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18th April
posted by amber

The Dogs of Night

It was night, and the dogs came through the trees, unleashed and howling with the joy of unfettered freedom. They didn’t know why their owners had turned them loose, they were house dogs, pampered, protected, yet their blood sang with a desire for pack activities, for pursuit and savage capture. They were all hungry, having been fed far less recently than they were accustomed to.

They ran for miles, the smaller and weaker dogs tiring and falling behind, to be left alone and frightened in the black forest, beyond any sound or smell to guide them homewards.

The woods were rife with odours and tracks – squirrels, deer, rabbits, coyotes. The pack veered from one scent path to another, easily distracted by this richness of stimulation. After several hours of random, fruitless chasing, two larger dogs emerged as the leaders. One took the fore and the other ran behind, snapping at any dog who veered from the spoor of the chosen prey.

And so, in the first light of dawn, they brought down a doe and fawn, and they feasted. Not all the dogs enjoyed the taste of raw flesh, and not all the dogs were given an equal share, the dominant pair defending the carcasses and dividing the pack members into a pecking order of their own choosing.

The dogs dug in the dirt and formed sleeping hollows, they lay down and slept. Some dogs cried for their soft beds, some tried to slink away, but the leaders snapped at them and forced them back into the group.

One cunning terrier waited until sleep was well-established, then he wormed his way quietly and slowly away from the others. He trotted off and soon found a trail that he recognized from walks with his master. He ran homewards, tired and aching, longing for nothing more than the collar and a biscuit.

The house was quiet and empty when he arrived, the outside doors open, the cupboards stripped of any foodstuffs. His bed lay in the yard, his toys were in a pile next to some bulging garbage bags.

A pack of dogs ran down the lane. It was a different pack than the one he’d run with during the night. He crouched down behind his dog house, trembling and whining. He began to bark, sharply, insistently, but no one came to shout at him and bring him inside to his family and home.

The Story 365 project is a year-long marathon of short story writing, with a new story for every day of the year and posted on this website from May 1, 2011 – April 30, 2012. Stories must be a minimum of 200 words. Please help me by adding first line or topic suggestions in the Comment section of any story.

I began this story with the first line from Gil Adamson’s The Outlander, an incredible novel.

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