Hi, everyone! Coincidentally timed with the ending of Staff Picks comes the beginning of the Writing Club! Every month, the Rabbit Hole Podcasters are given a different prompt to write about and can follow it however they choose. Some months will have more contributors, and some less because participation is voluntary. Thanks to everyone who contributed for this inaugural month!
This month’s prompt is:
There’s a dog at the end of the driveway.
//content warnings for body horror and violence
Jump to: Bear Jason Nolahn
Bear (Host of With Strange Aeons):
Uncommon dysplasia means we balance each other out, even if subluxation isn’t always visible on camera. Sothic displacement offsets us by a day, with more to come depending on where you look at it from. We are of a shaggy breed - something that easily catches leaves and dirt in its fur; a type of sighthound - looking for the frame of a Ptolemaic figure to follow. Death encroaches on this half of the equator. The dawn sky of Autumn shines down, projecting itself as the dog standing at the end of the driveway, waiting for the heliacal rising to begin the walk home.
Jason Soto (Host of Whatever with Jason Soto, That’s Da Bomb, Yo!, The TV Transmissions, and I Have A Weird One; Co-Host of Between The Scares, CineGamer, Musically Ignorant, and The FBI’s Most Unwanted)
“There’s a dog at the end of the driveway,” Jesse said, as she came into the house. I looked up from the book I was reading, while lying on the sofa in the living room. “What?” “There’s a strange dog at the end of the driveway,” she repeated, looking out the window. I got up and joined her, looking out at our driveway. And indeed, there was a dog at the end of the driveway. And it was just sitting there, not wagging its tail, or panting, or even looking around. It was just sitting, very still. “Did you call to it or pet it or anything?” I asked. “I said ‘hey boy’, got no response. Tried girl and still nothing. It’s just…sitting there.” “Huh,” was all I could think to say. We stood there for another minute, watching the dog. It still did nothing. I looked at Jesse. “I’m gonna go out and see if it has a collar.” I walked outside and stood on the other end of the driveway. The dog was still looking at me, not moving. I walked slowly towards it, to show that I’m not gonna harm the dog in any way. I got within 3 feet of it and still, no movement I reached out to look for a collar and just as I was near its head, suddenly a big gaping maw appeared on the dog’s face and took a bite of my hand. My pinky and ring finger was gone, as was most of the edge of my hand. I started screaming, holding it up, in shock. I turned to look at the dog and its face has gone normal again. I fell back holding the part of my hand that was missing, trying to stop the blood. Jesse ran out, screaming. “ROGER!! ROGER!!!! OH MY GOD!!!! WHAT HAPPENED?!?!” “The fucking dog bit me!!!” I yelled. “What dog?!?” Jesse asked. I looked at her, quizzically. “What dog?!? THAT FUCKING-“I pointed with my gnawed off hand and suddenly, it was gone. I looked up and down the block and saw no sign of it. “The fuck?” “I’m gonna call 911,” Jesse said going into the house. Don’t let her call, a thought in my head said. They’ll come. They who? I thought to myself. THEY! And suddenly I felt very calm. Despite blood spurting out of the part where I had a hand, I suddenly felt very still. I calmly stood up. This was a calm that I haven’t felt in years. I turned around, letting the blood from my paws fall to the ground. Walking into the house, I sniffed the air. She’s around here somewhere. I started walking toward the kitchen and suddenly I had a desire to be on all fours. Looking at it, my bitten hand now had fur on it and had claws at the end. I started crawling towards the kitchen but suddenly my pace was getting faster. My glasses fell off my face once the snout formed. Then I found the woman. She was looking in a drawer. She must be stopped. She must be stopped. I made a low growl noise and the woman turned around and screamed. “OH MY GOD! ROGER!! WHAT HAPPENED TO YOU!!” I caught a look at myself in the reflection of the thing called stove. Part of my head was still human, the human I was moments ago, but my face resembled a dog. My ears were slowly moving to the top of my head and getting pointy. My teeth were coming in nicely. A blue cloth was hanging off my body. A smaller red cloth fell off my hind legs. I growled at the woman. She looked worried. She looked around and grabbed a small sharp object. “ROGER!” she called. I jumped at the woman, snapping my jaws at her neck. I felt a sharp pain on the back of my neck and I let out a howl. I fell to the ground. The woman ran away. I got up on all fours and shook my body, the sharp