Authors Note: Hello everyone! Here is a new short story I’ve been working on. It isn’t the one I discussed in my previous post about adapting short stories, that one is still in the works. It is a lot longer than my previous stories on this blog, but I hope you enjoy it regardless!
(14-18 minute read)
When you make promises to somebody, you should go to the ends of the Earth to honour them. If somebody treats you right, puts you before themselves and never allows anybody to exploit you, you must do the same for them. Even if it means you go hungry. Even if it means you sacrifice your own warmth for theirs. Loyalty is everything. I am and always will be loyal to Harry.
Harry ‘s my brother and my best friend. He rescued me from those horrible men who ripped me from my mother’s womb and tried their hardest to force me to fight. They starved me, beat me and locked me in a cage. Harry was there but he would sometimes sneak me scraps of food, that I could smell had been taken out of a bin. On rare occasions he would half a sandwich he’d managed to get hold of ,though these luxuries were far and few between. I knew he wanted to help me, but those men, who stank of stale sweat and thick alcohol, had imprisoned him like they had me. They forced him to steal others like me from people who loved them. They forced him to watch the atrocities they committed and through it all, Harry stayed true to who he was. He refused to partake in the abuse, and would be beaten himself as a punishment.
“I’m sorry little one,” Harry said to me one day after a particularly bad beating, “I’m gonna get you out of here. I can’t right now but when the time’s right, we’re out of here!” I don’t know why but I believed him. I could see it in his eyes every time he was forced to witness the beatings. That look was there when they taunted me with food and then cruelly took it away. Every time I was confronted with a new competitor, Harry apologised with his eyes, reminding me of his promise. Somehow, he knew I only killed them to survive. My initial instinct upon meeting my latest challenger was not to kill them. Nor was it to bite and rip and gnaw at them until there was nothing but blood and flesh in every direction. I hated the taste of their blood in my mouth, their cries and the sound of their lungs exhaling their final breaths. I didn’t want to kill them but I had to . I did it to stay alive long enough for Harry to take me away from it.
Finally, the day came. Harry’s not a very big man. He’s actually quite short, boyish and dangerously thin. His dirty tracksuit bottoms hang so loosely around his waist, he has to use a hair tie to keep them from falling to his ankles. But that day he came to rescue me, he looked like some kind of God that finally decided to intervene. That day, I was alone in the garage, tied up and locked in a cage so small I couldn’t stand up not to mention I hadn’t eaten in a week and was ravenous. The sound of the garage doors opening sent shockwaves of fear through my body. Although I couldn’t stand, I could feel my legs shaking uncontrollably. That was until I saw Harry’s shock of black hair and those kind brown eyes looking down on me. That was the first time I had ever smelled alcohol on him. The scent was so strong for an awful moment, I thought they had finally broken him. I thought he had become one of them. I searched his face for answers, but he was frantically trying to unlock the cage.
“Hello boy! We need to be super quiet okay?” He said as the lock finally clicked, and the door swung open. It was always a struggle getting out of the cage. I stretched my front two legs in front of me and then shuffled the rest of the way. I could see Harry was terrified because every second he was looking out for the demons that were intent on destroying us. He took a piece of rope, tied a loop and put it around my neck. At first, I couldn’t walk at all. I was so weak my legs refused to cooperate. Harry saw I was struggling and scooped me into his arms. The pain was unbearable and a low growl managed to escape my throat.
“Shhh boy, I know. I know them fuckers have hurt you but…” he hesitated as he swallowed his rage, “We have to be quiet okay, I don’t know when they’re coming back. I’m getting us out.” He rubbed my head so gently, the love I already had for him doubled. That was the moment I knew, once I was able to, I needed to protect him at all costs.
He ran as fast as he could, through the estate, through the park and he kept on running until it was dark. The day had left and an uncertain night had taken its place. Harry scanned every street, every alley way and every shop entrance until he found one he deemed suitable. That was the best night of my life. Harry never left me alone. He carried me until I had the strength to stand. He rummaged through shop bins giving me every piece of food he found. Luckily for us, Harry bumped into someone who was dressed similarly to him. She smelled awful but I could tell she was kind. She gave him one of her duvets and a bottle of clear alcohol.
“That’ll keep you warm,” she said to Harry. He accepted, thanked her and set up our bed for the night. It was a very quiet street but almost every shop entrance had people sleeping there. Others had small groups of people, men and women, talking and drinking. Some huddled up close to protect each other from another chilly night. Harry laid the duvet down on the ground and we both sat on top of it. I laid down as close to him as I could, hoping to radiate enough warmth to stop him from shaking. He took long swigs of that drink he was given and stroked me until he fell asleep still sitting up.
That was our life. We moved around a lot, almost every day. That was the one and only time we slept at night. Harry told me it’s much safer to sleep for most of the day and then move on during the night. For a while, it was fine. Some days Harry collected enough money from strangers to be able to buy proper food for me to eat. Harry’s so good like that. He’d happily go without so I could eat.
“I need you to be big and strong so you can protect us, don’t I? You’re the best dog ever boy!” He would say after feeding me as much as he could. To this day, I’m not sure if boy is my name but it’s the only thing Harry has ever referred to me as. So, it must be. Up until recently, we had not run into much trouble. Here and there a few people would tell Harry to fuck off, or they tell him how horrible it is to use me to gain sympathy. I would scream and shout at them, but they never seemed to understand, he saved me. He wasn’t like the other men. The ones I see sharing the same guardian. The ones who don’t care for them like Harry cares for me. Harry would never react how I did. He would always stay calm, apologise and move on if he needed to.
