The round three challenge, inspired by the departure of Fido from the competition, is to incorporate the death of a dog into the narrative in less than 400 words.
This follows on from my first sentence and first paragraph. These 397 words were far less sweated over than the previous rounds.I could see the story emerging in my head across the day. The challenge was getting it all into 400 words or less.
All comments welcomed and appreciated.
Sylvie let the words sink in, thick with betrayal. She struggled to her feet, squaring off with the crone who stood framed in the warped door way.
“How? Our network is secure. I wouldn’t be standing here if it could be breached.”
“The fact you stand there girl is testament to it being broken.”
The animosity stretched between them like frozen tundra.
“Why me?” The enormity of the situation fell about Sylvie with the first snow flakes of the evening.
“We wanted Maia, but she refused to come.”
“So her apprentice was the next best thing.” Her anger rippled out in shock waves. “You tricked me you bitch.”
“Get yourself cleaned up before you come back in. You reek of fear and there is enough of that in this house.”
Sylvie hurled the PDA at the crone as she vanished inside.
Why me? Why now? Why here?
“What the fuck is this place?” She wanted answers and she wanted them now. The adrenalin was kicking in again, but with the clarity of mind to question for the first time what was actually happening.
Who were the monsters – materialising out of the urban desolation, straight from stories told by parents to scare their children’s wanderlust and curiosity into submission. Freaks descending on her car like a human plague, heavy feet buckling the roof and the bonnet. Inhuman faces frenzied and desperate; pressed against the dirty glass, bare hands trying to smash their way.
“The dead zone. Come, I’ll get you some water.” Sylvie hesitated, as he unbolted a section of wall. “It is safe.”
“Because of your dog?”
Sylvie fell in step beside the dog, remembering the terrified looks on the creatures’ faces as they backed away from her car and the dog beside it, growling and baring their pointed teeth from a safe distance, moments before the black Mustang and the man materialised.
“Mutt here is good as a shock tactic. But only once.” He scratched the dog’s head. “Until today, they’ve only ever heard of dogs.”
“Never seen a dog?”
“No dog here for two generations.”
The snow fell heavier the further they walked, tiny white dancers in the onyx sky.
“The dogs died after the Government released the virus here and it mutated. Mans best friend attacked the infected and were killed. The rest were shot to stop them eating the corpses.”