object clanging to the floor. I ran through the house, barking, looking for the woman. LEAVE JESSE ALONE a voice inside my head said. Silence, I thought. You are being a bad boy. And I’m only a good boy. Now I must kill the woman. NO!! I ran through the house and sniffed the air. She was near. I found steps leading up. Running the stairs. Smell getting stronger. Stronger. I found the door the woman was behind and jumped on it, hoping it would open. I barked and bit at the door. It made a small crack. I kept biting at it. OH GOD JESSE! Silence you! The wood was slowly breaking, and I heard a scream. Soon, the wood was broken open and I was able to jump through. The woman screamed louder as I ran toward her. She looked around and found a…what is that called? LAMP! HIT HIM JESSE!!!! Lamp. Ow, lamp hurts. I whine and back off. The woman run towards the door but I’m quicker and open my mouth and bite at her ankles. Woman yelps and falls to ground. JESSE NO! I jump on the woman, brandishing my teeth and she holds my head up with her hands. I manage to bite one of her fingers off and she screams. I bite the rest of her hand and she hits me with the other one. No matter…damage is done. I back up, sit down, and look silently. The woman is crying and bleeding. But the transformation takes. NO…JESSE…noooo….. The other voice inside my head starts to fade away. All humanity from me is gone. And soon, it will be gone from the woman. *** After the woman has fully transformed, we leave the house. We walk down the street for what feels like hours until we stop outside of another house. We sit perfectly still. A man is getting out of vehicle. Man looks at us. “Awww….you two are cute!” man says. We do not respond. Door house open. Woman appear. “Marv? What’s going on?” “I don’t know….there’s two dogs at the end of the driveway…”
Nolahn (Friend of Rabbit Hole)
“There’s a dog at the end of the driveway.” Jeremy cursed under his breath as he stirred sugar into his tea. “What’s it doing?” he called out to Bill in the other room. “Sniffing around at the mailbox. No, now it’s moved on to your mother’s hydrangeas.” Son of a bitch. Jeremy scooped the cup of Earl Grey off the tiled counter and moved as quickly as he could into the living room without spilling. There was Bill, parked in front of the big picture window as he had been so often over the past couple months. Bill was still tall and broad, but the years had softened his shoulders and thickened his middle. That was okay with Jeremy. After 30 years together, the two had stopped seeing the particulars of each other’s bodies and just saw each other. Jeremy stood close to Bill, who was still watching intently through binoculars. “What’s it doing now?” “He’s still at the hydrangeas. Now he’s… oh. Never mind.” He lowered the binoculars and looked down at Jeremy, slightly pained. “Did that dog pee on my mother’s hydrangeas.” Bill opened his mouth, but instead asked, “Did you make me tea?” “I did. Now take your tea so I can get the axe from the mud room and kill that fucking dog for pissing on my mother’s hydrangeas.” Bill scowled. “You will do no such thing,” he said gravely. “Fuck that!” Bill did a doubletake, and even Jeremy was surprised at how furious he was. “This is nothing new, and I’m sick of it! Why was it that people could always take their dogs out around the neighborhood to piss and shit wherever and everyone was cool with that? And now we’ve been cooped up here for months – months! – and I have to let some asshole dog piss all over my dead mother’s flowers? Fuck. That.” Shock, pity and worry all fluttered across Bill’s face. “C’mon, it’s just-“ “It isn’t just anything! This crosses a line. Now take your goddamn tea so I can bash in Lassie’s fucking brains.” Jeremy pressed the cup into Bill’s chest, sending its contents sloshing. “Christ…” Bill rubbed his eyes before finally taking the tea. “At least take the shotgun. I’ve seen you swing an axe, and the dog will die of boredom first.” Ten minutes later they emerged from the mud room into the gray morning, wearing light jackets to protect themselves from the raw air. Bill had settled on the axe, and with his knit cap he looked like an old timey lumberjack. Under different circumstances, Jeremy would have found it adorable; instead, Jeremy was focused on the shotgun laying frigid in his hands. Somehow, the shotgun felt like it weighted a ton. “You should cock it now,” Bill murmured to him. “No need for the extra warning when we get close.” Jeremy nodded, and hoped that cocking the shotgun would make him feel like a bad ass. It didn’t. Slowly, the two made their way down the long driveway. Step, pause, step, pause, as if they were in a wedding procession, their steps instinctively in unison. The