A Dog called Mungril

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic

A Dog called Mungril focusses on the topic of Animal abuse. In this story we experience the world of Mungril and how he fights to survive and in the end find trust and healing in another.

 

Chapter 1

The Rainy Season

It was late afternoon when I first met Henry. He had packets in his hands walking swiftly through the park. All around me others of my kind were jumping and playing but not me. See I have become used to living here, living in the night off of scraps left by others. Henry did look at me but like so many others he just passed by not even giving me a chance. Everyday Henry would look at me and everyday he would walk by turning his head back towards the path that led him to somewhere in the big city.

What is it about us and chances? We get born into this world with a life that consists of two chances only. If health does not fail us and humans does not keep us we are sent to the dark world where nothing of light exists. I know, I sound so old and wise but I had to be otherwise this world would have swallowed me whole. In this park is where I found my refuge, my curse, my place to exist and stand my ground.
I remember my mom, the prettiest old lady you could ever imagine to see and oh boy was she something! She handled us with so much care and respect carrying us around from here to there always making sure that we were near to her. I remember the human lady screaming every time she saw us lying in a place except the box they named "home" for us. To me that is where things started changing. One by one my brothers and sisters were taken away. My dad old and grey was so angry every time they came for us, the thieves he used to say and I think he had a lot of anger in his heart towards humans since it was not the first time that this was happening. I guess they hoped each time that my brothers and sisters would stay, that we could be together like a family. My mom always spoke of her seven boys and six girls and I was in her eyes the special one. Now thinking back I am unsure of why she said that and while I was still with her I did not dare to ask since some things were better left unsaid. The thieves had come one by one and after four weeks it was only me left, a young man ready to be taken away from his family. I remember the words my mom said to me and I also remember the name they gave me but right there after she had said the words everything I knew changed forever." Spots you are special, you are my special boy and you must never ever forget that!" she said as she heard and saw the strange human approaching. By his features I gathered he was a boy, a fat boy, he had red hair and lots of freckles on his face. As he picked me up I noticed something smelly coming from his hands, something that stuck to my fur. I was not used to humans carrying me around but at that moment I just wanted to be back at "home" because being there, in his hands did not feel right.
He swung me up into the air and back down again grinning at me. "He is perfect mom!" the boy said to the other lady standing in the living room.
"I think I will call him Mungril." the boy said smiling and spinning me around.
My mom was crying in the background and I kept hearing her in between my dad’s thief speech telling me that I must never stop fighting as he carried me outside.
I am a fighter, now I realise it more than I did back then.

The boy dropped me in the backseat of the car as the lady in her wrinkled dress with messy hair was busy outside talking to my former owner.
"Hello Mungril" he said to me. At first I took little notice of this fat boys words, it did not sound like my mom and I could not even make out the name he was calling me so I just remained there quiet and keeping to myself. That did not help, I felt his sticky hands all over me as he pressed his fat face against mine. I looked at him and at that moment the missing became fear and I tried to break free from his hands. He gripped them tighter saying "Oh no, you’re not going anywhere Mungril". He laughed as he swung me up and down in the air and I could feel my tummy going round and round. As the lady got in the car I knew that I would never see my mom and dad again. As I cried out for them the lady looked at me and shouted that I must shut up. After what felt like hours we finally stopped outside an old house and the boy carried me inside. The smell of old withered grass and weeds filled my nose, nothing compared to the garden I was used to. I always dug holes and ran around with my dad but here I could not smell any of that. The garden was dead, there was no life, only rocks remained where I guess plants stood before. Just like everything else there was a mystery surrounding this place, secrets I was not yet aware of.
The boy was still holding on to me tightly and as any other dog I was starting to feel the effects of all the water I drank before we left. I was starting to feel my bladder developing a problem inside of me coming closer and as much as I tried to break free there was no such luck. He took me to the woman who did not even smile when she saw me. Her expression was lifeless almost, and the place in which they lived had a potent stench to it, like some evil lurking within the walls. She hardly looked at me, to her I was nothing more than another dog to where at home I at least meant something to my former owners.
"Put that thing outside" she said as the boy pushed his hands forward, my face almost touching hers. “I said put that thing outside and pour me a drink to celebrate your birthday my boy, I don't want to ask you again. I gave you what you wanted so do as I say!" she said the anger brewing from her mouth and wrinkled face.
I'm afraid it was too late to wait for me to get outside and I felt the pee escaping my body and flowing down my tummy straight onto the woman's lap. Almost instantly after my body convulsed with pain as she slapped me straight out of the fat boy’s hands. I landed on the floor and I was in pain, a pain I had never experienced before. My face, my whole body was aching and I was scared more than ever so as he picked me up looking at his mother I could not help but go again, all the fluid that was left inside of me escaping on to the floor.
"Now pour me a drink and get that thing out of here before I kill it, do you understand me boy! That dog will stay outside, you have just lost your chance of having an indoor dog and you can thank that thing for it" she said pulling on her dress as she stumbled up the stairs.

"But mom..." he argued.

"I said get that thing outside! And get me a drink! I will not ask you again!"

"Thanks!" he said looking at me. "One chance at making things right and you had to mess it up. All dogs are useless!"

 He did thank me, he thanked me by throwing me outside causing me to land on my head. I could do nothing else but run, I looked for a place to hide, somewhere where this fat boy will never ever find me. I saw a wooden triangle shaped box and for the first time in my life I wanted to disappear.
As I entered the dark box I could smell that someone had been here but it did not matter at least I was safe. The smell told me that someone like me had been living here only much older and bigger than me. The blanket was torn and I could not make out much and I dared not go in any further into the darkness as the smell was very overpowering. Out of the darkness came a growl, worse than what I had ever heard before and I could hear the steps of someone approaching. Someone who sounded very angry...and the fear, the darkness within me grew.

