The Dog Collector
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I stood in the front yard, not quite sure how I arrived there. In the distance was the steady hum of a large engine and it was getting closer. Desperately trying to retrace my steps; I turned to see the silver Dodge Charger as it came in to view. It slowed significantly and was about to stop when a heavy foot bore down on the gas and the car barreled like a raging bull on to my lawn.

The door opened and a driver emerged from it. He was tall with long limbs like a thin, shaky tree covered with the silvery remnants of a wet winter’s night. Atop this translucent form was a clutch of hair, like cotton batting, and blinding to the eye. He had the face of a young man with black, hollow eyes. His teeth were sharp splinters and the inside of his mouth was the color of new blood; a sharp contrast to skin the color of white paper.

I shook the horror of him off and became enraged. As I stammered, a sentence eventually took shape, “What the hell did you do to my lawn?” I screamed. The beast smiled and lifted one long limb. His outreached finger pointed over my shoulder. “You would be better off asking me what I did to him.” He said, still pointing and beginning to cackle as foam ran down the side of his mouth.

I turned, though leery to have him out of my line of vision, and there in the driveway was my dog. His chest was lifting and dropping as if breathing were a chore too demanding for his capabilities. His stomach was sunken and his ribs protruded like skeletal fingers just below the fur. From his lips seeped the same milky foam that was dripping down the jowls of my unwelcome guest.

My fear became rage as thoughts of tearing this asshole apart began to beat down every sensible thought in me but he was now holding my lifeless dog; flies dancing around his foamy head. He carried him to his car and tossed him inside with a thud. “Where are you taking him?” I yelled but the pasty man didn’t answer. He got in his car and drove off as I ran in the house to call the police.

The sheriff pulled into the drive and rolled his car to a halt in front of me. I did my best to relay this story with as much credulity as possible but his chubby face changed from Barney Fife to an expression of concern. “Funny someone would come here and kill your dog.” He said, “There’s a pet cemetery behind the place. The kid that lived here liked to kill the neighborhood pets so he could bury them. When he got caught he said a monster did it. Anyway, we’ll keep an eye out for that car and let you know what we find.”

Wondering what a pet cemetery would look like, I imagined tomb stones reading; “Here lies Fluffy the cat. The car was faster and he went splat.” as I headed out to the field behind the house. I surveyed the overgrown grave markers and weaved through the rows of scrap wood crosses until I reached the final grave. This grave had a freshly constructed cross made from sticks tied with twine. The earth beneath it was still black and the scent of freshly turned soil danced in my nose.

I dreamed of this creature for the next few nights. Each time it was the same. I saw a boy, a normal boy, walking down the street looking for homes with dogs. When he found one, he would crouch down and whistle, holding out a treat from his pocket. When the poor pooch arrived, tail wagging, the boy would disappear and this creature would emerge.

The police never found the car or my dog and I didn’t speak of him again. At times I find myself stealing glances out the window,searching for a dog that will never come home.




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