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A Blind Dog, by Ian Aleshkovski

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  21:05:49  18 November 2006
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Siro
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11/26/2006 10:01:05
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A Blind Dog

"A dog reads poetry.
The wind carries its words away.
That's how the saying goes".

Me

I can see everything all the time. Even when I'm asleep, since I can't close my eyelids. I haven't got any. And never ever did. The ones devouring my flesh when I die won't find eyes, either. The tasty eyes, which often triggered fights between male dogs after a successful hunt and which I once brought for the Most-Cunning-from-the-Hollow, who lives where grass burns the paws. I gave her the eyes taken out of a Tall-One's skull, because she granted me her first Smell of Madness.

A Pack that is no more

I don't know who we are. I don't know where we came from. But I know that I can think. And my pups can think, too. Yet the Old-One-that-Could-Not-Give-Birth-Anymore, who used to lead the pack, could not. And that was her undoing when she for some reason took the pack out on a hunt for a Mindstealer. The ones who followed her couldn't think, either. Only few of us did stay: me, the Most-Cunning and our pups.

My Family

They are waiting for me in the hole, which the Most-Cunning made not a long time before she stopped letting me sniff around her. I remember how long I kept wagging my tail, throwing myself at her paws and even laying on my back, but she did not let me enter her new home anyway. And not a long time ago - at the time when Sun does not let see the stars, I heard faint squeaking emanating form the lair. At first I was surprised. Then I though that the Bald-tails got in there, which made me growl and start peeking through the ground. But I growled in vain: the ones who squeaked were not the Bald-tails! Those were our pups. They were as many as paws if one's drawn in. Then I thought that the Most-Cunning is tired and hungry. I marked a stone and went hunting.

The Prey

Usually I hunt the Bald-tails. When they are few. When there's many of them - they try hunting me. Stupid. I know how to kill their whole swarm! It's easy. When the Bald-tails attack, their leader charges forward and runs in front of them. All you have to do is catch it by the neck, not breaking it just yet, but taking the leader to the nearest Place-that-tears-apart or a Pool-of-miry-water and then throwing it there. Or you can run around any deadly Place and wait for the Bald-tails on its other side. The whole swarm follows the leader using the shortest path. The rear ranks of the Bald-tails push the front ones into the Place and then follow them. The best place for such a trick is the heavy one: it sucks into it the whole swarm, so that it floats just like a brook. The ones that manage to stay alive by chance are my rightful prey. Catching one of those is quite easy - but they can't be eaten right away, or else you get a bad belly-ache. Anyone who eats several Bald-tails at once has little chance of coming back to his lair. That's why right after I catch and kill some Bald-tails I always take them to the nearest Place-that-glows and put them right onto the dead grass. When time passes (just enough for a thorough self-cleaning) food's ready: it's completely safe, although it glows. Sometimes one can find some Falling-ones in the grass. If they are just perched there and not dead, they never let one get close - they take off at the first sign of danger. But the Falling-ones are dumb, since they can't see all the Places - the ones that tear apart, the ones that make things heavy, and the others -and fly right into those, falling dead in an instant. They taste better than the Bald-tails. There's only one bad thing about them: plucking them takes a lot of time and sneezing. I hate sneezing: when my head shakes it feels uncomfortable and my vision gets dimmed for a moment. Sometimes one has to eat carrion. Sometimes one can even find a dead Tall-one. They have several hides, which are not edible, making their carcasses hard to flay. One has to take time and be careful not to break his fangs. I never attack the Tall-ones, even when they are asleep, because I saw how fast can they kill. Even a single Tall-one can slay a whole pack of ours, without even approaching. Some of us tried hunting the Tall-ones, which was very stupid of them - and dangerous. Although they did manage to win sometimes, I still cannot call the Tall-ones prey. They are more like hunters. Very smart, very daring and very dangerous hunters.

The Tall-ones

Yet they represent a strange kind of hunter. Strange, because they never eat the game they have killed. Often they don't even attack first, but sometimes they capture something alive and take it away. I noticed that if you don't show your aggression to a Tall-one, he usually calms down and leaves, not turning his back on you. It's not that the Tall-ones ever turned their backs on us, or liked when we stopped near their camp watching them. In that case they would start a hunt without any additional warning and kill all of us. A couple of moons ago an old Lame-one asked to be accepted to our pack (while it still existed). The Tall-ones had eliminated his own pack just for making a lair near the path frequently used by them. Why do they keep coming to our place is a mystery. Sometimes they act with astonishing stupidity. Some of them used to pick the Miry-water which kills all living. Others could not tell the deadly Places from regular scenery, and their carrion still lies there, touched by no one. But the strangest aspect of their behavior is that when meeting each other they frequently, and without any cause, attack. I'd understand them if they fought over a bitch or food, but they kill each other simply for nothing! By the way, there are some Slow-tall-ones in the Mindstealer's pack. The only effect he has on us is temporarily making us blind (and even that happens to the old and sick ones only, and at a close range), but the Tall-ones are a totally different story - he takes their mind once and forever, not even getting close to them. Today I know more of the Tall-ones, since yesterday I got acquainted with one of them.