It was a sound unlike any I had ever heard, a deep hoarse growl echoing through the box. The aches of my body disappeared as total fear set in, I was prepared to die, prepared to go out of the world by choice, the only choice I had left.
"Hmmm, what small thing did they bring around this time? What made you think you could enter here and lie down under my roof?" the dark voice said.
" I'm sorry I will go!" was the first words that came into my head and the first words I spoke in hope that this creature just like everything else would go away or just finish me off so that peace could come to me.
"Not so fast you! I am not done with you yet"
I stepped back, my legs wobbling  as I slowly made my way outside, the steps came closer and closer as the wooden boards creaked with the weight of this monster. He stepped outside and what I saw haunts me until today. He was as black as the night, standing long and tall almost like a tree. His eyes were filled with hatred and anger. Like a soldier in battle he stood there, scars and bruises, one covering his left eye leaving him with only one now fixated upon me.
"What is your name?" he asked.
" Uhm spots" I answered softly looking down.
"Look me in the eye and tell me your name young one."
At first I did not want to look at him again, but I knew that since I had no choice that would help me survive I had to look up at him with all the courage I possessed.
"Spots hey, hmmm what a suitable name for a Mutt like you. I am Ronan and this, my little friend is my yard and my territory and this box right here is where I sleep. Guess you have met the family?"
"Yes sir" I said not knowing whether to call him Ronan.
"And you like them?" he asked with a grin on his face.
"No sir" I replied feeling overpowered and small against all the questions he was asking.
"Boy I have been here seven years, seven years of hard hitting hell and I feel sorry for you. I am no stray child, I was also brought here as a young Doberman small and innocent and life was good. Where we are now was green grass, yellow and red roses filled this garden and the big oak that I liked so much where now only a stump remains for me to be chained to."

Ronan looked deep in thought and hardly noticed me sitting down.
"So what happened sir?" I asked.
"The man of this house was the one who used to play with me, even the boy used to throw his yellow ball around for me to catch." he said with great excitement.
"But it all changed...one day the man was gone, I watched as the lady sat by the oak crying almost like us with deep and intense screams. The man was no more and soon the lady did not come outside anymore and the boy stopped playing with me. Food became and is still a luxury, every now and again they will throw out some scraps and pieces but none of the food we really like. So the rules are simple, you fight for yourself because they will come for you especially when the lady is not well, let's just say she becomes weird."
"Come for what?" I asked.
"To hurt you, to make you suffer, to try and turn you into something they want you to be. They will even call you names...names our parents never intended for us."
" Like Mungril." I said
" So they have done it already. They have named you Mungril, I was used to being called blacky but now they just refer to me as rubbish or trash. I hate them."
"Is there nothing we can do?" I asked looking at Ronan in fear of what he had just told me, the same fear that came over me since they took me from my home.
"No I’m afraid not. I have tried everything. Dig and you get beaten. Howl and you get struck. Beg and they ignore you. Refuse to eat and they don't care. They don't care about you, you’re just a toy, a toy like I was and one that will reach its time!"
"But the humans I was with was nice sir, how could these..."
"Cause none of them are the same and Mungril for your own sake I suggest you forget about home, because it is one place you will never see again!" he said disappearing back into the darkness of the box.
As I walked away I could here him mumble that the box has no place for me, that I had to remain outside. I became aware of one thing on that day, that everything about humans my mother had told me was a lie. Every human has some sort of evil in them, some place they keep the things they would much rather take out on others and it scared me more than anything else knowing that I now had become the outlet for their own anger.

The first night being away from home had come. Dark clouds had formed in the sky and amongst it the sound of lightening. At first I was scared of it but I knew my fear was nothing compared to what lived inside the run down house.

The door opened and from it stepped the boy with a pot in his hand. He placed the pot on the floor and yelled our names but I did not dare to move. I watched as Ronan stepped out of the box like a starving creature and moved closer to the pot, his tail in-between his legs cautiously moving towards it. As Ronan reached the pot he first looked up at the boy who was now standing with his arms proudly on his sides.

"Come on, eat! Don't eat everything" the boy said as Ronan helped himself to the food.

I don't know if it was the fact that Ronan did not like me or if he was just too hungry because he did end up eating everything. The boy tried several times to take the pot away from Ronan but each time Ronan would growl with that deep voice telling the boy to stay away. Ronan paid for his betrayal as the boy came outside with a plank of wood which I guess he used many times on Ronan before. I watched as Ronan convulsed with pain and tried to run for the safety of his box but it was too late. The boy had a chain tied around the oak and tied him to it laughing hysterically at his victory. A victory Ronan told me always happened.

I had this sick feeling in my stomach as the boy started searching the yard. He yelled my given name many times but I dared not move from the bush I was lying in. I watched as he came closer and closer to me and before I could even make a run for it he had picked me up and was slapping my behind and all over where his hand could find space.

"Why did you not come when I called you huh?" he yelled. "I will teach you just like I taught that piece of trash to listen to me!"

He dropped me on the floor and I ran inside the bush once more trying to growl like Ronan but all that came out was faint threats, nothing that could stand up to the boy or even so much as frighten him. I heard the lady yell for him as the rain started pouring down and it was then I think my hate for humans became real, when I realised the evil they possess is far more than just their own faults but also those of others who do not think before they do.

 

The rain had passed and I was drenched. The air had a fresh smell to it almost like nothing that had happened so far was real and that maybe this was just some bad dream that would soon end. I made my way towards Ronan hoping that I could comfort him or that maybe he could comfort me in some way, just tell me that everything would be okay. He was defeated, lying on the ground like a defeated King who had lost his crown a long time ago. For a moment I thought that Ronan had chosen to die, that all of this was just too much for him to handle or that maybe Ronan was just a figment of my imagination and that the dream I thought I was in would end right there but it did not.

