crows light

Dogs, also, like the crows, had begun to group, form large feral packs that feasted on human carrion—Man’s best friend become his ghoulish undertaker. With the on-going boom in spontaneous self-destruction (incidents so widespread they no longer could be classified "isolated"), the sniffing-out and consumption of decomposing corpses was a real, if regrettable, service to public health, especially in places where funerals could not keep pace with demand. Fortunately, last-rites ceremonies were passing out of vogue. Death was dealt with privately, more and more; the State, overworked and understaffed, grew less and less involved. Churches still held sway with respect to pious souls’ recycling, a "decent Christian burial" available for those queued to meet their Maker. But commonplaceness had robbed The Grim Reaper of center stage.

Survival pulled focus. With the breakdown of basic utilities came the practical realization that "food and water are essential"—a life-sustaining axiom so self-evident it was shocking how few folks possessed the skills to shift for themselves.

The most fawningly domesticated pooch, by comparison, reverted to independence with scarcely a "woof"—alternatives being to die of thirst or starvation (options deemed unappealing, pedigree notwithstanding). Plus, running wild with the pack presented irresistible temptations: no curfew; unrestricted territory (at least until in-bounds and out-of-bounds were established by rival Rovers); and, oh, what a drastic difference there was between currying a Human Being’s favor and vying for status among ones canine peers, where dominance was won or lost by virtue of cunning (aided and abetted by timbre of growl, keenness of senses, and sharpness of teeth). Tail-wagging on demand (to earn a head-pat), heeling (no matter the situation), fetching (when the object was merely a tennis ball, a lifeless newspaper, or a masticated Frisbee) failed to cut it anymore… not since the leash snapped… not since shitting on the sidewalk ceased to incur a "naughty-naughty" scolding. Spot shat wherever, whenever he damn well pleased, spritzed turf unrestrained by his dearly-departed Boss—a dowager sans the sense to leave her room when rations ran out, who lay in the cold, in the dark, scared to death to keep Death at bay, who believed in the myth of mongrel loyalty with such fervor she actually fancied her pet would sooner perish than part with his provider. Well, Spot had other ideas. Spot spawned Doberman dreams, within the somnolence of his toy-terrier predicament… biding his time… awaiting the golden-retriever opportunity to go Absent WithOut Leave:

Finally happened. Door opened. Why? Don’t know. Been scratchin’ at it, scratchin’ at it. Lemme out! Lemme out! Scratchin’ at it plenty; night an’ day. But she wouldn’t get up. Broken or somethin’.

Bark. Bark.

Almost dead. Could smell ’er. Me, too. Eat; gotta eat—I kept knowin’ it. Knowin’ it bad; the hunger.

Bark.

Thirst almost worse. Kept knowin’ that, too.

Bark, bark, bark.

Nothin’. Needed food. Her, maybe. Soon.

"Bad dog." "Sit, Spot." "Beg."

Spot begged; PLEASE, lemme out!

Nothin’. Checked the pot for piss. Already licked clean. Took to peein’ in the bed, when she peed at all. Too little anyway; a swallow’s worth. GET UP!

Bark. Bark.

Then this noise came? Keys tinklin’. Nice sound. From the hallway. Outside bustin’ in.

Quiet. Wait. Watch. Let the door open. Wait. Wait.

Run, Spot, RUN!

Spot ran fast, faster. Stairs. Lots. Top floor, middle floor, bottom floor. Stopped.

Snarl. Snarl.

Door shut. Wait.

PLEASE, lemme out!

Door still shut. Wait.

Someone comin’. Knob finally turned.

Run, run, run, run, run, run! Smelled trash and tires and tar and gum and concrete…

asphalt…

crude oil…

WIND…

the smells all gangin’ up,

all rushin’ past.

Yip, yip, yip, yeah!

Smell somethin’ else. What’s that? Like her, but not her. Different. Oddish. Human. Not so stinky, though, like the dead ones. Almost gamy. Not so tame. Not high and mighty, either; humbler. Not so clever. Downright stupider. Smell like puppies; that’s it. Tender… tiny… hairless… bite-size babes.

Bark.

Bark.

Bark answered? Oh, oh. Careful. Let ‘em sniff. Yeah; sniff ‘em back. Beware your flank, Spot. Keep your tail up. Breaths are really rotten—pugh!—their arses, also. What's the chow, I wonder; stinks of what? Of people! Like the dumb ones. Like the changed ones. Like the ones with yellow stares.

Bark. Bark.

Accepted! Wow, a family! Strength in numbers! Easy pickin’s! Grab a cat, a rat, make off with a toddler. Eat! Drink! Mate all day!

 

A dog’s life never looked so rosy, mutts to prize poodles.

 

War...

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