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Author Topic: Don't Pet the Dog  (Read 10285 times)

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Slimebeast

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on: 02:22:19 AM 05/06/13
The second strangest thing I've seen in the Southern United States was a pair of men pushing a third in a wheelbarrow. The man they were wheeling along had no legs, long lost to disease or in an accident. He wasn't in any pain, or at least didn't appear so, as the three slowly made their way along the road of dirt and stones. The wheelbarrow itself was originally painted cherry red, but had rusted away in several areas. Each of the able-bodied men took one handle of the object.

I'm telling you the second strangest thing I've seen down here so you'll know straight off the bat that I’m about tell you something REALLY disturbing.

I do a lot of traveling for work, running this way and that. It's not unusual to have three or four vastly separate locations that I have to hit in the same day. What is unusual, however, are the people I encounter on a daily basis.

It was another dirt and stone road that day. The day when I kicked something up under the car by accident and wound up with a fierce rattling sound. After a few moments of cursing my luck and watching for other objects, the vehicle rolled to a stop and died.

To this day, I have no idea what I hit. None of the stones seemed large enough to make that kind of deafening bang.

I found myself walking back to the last house I'd seen along the way. It was a farmhouse on a large, barren wasteland. Nothing was growing there, but that wasn't unexpected given the lack of rain that year.

As I walked, I found myself hoping to avoid any passersby. That may seem counterproductive, but not if you've seen what I have.

For example, a couple years ago I pulled over to take a phone call, and this old Grandpa-type goes riding by me on a tractor. Behind him, he's pulling a flatbed trailer. At the center of the trailer is a white plastic lawn chair held down with bungee cords.

Sitting in that chair, a pale and blank-faced little boy dressed in a heavy snow suit though there was only the slightest hint of a chill in the air.

"You ever heard of a hay ride?" the old man shouts as he passes.

"Uh... yes." I shout back.

"Well I got no hay!"

He didn't regard me again as he slowly rode off down the road. The face of that kid, stark, emotionless, staring directly ahead without any visible sign of a blink... that still kind of haunts me to this day.

Similarly, I once caught a guy in an ice cream truck patrolling a small neighborhood. His speaker was playing Christmas music in the dead of Summer, and he had a plastic grocery bag over his head. The only reason I noticed that was the fact his truck was so rusted out and covered in graffiti that I felt a real sense of danger about it.

When I greeted the man, he stared at me through the tiny holes he'd ripped in the Piggly Wiggly bag and asked where all the children were. When I said I didn't know, he turned off the music and drove off, turning onto a muddy path into the woods.

So yes, when I came up on the farmhouse I felt relief wash over me. No one had ridden by, and I'd avoided any awkward exchanges with random hicks.

The fence out front, just a small stick-built thing that surrounded the place, had no gate to speak of. There might've been one at some point, but now my entrance was entirely unhindered.

A small wooden sign, hand-painted with black letters, read "DONT PET THE DOG". There was no apostrophe, and the 'G' was backward. All at once, I had wandered into some insane "Our Gang" sketch.

As I walked across the hot, dusty beige soil that comprised the entirety of the property, I found myself stopping several times in order to shake the red ants from my shoes. It seemed as if everywhere I stepped caused great stinging masses of the insects to burst forth in shock and dismay.

By the time I reached the splintering front porch, I was exhausted from both the walk and the bug-driven jig.

The porch was black and slick, as if it never got any Sun and some great span of mold or algae was slowly overtaking it. The bottom step had completely crumbled to pieces, but starting at the second was no hard task.

Looking at the worn, shuttered house and its peeling red paint gave me the distinct feeling that no one lived here at all. If it weren't for the blood red flowers potted by the front door, I wouldn't have even bothered knocking.

My knuckles rapped against the surface of the door, and for all the termite damage, it seemed as if I could punch straight through. Within moments, a voice called from somewhere deep inside the home.

"Hold on a minute, I'm comin'!"

The woman's voice was old and haggard. The kind of voice that sounded like suffering.

"No rush!" I called back, fearing some hobbled biddy was fetching her gnarled wooden cane and climbing from a bed she hadn't left in weeks.