"Ronan? Are you okay?" I asked.

"GO AWAY!" he shouted with so much anger that I thought the chain might break loose.

"Ronan how could they do this, doesn't any of them care about us?"

"Care!" Ronan said pushing himself up and painfully sitting down.

 "No one cares, out there is a whole world filled with them, humans like these and to them we are nothing more than trash. Some dogs are lucky enough, some dogs like us are not. I had to make peace with it a long time ago. The way they treat me is the same way they will one day treat you when you are all grown up and I am no longer here and then another will take your place, and so the vicious cycle continues. Now please accept it because that is your destiny Mungril and there is nothing that you can do to change that. Now please leave me in peace!"

As I walked away from him I could almost feel what he was feeling, was it true,  was that my destiny and I did question it for a long time that one day I will also be defeated and alone just like Ronan. At the same time reaching my place of refuge and hoping that I could sleep the nightmare away something stirred within me and at that time I did not know what to make of the weird smell in the air and the feeling that somewhere someone was watching me.

 

The moon was high in the sky and the clouds had disappeared as I woke up to a funny noise coming from somewhere close by.  I smelt the same smell from earlier that was unfamiliar to me. As I walked out of the bush to investigate, the noise stopped and I saw something sitting on one of the garbage cans. The first instinct that came to me was to bark and bark again. I felt threatened as if some natural disease had taken over my entire body. Ronan was quiet and as a light came on within the house I knew what was coming, punishment. The boy came out with the plank and hit me as I tried to run, he hit me so hard that no matter how curious I got I made a promise to myself  to never to bark again.

"Shut up Mungril or there will be more where this came from!" the boy exclaimed.

I managed to escape to the bush and lied down sulking because something, some animal and smell had caused me to get hurt, leaving me only once again with more questions.

"Hello" I heard someone say. From the bush I could make out a faint shadow of something sitting on top of the wall and I immediately recognised the same shadow of that, which was sitting on top of the garbage cans.

"You!" I said

 As I stepped outside the bush I saw something with yellow eyes staring back at me. I wanted to bark again but my fear of getting beaten stopped me and I decided to face this demon that was haunting me.

"What are you?" I asked sceptically.

"Me, well I am what you would call prestige, royal and an owner of mankind."

"You are?" I asked in total dismay.

"Yes I am a cat, not only just any cat but I own humans where you guys suffer by their hands."

"So you have never felt lonely or missed home, you just cause pain for dogs and roam around trash cans?"

"When I was small like you I did miss home, but now I know the life of royalty, the life my mother promised me. And I do not roam I simply prowl for mice and birds, delicacies you dogs would never know. "

"My mother lied to me..." I said shamefully facing down on the ground forgetting all about the fact that this cat was the cause of my pain, I just needed to talk to someone.

"Why did she lie?" the cat asked, his tail swinging round and round like a whirl wind.

"She said that humans were kind and true to their beliefs, that they would take good care of all her children and if I am here I do not even want to think what happened to my brothers and sisters."

"Not all humans are like that little one, I guess you guys are what we call bad luck cases. See I have everything my heart could desire, toys and trees and mice and comfort and joy...yes Felix has everything."

In my mind I could not believe his words. How could it be that there were two worlds separating us? In the one lives kind and good and in the other lives bad and dark. Could it be true that I was just a case of bad luck and was destined to be here like Ronan had said?

"So your kind never suffers?" I asked.

"I suppose in some way what counts for you counts for us too. There are many wild ones around because humans are reckless and cannot take responsibility but if you ever meet a wild cat it would be best to stay clear of them when you see them. Tell me how is the grumpy old man, I see they chained him up again."

"You know Ronan?"

"It is my job to know everything." Felix said.

"Ronan ate all the food tonight and then the boy..."

"I saw and know exactly what happened! So what is your name?" Felix asked.

"My mom called me spots but my given name is Mungril."

I could see Felix wanting to laugh at the thought of my name, was it that he felt sorry for me that he did not do so. I knew my name was bad, even my collar they shoved on to my neck said so.

"Can't you help us?" I asked desperately.

"Me??? Oh no there is no possibility at all, especially not with that old prune lying over there, I mean he nearly bit my tail off once."

"Oh okay never mind then." I said walking back into the bush. "Thanks anyway."

Once more I felt the darkness set in around me, now knowing Felix made me realise how divided and apart our worlds were. As the night went on I could not sleep. I kept seeing the images of warm food, nice people, green grass, people who loved me and played with me not knowing that the images I had on that night would become less likely and little did I know how unlikely it would get.

 

I heard a plop sound and Felix calling me outside. It was almost dawn. The yellow eyes looked smaller and less intense than the previous time and I could now see Felix properly. He was a rather fat cat, ginger in colour and had a bushy tail.

"What are you doing back here?" I asked looking at the dead mouse lying on the ground.

"I thought you might be hungry and I also thought about what you said and maybe I was wrong. You are in a bad situation but it does not make it right for me to only dwell on what I have when I see you guys suffer each day. You sort of gave me hope and I believe in you more than I ever believed in Ronan."

"Thank you Felix, but we both know there is nothing we can do."

"Not necessarily Mungril, I will make you a deal, get Ronan to work  with us and stop trying to eat me every chance he gets then maybe , just maybe I can help."

"Really!" I said jumping with joy. "You mean we can get out of here?"

"Yes but this is a long term plan Mungril so it is not going to happen within a week. Ronan might never come around and then I can’t help at all. So in the end it is up to you. See you Mungril I need to get home and rest." Felix said as he disappeared behind the wall.

