A Hero With A Bit Of Blood Lust

in life •  6 months ago  (edited)

Someone is following, I thought as the evening breeze rushed around my face. The clouds of sunset twenty minutes prior had looked something like a grand castle in the sky. They turned pastel shades of pinks and purples before fading into that dim blue. Nighttime had fallen somewhat suddenly on everything, like a curtain abruptly being drawn. Darkness surrounded me.

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But it’s not like I’m alone. I cast a quick glance down at Big Dog, who was meandering slowly forward. He padded along on those big feet something like how a lion meanders toward another spot it wants to doze. His big soft nose was low to the ground to catch the whiff of deer that had passed recently. I reassured myself. The mind invents stories, is all. It is the sort of night when the clouds are tumultuous. They are restless, so everything on earth must be too.

That evening breeze blew the scent of cigarette smoke against my cheek. Goosebumps climbed up my arms as though to meet halfway the sweat dripping down them. That smoke can travel a little ways, it is only coming from someone’s yard through the brush. I cast a long look at the black silhouettes of trees and vines and brush all formed together into one mass of black shadow behind me.

The smell didn’t bother me so much. It reminded me of being a teenager, when I knew older people with grease stained fingers and knowledge I had yet to gain. Those hands holding the cigarettes were capable—they knew how to fix things—it seemed like they could fix life back then. Cigarette smoke is a comfort, so Big Dog and I kept on.

Big Dog began to pace a patch of dirt, running his nose in circles there, and I paused to let the breeze run circles around me. It brought me cologne. Old man cologne—like a mixture of something too frilly and something too earthy and then all stashed together into alcohol and sprayed onto a starchy shirt that fit around a pot belly. Like on that old boss of mine from years ago, standing too close, hovering just behind, eyes burning holes into my body.

The smell hung there in my small office, or the scent would accost me from the doorway where the pot belly and another stiff shirt would be lingering, something inappropriate muttered under their breath. It was vulgar, disgusting cologne.

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The mind is only playing tricks on me now. Regardless, I have my bodyguard. Big Dog carried on with his slow, easy steps, pulling me to the edge of the woods where he is at home. He stopped to cock his head behind us a moment, one ear flickering, but then falling back into place. Big Dog is my connection to the animal instincts lost to my modern humanity. He feels and smells and sees movements that are nothing to me. If Big Dog sees nothing, then there is nothing.

He is a hero, I thought as I ruffled my hand through the soft hair around the back of his neck. A hero with a bit of blood-lust. I had a clear image of his long white canines then, gripped tightly together with that lip curled up until his gums showed. I could almost taste blood in my own mouth.

The kingdom of clouds were still restless up above. A few patchy stars were trying to show through the smears of clouds that were rapidly overtaking them. I felt a tickle at my shoulders—like a subtle nudge—like some sort of instinct to turn. I did, but still nothing was in sight in the blue-black distance. We stopped again so that Big Dog could take his time doing the doo.

Don’t stop, I thought. Not because something would get me, but because the humidity would catch up and lay across me like a heavy winter coat. And it did, wrapping itself around me in an embrace, like we were old friends. I shook my shoulders to brush it off, like the feeling wasn’t mutual. We rounded the corner, circling back.

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Before me was the densest stretch of woods where the creek was lazily snaking through the tunnel under the road. The black shapes of wildness hung over the road like angry two-story high creatures with claws stretched out for the attack. I looked defiantly at them. I’m not afraid of cigarette smoke; I’m not afraid of cologne—I’m certainly not afraid of woods.

Big Dog suddenly raised his nose to the air. In another moment the leash grew taut and the leader sucked around his nose. Up ahead a car rounded the corner, its headlights clashing violently with the darkness so that we were blinded. Only the flash of a large black shape jetting across the street could be made out. It was gone in a moment; Big Dog relaxed.

Up ahead the golden light of windows without the curtains pulled beckoned to me. The musky smell of vegetation and a light perfume of flowers welcomed me back to my own proper place and time. I cast one quick glance at those wild clouds.

I closed the door on whatever was or was not out there.

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Amazing description. I read slowly and thoughtfully. The details are expertly spelled out, as if I myself was in that forest, as if I had felt all these smells and the evening air. Amazing work!

Thank you. A walk with Big Dog always inspires something :)

A marvelous read, though at your expense. Amazing how the dark of night makes the same area in everyday, boring daylight, alive and scary with all SORTS of gonnagetcha things. Though the dog always knows what is up. When I worked in the woods alone doing owl work, I'd go out during the daylight, and park. And be fine. But when the darkness descended, EVERY noise in the woods was huge. A mouse, yikes. Bugs, small sticks breaking under only about 3 ounces of weight, they all sounded like goblins with big teeth. And one night a bat was 'doinging' my radio antennae on the top of the truck. Took me about an hour to get out and start my hike. We never really grow out of it, we just act brave so we can go on.

Big dog must be a grand help. Though a few times at work my boss would bring his dog out in the field. Every now and then the dog hid behind US. Now THAT really freaked me out to no end..."whose protecting who here?"! Pretty sure it was cougars. And the dog was saying, "I don't have to outrun you, just the cat".
Sorry, waxing on here about life in the past. But your story brought up all KINDS of stuff. Glad you made it home. The people boogie men always seem to be the scariest. Maybe for good reason. Though those same people don't usually want to mess with a dog. Again, for good reason. Wow, I wrote a book here. And on a Tuesday...

That bit about how the dark of night makes everything scarier, that's what I tell myself when I am wondering the woods. It will all look perfectly normal in 12 hours, because nothing is actually scary here. It doesn't always help though. The unknown is too deeply ingrained as scary.

