This a story I wrote for college last year and from a series of short stories I’m still developing.
I figured I’d post it because I realized my blog is empty and sad looking.
Note that this is one of the few stories I’ve written that has curse words.
I don’t curse but Dog does
The heavy wooden door creaked open, and its bells gave alarm that another repeat customer was tired and ready to become drunk before sundown. It was a man in his late 30’s, he trounced into bar as if he owned the place, and took the best seat in the house; the one closest to the taps in the very center of bar. His nest of dark brown hair had the start of steel veins, and as he scratched his unshaven face with dirty fingernails; he sighed and slumped an inch closer to the bar inviting the tenders ear. Murray leaned closer despite the Dog’s hygiene, and grabbed a fresh glass, and poured some of the strong stuff that would keep the man talking for hours.
“What brings ya to the hole in the hole in the wall again Dog?” Murray said grabbing an abandoned glass from the seat next to the man and polishing it with his favourite rag.
“Had a case that nipped me like fleas on my backside till I scratched it raw, so I thought I’d take a dip here, and lick my wounds.”
“So them uppers tangled your leash again Dog? Or did a rat finally get away unscathed from ya?” the bartender winked at the Dog knowing he had a soft spot for rats that scratched his belly just right.
“ A bit of both keeper of liquid moonlight. I’ll wag if you give me seconds.”
Murray sighed “You’re on your fifth ya already mutt, so pay up and yap.” The bartender grabbed another glass, destined for the growing pile, and filled it to the brim. Before Dog could speak the Tender dramatically cupped his left hand down against the cool steel of the Bartop; the gesture meant listen “And hurry up, there are others with appointments”. Others would be listening.
Dog growled which he corrected into a cough, gulped down half the glass, and began as he sank backwards into his odd mix matched three legged stool with a cushioned chair back; any carpenter or designer would have muffled a sob at the sight of the horrid thing, but there would be none of either in the bar.
Anyways it started with that string of break-ins up in Upper city. The twads was leaving their fancy dirigible doors open again while they threw their annual Sky Ball. Idiot’s right? They think they’re literally too high and mighty to be stolen from, but when the Lowers see a chance they won’t think a second thought about the fall they might take for trying. So while all the other Dogs was chasing their tails and sniffing about the all too terrible crash that happened during the Ball; I was doing some real detective work. Well it was more or less just me finding a rat and shaking him till he spilled another one, and then shaking that one and so on. The trail led to a lower city apartment at old mall in shopping district and held the not unusual arrangement of two families and a supposed ex-rat.
As you know, Lower city as the locals call it was once the ground floor of operations here. According to history books, if you believe those, it had once been a hive of activity, and with all classes of people mingling together on foot, but that was when everyone was 100% homeo sapien. Anyways I found myself walking among the once grand ruins of skyscrapers, and now a cesspool of near pitch darkness, garbage, and unregistered families. Dark due to the Uppers use of catwalks blocking all but the feint used electric light from Middletown; due to that damn crippling taxes on even the most basic power sources like electricity. As I approached shopping district I could see the showy outline of mall apartments and imagine how nice it might have been once upon a time. The place looked about a mere 4 stories but was a monstrous waste of space being what felt like a mile wide, and hell it might even be that wide given that pre-bio people didn’t save no space at all. The city itself is proof of that. Anyways back when it was built it must have nice, and judging from all the plywood and board and whatever else covering the entire face of it; it must have been almost entirely been made of bloody glass, and that meant that the families living there must be the poorest of the poor. One storm or war or the likes and they’d all be gone the poor saps.
So I found myself in front of the crumbling decrepit monster of a building, “mall” they called it, that served home to at the very least over 10000 families; I made sure to turn my flasher a dial wider and dance it around by its cord handle so that it lit the crevices in my vicinity. Not to mention it made a great club in a pinch. I can’t smell rats as well as those who traded to be a real dog, but I’ve never been taken off guard by a rat, and I didn’t want to start in the maze of market tent like apartments.
When I finally reached the 4 1/2 floor, 2nd floor of Jcpenny “apartments”, and 52th room; a set of numbers I’d come up with myself while finding the place, by asking around, and seeing the old store’s charred sign hanging crooked above the section.
Deeper in the dark maze of patch work ply board and steel walls; I was actually caught off guard on a hunt for once. It’s funny almost, the thing is they were expecting a visit and even had some steaming something that looked like caffeine ready for me.
The hole in the wall that was the living room I suppose, was over crowded with belongings, all scavenged of course. The only cleared area was around a makeshift table of crates and some mismatched cushions to sit on; a couple of homemade candles lit the room making murky shadows on the cloth walls. Apparently one of their kids was missing, a boy from one family, and there had been an attempt on the girl, from the other, afterwards. And so I found myself being served a dark brownish bitter liquid in a chipped teacup on a battered green cushion.