In me I was excited and for the first time I felt that maybe, just maybe there was hope but what scared me was the relationship I had with Ronan and how to  turn a old heart of hatred into something new, something that could also have hope again. Cat and dog sounded so wrong, cat and dog does not get along...

As I laid down in the bush waiting for the sun I looked up at the remaining stars and wondered where I would wind up and if someone would also one day love me with royalty and respect.  

 

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It was late afternoon when I first met Henry, tears running down his face. I did not understand and I was unsure of this human, unsure of what darkness was hiding behind his face and what he was planning to do with me. My trust had failed me twice and I wondered if this would be the third...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Two

On the other Side

 

"Henry"

"Henry" the woman said

Henry, it's time Henry!"

Henry sat up in bed his whole body covered in sweat, the voice of his mother still echoing in his head. It was dark outside, the night was still young and he had become used to not sleeping through. The noise of the cars below his apartment was a comfort to him as he made his way to the fridge like every other night. As he poured the glass of milk it was as if his soul was pouring out too. The nightmares that haunted him of late had become his burden. The balcony was where he sat most nights through, overlooking the park it was the lights that drew him to think, that helped him remember and made his nightmares real.

 

"Henry"

"Henry" the woman said with joy in her eyes.

" Christmas is here!"

Henry jumped out of bed running down the stairs past his mother as she laughed at his excitement. His dad was downstairs waiting for Henry and as he came charging through the dining room his dad stood ready with the camera.

"Where is it daddy?" Henry asked all excited.

"Well since you are old enough now mommy and I decided..."

"Decided what daddy, that you got me a bike?" Henry asked as his mother joined them smiling with her arms folded waiting for the surprise.

"Your birthday is coming up son so we thought we would get you something much better."

"Daddy what is it?"

"Open the present and see." his dad said smiling.

Henry approached the wrapped gift with its loose fitting lid and he got a fright as he touched the box and it moved.

"Daddy?" Henry asked unsure if he should open it or not.

"Go ahead son open the box!"

Henry was mesmerised as he lifted the lid and saw what was inside.

"A puppy...a Labrador puppy.  Henry jumped up and ran to his mom and dad jumping for joy as he gave each of them a big hug.

"Thank you, thank you, thank you!"

 Henry smiled as the puppy walked towards him so small and innocent. As he looked into the eyes of the puppy he smiled and said "You’re my star!"

"Star?' his mom asked

"Yes mommy star, my star" Henry said laughing.

 

A loud clatter coming from below in the street of Henry's apartment brought him back from his thoughts. The glass of warm milk was now cold and just like any other night he stood up to go and reheat it.

"Hen how long are you going to keep this up?" his girlfriend asked dressed in an old shirt standing in the doorway half asleep.

"Keep what up Melony, I just can’t sleep that's all." Henry said trying not to look her in the eyes because he knew the truth that lied behind them. So much pain was eating at him from the inside that at times he did not know what to do with himself, how to get over it.

"Henry I know you are in a dark place right now but this thing is eating away at you and I hate seeing you like this."

"Honestly Melony it is nothing I promise you" he said as he walked over and kissed her. "Now go back to bed okay, I will be there soon."

Henry hated lying to Melony and he has never lied to her before but things were different now, things have changed.

"Okay but Henry if you are struggling with this you need to go and see someone. I need you back, this is not you." Melony said touching his hand, walking back towards the bedroom.

 

 

Henry was in school for two years and everyday his routine was the same. Every day he could not wait to get home to Star. He did not care that Star was sometimes naughty although his mom and dad did.

 Star dug holes, ruined flowers, ate shoes and now that he was getting older a lot of the mischief was starting to disappear. Henry liked the afternoons the most, when he and star could run around, get dirty. Henry liked falling on the ground allowing Star to lick him all over the face, and everyday his mom or dad would call it a day and then Star would get his pouch of wet food as Henry made his way to the bath to wash the dirt away.

 

"Come here boy!" Henry said as he approached the gate of their house. Star was jumping up and down and could not wait for Henry to come inside.

"Sit!" Henry said smiling.

Star sat down and lifted his paws in the air rowing them like the oars of a boat.

"Good boy!"

"Let's go and eat!"

Lunch was the best as Star would always get some of Henry's scraps that he passed over when his mom was not looking. Sometimes he got the idea that his mom knew but just didn't say anything maybe because she loved Star just as much as she loved him. Star was a part of their daily lives and a part of their family.

"Now you to can go and play!" his mom said smiling as always. "And Henry please be careful."

As the night came to the house Star was ready for bed and Henry too. In winter they would sit by the Fire together and in summer they would lie on the carpet watching Television.

"Its bed time Henry." his mom said. Star was not an outside dog and since day one his mom and dad had known that Henry and Star would never be separated.

"Night star" Henry said knowing that even in rain or thunder, no matter what Star will always be there and that gave him comfort. Gave him peace.

 

"Henry! Wake up!" Melony said pushing him. "You fell asleep outside again Henry! I made you breakfast."

"Henry you cannot keep doing this, you have a job, work to do, you have me Henry, yet you live on in the past. How long are you going to do this to yourself, what is it going to take to make you realise?"

"I won’t be late for work and Melony I have told you before that I am perfectly fine, I am grateful for every moment I get to spend with you and that will never change." Henry said hoping that his words would be enough to convince her.

"Don't do that!" Melony said.

"Do what?" Henry asked. Melony looked Henry up and down and shook her head.

"Look at you Henry, go look at yourself in the mirror and tell me that you are okay. Don't lie to me. Honestly it's been three months already."

"But I am okay..."

"Henry I don't know who you are fooling more, me or yourself. I got to go! I made you lunch it's in the fridge."

As Melony walked off Henry realised that maybe Melony was right yet in his heart he could not accept the reality of it.

