by Violet Moon
A story about two puppies who escape from The Building together. Merely an excerpt.
A slouching figure could be seen from a wire cage where a small, brown dog lay, unable to sleep. She trembled with fear as his heavy, shaky footsteps inched closer, making the contents of of the cage vibrate slightly as they landed. He stopped in front of her cage, and kneeled down to let his icy blue gaze wander over the dog he had raised. The puppy, a golden Yorkshire Terrier named Sorra, was standing in a paw-high layer of feces, her own for that matter. Her fur was matted and dirty, and her belly was dripping with what she was stepping in from nights spent laying in it.
The Man had a stubble of a beard on his chin and black, spiky, unkept hair on his head. His breath smelled like rotten fish, and a small trail of horrid-smelling smoke loved to follow a squishy white and light brown stick he held between his teeth often. He wore a baggy red shirt and dirty thin pants, Sorra couldn’t make out what color, and she didn’t want to. Covering his hind paws were heavy boots that looked like they could crush a tiny puppy’s paw in a heartbeat if one got her paws too close.
Holding her breath, human and dog locked eyes, The Man’s a cold, hardened anger pouring into an innocent, pleading baby-blue pond, still and quiet. Sorra knew better than to bark when this human was around — dogs here were beat because of that, and sometimes just because he felt like it. Her heart felt like it was about to rip out of her chest. Each second this staring game continued, the more frightened she became.
Seconds ticked by, man and dog locked in what seemed like an eternal staring contest, until finally, The Man turned his head and rose on flimsy legs to the weird, upright position that humans functioned with. He began to walk away, the puppy next to her whining with hunger and earning a kick to his cage. She watched as her owner continued on his way, yelling strange words at some of the other dogs and forcing a large, wooden door to shut faster than it should behind him.
Only then did Sorra dare to release her breath, even if it did come out shakier than she would admit to. The way she breathed was not her top priority at the moment, though. It was to see if the dog next to her wasn’t hurt from the kicking of his cage he’d experienced.
Within the tight confinement of her cage, Sorra managed to turn her body around so it could face the side of the one next to it. That one was also caked in defecation, a larger amount due to the size of the puppy it contained, whose cream-splotched white pelt could be seen easily through the merciless black that surrounded them at this time of night. Her cage-neighbor and lifelong friend, the pit bull puppy, Stardust.
“A-are you okay?” she lay down, the cold, fresh feces squishing against her body and adding another layer to the matted, caked-on mess that had built up on her belly since she’d been moved to this cage.
“I was about to ask you the same thing,” a low whine answered her, she turned her head to see two puppy-blue eyes staring back at her. “He didn’t scare you too badly, right?”
“No. I’m fine, Stardust,”
“Good enough for me,” he nodded, Sorra seeing the awful lot of brown that stained her friend’s pelt, feeling lucky her fur was brown and could hide the horrible, dirtiness that infested it like the fleas that were common among the dogs in the building.
“It’s too late for riddles, isn’t it?” the little dog sighed, moving her head to get a better look at the shape the rest of her friend was in. She could see bruises from The Man’s kicking when he’d been laying too close to the wall of wire that kept him prisoner. The nearest bruise though, was on his face, the would slightly bleeding as it appeared that he was crying red tears.
“I’m afraid so,” he barked, lowly so no one would wind up what they called the bark storm effect, where when one dog barked in silence, many barks followed.
They let silence once more reign over the building, between the horrid smells, taking in ever-precious peace in the chaos they grew up in. Taking the time to reflect on what had been done to her and probably all the dogs in the building made her stomach churn worse than what her “bed” did.
Most of the dogs had yet to experience rays of sunlight warming their backs, a new batch of scents to discover, and waking to find actual, real food in their bowls and clean water to drink, if any water at all. Between the overwhelming scent of “beds” was the scents she never wanted to follow — the smell of rotting flesh and decaying insides of her kind, kibble that was beyond eating to the point that even the most steel-stomached of dogs refused to lick it.
