|My Aoife-girl...the model for Circe.|
I am warning you here and now...seriously. This past Halloween, I was inspired to write a scene for my upcoming DEAD: Snapshot--Portland, Oregon by an incident involving my BELOVED pair of Border Collies. I shared the video of Tyrion's response to my zombie mask. What you might have missed in all that barking was how Aoife came right up and wanted to snuggle my legs.
|Tyrion (the model for Imp) and my daughter, Ronni.|
What is about to follow is a scene that I had to take a few breaks in order to finish. It is in its rough draft form, so there may be a glitch or two. However, this scene is going to strike a nerve. Any writer who says he does not want people to feel REAL human emotion when their books are read is not a writer I want to meet.
|What you see at any given moment under my desk.|
Again...YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED! The following scene WILL contain material that will be difficult for some readers. Use discretion.
Circe nudged the woman. She could smell the wrongness, yet, this was her person. More than once she had tried to remind the one she called Imp that they owed all that they were to this human. She was the bringer of food and that made her important.
“Master?” Circe whined softly.
No reply came and the feeling of wrong seemed to grow and become overwhelming. Every fiber of Circe’s being screamed for her to get away. Imp and the useless Golden Retriever had vanished long ago, leaving her to tend to The Master all by herself. Even the other humans had apparently all but forgotten about the woman on this bed who was everything in Circe’s small world.
Her time as a puppy had been magical. She remembered all the days that they would run together; just Circe and The Master. And the treats for doing such simple things as playing! At times, she almost felt guilty for taking them. She would have gladly chased the ball and returned it for the pleasure of the run and the way she was stroked, ruffled, and told how pretty and good she was by The Master.
Circe loved her human. She would stay at her side no matter what happened. And everything had been perfect until the wrong ones had first appeared. The smell was confusing. At first, they smelled like something that would be perfect to roll in. Only, there was something else under that scent. It was…wrong.
And now…now that smell was coming from The Master. Another whine escaped the frightened Border Collie’s muzzle.
Circe turned her head and discovered Imp standing in the doorway. He looked angry, and his eyes were almost solid black as they looked right past her and to where The Master was beginning to stir behind her.
“The Master needs us.”
“The Master is no more,” Imp snarled. “She is now one of The Wrong. Get away from her before she hurts you.”
“How can you say that? How many times did The Master care for you when you would eat something that you should not? Even when you made Bad Dog on the floor!”
“She is not The Master any longer, Second Mother.”
The use of that title made Circe pause. Imp only used it when he was being pack. He used it when he apologized for playing too rough, or when she would be scolded for something that was his doing and he would offer up an apology.
“She would never hurt us,” Circe insisted. She could feel the Master move behind her. Perhaps if The Master would but speak in her peculiar language, Imp would see. He would have to see.
Hands ran over her. It was in that instant that Circe realized that The Master truly was one of The Wrong. There was that instant when the cold hands closed on her that Circe reacted out of instinct. She whipped her head around to bite, but as soon as she saw The Master, that urge simply faded from the years of conditioning.
The Master was safety and love and protection. The Master was never hurt; even when she did things that upset The Master, she had never once been nipped, swatted or even scolded with much force. That is why Circe did nothing more than tremble as The Master’s mouth came closer.
“Run, Circe!” Imp demanded, but she would not. The Master would not hurt her. It was not The Master’s way.
The cold hands of The-Wrong-That-Was-Now-The-Master gripped her fur tighter and made Circe whimper in pain. Surely that would make The Master see. All those times when The Master would accidentally step on her foot or tail; The Master would always stop and tend to the hurt. She would soothe with words and gentle strokes of Circe’s fur.
The mouth came in closer, and then clamped down on the side of Circe’s throat. The red and white Border Collie yelped in pain as she felt something tear away. The pain was more than she could stand and Circe jerked free. Her body landed on the fall with an awkwardness as her legs did not free themselves properly from the bed coverings. Instead of landing on her feet, Circe landed on her side and felt her head bounce off the floor. She rose unsteadily and saw her own blood shoot across the room and spray the floor. She manged only a step before The Master landed heavily on top of her. Both back legs snapped under the sudden and overwhelming weight. Again Circe yelped.
In her mind, as the world faded to darkness, all she could do was ask herself how she had upset The Master. What had she done wrong?