The two mothers wiped each other’s tears with their skirts as they each clattered down trays filled with hard biscuits and a small gathering of condiments such as cream, and sugar. The fathers sat on opposite sides of the table, on either side of me quietly watching their wives. I had wondered in passing if the wives were twin sisters and the husband’s in-laws to each other; for both women had the same round faces, sculpted noses, and mouse brown hair worn braided and pinned on opposite sides their heads. Their quilted and patched dresses mere long layered tunics, which held the same pattern, but different pigments seemed to support the belief; patterns being clan specific.
“So” I said letting the cup kiss its saucer with a little tap. “When did ya boy go missing? And how was the girl attempted upon?” my words seemed to echo and permeate through the room; I had leaned on my lower city accent here hoping it would comfort the couples if only a little. I wonder if it also permeated the paper thin walls and that the other families in the old mall apartments. How far up? And how many words did they catch? Either way they’d only hear one of their own had gone missing, and they probably knew that already. As the saying goes word hits the ground running.
“…The boy left for the mounds last Friday. It was Sera’s birthday.” The red-haired father on the right looked down at his crossed mechanical arms and watched its gears turning.
“West egg” he grunted at his gears
“SHIT!!” I stood up upsetting the makeshift table, the trays, my caffeine, the two mothers, and a fucking partridge in a pear tree. I would have anyways had there been any trees left in lower city. “Shit” I said again as I righted the table and trays, but I’m afraid the caffeine couldn’t be brought back from the dead. West egg mounds is not a place for a kid to be. It’s the underbelly of the underbelly of this city; West egg is the oldest and highest dump in the city, meaning it has buried treasure under the muck if you know where to look, but it’s the hunting grounds for every God damn thing that goes bump in the night. The lowers themselves only go there if they’re desperate for junk parts or aren’t that fond of their organs and their own parts anyway. The shadows that haunt the west egg mounds aren’t afraid of the dark, because they’ve traded their humanness to see in it, and they’ll trade another fellows and their soul while they’re at it just for a few extra shiny bits.
Not to mention that East egg the largest bio-tech factory in the city definitely fished from West egg’s pond. The kid I thought would have been cloned, half gazelle, dead, or worse made into some pet for some Upper’s kid to play with. At least that’s what I thought till I went outside after talking to the red-haired daughter, and sudde—
A fifteen are so kid with a round face and brown hair caused the doorway’s sensor to ring the bell as he jogged in. Murray and the Dog glared at him for different reasons; Murray had a strictly no one 20 and under policy that wasn’t required in bars anymore, but Murray practiced anyway due to belief and tradition, and besides from being interrupted Dog soon explained his.
“Pup! You Fucking mutt you interrupted the event’s leading to your rescue!”
“I don’t recall being rescued, Sir. I recall kicking both Upper and Rat tail, Sir. Message Sir.” The kid’s eyes flashed in the electric light; they held, Murray could see, that sharp pupils split his green eyes in half.
“Stop being a Proper Ass Pup. You sound like some Upper’s Pet. Damn Cats” the last part Dog muttered for Murrays ears, but the Kid couldn’t have not heard even standing all proper and prim a few yards away.
Murray sighed and looked at the large pile of glasses Dog had emptied. He waved from Dog to the bar a “be back” with his fingers fanned. “ Ya can go Dog, but you must explain one thing first.”
“What would that be, Sir Tender.” The Catty-Pup said eyes wide and a hint of one corner of his mouth twitching. Murray ignored him, and looked straight at Dog.
“Ya, the force gave me the runt as a gift for case and catching Fat Rats who were trading with dirty Uppers and East egg. Not like it will stop, and not like I want a Pup to housetrain. I least of all wanted a Catty one; which is ironic due to what they did to him. They probably expected him to finally fucking shut up, and roll over and be a pet” Dog glared at his new trainee, and the Pup shrugged looking everything like the cat that swallowed the canary.
“We have to go now, Sir.” The Pup finally regained a serious look about him.
“What is it now? More useless Shit? I’m not in the mood” Dog was also slightly buzzed; judging by his language Murray thought as he shined another glass.
“The Mayor is Dead again, Sir.”
“Shit! Again? How many times do I have to tell the bastard to stop visiting places in person? It won’t make no one like him any more than they already do. I suppose it can’t wait then.”
As the Dog’s left Murray wished a bit that he was young of body again. Things of all sorts had a way of happening one after another in the city of Strays, and he fancied that in some small way by hearing the tales he was a gear in the cog of events of the city.