Something made me look down, and I'm not sure what it was. All I know is that as I cast my gaze downward, my sight was met by the liquid black eyes of a Golden Retriever. He panted as he sat close to my right leg. He had the sort of smiling face that makes you think there's more going on in that head that you'd expect.

"Hey, boy!" I brightened up a bit.

The dog tasted my hand with a few excited lashes of the tongue, then sat back again and licked its chops. He raised his paw slightly and dug at my leg as if he expected something.

"What's up?" I knelt down, face level with the dog. I noticed his left ear was missing a chunk, as if some forest creature had taken a swat at him.

I raised my hand and reached for the dog's head. As I did, his eyes brightened and his tail began to beat against the porch like a tribal drum beat.

"Yes?" the old woman's voice stopped me as I remembered the sign I'd seen on the way in.

She was standing in the open doorway. Just as I'd imagined, she had a knotted, gnarled wooden cane that had been carved and stained crudely. Her bone white hair was pulled up into a messy bun, and she was dressed in a pale blue robe that had probably started out darker.

To complete the look, her skin wore deep red patches that looked like clusters of painful blisters.

"Don't you pet that dog," she shook a bent finger at me, "He's a bad dog."

I chuckled, unable to control the sound that was escaping my throat. As I did, the old woman met me only with a hard look. She clearly wasn't joking.

"No problem," I nodded, "Sorry to bother you, but I-"

"Y'all broke down up the road a piece," she interrupted, "Ain't the first, ain't the last. Nobody around for miles, so all the folk trying to pass through end up here."

She turned and walked inside, leaving the door open. As she went, the dog followed closely.

"Should I..." I stood on the threshold and waited to be invited in.

"C'mon, city boy. M'house is just as good as yours."

I wanted to disagree with her, to note that wasn't the issue, but it hardly seemed like a good time to get into semantics.

"So, you have a phone I can use?" I asked timidly, stepping onto the squishy green carpet that had been flattened into snail trails wherever the woman had shuffled over the years.

"Of course we got a phone!" I'd lost her around a corner and now she was calling from a room I couldn't pin down, "Everyone on God's green Earth got a phone!"

I got the distinct feeling that nothing I said would come across as anything but an insult. She was that type of person.

I turned to look back toward the door as another voice called out. There, hovering on the threshold as I had been, was a young yellow-haired boy in nothing but a pair of underpants and oversized rain boots.

"Na-na, someone got in the house again!" he called out in a redneck accent somehow thicker than hers.

"I'm just here to use the phone," I insisted, holding my hands up as if I was talking to a Police Officer, "I broke down up the road."

"Broke down up the road, broke down up the road," the kid mocked me in a stupid, high-pitched, nasal voice as he wobbled about in circles, "Broke down up the bluh, Broke the blee blah bloo, I need to use the phone, I done broke my butt!"

The kid flung himself down on a dirty, tattered sofa and sighed as if he'd had a long day and was just getting home from work. A cloud of dust rose and played in beams of light cutting through the roof.

Moving on, I turned back to once again make an attempt at finding the old woman. Immediately after spinning on my heels, I noticed the golden dog once again seated before me. The dog rubbed his head on my shin, stood, and leaned his whole weight against my knees.

"Don't pet that dog, Mister," the kid noted from behind me, moments before sneezing, "That's a bad dog, right there!"

"Not an issue." I replied, walking around the dog and toward where I'd last heard the old woman's voice.

"Not an issue," echoed the voice behind me, "Not an issue, snot 'n tissue, fart 'n piss shoe. Mister, don't fart 'n piss in our shoes, that ain't being a respectable guest!"

Apparently that struck him funny as an irritating, uncontrollable giggle swelled up soon after. I poked my head into a couple bedrooms and a bathroom before finally spotting the woman who'd left me behind with that monster.

"Don't mind the boy," the old woman croaked as she took a long drag on a cigarette, "He's special needs. At least that's how his Momma put it when she brought him here."

She was wedged into a small metal chair behind an old kitchen table that had been built into the wall. I figured that she must've been a bit slimmer back when that seemed like a good idea.

"If that phone were a snake, it'd GETCHA." she added.

I turned to see an old rotary phone hanging on the tiled wall next to my head. The absurd, mustard-colored thing had a twisted and knotted cord, and a faded flower sticker applied to the receiver.

