Pets in the Building. Short Story.

Went to my GI doctor today, going in for another colonoscopy in the next couple of weeks and another dilation of my stricture (basically they put a balloon in at the stricture and inflate it to stretch out the scar tissue) to see if that fixes the problem, if it doesn’t then it’ll mean surgery to remove it. So basically it’ll be waiting around until the colonoscopy and then I’ll have an idea as to what’s happening next. Still least I don’t have to go on steroids, always a silver lining!

Hope everyone had a good weekend!
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Martin unlocked his door and peered out into the hallway, he looked left and right and saw nothing but rows of doors to the other apartments. What ever had been making that scratching noise was gone. He closed the door muttering to himself, someone on this floor had a dog, he just knew it. They weren’t supposed to have pets in this building, it was supposed to be a pet free zone. He had his suspicious of who it was, but he had no proof yet, just a few missing puzzle pieces. There was that young couple that moved in next door about a month back, he thought he heard the yipping of one of those rat dogs once or twice last week, but he hadn’t heard anything since. Then there was old Mrs. Travis, who shuffled down the corridors in her tattered outside coat, which was just a different coloured version of the house coat she wore to collect her mail, both seemed to be covered in fur. Though he hadn’t gotten close enough to confirm if it was fur or just general dust and hair, she always had a rank stench of body odour around her and he never dared get close enough to tell. Then of course there was that Pakistani couple, maybe they were Indian, not that it made much of a difference to him. They were up to something, he didn’t know what, but it was something. Maybe they were the ones with the dog, if they were they probably planned on eating it or was that the Chinese that did that? Either way, they were suspicious. There was also that young woman who lived five doors down, always strutting around in skin tight short-shorts and tank tops, or tight skirts and shirts that were too low cut and revealing to be anything close to decent. In fact, the only people on the floor that he didn’t suspect were that couple who lived in the first apartment beside the lift, they were a nice couple, young, quiet, kept to themselves. Both dressed conservatively and the wife wore a cross that was nestled between the vague, baggy jumper covered mounds that were her breasts.

Martin sat down on his tattered couch and flicked on the television, keeping it low in case he heard another yip or the telltale clack of nails on the floor. He picked up his half empty can of beer and downed it in three quick swallows and threw the empty onto the steadily growing pile at the other end of the couch. He grabbed a fresh one and cracked it open, he took a sip and placed it on the low table in front of the couch. He jokingly referred to the growing pile as his collection which he had been building for the last three weeks, ever since he’d been fired and escorted out of his workplace by security. Twenty years he’d given to that company and they’d thrown him out like a beggar on the streets. They didn’t even allow him the courtesy of packing up his own desk, the young runt with the wide, staring eyes had said it was procedure, for security reasons you see. Martin didn’t see because it was all bullshit and they both knew it. He took another gulp of beer, it had been a witch hunt. That’s what it was. They had just been waiting to find a reason to get rid of him. He saw how all the young women behaved, dressing in too tight clothes, flashing come-fuck-me eyes at anything that walked on two legs and had a dick swinging between them. When the younger men made a pass at them it was cute, funny and worth a drink and maybe a quickie in the supply closet. When he did it though it suddenly became sexual harassment. He’d even gone for the sluttiest one, everyone knew Karen had ridden every dick in the office but his and it was about time he dipped his pen into the office ink. He’d kept himself in check all that time up until that frigid bitch Melissa had left him, all those years wasted with her and not once had he strayed though he had plenty of chances. Then the first time he tried to make a move they fired him for it.

Martin shot to his feet then stumbled across to the door, his footsteps were heavy and pounding. He gripped the cold door handle, eyes wide and feverish and pulled it open with a snarl, he was two steps into the hallway when he realised there was nothing there. He peered blearily each way, then disappointedly went back into his apartment. He had heard it that time he knew he had, there was even a gentle clink of a dog tag jangling on its collar. He stood by the door, breathing heavily, ear pressed against it, they were trying to get him, that’s what it was, trying to make him look crazy so when he finally had proof no one would believe him. He wouldn’t let them get away with it. He’d catch them and march their fucking dog right out of the building and throw the damn thing into traffic. He grinned lopsidedly at the thought, then the grin turned into a frown, first he’d have to catch it. He went back to his couch and sat down, taking another swig from his beer. He peered at his stash and counted them twice, he was running out, only a few cans were left, he’d have to swing by the liquor store tomorrow, maybe he’d go to a different one though, the sneering clerk that always seemed to be behind the counter knew his name and what he bought. If he kept going there they’d think he was an alcoholic or something and maybe they’d stop selling to him. Not that he was an alcoholic of course, he could stop drinking if he wanted to, but why would he want to? Now was the time to relax, the company agreed to give him his pension, no muss no fuss, so really he’d basically retired. And what was it that retired people were supposed to do? Relax and enjoy themselves. He’d earned it after working so hard for so long, he was 65 years old, he deserved a little R&R.

