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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic
In this final Chapter, Mack learns a deadly truth. Justice is Reversed.

Submitted: March 26, 2016

A A A | A A A

Submitted: March 26, 2016




A Short Story

Nicholas Cochran

Chapter Two



Those first days with his ‘new crews’, were brimming with sunshine and cooled by balmy breezes.

Mack watched the ‘freed’ dogs very closely for any signs of their disobeying his orders.

There were none.

In fact, the three in the morning jumped and barked and playfully lunged at Mack who suddenly understood that their owners had misread the dogs’ jumping and lunging and barking as a threat.

However, Mack knew ‘dog threats’ from his decades of running.

Ninety-nine percent of those running after him, barking and jumping were simply the expressions of joy; that’s what dogs were supposed to do; even to runners as well as bikers and cars; bark; even growl at appropriate times.


Over the following two months, none of his three in the morning or either of his two in the afternoon, misbehaved.

They appeared to like Mack.

Mack would hold the muzzle in one hand and the muzzle-free dog in the other hand, while he took the time to tell the owner how they had behaved.

He expressed how safe he felt with their unmuzzled mutts and hoped they were not offended; hoped that they understood.

Two of the owners were at home and welcomed the news, with shrieks of delight and stacks of words of thanks and appreciation.

The maid took in the second dog from the afternoon outing, and Mack wasn’t at all sure that the young woman from El Salvador understood. However, the dog seemed to.

With a sad look in his eyes, Mack replaced the muzzle.

The dog, Devil, a Doberman, gave Mack an understanding look and was silent.

The next day, that particular dog was almost doing doggie cartwheels when Mack came to the door. Mack grabbed him from the El Salvadoran young woman and as soon as the door closed, Mack removed the muzzle and Devil jumped and whined with pleasure.

Mack had a hell of time just getting him into the van.

And he didn’t put Devil’s muzzle back on.

Devil made not a sound all the way to the Presidio, a fifteen-minute drive after Mack had collected eleven other dogs along the way.

It was a superb day in the finest month in the Bay Area.

The hot sun of October had joined up with a spotless dark blue sky and some errant breezes to put on an irresistible show.

After he had opened the doors and began to leash his charges, he sensed a strange mood in seven of the smaller dogs; all silent, eyes down, as though they were hiding a conspiracy.

Some occurrence, almost bleached out by time, stuck in the craw of Mack’s memory. He felt his face crease and realized that some deep element was forcing his features to crinkle with effort, hoping to aid his stalled recollection of . . .of what? . . . what, what, what?

Mack slowly came to understand that he was momentarily paralyzed in an odd dimension; a parallel reflection of his situation there in the hot sun of the beautiful Presidio.

The reflected universe had stalled his brain in the real world and prohibited any movement while his brain struggled to retrieve the necessary information to unlock the door to some distant memory. . . some repressed thoughts . . . some buried terror.

Beth, one of the Cocker Spaniels, was nearest to Mack. She looked familiar to Mack, but his mind was overwhelmed at the moment, with all things necessary to release, round up and set out with the remaining dogs.

Beth stood as though planted in a permanent position; almost a fighting position. Two other Spaniels, a Jack Russell and five others of varying breeds, quickly gathered near Beth.

An early distant warning system had just flashed yellow and Mack immediately snapped the leashes on all nine and wrapped the leash ends around the door handle while he rounded up the other three.

It was then that he realized that all the smaller dogs were full grown; some well on in age. It splashed into his mind that these older dogs had memories, as well as experience; likes and dislikes; loves and hatreds.

He stiffened while he studied them and concluded that all of them were over ten years old; in their physical prime.

Something about this realization unnerved him momentarily, but he automatically closed the other door, locked up and set out on the Chips trail.


Mack had run this trail so many times that he thought of the eucalyptus trees that lined the opening two hundred yards, as his companions; his friendly protectors.

It was all anthropomorphically too much for Mack; he even greeted them, aloud, something that amused the hounds.

It was after a half mile up the trail that Mack’s buried terror became unstuck from the craw of his memory and revealed itself as a slow moving image across his consciousness; an image of a dog lunging at him; a small dog.