 

As he crossed the road towards the park Henry had the thoughts of the previous night in his mind. As the trees scattered their leaves amongst the ground Henry felt as if his heart was amongst it and with it the thought that his past will haunt him day by day and that it watched him from a distance. His work had become his time, his life and this park the road to it. Henry looked to the side, every day he looked, every day it scared him, night or day. What he saw was a ghost, a ghost from his past staring back at him.

Henry arrived at work late. He had become used to the screams and the shouts of his boss about his late coming. The morning for Henry had started in a bad way just like any other.

"You are late again!" The fat man who everyone referred to as Mr Knuckle said.

Henry worked for the Global Bank where his job as client liaison entailed working with rather high end clients. Most of his days were spent behind a desk drawing up presentations or preparing for meetings.

"Sorry sir, I can only promise that it won’t happen again." Henry said. The little rhyme he had become so used to saying when he arrived at work.

"You are correct Henry this won't happen again. You need to see someone about whatever is going on in your life but I cannot put this company’s reputation at risk because one of my best employees has issues." Mr Knuckle said sitting down in his chair arranging a stack of paperwork.

“Sir I don't need any help I am fine."

"Henry, see that girl walking past over there that is fine." Mr Knuckle said pointing. "You Henry on the other hand are not. You don't seriously think I have not heard all the rumours that are floating around. You’re late for work, you leave early, you stare at photo's most of the time and you fall asleep during office hours. Now Henry I am telling you as your boss to find some help or else I am afraid I would have to let you go."

"Yes sir then I will do so." Henry said lying.

Henry walked out feeling like a schoolboy and it was the second time today that he had been scolded for not being fine, first Melony and now his boss. As he sat down by his desk the photo drew him in once more and all the words that were spoken did not matter anymore for where memories lie, dreams take over.

 

 

"Come here you!" Henry said laughing.

Star ran towards Henry jumping up and down and chasing his tail.

"He missed you." his mother said standing on the porch looking at her son all grown up.

"Yeah mom, Star will always miss me, but hey I am home now, home boy, I am home."

"Take your bags to your room, I will make us something to eat." his mother said smiling.

As Henry entered the house Star followed right behind and ran up the stairs before Henry. Henry opened his bedroom door and could smell that his room had been empty for a while since he left for college. He looked around the room and saw all the pictures in frames of him and Star. There was one of all of them together on the day that Star met his first cat. It was early morning when he and the cat got into a bit of a brawl which left him with a little scar on his nose and the neighbours were not impressed with star at all. There was one taken on the day that Star ate his first shoe, standing their proudly with this gigantic shoe in his mouth. Another of his first bath, Henry soaking wet next to Star. Henry sighed and walked to his mom's bedroom where Star had been sleeping ever since he left the house.

"Oh so this is where we have been hiding!"

Star waved his tail and got up to lick Henry as he sat down on the bed.

"Henry"

"Yes mom."

"You know Star has not left my side since your dad and I guess I just wanted to say thank you for leaving him here." his mom said teary eyed.

"It's fine mom." Henry said. 'Star is a part of our family and who better to take care of you than Star."

"But I miss him you know..."

"I miss him too mom but it was not your fault. Dad was just in the wrong place at the wrong time and there was nothing me or you could have done."

"If he was here now he would have been so proud of you, you know that."

"Yes mom I know." Henry said smiling.

The kitchen was still as warm and cosy as Henry could remember. The smell of warm fresh bread filled the kitchen and Star was waiting patiently for his share of whatever there was for lunch.

"So what are your plans my boy?"

"Well mom I got a job at Global and I found a nice apartment not too far from there, I am considering moving to the city but I will first spend some time at home before I make any big decisions."

"I am happy for you Henry."

"Mom do you want Star to stay here?" Henry asked looking at his mother. She had become old since his dad died three years ago.

"No, no you can take Star, I will be fine."

"He can stay here for a bit mom I don't mind and I am sure he does not mind either hey boy!"

"Thank you my boy, you know me so well. You are just like your father, kind hearted and a good kid."

"Hey I’m your son, I am supposed to know everything there is to know." Henry said smiling.

 

A loud clap made Henry sit up in his chair, one of his colleagues had brought him back from his nightmare.

"Henry wake up dude.' the guy said "Your phone is ringing!”

"Thanks" Henry said not knowing in which direction to look.

"Hello" Henry answered.

"Hen it's me" Melony said on the other side.

"Hey Mel, how are you?"

"I’m doing fine, it's you that I am worried about.

"I told you I am fine so you have nothing to worry about!"

“Just hear me out Hen okay, I have this doctor that I want you to go and speak to, just once okay that is all I am asking."

“Oh so now your sending me to a shrink?"

"Yes or No Hen, I just want to help you to get over this mess once and for all."

"What is it that you people don't understand, I do not need help, I do not want help, I am fine and the sooner you realise..."Henry blurted out before Melony dropped the phone. Henry felt a pain in his chest, he had done something now he has never done before, he had treated Melony with disrespect by generalising her as other people.

It was the longest day of his life. He wanted to go home and apologise to Melony but in the same breath he wanted to tell her that nothing was wrong with him. Henry knew the choices he had made would have consequences and he was living with those choices. He knew that the day would come when he needed to tell the world the truth but not now, not yet. He felt that not enough time had passed yet for him to tell the truth.

 

Late that afternoon as he walked home through the park, Henry saw the picture perfect people, the people he had begun to envy during his time in the city. Their perfect happy faces, most laughing and enjoying the playtime they had been given, and along with it the ghost of his past who had no life in him, he was dirty and had patches of hair missing on his body. His eyes, those dark eyes that met his looking straight into his soul. Henry walked faster as he could not bear to look for sometimes he found it better not to.