Yesterday

I was standing on a hill, watching a huge swarm of the Bald-tails hunt the Tall-ones. The Tall-ones had temporarily encamped here two moons ago. It looked like they all belonged to one pack, since they never assaulted each other. When the Bald-tails came, none of the Tall-ones expected that and not a single one tried to catch the swarm's leader. They didn't even seem to know that they should look for the leader. All the Tall-ones died, save for one. When the Bald-tails came, he climbed up to the top of the long shiny pole the Tall-ones had installed for some reason in the middle of their camp, and did not come down till all the Bald-tails got full and went away. Then he climbed down and stood near the pole, still gripping it. I came closer. Not to collect what was left of the food (everyone knows that there are no leftovers where Bald-tails eat), but just out of curiosity. And when I came really close to the place where the Tall-one stood, I understood I could perceive his thoughts and feelings. He was extremely scared. And he felt lonely. It became apparent that he was young, inexperienced and didn't pose any threat to me. I smelt the air and went out to the open from behind the stone I used as a cover, and we saw each other.

The Encounter

Having seen me he, for no apparent reason, calmed down and sat. This was strange: the Tall-one immediately stopped being scared and quit shaking. I saw an image in his head: there was a Tall-one's pup playing with one of us. They kept wrestling on a lawn and tried prying a stick out of each other's clutch. Then I saw them eat some food, and the Tall-one shared it with one of us. And he, in turn, licked the Tall-one's face, asking for more. That made my tail wag by itself. The Tall-one uttered a sound. Having heard it, I memorized it forever. Because that sound was CANNED MEAT. And the Tall-one gave me much canned meat! So much that I overate for the first time in my life, and could hardly move. We both knew we'd never hunt each other. When I filled my belly so that my head felt like spinning and paws had gone limp, I went to the lair to eructate some CANNED MEAT for the Most-Cunning. On my way I constantly felt the urge to howl so that the Tall-one could hear me and not afraid to wait for me. I howled and felt that he's not afraid anymore - he's just waiting.

He'll be back!

The Tall-one left today. I led him, showing the dangerous Places. He understood me and didn't go there. I chose the long path which led us around the Place where the smell of the Mindstealer's pack could be felt - and the Tall-one followed me step-by-step, never deviating from the path. When I prick up my ears - he stopped and sat down. Sometimes we stopped and had some CANNED MEAT. I took it right off his palm. Took it gently - so that not to hurt him by an accident. And my belly felt warm and nice. And the Tall-one felt calm. There was no smell of fear emanating from him now. And when we came to the place where a big pack of the Tall-ones lived, he started asking me to go back to my lair. So we parted. But I could feel that he wanted to come back. Now I knew for sure that he was coming back, so that we could walk the trails again and eat CANNED MEAT sometimes.

The Awakening

When I came back to the lair I felt extremely tired. I was tired of travelling and of uncommon satiety. There was a great smell of the Most-Cunning and quiet puffing of sleeping pups coming out of the lair. I felt sleepy, too - and went asleep. And I saw pictures. Lots of pictures. I saw myself, together with the others of my kind and the Tall-ones, in one pack. And we hunted a huge and dangerous beast together. Then I saw a blind Tall-one with a thin stick in his hand, and he was to be led slowly and guarded from any harm. Another image brought pain and anguish about: I was digging up a collapsed hole with the Tall-one buried alive there. And I smelled the ground, and whined, and dug again, despite the bloodied paws, till exhaustion. In another life I was waiting, with saliva running.… I was waiting for a Tall-one female to finish milking a big horned beast and share some milk with me. And the horned beast was also one of our pack, and I was guarding him…. I was in many places simultaneously, and my Tall-one was always near me. Then I woke up and understood that it always was like that. And nothing in the world can change this order, even the nightmare of a place, where I lived, and which for some unknown reason gave me my intelligence, robbing me off my MASTER.

But the DOG came back, and it got its MASTER back!
 
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