I don’t know how long we lived on the streets, but after what felt like a lifetime, Harry was given a room to live in. It was a tiny room, but it was better than a cold stairwell. For a while life was better than ever. Harry stopped drinking, he ate more food than I ever saw before, and we had a warm bed to cuddle up in. Of course, I never really felt 100% safe. Something inside of me told me to always keep an ear out. I’d never let myself get too comfortable, I would tell myself to sleep with one eye open.
On a day like any other, there was a light knock on the door. Harry opened to door, probably expecting it to be a delivery. Standing in the doorway, was a giant man, not dissimilar to the men who kept us prisoner. He was broad, large and bald. Why are they always bald?
“Hello, I’m looking for Harry? I’m here to serve an eviction notice. I need to inform you that the landlord has decided he wants to redo the bedsits and make them into bigger flats for more rent. Once the renovations are done, he is stopping accepting housing benefit so unfortunately you need to move out.” The man at the door didn’t notice me that day. Harry already told me not to shout every time the door went, or every time a letter was posted through the letterbox.
“How long till I have to leave then?” Harry asked, defeated. He wasn’t one for confrontation, that’s what I was there for.
“30 days, I’m giving you this to show I have served the eviction notice.” With that, he handed him the paper and walked away. Harry closed the door and just stood there for a while, reading it again and again. He eventually slumped down onto the ground with his head hanging low. I went straight over to him and nestled my snout into his neck. I could smell the salt in his tears that were now falling thick and fast. I placed myself in between his legs and looked straight at him. I wanted so badly to tell him it was okay. That we were going to be okay.
“You are too good for this Earth boy. You are too good for it.” He held me for a long while, before grabbing him phone and making a call. He seemed to be avoiding me all day until that evening. Harry put two tins in my bowl and for the first time, he left me inside on my own.
“I’ll be back soon, just need to pop out,” he said but as he did, I let out a low whimper to show my dissatisfaction. He smiled at me with such love, I started licking his face until I was on top of him. His laughter echoed through the tiny room and my heart was entirely full. Although I hate being alone, I knew there must have been a reason. He would never leave me unless he had to.
Before he left, he came over to where I was laying, kissed my head and stroked me. That was not out of the ordinary, as he usually made time for me every single day. He stood up while still looking at me and said,
“Saving you really did save me boy. I love you.”
Once the door clicked behind him, I found my comfy spot on the end of the bed and let sleep caress me. I woke up a while later and the room was dark. Too dark. I cried and cried until I eventually fell back asleep. When I opened my eyes once more, Harry was back. But he was acting odd. He was on the floor, reeking of alcohol and his eyes were rolling back in his head. I go straight for him and lick his face. He didn’t say hello boy, he didn’t stroke me. He didn’t even look at me at all.
The night turned to day and then day back to night and Harry was still on the ground. I didn’t leave his side once. I didn’t leave to relieve myself, I didn’t leave to grab the last bit of food in my bowl. I just stayed with him, with my head resting on his leg. I tried so many times to wake him up. I licked his face. I screamed and shouted until my throat hurt. I even nibbled at his fingers and toes like I used to when I wanted his attention. Nothing. Once again, my only escape was the comfortable nothing of sleep. I felt like I had been sleeping for way too long, when a knock on the door woke me up. It began as a polite three taps but then progressed into angry thuds that shook the door in its hinges.
“Hello, Harry Roberts? Hello sir, we are here to repossess the property if you could open the door please?” Said a man through the letter box. I remembered what Harry had told me and stayed put. I thought they had finally given up when a loud bang announced the entrance of three big men in black uniforms. I peeled my eyes off them and onto Harry.
“Fucking hell” said the bald man who was standing the closest to us. He pulled a piece of tissue out of his trouser pocket and used it to cover his nose and mouth. The other two men followed suit. One of them looked to be about the same age as Harry and he was using the end of his tie rather than a piece of tissue. The other one looked almost sickly, very pale, very slim and he didn’t look very steady on his feet.
“Jesus. He’s not… He ain’t… He’s…” The young one blurted to the bald one. I saw them scanning the room, but they still didn’t seem to notice me.
“Got another tissue?” The pale one asked. He used it to pick something up off the kitchen side.
“Look fellas, needles all over the sink area.” Their faces, as if in unison, dropped to the ground. Usually I would have reacted to them touching Harry’s things, just like those times people would try to take our sleeping bags or the money he’d managed to collect. But I couldn’t leave Harry, even if I tried.
“Poor guy. He’s only about 20, look at him.” The man named Bill said to the room. He rubbed his shiny head and I saw his brown eyes flash with tears.
“And the poor dog as well.” Finally, I thought, they noticed me. For a fleeting moment, I thought we were going to be okay. These men would help Harry wake up and we could go back to how it was. Bill, still covering his face with the tissue, leant down closer to me.
“He never left his owners side.” He was looking at me, but it felt more like he was looking through me. After a reflective moment, someone finally said
“How long you think they’ve been dead for?”