 

As he walked into their two bedroom apartment Henry threw his keys into the glass bowl and hung up his coat and noticed a note written by Melony lying on the table:

 

Henry

I can no longer watch and see you suffer. Henry you need to speak to someone and get things worked out, you cannot keep blaming yourself for everything. I have left you enough food to last you the week but from then you have to start taking back your own life.

 I guess you know by now that I feel we both need space and most importantly you have to learn once more how to take care of yourself before you can take care of me.

I love you Henry and that will never change, but I just can’t be around and see you like this anymore, it hurts me too much to see you suffer in silence and not talking about it to me or anyone does not help either.

Call Dr. Hogan, her number is 7751038, go and talk to her about everything, if you can’t do it for me then at least do it for yourself. You need to do this Henry.

 

Melony

 

Two weeks had past since Henry last saw Melony. Henry had spent most of his time sitting on the balcony of his apartment, thinking about all that has happened over the past few weeks. In this short time the speed at which his life was falling apart increased dramatically. Henry had stopped going to work and was living off of pizza and other take outs. The once open plan apartment looked like a house with walls as clothes and boxes laid spread out everywhere. During the day Henry would drink and watch the children playing in the park and at night his dreams fetched him. It was on one of those nights that Henry realised that his time had come to deal with his past.

He had consumed way too much alcohol and was drunk as he stumbled home, the man at the bar where Henry had become used to going refused to give him his keys. He cursed at the man as he stumbled out of the bar and into the streets and that is where he found himself the next morning, in the streets, his watch stolen, his jacket and shoes were gone and he was left with nothing but a headache and a broken heart.

It was only in the third week that Henry called the number and was uncertain whether he was harming himself by doing so or on the other hand helping himself. He needed someone to understand what he was feeling, someone that could give him answers to all the questions in his mind.

 

The office of Dr Hogan was neat and quite classy. Big paintings of smiling faces stared back at him and the marbled countertops almost made it feel good to be standing there waiting to bare all to a total stranger. The young lady smiled and greeted him as a guest, almost like at a hotel and Henry felt welcome.

"Take a seat Mr. Harris, Dr. Hogan will see you shortly."

There were other people in the room too and Henry could not help but wonder if they were also here for the same reason he was, that life had become too much for them to handle. The one man old and wrinkled was sitting reading a book and he seemed quite at peace with himself for sitting there and so did the woman who was flipping through a magazine.

"It's your first time" the woman said smiling obviously noticing that Henry had been staring at her she said putting the magazine away.

"Yes." Henry answered back not sure what else to say.

"It will be okay. Its much easier than it looks I promise you and it does help, it really does." the woman said smiling.

"How does it work?" Henry asked the lady who seemed to know quite a lot about seeing therapists or shrinks. Henry felt uncertain once more.

"You talk." the woman replied

"Just talk and that's it?"

"And work on the problems you talk about. It is really not so difficult." the lady replied as she got called in to one of the rooms.

 

An hour had almost passed before Henry was finally called in. The doctors room was wide and open filled with two huge sofas, a beautiful red carpet underneath and in the corner toys, dolls and teddy's probably not for adults to play with.

"You must be Henry, I am Catherine nice to meet you." she said smiling. "You can take a seat and just relax. I spoke to your girlfriend Melony and she had several reasons for you visiting me today but I want to know from you why you are here today?"

"Cause my life is falling apart, it’s as simple as that." Henry said struggling to get the words out.

"Okay Henry can you explain to me why your life is falling apart?"

"Well first off I lost my job, my girlfriend, I am a mess. I mean I used to be this strong person and I thought that nothing would ever happen to me but now I find myself waking up in the street from too much drinking." Henry said anxiously.

"What do you mean by nothing would ever happen to you. Henry I need to know what happened, the only way I can help you is if you tell me." Catherine said patiently

"Its Star okay and my dad and my mom...its all of them. I lost my dad when I was in college and I was not there, I lost my mom six months ago and four months later I lost Star and I was not there." Henry shouting and screaming feeling as if a knife had just cut open a wound deep within his heart.

Catherine passed Henry the box of tissues next to her. "Henry I want you to understand that we will work through this and that I will get you back on your feet. Tell me about your dad Henry, what happened?"

"He was a good man, he was honest and reliable and he loved us. The night he was supposed to come and watch one of my games his car got ran off the road and into a tree. I only heard after the game what had happened. I tried to get to the hospital but I was too late. He promised me that everything will always turn out okay but he lied, he lied to me and I could not be there for him to see him through it and tell him how I felt. I always said to my mother that it wasn't her fault that dad was just in the wrong place at the wrong time and that lie comforted her but not me. If it was not for me he would still be here today and mom would not have to go through all this hell because of me!"

"I do not think blaming yourself for your father’s death is the right thing but I can see why you would think so. The way I see it is that he wanted to be at that game to see his son play and not because you forced him. He must have been very proud of you Henry. He did not lie to you Henry, he was doing all the things you said yourself, being lovable father, a good husband and you are still a good son."

Henry looked at the doctor facing him, the pain now splashing forward in waves out of his heart. He had to talk, now he needed to more than ever.

"My mom and dad gave me a puppy for Christmas, I named him Star..."Henry said hesitating.

"Go on Henry, don't stop." the doctor said.

"Me and Star, we were really close. We were inseparable my mom used to say. He was the only good thing in my life that really mattered until I met Melony. My mom liked Melony and so did Star, he used to...doctor I cannot do this." Henry said crying.

"Just try Henry...try for yourself. If it is too painful we can wait till you are ready but Henry it is only going to eat you up from the inside so talk please?"

"He used to like Melony and so did my mom. My mom used to say that even with a girl in my life that I would always put Star's needs above hers and above my own. We used to joke about it. After I left for the big city I left Star with my mom and I was excited about my life here. At times I felt guilty because I thought I was forgetting about Star and my mother and it turns out I did."