Oh man, if Big Dog was hiding behind me I would be really scared too. Your adventures in the woods sound really lovely. I'm sure the look of the stars and the peacefulness of it all outweighed the fear factor more often that not.

Yes, I am generally only afraid of the people boogie men in my neck of the woods. I live in a pretty safe area, but boogie men do like safe areas too now and then. Fortunately Big Dog likes the taste of boogie men ;)

I don't know.... I'm starting to think you won't be able to go ghost hunting with me... hehehe

Oh hell no I could not ghost hunt with you :)

Actually, I take my niece every summer to a ghost tour in town here, since we are the oldest city in the US. She loves it. I generally feel anxious walking around my house at night for a week or so. Some of us are just not made for that stuff :)

We need another ghost hunter that loves sugar in this tribe! 😅

Clearly we are missing a tribe member to unite us. We should probably be very specific in our future ad. Something like must enjoy giving frightened tribe members back massages during seances, as well as providing smudging services and/or the lord's prayer while canvasing graveyards, etc. - that sort of thing.

Hmmmm take out the massages and the smudging cause that can bring pervs ahahaha

I'm glad nothing got you, but I'm sure Big Dog would have kept you safe regardless. When we first moved out of the city to this place, I would get full-blown cases of the creeps even in the middle of the day when I was home alone. The silence was so complete. Nothing is ever really quiet in the city and my brain took a few weeks to adjust. Now I can walk through the pitch dark without getting scared of boogy men. Plus, there are dogs everywhere now. I know what you mean. If they're not worried, I'm not worried!

I had the same experience when I moved out to my current house. No street lights, and within the first week there was a bad storm that knocked the power out at night, and my husband got called into work. At the time I didn't even have Big Dog either. I just sat in the living room, curled up on the couch, my ears straining to hear anything. There was a lot of nothing, and it was deafening.

Once we get used to it, all that silence is wonderful.

I agree! Now the noise makes me crazy. We didn't have a dog when we moved out here either. Just a cat, and I'm sure you know how useless they are at defending you!

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You know that children's story The Musicians of Bremen? Where the cat scratches the robber as he tries to sneak in and get the gold? Yeah, that would never happen :)

The best case scenario is the cat would meow trying to get the robber to feed him.

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The meow that startled the robber, that bumped the bowling ball, that broke the vase, that woke the owner, that aimed the gun, that lay in the house that Jack built.

Aha! So that's how a cat does it.

I feel like I'm commenting like a drunk person tonight and I don't know why.

Hahahaha! It all makes sense now!

I have those nights too, where I reach a point where it's not wise to comment anymore!

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LOL!! I've always loved that logic, that cause/effect in The House That Jack Built. Good framework to build any story around. :)

LOL!! I love these dialogues inspired by a story...

ehy dear @ginnyannette, your writing is so expressive! it is really true that the falling of night makes the world of daylight a different world. and with your words, you have perfectly rendered every little detail, every strange thought, making us perceive that subtle emotion of fear ... will there be someone or not ??? I usually am not afraid when I come back alone in the evening, and indeed I laugh a bit about who has it, but sometimes there are those disturbing sensations ... I too would like a guardian dog on those occasions !!
congratulations on your curie rating :-))

Darkness always lets the imagination go wild. A bit scary and fun all at once :)

Thanks for stopping by.

Hi ginnyannette,

This post has been upvoted by the Curie community curation project and associated vote trail as exceptional content (human curated and reviewed). Have a great day :)

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Thank you!

I commend you, @curie, for spotting this great story!
You have real talent, @ginnyannette! I wouldn't be surprised to hear you're a published writer outside Steemit - like @deeanndmathews, @sidequest, and now @honeydue and @byn, among others from Freewritehouse. Did this story arise from Day 641: 5 Minute Freewrite: Tuesday - Prompt: swirls of cigarette smoke? I'd nominate this for the Friday Favorites though you don't have a #freewrite hashtag.
I absolutely love Big Dog and the way you describe his paws and leonine meandering.
I love the sense of mystery and suspense you create.
You really are a natural!

Thanks so much for your kind words. I didn't write it from the freewrite, that just happened to be an interesting coincidence. If I had seen that prompt I might have jumped on it though, as that one really appeals to me.

I love Big Dog too - he is all gentlemanly charm or brute-force when necessary. He's like a romance novel character...you know, if he was human ;) I just gave him a pat on the head and he opened one sleepy eye and distinctly looked like he was thinking: Yes, I'm ridiculously wonderful. I know.

Thanks for the reblog, and for just reading. I really appreciate it.

Ohhh I love Big Dog even more now, imagining his human incarnation as a romance hero! He reminds me our our dear, departed Blaise, a 115-pound lion of a collie, massive paws and leonine mane. "Aw shucks. She called me wonderful!" he'd say. Blaise was all humility. And devotion. But not the big dumb block of dog his sister Bailey made him out to be. She was part cat, I swear.
You could just add that hashtag #freewrite now, or I could just slip your story into the Friday Favorites, if you think you'll rub elbows with us anytime in the future--we'd love to have you among us at @Freewritehouse!

She was part cat, I swear.

Lol! Dogs always strike me as having been humans in a former life, but maybe that is just us humans pushing ourselves onto what we love.

I'll edit in that freewrite tag. Might as well, since it worked out to mesh so well like it was meant to be.

Dogs are better than humans in their unconditional love and non-judgment: bad hair day? What's that? Deodorant failed? Garlic breath? It's all good!
I've nominated you for the weekly freewrite favorites, and I hope you'll share more of your fiction with us, or nonfiction, or whatever you want to call an essay like this one. Your flight of imagination (what's the source of that smoke?) is a pleasure to read.

Thanks so much :)