Imp watched helplessly as The Wrong tore into his beloved pack-friend, Circe. He refused to allow himself to refer to that thing as The Master. It was not The Master. It was one of them.
The hot life blood came in a jet from Circe’s throat. She yelped in a raw, ragged way that Imp knew meant that she would be no more. He saw as Circe vanished under the body of The Wrong. He heard her pain cry and the sound of snapping bone. He was about to launch into an attack when the two man-things that were not of the pack came on the run.
“You are too late, stupid man-things!” Imp barked.
He saw that they held things in their awkward paws that could cut and hurt the flesh. The Wrong had managed to get to its knees and was pulling the limp figure of Circe in to take another bite. The Wrong’s face vanished in the long, silky fur that Circe had been so proud of and preened every time that The Master pulled out the funny little thing that ran through that fur and made it shine even brighter than normal as well as pull out all the kinks and knots that teeth would take hours trying to fix.
As The Wrong came up with a mouthful of meat and fur, one of the man-things leapt into the room in his graceless man-thing way and brought down a cutting thing on the head of The Wrong. Dark fluid that smelled foul and almost hurt Imp’s sensitive nose ran down the face of The Wrong.
It was over.
Imp looked up the hall at the new pack member that had introduced itself as Bailey (a name that Imp thought was almost as ridiculous as the dog it belonged to). The Golden Retriever was actually shaking with its tail tucked tight against its belly. Imp wanted nothing more to do with this place. His pack was gone. When the door opened the next time, he would run. Imp loved running. Of course he loved it most when chasing after one of those wonderful discs or squishy balls that The Master used to throw for him.
The man-things were now talking. Imp wished that any of it made sense. He heard the name of The Master, and on reflex, his ears perked. However, an instant later,his ears dropped. The Master was gone. Imp was alone.
A new smell began to drift into his nose. Instantly, the black and white Border Collie’s lip curled back. There was something different, but it was still the smell of them: The Wrong. A twitch caught his attention and Imp’s head swung around to the source.
It was Circe.
No, that was not his pack-friend. When the head lifted from the floor where it had come to rest in all that life blood, Imp snarled. The eyes opened and Imp could see the death in them. Barking furiously, Imp warned this new horror to come no closer. Man-things never understood, that was why it was no surprise when The Wrongs had not responded to his warnings. Yet, this thing had once been pack…dog. It had to understand.
“Stay back or I will use teeth and claw,” Imp snapped.
That was the first challenge that a dog learned once it was weaned. Most dogs liked to use it in play, but Imp had first used it to warn one of the hated felines that prowled outside his window and left their bitter scent on his favorite tree. He occasionally tested it on the man-thing that stuck things through the door while The Master was away. A few times, he had used it on The Master’s mate. That had earned him a kick in his ribs, yet he had not been afraid. He smelled that man-thing’s weakness. He smelled the fear when he, Imp, had issued that challenge.
This Wrong was not Circe. Imp was certain as the thing that looked like her but certainly did not smell like her began to drag itself forward towards him and the two man-things that stunk of fear. It was a change from their normal scent. One of them stunk of anger and Imp had made it a point to avoid that one whenever possible.
The other man-thing was different. Imp liked him. That one always scratched him behind the ears or on his chest if they were close. He had been watching that one closely as he seemed to be drawn to The Master. Imp thought they might try to mate soon judging by the smells. He would have allowed it.
But now was not the time for such thoughts. Imp snarled another warning at The-Wrong-that-was-not-Circe. Its head turned towards him and milky eyes that were laced with death seemed to consider Imp for a moment.
Hands caught Imp as he started forward. He glanced up and saw the man-thing that reeked of anger. He wanted to bite and demand to be let go, but Imp knew that now was the time. The other man-thing had stepped forward, in his hand was the same weapon that had killed The-Wrong-that-was-not-The-Master. With one swing, he brought it down and split the head of The-Wrong-that-was-not-Circe.
The man-thing set Imp down on the floor. There was communication, and then they both left the room. Imp slunk forward to take one final look at his former pack-friend. Circe had taught him much. Now, she was gone. He knew that she would already be chasing rabbits in the Endless Meadow. He would miss her. She and The Master had always made him feel like he was the most coveted thing that one of his kind could feel.
Imp was a Good Dog.
|"Are you still here?"|