"Thanks," I lifted the phone and began dialing, "I really appreciate this."

In the next few moments, I placed a call to AAA and another to tell my next appointment I would have to cancel our meeting. Both calls went smoothly, and I hooked the receiver confident that things would turn out alright despite the oddness of my saviors.

The second call went especially well. I expected the guy would be ticked off, but he was just glad I was alright. In yet another piece of my Southern experience, he informed me that the entire county was looking for a murderer/rapist, and he thought I'd fallen victim to the guy on some backwoods shortcut.

That relief on his part was probably the only reason I'd be allowed to keep my job at this point.

The dog wandered aimlessly into the kitchen and placed its head on the old woman's lap. It let out a bored sort of snort.

"No," she snapped cruelly, as if talking to a mental defective, "No, I ain't petting you, go somewhere else. Rotten dirty thing."

She blew smoke in the dog's face, and it recoiled with a whine.

My interest was piqued.

"What'd he do? The dog, I mean."

The old woman looked up at me with a sour expression that clearly showed I was not owed an explanation. I could tell she was weighing whether or not she'd answer as she drew another lungful of smoke and slowly puffed it into the air.

"You ever look at someone or something and just know it ain't nice?"

"Not really."

"Well, I have. That dog. I know it ain't a good dog. Keep in mind, I ain't got nothing against a good dog. A good dog can keep out robbers 'n chase away rats and all that. Good dogs, I like 'em."

She pointed her blazing cigarette at the dog that was now seated once again by my leg.

"THAT... ain't no good dog."

All at once, I was seized by the nearly uncontrollable desire to pet the dog. I wanted to lavish him with love and attention while insisting I thought he was good no matter what some bitch and her idiot grandkid thought.

Still, I stayed my hand.

For all I knew, the dog had bitten off someone's hand... maybe even killed another pet or a member of their family. In my moment of rebellion against these cold, hateful bumpkins, I could be served the ultimate bloody "toldja so".

Plus, I wasn't too hot on seeing whether or not one of them would draw a weapon on me.

Instead, I turned away once again and headed for the front door. I'd had enough of these people, of the South in total, and while I felt sorry for the pooch, there were millions of dogs out there without even the roof over their head. Technically, he was at least better off than a stray.

"Hey, Mister!" the kid called out as I walked past him, "Hey..."

I gave no response, not even looking the boy's way as I walked out the door and onto the porch. It wasn't long before I heard his quick, heavy footsteps behind me.

"Ugh, what NOW?" it was my turn to snap at someone who didn't really deserve it.

"C'mere." the kid took my hand in his grubby, snotty paw. He began leading me across the front of the house and around the side.

"I have to get back to my car," I explained, "I really don't have time to screw around, kid."

My protests went unanswered. I could have easily broken the child's grip. Hell, I could've picked him up and flung him onto the roof. I thought about it. Still, I felt as if whatever he was guiding me to would be important.

Maybe it would explain the whole situation... like a leaking barrel marked "Radioactive" or a crashed UFO...

"Lookit that!" the kid said proudly.

I was in awe. Across the entire back yard, throughout the great span of dead soil, there resided a random overgrowth of wooden crosses. Each one stood at the center of a small mound. Between myself and these obvious graves, there stood a shovel poking into the dirt.

I could tell by the freshly turned soil and the milling of red ants that one of the graves had been dug only hours ago.

"You ever see so many dead dogs in your life? All them pups what got pet even though Na-na said no." the kid sounded amazed.

"No... no I haven't." I studied the mounds. They were definitely too small for human beings, and I suppose I was a bit thankful for that. It was indeed a garden of dead dogs, planted over the course of years, if not decades.

"Okay git," the kid shoved me as hard as he could, to no effect, "Don't let that dumb ol’ dog get pet on the way out!"

The boy disappeared back into the house as I made my way back to the road. I wasn't entirely sure what I'd do about the whole thing, but I knew there was something very wrong about all of this.

The dog followed along, at first running from the house to my side, then ambling casually as if I were leading him along.

"Hey, boy." I muttered, not looking down, "Let's get out of here, huh?"

The dog barked and dug at my leg again.