morning was damp and chilly, but that didn’t bother them as much as the quiet. It was eerily silent: no birds, no wind, nothing but the whisper of their boots on the pavement. Jeremy remembered a time when he was excited to have such a long driveway, for their house to be set so far back from the road. So much privacy from the other houses, it was like heaven. Now the 100 yards driveway seemed to stretch out forever. “We don’t have to do this,” Bill whispered, as if he could read Jeremy’s mind. Jeremy stopped and looked Bill in the eye. “We don’t, but I do,” he breathed. “If you want to head back…” “Not a chance.” And then, with a silly grin, “Besides, I’m already all dressed up.” They proceeded on into the silent morning, side-stepping the leaves and branches that littered the way. They waited to hear a flutter of wings, a gust of wind, anything. Even when they finally saw the dog nosing around the hydrangeas, it did so noiselessly. Whatever Jeremey had imagined in his mind, this dog was not it. Instead, the dog was a black and white English Setter, mangy and matted, wagging its tail happily as it sniffed around the shrubs. Jeremy started to raise the shotgun, but Bill held out a hand. Closer, he mouthed. Jeremy gave him an exasperated look. Bill nodded his head at the dog and raised an eyebrow. You really think you can hit that dog from here? Jeremy rolled his eyes. Bill was right, of course. Bill held up his palm, fingers outstretched. Five more steps. They moved in unison. One step. Two. Three. Fo—The dog suddenly squatted – its back to them, oblivious to their approach – and proceeded to shit in the hydrangeas. Motherfucker. Jeremy raised the shotgun to his shoulder and stepped forward, crushing some twigs in the process. The English Setter whipped its head around, locking eyes with Jeremy. Don’t care, Jeremy thought. He set his jaw, his curled finger tense around the trigger. All he had to do was squeeze… but he couldn’t look away from the dog’s dark, sad eyes. “Do it,” Bill breathed. “Now.” Jeremy knew he was right. He pressed the butt of the shotgun into his shoulder, adjusted his grip, the dog’s sad eyes… and fired up into the air, the gun shot echoing through the sky. The English Setter popped up out of its squat, startled. It scampered some 15 feet away from the men, then turned to face them… and howled. The howl immediately drowned out the echo of the shotgun blast, a loud, relentless wail in the still gray morning. “What did you do?” Bill’s face was full of shock and panic. Jeremy struggled to find words. “I, I –” Any half-baked thought was shaken away by a rumbling in the distance. “Run!” Bill shouted, and took off up the driveway. Jeremy started after him, pumping his legs as fast as he could, his heart in his throat and the ridiculous shotgun feeling ten feet long in his arms. Through the pounding in Jeremy’s ears, he could tell that the rumbling was coming from the woods off to their right. It was no longer a vague rumble but a scrum of sound: the breaking of branches, the thump of trees, the pounding of soil and turf. It was all impossibly close. And then, breaking from the tree line to the right and threatening to cut Bill and Jeremy off from the house, it charged into the yard. The swarm. Labradors and bulldogs, Dobermans and mastiffs, German Shepherds and Siberian Huskies and mutts of all kinds. An avalanche of dogs, scores and scores of them, thundering across the wide lawn like a single organism. Moving with a single purpose. Jeremy wanted to scream but had no breath. He awkwardly swung the shotgun towards the advancing swarm and fired. The shot caused a dalmatian to skitter to the ground, where it was immediately buried in the swarm. Jeremy tried to cock the shotgun but fumbled, the gun flying from his hands. “Never mind! Just go!” Bill bellowed. Bill planted his left foot, allowing Jeremy to pass by as he readied his axe. In that instant, Bill was Casey at the Bat, swinging mightily at the lead dog, a rottweiler, catching it at the collar and sending it flying. But then a border collie flew into Bill, sinking its teeth into his shoulder. A Pomeranian attacked Bill’s ankle, a pit-bull pulled down his elbow. A newfoundland bowled into Bill’s knee, a sickening crack sending him buckling to the ground. Bill groaned, twisting on the ground and lashing out with kicks and punches. But the swarm piled on, abuzz with snarls and gnashing teeth. Within seconds, Bill was gone. Jeremy threw himself into the mud room, slamming the door shut and locking it just as the mass of bodies smashed into it. He sat on the floor, hyperventilating, his face pins and needles. It would still be a few minutes before he could cry or scream.
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