Sunday, 22 February 2009

With thanks to Winston Churchill...

The Black Dog

In a little village three miles north of yesterday, there lived a farmer who was plagued by a menacing black dog. Each night the black dog would come without reason and attack the farmer’s property. It killed everything that was caught in its way and sought out anything that wasn’t just so it could kill it. Some nights it only killed one animal. Other nights it killed so many that the winter dirt was turned soft and red. Of the animals on the farm it would leave nothing but blood, and even some of that had clearly been drunk.

The farmer, too scared to face the beast, hid in his bed every night and held pillows over his ears so that he would not have to suffer the noises. He closed his eyes so tight that his face hurt, but he would do anything to avoid seeing the black dog again, for he had seen it once before. It had terrified him. The black dog was a creature of hellish size. Its teeth were the size of steak knives. Its eyes were as black as anvils. Its paws hit the ground like hammers and every breath it took had the sound and aroma of hot ashes being thrown to the soil.
And so night after night the black dog ran through the farm, its teeth gnashing until they were painted with gore and the only sounds were those of terror. But the farmer, with the pillows forced against his ears, heard only the pounding of his heart.

Soon hearing of the animal’s deaths, the other villagers came to the farmer’s house one at a time to offer their help.
“I can stand guard for you sir,” said the policeman. “And if you give me one of your shotguns I can use that too, should the thing appear.”
“No, no. No thank you constable,” said the farmer, half hiding behind his door. “I can manage fine by myself.”
And he had ushered the policeman away with a wave of his hand.

That night the black dog returned from nowhere and killed. The farmer lay in his bed with his pillows over his ears and heard nothing. And in the morning another villager came to offer their help.
“I can help sir,” said the butcher, “My boy and I will stand guard with our butchery knives and should that beast come near we’ll slice it open and have it for sausages!”
“No. No I don’t want you to,” said the farmer, his eyes poking around the door, “I can manage fine by myself.”
And he shut the door on the butcher without another word.

That night the black dog returned from nowhere and killed. The farmer lay in his bed with his pillows over his ears and heard nothing. Once again, early the next day, another villager walked up to the farm to promise assistance.
“I’m strongly built sir,” said the blacksmith, “and I’ve several tools that I reckon would make the creature think twice about coming back should he be struck by them.”
“No! No, go away!” shouted the farmer from behind his door. “I can manage fine by myself!”
And the barely ajar door was slammed shut.

That night the black dog returned from nowhere and killed. The farmer lay in his bed with his pillows over his ears and heard nothing. At eleven o’ clock another villager knocked at the door, ready to help the farmer.
This time the door did not open.
“Who is it?” shouted the farmer through the letterbox.
“It’s me, Farmer Morris from the other side of the village. I hear you’ve been having some trouble with a black dog?”
“Yes, but I don’t need any help! I can manage by myself!”
“Well sir,” said Farmer Morris, “it’s just that I once had a little trouble with the same beast. Wasn’t until a mate of mine helped me that I finally chased it away. Maybe I could offer you some help? Always better to have someone who understand these things helping you.”
“NO!” shouted the farmer. “You think I’m an idiot? I can manage by myself! Now go away!”
“Very well, but let me know if you change your mind. I have knowledge of these things sir.”
And Farmer Morris left.

That night Famer Morris sat in the village pub with the constable and the butcher and the blacksmith. A warm fire crackled behind them as they drank.
“He wouldn’t accept my help either,” Farmer Morris said, “Poor devil, facing it alone...” And he took a long draught of ale.
“Poor fool more like,” said the butcher, and the constable and blacksmith agreed with him.
“Chasing us away like that! It’s lunacy. High-minded lunacy!” said the blacksmith before dousing his grumbling in his pint.
“And he’ll only keep on losing his animals if he doesn’t put a stop to it. He’ll lose everything!” said the constable. “And then you can bet he’ll be begging for our help!”
“Maybe if we all go up to the farm together he’ll change his mind,” Farmer Morris said.
Over another round of drinks they agreed that they would all try one more time to help the farmer. After all, they said, he could not hide behind his door forever.

The next morning the constable, the butcher, the blacksmith and Farmer Morris walked up to farm. It was quiet.
They found the farmer’s door was wide open. There were deep scratches in the wood.
“Hello?” the constable shouted as he led the group inside. “Are you there?”
The inside of the house was dark and silent. And it was a mess. The furniture had been broken or scattered, doors hung off their hinges. The few pictures and ornaments the farmer had were all smashed. Chaos had been frozen in time for the men to view.
“Good God...” they heard the constable cry and rushed upstairs to the bedroom.
They found the policeman staring at the bed. His face was as white as milk.

The farmer was gone. His bedding was soaked in blood. The pitter-patter of it running onto the floor was the only sound in the entire house. It was minutes before one of the four men cleared their throat and took a step forward.
“The black dog?” asked the butcher.
“Certainly. I’ve seen similar before,” Farmer Morris said. “He should have let point in saying what should have been...”
In the corner of the room rested his shotgun. The blacksmith picked it up. It was cold and loaded. No shells had been fired.
“Why didn’t he defend himself?” he muttered as he examined the weapon. “He would have had plenty of time to grab his gun while that thing was gallivanting around downstairs.”
There was a brief pause as everyone stared around the room, searching for a reason. But not one could be found.
“I don’t know,” said the constable, “He must have heard it coming surely. He’d have had to have had the pillows over his ears not to.”


Christopher said...

Dude, where has this new-found brevity come from?

Where are all the adjectives?

Where's the alliteration?

These things aside... LOVE IT! :D great story, almost like a fairy tale, keep 'em coming!