"I can't pet you now, boy. Wait until we get out of sight. Those crazy-asses would have a fit... probably shoot the both of us."

The dog barked again and gave a nervous yawn.

I reached the road and continued along, not looking back once. Soon, I noticed that I was once again alone in my travels. Searching the road around me, I saw nothing of my canine companion. Only when I peered back at the farmhouse did I spot him, standing at the edge of the road.

The dog swayed back and forth, paced left and right, as if he was afraid to step onto the road.

"It's okay, boy!" I called back, "No cars coming. No cars for miles!"

Still, the dog refused to follow.

"Alright, whatever," I tried to keep a reassuring tone in my voice, "I'll come back for you. You're a good boy! Good boy!!"

The walk back to my car was even more exhausting than before. I hadn't noticed until this point that my earlier stroll had been slightly down hill. That gentle slope turned into a steep climb the further I walked.

"Yo!" the Tow Truck Operator had already gotten to the vehicle by the time I came stumbling toward it.

"Yo!" I repeated, shooting him a fatigued salute for some reason.

"Thought you weren't gonna show up!" he laughed, "Thought the killer gotcha. Had his way with ya!"

The hairy, heavyset jackass laughed again, and for the briefest moment I considered the fact HE might be the killer himself. I figured I'd risk it, as I was too tired to flee anyway. To be honest, I just figured I'd be lucky if killing me was the first thing he went for.

"Nah," I slowly closed the distance between us, "Haven't seen him. Don't even know what he looks like."

"Good, good."

He started to raise the car as I walked around the truck cab and pulled open the passenger's door. I prepared for the final pain of hauling my carcass up into the seat.

"Well," he shouted over the noise of the machine, "Should be easy to spot. Last girl he killed bit off a chunk of his ear."

I settled into the smoke-filled truck, my sweat-dampened skin feeling uncomfortable against the seat's surface. The guy's words rolled around in my head, and after a moment I decided not to go back to the farmhouse after all.

What a bastard that murderer was... On top of everything else, he petted the dog.
« Last Edit: 07:34:52 PM 03/20/17 by Slimebeast »
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Dr. Killjoy

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on: 07:39:40 PM 09/08/13
I'm actually a bit confused by this. Does the serial killer transform into a dog somehow, and lives at the house, and that's why they say he's a bad dog? And the graves in the yard actually contain his victims?



Slimebeast

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on: 08:00:22 PM 09/08/13
If you that's how you prefer it to be, then sure. :B

My intention was (spoiler? highlight to read): You pet the dog, the dog dies and you take its place. Hence the huge stockpile of dog corpses over however many years. I figure the people at the house are just a couple mentally "interesting" folks who were with someone who petted the dog, and had nowhere else to go.
« Last Edit: 08:04:33 PM 09/08/13 by chwolf »
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Zero

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on: 07:36:33 AM 09/11/13
So that bastard pet the dog after all! I think? Or maybe the dog is voodoo?  Mind body change through petting? Or maybe we wont be seeing the old lady and kid? Gah"!!!



HallowedOut

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on: 05:24:40 PM 09/23/13
This is some freaky Friday shizz up in here. Really liked the story though! I wanted to punch that kid in his snotty face!



Slimebeast

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on: 04:35:29 AM 09/24/13
My work* here is done.


*Making people want to punch children.
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Vertex

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on: 10:15:14 AM 09/25/13
Just as keikaku.



Mary

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on: 07:54:57 PM 12/16/13
Yeah but how tall are you?
» You throw a tantrum, but all you seem to accomplish is slight disarray.



berz

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on: 08:14:15 PM 12/17/13
Good story. I think a solid black dog would have been much more ominous than a golden retriever though.



Mary

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on: 08:59:43 PM 12/17/13
much more horribly cliched too.
» You throw a tantrum, but all you seem to accomplish is slight disarray.



berz

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on: 10:42:04 PM 12/17/13
I feel there's still a place for cliche's in the world as long as they're not horribly abused.



Meaty Okra Tea

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on: 07:28:07 AM 12/18/13
...as long as they're not horribly abused.

Isn't that exactly what happens to the dog?



mmmm_cake

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on: 08:54:58 PM 05/11/14
My policy has always been to avoid clichés like the plague.