"How did you forget Henry?"

"She called me but I was too busy at work. She came to visit one afternoon but I told Melony to tell her that we would pop in over the weekend but we never did. She tried to get hold of me everywhere but I was not there for them. Work was more important than family. Turns out I am responsible for Star's death, he ran into the road and was hit by a car, and the vet could not fix him. My mom tried to tell me but I would not listen and ever since the day she did finally tell me I have not spoken a word to her and I blame myself for that as well. Everything is my fault."

"Henry we all have mistakes, it is normal and could you have helped it I am sure you would have been right there by your mothers side. Have you tried talking to your mom?" Catherine asked.

"No I have not and I can’t. How must I face her and say how wrong it was of me to blame her for Star's death when in fact I should have taken him with me on that day. I blame myself for his death and not my mother." Henry said wiping his tears.

"Henry to you it might seem that your life is falling apart, and I understand that you have been through a lot over the last few months but all your pain, all the turmoil in your life can be fixed. I want to work with you and step by step I will help you."

Henry gave a faint smile as he got up.

 I am not saying everything will be fixed in one session, it might take two or three or even six. Henry I have some homework for you to do and if the homework is too big of a challenge for you at this moment then leave it. I want you to call your mom and just say hello. Ask her how she is and Henry then start working on yourself to get the blame off of your shoulders. We will work together, but most importantly you must look not at the negatives but rather look at the positives."

"I will try to phone my mom and speak to her Doctor but as for the rest I don't know. I just can’t let go of Star, it’s as if he is haunting me day by day and everywhere I look I see him. I loved him so much and I can’t let go."

"No one said you have to, you must just treat it differently and also Henry no other dog will ever be able to compare to him because he was unique but there is always a chance that you might find something good when you decide to love again. Hope is never lost Henry, there is always a place to find it" the doctor said smiling as she opened the door for Henry.

"I will see you next week Henry and good luck."

 

As Henry left the doctors office it was already dark outside. Night had come quickly and to Henry it felt like hours had past since he entered the doctors rooms. The sky was heavy with dark clouds and the rain started pouring down. Henry walked through the park feeling a sign of hope had come to his cold stoned heart, that he might be able to get over all his pain and move on. He knew that it would not be easy but in the same thought he also knew that it was time to let go of Star, at least the pain of Stars death. Henry did not mind the rain, he just wanted to think of how he could fix things and where he was supposed to start. He knew that speaking to his mom would be difficult, probably the most difficult thing he ever had to do.

 Just then in his thoughts came reality, the image standing under a lamp post waving its tail all wet and dirty within the cage and it was then that Henry knew he had to face his first hurdle, the demon that had haunted him for so long. He turned towards it and wondered could it be?? Could he be feeling again?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Three - The Great Escape

 

It had been four long days since I met Felix and the situation looked worse than ever. The yard had become my prison and Felix my only visitor. He came around mostly at night bringing with him dead birds, lizards or anything that once had a heartbeat for me to eat. Ronan had become more aggressive, the chains that bound him and the beatings that came with it were too much for him to bear. Every time I tried to talk to him and tried to bring some comfort to his mind his big jaws would snap at me.

"Go away!" he said. "Leave me Alone Mungril!"

The thorny bush had become my comfort zone, a place where I felt at least a little bit safe from the wrath that was the boy or the woman. If he did not come out during the day forcing me to walk on a leash and then hitting me when I did not want to then it was the woman who would come out at night singing loudly with a bottle strapped to her left hand. She would go for Ronan first accusing him and calling him all sorts of names, none Ronan had not heard before. I think she blamed him for the death of the man or maybe Ronan reminded her of the man she once loved but whatever had caused her to beat him so hard and without remorse I do not know. Why Ronan had never thought of fighting back was also a mystery to me, maybe the length at which he was living under the conditions of the brutal humans had taken to much out of him. She would come for me too, savage like and dangling from left to right. She used to call my name with a sweet yet sloppy tone and stupid me out of fear always went to her, my tail underneath my belly tightly gripped. She would pat me and say what a mixed piece of garbage I was, how they made the biggest mistake of taking me in, that I was not much of a dog to her, nor to the boy. She referred to me as useless and would always kick me to the side as she disappeared into the house. As the days passed I became more desperate, more desperate to do something to get myself out of the situation. I explored every possible avenue to get out. I tried to dig my way out but as Ronan said it was a hopeless exercise, I tried to get out by jumping against the back gate during the day hoping it would open.

It felt like I had no options left until I began to notice the boy once a week taking the trash outside leaving the gate just a little bit open, just enough for me to squeeze through. I planned it perfectly. I had it all mapped out in my head. The next time that gate would open I would make a run for it. I waited several weeks to make sure I would not fail. Ronan had been released since then and was lying in his box and wanted nothing to do with me or my plan.

"Ronan I am escaping." I said to him with hope in my eyes.

"Escaping? Hah!" Ronan laughed. "So he has filled your head with delusions too."

"Who?"

"That stupid cat Felix. Always on the prowl, always finding him at places he is not supposed to be, treated like royalty, one of a kind. You fell for his plans. Mungril you do not know this but let me tell you a dog and a cat do not mix well together."

"Why not?" I asked

"Because we are so different, a dog lives in a yard and some of us live outside. We live off of bones, pellets and canned food. We are not allowed to be on furniture let alone sleep on them, where cats can simply do as they please and when they please. They scratch and rule a household at the same time where as we have a much bigger responsibility, protecting the household."

"I can understand where the differences are and yes we are not the same but cats want the same things that we want Ronan."

"And what is that?"