The Man made few exceptions to this unfair treatment, and those were to the large dogs who wore their scars as if they were a symbol of a high-ranking Pack dog. Large dogs like german shepherds, labradors, dobermans — any big dog with a tough breed reputation or big stature was preferred by the person who was worse than the scent of decaying dog insides. He didn’t care about the rest of his dogs unless they made him a quick bit of money.
Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, sometimes sooner than later. Sorra could hear trouble approaching — the metallic clanging of chain and the scraping of large dog nails against the floor. Her lips curled into a snarl at the very thought of who was approaching: Spike, the wolf-dog.
Carrying himself with a proud demenor, the smoke-gray half-breed was The Man’s favorite animal he owned, treating Spike like a king while the rest were given cages too small for them and water that wasn’t clean. For the love of kibble, most dogs in the building hated that long-furred canine, Sorra and Stardust not being an exception.
“Well, well, if it isn’t the two runts in residence,” he barked, she got a look at his wolf-like teeth. “Wonder why Master hasn’t got rid of you yet.”
Stardust’s ears were pinned back as far as possible, his large muzzle turning from passive to almost primitive as it curled into a snarl more scary than any snarl she’d ever made. A surprisingly deep growl rose from his throat. “Shut your muzzle, Spike. At least we are quiet.”
Mother had warned Sorra to never interfere with two males having a disagreement, especially if she was smaller in size than either than them. Spike towered over her, and although Stardust was smaller than the gray wolf-blood, he was bigger than her by a lot more than a few paws. Luckily for the littler puppy, The Man didn’t tolerate it for very long.
The human jerked on the chain, Spike coughing as the makeshift leash tightened around his neck. His words were incomprehensible — she was glad it was that way. Voices of humans were difficult for a young puppy like Sorra to understand, or even make out clearly what was being said half the time. It didn’t help that her ears were floppy, unlike her mother’s, which stood up straight — like what Mother called a tree. Mother said a lot of weird things her little one didn’t understand.
As Sorra watched The Man take that mean dog outside for the night, her heart grew more set on leaving this horrible place. All the humans that visit come here for the bigger puppies, like Stardust, despair wriggled its long, sharp talons into her chest as she thought, I don’t think I’m ever getting out of here.
“I ought to bite that dog someday,” Stardust interrupted her depressed train of thought, a growl still laced to the edge of his words.
She couldn’t let her friend say things like that, if he wanted a shot of getting out of the building as much as she did! “He gets on my nerves too, but you can’t hate on him. We’re dogs, not grudge-holding humans.”
“You learn that term from your mom?”
“She was a good dog,” he lowered his head in acknowledgement, what dogs do when remembering one who has passed on. In the quiet, a single tear formed in Sorra’s eye, staining her soft fur as it fell. Her mother was a good dog, but like so many others here, she hadn’t lasted forever, and after three litters she went to wherever nice place dogs went when they died. Sorra had never asked about where dogs went when they died, but Mother had mentioned it briefly when she was a puppy — it was somewhere very white, clean, and happy.
The complete opposite of her current home. It was more a ‘pound’ that a home, but as much as she tried to deny it, this place was the only place she’d ever lived. Home is where your heart is, she thought to herself, quoting her mother. My heart does not rest here. This place isn’t home, and I’ll find somewhere better to live someday.
“Get some rest now, Sorra. Tomorrow will be a better day, I just know it,” squish went the waste under the larger puppy as he repositioned himself. In the relative coolness of night, the stink of feces wasn’t as bad as it was during the day, since heat couldn’t make it rot and smell even worse. Sorra’s nose had gotten used to the stink over the course of her little life, but her paws were aching for a cleaner place to stay.
It had been a busy day, considering every day is a busy day for little puppies, and the little eyes that Sorra own closed almost by themselves, falling asleep almost instantly, and dreaming of a story all dogs should know.
