Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Three Short Horror Stories Featuring Four-Legged Friends

Since I've started writing and editing writing for money, I've found I've had less time to write just for fun.

(Don't worry, though, blog, I won't neglect you anymore, I promise.)

But back when I was working as a scientist and actually contributing meaningfully to society, I really enjoyed writing short scary stories as a hobby.  I like writing horror stories because, just like constructing a joke, they require a punchline at the end, which can be challenging.

It's been a while since I wrote anything that fits neatly into the traditional horror genre; happily, going back, I was pleased to see that my little hobby stories held up okay.  The following are from two to three years ago.

If you're interested in what I've been doing lately, I did churn out an Iron Man novel called Divergence, which you can read here. You should read it.  Not to brag but I think it's pretty good and so does everyone who has read it.

But wait.   This post was supposed to be about pet-themed horror, not Iron Man.

Without further ado, before I can get distracted again... I present below 3 of my old little just-for-fun horror blurbs.  Enjoy!


Someone called to tell me they’d found my dog.

It was a pretty standard phone call. The lady’s voice was mild and unassuming. Her exact words were, “I found your dog.”

Normally I would be ecstatic. I used to get intensely anxious anytime the dog wandered off, imagining him streaking into oncoming traffic in pursuit of a squirrel.

But I didn’t feel ecstatic this time. I felt perplexed and a little unnerved. I knew exactly where my dog was. My dog was buried in the corner of the garden under the mountain ash tree.

“You must have the wrong number,” I say.

“I’m calling the number on the poster.”

Poster? There haven’t been posters in almost three years, since Baxter succumbed to renal failure at the ripe old age of fourteen.

“You must be mistaken,” I say, still not sure how to handle the situation.

“I can send you a photo if you like,” she says. And before I have time to tell her that’s not necessary, and that I don’t even have a dog, she hangs up. I get a picture from her moments later. It’s small on the screen of my phone, but unmistakable. That’s Baxter, all right. Baxter was (is?) a border collie, but I couldn’t have mistaken him for any other border collie. Not in a million years. In the photo, I can clearly see the torn ear he got as a puppy, and the faded red leather collar we bought for him after he snapped the blue one. There’s no questioning the photo. Especially since I was the one who took it, eight years ago. I recognize the bit of rose bush in the corner, the grape Popsicle wrapper at Baxter’s feet. I’m feeling even more confused now. Is this a prank? That photo is in an album at my mother’s house, three states away. To my knowledge it was never shared with anyone, and even if it had been, how would they be able to connect it to me?

The phone rings again and the lady is back. “Are you coming to pick him up?”

“I… I don’t think that’s my dog,” I protest weakly.

She lets out an exasperated noise. “Then I’m taking him to the shelter.” And she hangs up.

What could I do? I couldn’t leave poor, loyal Baxter with a stranger, to be dumped at the pound, wondering where I was and why I wasn’t coming for him. So I went. Of course I went. Wouldn’t you?

I guess I can’t complain much. It took some getting used to, having Baxter around again. He’s mostly unchanged. He accompanied me around the neighborhood to take down the posters that I never put up, the ones with my phone number on them. I guess I like having him back. He still gets up on to my bed at night, though he no longer sleeps (or eats); he just watches me silently, and I try not to think about it too much.


I woke at 3 am to the familiar sounds of the rabbit thumping around in her hutch. The sound echoed hollowly through the house, making sleep impossible. I kicked Andrew with my foot.

"Your turn," I mumbled. With a groan, he rose and went to her hutch to calm her.

I must have dozed off again, though only for a short time, before I heard more banging. Rabbits thump their back feet as a warning signal when frightened and she'd been at it for over a week every night now. It was getting old.

I rose to soothe her, not bothering to turn on the lights. She was panting heavily in the bottom of her hutch. In the dark, I couldn't see her, but I imagined her eyes were wide and wild. I gave her a few pets and a reassuring word before I stumbled back to bed in the darkened house. In the doorway, I smashed into another figure.

"Sorry, honey," I mumbled, patting Andrew's skin. It was cold and clammy. "It's okay. I took care of it."

I moved past him in the dark and climbed back into bed, where Andrew lay asleep, his breathing soft and even.


My neighbour, Fernando, is what you'd call a "cat person." He loves cats. And that's about all he loves. He's always been a loner; I've never interacted with him myself, except for on three occasions when he came over to my house screaming because I was making too much noise (at 9 PM on a Friday).

In short, Fernando hasn't been a good neighbour. He's the kind of guy who would yell at neighbourhood kids to get off his lawn, if he had one. But you can't help but feel like, deep down, there must be some good in him, because every night you see him at the end of the cul-de-sac, feeding his ever-growing colony of stray cats.

Let me be clear: I love cats, but not these cats. They're a nuisance. They have fleas, and they shit in the flowerbeds, and they're an obvious health threat to all the other pets in the neighbourhood. Their population has been steadily growing and now there's about a dozen of them. The cats are mostly feral, but they used to follow Fernando around when he was outside. I say "used to" because lately, they've been avoiding him. There's nothing sadder than seeing Fernando's sagging, miserable posture as he sits on the curb, holding a can of wet cat food, waiting for the cats to come to him. They don't. They give him a wide berth, and have done so ever since the paramedics pulled his cold, bloated body out of his bathtub two weeks ago.

I used to complain about the cats. But now I'm just happy they're here, because they can see him too.

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