The features were indistinct in the blur of its flashing fangs. Mack felt the trope chill in his spine as he now recalled the teeth breaking the skin of his thigh.

Fourteen stitches—and later, a tidy sum from the owner.

Of course, the owner had sworn that his dog had never misbehaved; that the little gal was actually fully under control and that Mack must have done something to provoke her.

Mack simply listened while he tore off his tee and staunched the bleeding until the park police arrived and took Mack to the CALPAC Medical Center for stitches and a rabies shot.

The owner had appealed the Small Claims judgment of five thousand dollars and Mack was happy to accommodate him and have a Superior Court Judge nail him for twenty-five thousand.

Threats of revenge had been hurled upon Matt and his attorney on the courthouse steps which prompted Mack’s attorney, Ms. Lorrie Stacy, to quietly tell the aggrieved owner that she was about to go back inside and ask the judge to double the judgment unless he shut up.

He did.

Amelia and Mack had done the inland waterway cruise to Alaska from the funds and gave all the  their favorite toys with the remainder.

The herd of twelve and their walker were now passing the spot where the attack had been sprung upon Mack all those years ago.

He thought he heard a growl from somewhere in his pack just before they passed that point.

Mack shook his head and pulled the leashes a little tighter.


On the return trail, it began to rain heavily and the pack was still ten minutes from his doggie panel truck.

Ordinarily—that is, if Mack had been out for a run—he would have simply rushed under the closest buddy-eucalyptus and waited until the heavy rain had passed, permitting a run to the car under the lighter rain and only being mostly soaked, instead of becoming drenched.

However, with this pack and the rapidly deteriorating condition of the trail, Mack quickly resigned himself to a slow plod in a lot of mud and a thorough soaking.

When the panel truck came into a fuzzy rain-veiled outline, his spirits lifted and he picked up the pace.

However, the dogs refused to go any faster and their combined weight was over double that of Mack’s.

He pulled harder.

Their resistance increased.

A bolt of memory flashed before his eyes and he remembered the face of the vicious biting dog of ten years ago.

Simultaneously, he scanned his pack and then recognized his former attacker; the largest of the old dogs, the peculiar Cocker Spaniel, Beth.

She was peculiar because you never think of a Cocker looking vicious.

Mack now identified Beth as the dog that had growled as they were passing the point of her attack upon him a decade ago.

He realized that Beth was now the full-grown Cocker Spaniel that had ripped fourteen stitches-worth of skin and flesh from his thigh.

He wrestled with the possible odds that this was the same dog, under a different name and with a different owner.

A new sensation rippled through his emotional sea; fear.

The sheets of October rain turned colder. Matt checked all the leashes as well as the snaps, hooks, buckles and other leash hardware.


Less than a minute later, he was pulling the pack with most of his strength.

Suddenly, the pack stopped, causing Mack to teeter on one leg as he fought to retrieve his balance.

And he would have, but for the slippery mud under his right foot that caused his left leg to stretch into the air as a counterbalance. 

At the same time, this counterbalance maneuver transferred all Mack’s weight onto his sliding right foot. His balance evaporated.

He fell very hard on his right shoulder and heard the bone snap.

Before he could internalize the first waves of stabbing pain, his nemesis was digging her teeth into Mack’s jugular and tearing, while the other ten dogs surrounded and menaced the single large dog, Devil, the Doberman.

Before Mack lost consciousness, he could feel other parts of his body being broken and torn.

Another dog walker came upon Mack’s body—rather, the bits and pieces of his body—and called for help on his cell phone.

Amelia wept for so many reasons.

She had seen the revolting scenes of her husband’s death and she hadn’t told him; hadn’t warned him.


Months later, Amelia talked with the dog walker who had found Mack.

She didn’t ask for details of his killing; she had already seen them. What she wanted to know was: did he notice anything unusual about these dogs.

“Well, yes, I did. They were all standing in the rain—except for the Doberman, the really big dog —in a circle around the dead man; your husband.

“The Doberman was whining and covering his face with his paws; in obvious grief.

“However the other eleven dogs were giving off a low noise—something I had never heard before; ever. It sounded as though they were cheering.

© Copyright 2018 Nicholas Cochran. All rights reserved.

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