Gardens are cooking, lawns are dead, our pavement is buckling, and our utility bills look like the national debt. In truth, my own garden, while not as pretty as I'd like, is alive and kicking and (if I can thwart the raccoons) should produce a pretty good crop of tomatoes, beans, squash, etc. However my water bill . . . well, we aren't talking about that. Gary mentioned just once that maybe I should just let the garden go this year and give up watering it and my response (I'm blaming it on the heat) was unprintable.
But the Dog Story isn't.
The Creeper that had the Boy was easily three times as tall as the others, its eyes huge red orbs, with talons like a giant bird of prey. The thing was dangling by one arm in mid-air, its jaws parted as though laughing silently.
The Queen needed no introduction.
The Visitor crept toward her, knowing that a rushed attack would mean the Boy’s demise. Why are you here?
She sneered. And not fighting the others? The Old One has fallen. He was so weak, I didn’t even have time to enter the room. The rest are not far behind and when I finish with the boy, I will finish you.
Again, the Boy screamed, flailing, his eyes wide with panic and anger.
The Queen spun the Boy around, dragged him up to her face so he was eye to eye with her; she opened her mouth, her cavernous jaws framed by fangs. The Visitor charged, the Creepers around her advanced on him.
The Boy kicked at her, missed, and spun under the force of the motion. His scream ended in mid-cry.
The Visitor slid to a stop. The Creepers froze.
Four footed, black and gold, running as the ground was only incidental, came the Old One.
Only he was no longer old. Gone was the ponderously slow lope, gone was the grey on his muzzle. In the place of age was youth. Furious youth.
The Queen laughed and threw the Boy aside as though he was suddenly nothing and the Shepherd was on her, tearing at her. She clawed at him, attempting to rip at his hide, but he seemed to feel no pain.
The Boy tumbled to the ground and was on his feet in an instant. He picked up his shiny stick.
His dog placed itself between him and the Queen and the battling Shepherd.
“He needs me,” the Boy protested.
She’ll kill him.
The Visitor did not point out the obvious. Wait, he said.