Martin. Will you be ok?

Will you come back and talk to me again?

You know I won’t.

What happened to you?

I don’t know.

Why did you leave me?

I wasn’t given a choice.

I’m so lonely. Look at the state of me. I don’t know what to do any more.

You have your whole life ahead of you. You must live it. Live it for me. And know that wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, every time you feel joy, and every time you feel sorrow, I will be there watching, and I will be proud of the man you’ve become. Don’t cry for my death, celebrate my life and all that we shared, and remember I live on in you, so you’ll never truly be alone. Can you do that?

I don’t know.

You have to. There are people who depend upon you. They’ll need you to be strong. Life is beautiful, and you are surrounded by people who love you. Just look around you, don’t shy away from them, be yourself, express yourself. You’ll find that they make you stronger. OK?

OK.

Good bye Martin.

Good bye, Whiskers.