A bright yellow sun hung high in the sky, tall, thin green trees soaking in the beams of light, creating lily pads in the pond of shadows that lurked under them. The form of a she-wolf loped through the forest, her red and tan fur easily identifiable. Banished from her Pack, she searched for another, but after years of denial she realized the fluke in her plan. She needed a Pack, yes, but perhaps not a Pack of other wolves.
While lacking in fur and fangs, the humans controlled the burning light — fire. A deadly form of protection against predators. They kept their mates and pups safe with it, and used it in their daily lives. Earacct’s plan involved gaining the Alpha of a human Pack’s trust, and thriving with the protection the burning light provided. She was more than a capable huntress, but without a Pack, a wolf’s skills are useless. A Pack could hunt more than a single wolf could ever hope.
Earacct searched the land for a Pack of humans, their odd forms outlined against the setting sun as they woke with the night animals for their hunts. In that way, she was the same as they — nocturnal, the best chance of scoring a kill was under the cover of night, her pelt becoming gray instead of its normal red glow when Dusk and Dawn chased one another through the sky.
After years of searching, the world became cold, snow beginning to fall steadily, then harder as blizzard after blizzard made its white fury known to the land. Earacct called this time the White Rage, and in the middle of it, stumbled into the cave of a human and his Pack. Blinded by days looking at nothing but white, and almost frozen, she could neither see or feel what was going on in the world outside her own mind.
Eventually her senses returned, and she could see the gray walls of the cave and the feel of fire warming her fur. Getting up and weaving her way through the bodies of sleeping humans, the she-wolf came to stop at the youngest of the Pack — a little pup, what looked like a couple of months old. One sniff identified the pup’s gender as male. Slowly, as not to wake him, she placed her paw on his body. He was colder than ice and his heartbeat was weak.
Her predicament was dire. If she didn’t do something fast, the grown humans would wake to find their son dead, and they’d blame it on her, even if she would never do such a thing to one so small.
The dream faded into black, but Sorra didn’t wake, and from what she could hear, Stardust hadn’t moved either. Their sliver of peaceful silence — which was rare to get in this place — was broken by the familiar sound of click-clicking by a large dog’s nails. The Man was putting Spike back in his kennel, which was confirmed when the jingling of a metal latch ceased a few moments later.
Her floppy ears pricked with the sound, and one little eye opened for a look around. A trail of large, muddy paw prints painted the floor. They were too big to be anyone else’s but Spike’s. The Man’s usual heavy footsteps brought to her mind a picture of what was happening beyond the closed door.
Sounds of dry dog kibble crunching against a plastic bowl made both Sorra and Stardust’s tummies cry out instantaneously. The envy of the wolf-dog receiving it made the food sound much better than it was.
Everything seemed hopeless until a loud ring, ring snapped them out of it. The Man hustled to answer it, his footsteps fast and his weight banging against the floor. A second later, he picked up the phone. From what Sorra could hear from his end of the conversation, it sounded like good news.
“What do you want?” his slow, angry voice answered. Silence followed.
The Man gasped a little, and stayed quiet until he could fix up a good reply, by the sound of things. “Inspection time again? Already?”
“No, I didn’t get the twenty-four hour advanced notice that you gave me yesterday. Must’ve been busy and deleted the message by accident,” a nervous chuckle.
“You sure you you got the time right? That’s in twenty minutes!”
“Uh, yeah I’ll have the place ready for the inspection. See you in less than half an hour, bye bye now,” his voice was as shaky as his steps.
He came out of his “office” and into the view of yorkie and pit bull, but walked so fast he did not stop to notice them. Quickly he was out of earshot.
“You know what that means?” Sorra barked, her little tail wagging.
“I do, but I want to hear your idea first,” her companion scratched his ear as he took his time with his reply.
“We have a chance to get out of here! To go and find a place that will treat us right, Stardust!”