"They want love and attention and they want to feel like they mean something to the family they live with. They also want to belong. How is that so different from us and what we want?"

"Have you looked around you puppy? We do not belong anywhere and we will never ever belong anywhere but here. We are here because we are being punished."

"You have a choice. When that gate opens you can either run or stay here! How long will you live with this hatred inside of you Ronan? "

"I will stay thanks." Ronan said turning around lying with his back facing me.

"This cannot be easy for you, but Ronan you are old and wise and should be exactly that. No matter what life throws at us we still have a choice to find that strength to stand up and face our enemies. You have become blinded by hatred and I don't blame you but you need to make a choice." I said hoping that Ronan would come to his senses.

"I trusted them!" Ronan said as he flung his huge body around. "My life was great, I had everything and look where that has gotten me!"

"And look at me!" I replied. "I’m barely 11 months old and yet I have not had a single day of love and respect or attention or any of those things, but I have made the choice to fight back because we always have a choice. I know it is still in you." I said loudly, maybe too loudly.

"Leave me alone Mungril and do as you please. I am not getting involved just to fail again."

 

The night had come and I felt hopeless once more, I felt as if Ronan had written his words with a knife into my heart and that maybe, just maybe there was nothing I could do.

"So I heard your conversation this afternoon." Felix said, his voice coming from the wall above.

"How did you..."

"We cats have very good hearing as well amongst the other things the old bag mentioned" Felix said licking his paw.

"Ronan?"

"Yes old Ronan, he has been here many years and we have had well a few close encounters as I mentioned with each other."

"He does not like you at all, how am I supposed to convince him to work together with you so that we can escape?" I asked.

“That is one answer I do not have. Indeed he does not like me. He thinks very little of cats in general let alone of me, but tell me more about this plan of yours and most importantly is it going to work."

"Well it does not matter anymore!"

"Tell me what you had in mind?"

"Once a week the fat boy takes out the trash and then unknowingly leaves the gate open. I was thinking that if Ronan and I could make a run for it and I could bite the boy on his leg and Ronan could bite the boy somewhere else maybe it will give us enough time to escape and teach him a lesson at the same time."

"Bite the boy you say...sounds dangerous to me. Luckily unlike other cats in our family we don't under normal circumstances bite humans. But we do have these." Felix said as his sharp claws glowed in the moonlight.

“Thank you but without Ronan's help it is a futile exercise. I might as well just walk up to him and allow him to kick me again. I might as well give up!"

“That is not you Mungril and you know within your heart that not all hope is lost." Felix said." So here it is, if you convince Ronan to at least speak to me I can maybe be of some help to you."

"Really? You would help us?"

"Hey Mungril I might be like Ronan says all royalty and no brains but he is wrong and I would like to show him that. I also have a point to prove"

"Thank you Felix but I don't know how I would go about doing that."

"I know you can, just wait for the right moment, maybe in doing this Ronan will see that you are strong and will come around whether you fail or succeed" Felix said.

"What is out there?"

"Out there is a whole new world Mungril, one you must know very well before you leave this place. I can help you get out but from there I cannot help you any further."

"Is it really bad, the world I mean?"

"No Mungril and yes. You see there will always be the good and the bad and life itself is ruled by it. It is the choices we make that determines our path."

"So where will I go when I get out of here?"

"I am working on that Mungril, see if you can speak to Ronan." Felix said disappearing behind the wall.

 

As I fell asleep that night I knew in some way I had to show Ronan that I am on his side and that I would have to do something to win him over, its just the what that I did not know. I decided to talk to him again because Ronan had lost all hope and all that remained within him now was an empty shell, one I had to find a way to fill again. Was this escape plan really going to work or was it just something that I had made up in my mind to give myself false hope. But like Felix said maybe going through with it was my only hope.

 

Over the next few weeks I tried talking to Ronan but each time I mentioned the word escape or so much as mentioned Felix's name he would snap at me. I was getting tired of not getting his support and that is when I decided that the only way for me to escape and prove my point to him was in the end maybe to do it on my own.  

I waited for just the right day, just the right moment. The day was longer than others as I waited for the boy to come outside and when he finally did I managed to pull all the courage I had and made a run for it. The gate opened and I could see freedom right in front of me, I felt the sun and the air giving me strength. Ronan watched as I ran by and shook his head in disappointment. "Fool!" was the last thing I heard him say before I got outside. Was it real, was I free?

"Hey!" the boy shouted as I bit him on his ankle to get him out of the way.

I managed to run but I was not meant to be free that day. The last thing I remembered was the smell of fresh grass and roses and the image of Felix staring back at me through the window. The boy had kicked me and took me by the neck back into the yard and slapped me around. My plan had failed, I had failed and now I was paying dearly for it. As the boy took me back I saw Ronan standing outside as if he was waiting to see if I had made it but quickly disappeared back into his box as he saw my defeat, my total failure and it felt like all hope was lost.

"If you ever try that again Mungril you will pay!" the boy shouted walking inside.

I ran to the bush crying and defeated. Was this really my future, was I going to turn out like Ronan, a hard and cold shell with nothing in it. I cried myself to some state of sleep not knowing what to do anymore, I was defeated body and soul.

 

It was during that night that it came to me, a dream of freedom. I dreamt of humans, good ones, ones that took me in and took care of me like they would a child. I smelled food, delicious food lying just there waiting for me to eat it. I saw a ball and a child, he was playing with me. Everything was as it should be, life was good...life was too good, better than anything I have ever felt before. Within the dream I became weary, my heart was on guard, I did not trust them and I did not trust life, not this one. If something so real could feel so true then why do I find myself drifting on clouds and rainbows? As the dream prolonged I felt myself going further and further away from it, the laughter became screams and the humans disappe


Submitted: April 02, 2012

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