Martin opened his eyes blearily, the TV was still playing he shifted slightly, feeling the aches in his body as he did so. His tongue felt thick and furry, his head felt like it was too heavy. He reached blindly until he felt the cool metal of a can, he picked it up, opened it and took a long, slow sip. When he was done he belched, already he was starting to feel a bit better. He took another swig, this one a little faster and kept it down. He looked around the room, frowning, it was still dark outside, and he could barely hear the TV, what had woken him up? Then it came, the excited, steady clack of nails on wood, the sound of four little legs thumping one after the other, that god damned dog was running up and down the fucking corridor. He heaved himself out of the chair, gasping for air as he did so and lumbered over to the door, still only half awake.

He pulled the door open and stumbled into the corridor, he looked to his left and saw nothing, then to his right and there it was. That little ball of fur, it was bigger than he expected, about knee high, he thought it would be one of those rat dogs those gold diggers liked to carry in purses. He called out to it, “Here pup.” the dog stopped and turned, it had all white fur and when Martin got a look at its face he took a step back. It was one ugly fucker, its snout was pressed back, its skin was droopy and hanging, its eyes were a filmy grey. It had teeth that stuck out from all angles, Jesus he’d be doing this dog a favour by throwing it into traffic, hell it might even look better afterwards. He patted his leg, “here doggy doggy, c’mere” the dog took a tentative step towards him then continued on, building up speed. Martin smiled and patted his leg again, this was just too easy. The dog was about ten feet away and showed no sign of slowing, damn thing would probably jump up all over him, slobbering away. Five feet, two, Martin leaned over to pick it up, the dog jumped forward, teeth sinking into Martins face. Martin screamed and stumbled backward, hitting the wall hard, the dog had sunk its teeth in and wasn’t letting go. He gripped the dog around the midsection and pulled, his hands seemed to sink into it, he barely noticed the fingers of his hands touching each other. The pain in his face was all consuming, he couldn’t see out of one eye, he could feel drool and blood running down his face as the dog stayed latched on. He pushed himself from the wall and tried to ram the dog into it but he slipped on some of the blood, his legs flew out from under him and he landed with a heavy thud, the air driven out of him. He breathed in to scream again but his mouth filled with a mix of fluids, causing him to cough. The pressure on his face was increasing, then the dog tore itself free, taking a chunk of his cheek and his nose with it. Martins hands went to his face, blood was pouring between them, the dog chewed for a moment, its tail wagging. Martin shuffled backwards, using his legs to propel himself. This thing was fucking rabid or something, he needed to get inside, somewhere safe. He looked up at one of the doors and couldn’t make out the numbers, they were too blurry, his own door had closed and they all looked the same. He banged against he wall, “Help. Help.” the words were weak and gurgled, he banged on the wall again. The dog swallowed and turned to him, it now had a red bib of blood around its mouth and down its chest. Tail still wagging it launched at him again.

Martin was found the next morning, blood splattered across the hallway, chunks of him across the ground, some had even ended up inside the small flower vase full of fake flowers management had added three months back to brighten up the place. It was Old Mrs. Travis who found him, she stepped outside while pulling her ratty coat tighter, then she saw the streaks of red, at first she didn’t know what she was looking at, and then she started screaming, a second later she collapsed. The scream and subsequent thud brought neighbours into the hallway, one or two thinking that Old Mrs. Travis had finally had a heart attack or stroke. Instead they found her unconscious, lying in the gore streaked corridor. Soon they found out it had been a wild animal attack, looked like a pack of dogs. The camera in the corridor had been on the fritz, had been for the last month so no one was quite sure what exactly had happened, or even how the animals had gotten in and out. Soon they decided amongst themselves that Martin must have been an animal hoarder, it made sense, he was always going on about someone having a dog, no doubt a manifestation of his own paranoia. Besides, if they were truly honest, none of them cared how he went, they were just glad he was gone.

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About Alan James Keogh

I am a 26 year old writer who somehow tricked U.C.D. into giving me not only a degree in English and Classical studies, but an Hons Masters in Creative Writing too. Visit my blog where I post short stories twice a week (Monday and Wednesday) and an installment of a serialised novel on Fridays. I did consider writing this in the third person, as though it was written by someone else, but Alan is not comfortable writing in the third person as it seems kinda creepy and unbalanced so Alan decided it was probably best to write in the first person. He hopes it went well for him.
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