Sunday, May 5, 2013

Prompt: The Punk and the Dog

Sarah just wanted to get home. She’d worked late every night for two weeks straight, getting the reports ready for the corporate review. And today her boss took all the credit and acted like she wasn’t even in the room. She shook her head in frustration and stomped over the leaves the skittered along the sidewalk. She hated this job, hated her boss, hated winter darkness, hated her life.

A dog, maybe a golden lab, peered out from a doorway and wagged its tail. Something about its hopeful look made her pause. “I am such a sucker,” she muttered. She looked up and down the street and saw no one close. Rooting in her bag, she pulled out the snack room bagel she had snagged for breakfast. She crouched down and broke off a bit, tossing it up to the dog’s feet. It jumped back nervously, like she had thrown something to hurt it. “No, no, pooch. It’s okay,” she said softly. “It’s good, see?” She broke off more and took a bite, then tossed the next bit towards the dog, making sure it feel a little in front of it. Golden eyes fringed in long lashes stared at her, then glanced down toward the bagel. Before she could blink, the two bites were gone.

She stood, and the dog crouched and whined, swinging its tail wildly. “Okay, pooch, I have to go. This is for you, though.” She broke the remaining bagel into bites and tossed them on the step next to the dog. “Stay warm, sweetheart,” Sarah said as she ducked her head and hurried on.

She almost bumped into the tall, leather-clad punk right in front of her. He had his hands stuffed in his jeans pocket and his head down against the chill wind. Sarah shrunk back, feeling a fear that her cautious self said was entirely rational and her kind-hearted self said was not. His black leather jacket was studded with spikes along the shoulder and along the arms, and his long black hair was swept up in a mohawk. He turned his head slightly away from her as he passed, muttering, “Scuse me.”

Sarah made a confused sound, somewhere between acknowledgement and forgiveness. She took two hurried steps away from him, then heard his heavy boot tread stop. A shiver swept down her back. Was he turning back toward her? She kept walking and didn’t hear his steps resume. She ducked her head and snuck a look behind her. Staring, she almost stumbled, swinging around for a full look.

The fierce young man knelt on the sidewalk facing the doorway where the hungry dog still lingered. He held out his hand, palm up, and simply waited. The dog took a step toward him, whined and cringed back. He kept still as Sarah watched with growing curiosity. The dog crept forward two steps, crouching, tail low and wagging. The young man held out his hand and did not move as she slunk toward him. Finally, she reached his hand, sniffed it, and gave him a tentative lick. Sarah’s eyed widened as he slid his fingers over the dogs ears and rubbed its head so gently. The dog leaned into his hand, then pushed her head against his chest. He bowed his head over her and stroked along her back and down her sides with both hands. He cupped her face under her long ears, and she reached up and gave him a little kiss.

Sarah felt tears prick her eyes. She felt guilt for having mistrusted such a kindhearted man. She took a hesitant step forward, and they both looked up at her. She smiled self-consciously. “I tried to give her a little bagel, but she likes you better, I think.”

He smiled and patted the dog’s head. “Dogs usually do. I don’t know why,” he said in a surprisingly warm baritone voice.

Sarah hesitated, unsure of what to say next, but knowing she wanted…something. “Um, my flatmate works in the pub around the corner. I bet this late they might have some leftovers to give her. If you’d like to see if she’ll walk with us.”

He looked back to the dog, who gazed at him with calm acceptance. He stood and ruffled her ears. “She’d probably like that,” he said. They walked toward Sarah, and she turned when they reached her, leading them down the street to Flanahan’s.

Dogs in house:
Houdini, Bacon, Brindle

Time writing:
~30 minutes

May word count:


  1. Prompt: The Punk and the Dog

    Jamie plastered himself against the grey bulkhead and shifted his chromatophores, trying to blend into the wall of service well. But it was too late.

    "I see you, punk!" yelled the old man. He tottered toward Jamie, leaning on a cane, his skin shifting rapidly through angry colours--red, orange, yellow, and occasional dark green. The effect was diluted by a gunmetal grey patch down the left side of his shirt, where the bio-cloth had dessicated.

    Jamie had half a mind to wonder if he could get hold of some discarded clothing from that manufacturer, for the dead bio-cloth was the same colour he was currently shifted. He usually wore only a small loincloth, whose connection was spotty and was already going blue-white along its dried-out edges. He could wear piles of that shirt's cloth, dead, and still be camouflaged. But now was not the time to be contemplating his wardrobe. He scampered up the service well, bouncing from wall to wall in a practiced pattern.

    The old man's cane reached up after him and rattled the walls. "I'm calling security, punk!" the old man shouted.

    But given that he was not currently making the call, Jamie could assume the old man's bio-link was as spotty as his shirt, and Jamie had some time. Not a lot, though. There were security kiosks everywhere. He dove into a side corridor at random and crawled at speed. Several more breathless direction changes and he was pretty sure he was beyond reach of whatever security might come to the old man's call.

    He pushed himself into a maintenance chamber and pulled the door closed behind him. He looked under the back left panel for a stash--there were two rat-bars and a bottle of water. He ate half a rat-bar and took a few sips of water. He had hoped to come back from stationside with more supplies, not needing to use an emergency stash. Instead, he had ventured out, gotten seen, and learned nothing of use about the neighbourhood before the old man saw him. Well, perhaps he had learned it was home to a bothersome old man.

    Something scrabbled along the pipes outside the chamber. Jamie froze. Someone scratched at the door. No one but the undersiders and the maintenance staff travelled these ways, but it sounded like neither. He crept to the door. Whoever was on the otherside was breathing rapidly, and irregularly. Against his better judgement, Jamie opened the door.

    Something large, soft, and...furry?...pushed him back. A four-legged animal spun in circles around Jamie, then flopped on its back and stared up at him, a large pink tongue sticking out the side of its jaw. Jamie wracked his mind for images from his school lessons in the distant past. He thought it might be a dog.

    1. I really like this! Great character and world building. A little confusing details, but that's just rough draft. You could tell me more! :)

    2. Thanks! Like many of the things I seem to end up writing with these prompts, it skirts along the edges of a half-thought out world I already had, although this one far back in time from where I have any story ideas yet (hmm, I think I've skirted around this world before, the one about 'last human voice').