By Michael Albani
McIntire’s house is a desolate shack. His lawn is an overgrown patch of weeds. McIntire doesn’t care about his house or his lawn or even his life. All he cares about is petting his dog.
Things weren’t always like this for McIntire. He used to have a modest but happy home with a glorious green lawn. He also used to have a loving wife and daughter. Then he found that dog.
It was a big, black Labrador Retriever. McIntire saw it wandering along his street one day when he was driving home from work. It reminded him of the beloved black lab he had when he was a boy. It didn’t have a collar or tag, so McIntire saw no harm in bringing it home with him.
It was a strange dog, though. It didn’t eat. It didn’t sleep. It didn’t even “go” in the yard. It would just curl up close to McIntire and McIntire would lovingly pet its head.
McIntire’s wife was afraid of the animal. She could tell that there was something wrong about it, something very wrong. She wanted it gone.
Before she could tell her husband about her fears, though, she disappeared. Not long afterward, the dog hacked up a big, black stone.
McIntire was devastated by the disappearance of his wife. Where could she have gone? What could have happened to her? How was he going to live without her? Still, McIntire knew he had to stay strong for his daughter’s sake. She needed him now more than ever. His dog would have to come second.
It was not long before McIntire’s daughter disappeared as well. Like with the previous disappearance in the family, the dog hacked up a big, black stone. This time, McIntire picked the stone up and examined it.
It was a fairly small stone, but it was very heavy. McIntire had to put all his strength into his right arm just to lift it. It was warm too. It felt like there was some faint source emitting heat from inside it. The stone was mostly smooth, but McIntire’s heart almost stopped when he discovered that it was encrusted with two rhinestones, the rhinestones from his daughter’s earrings.
As McIntire made this discovery, his dog barked. It stared at him with its inky black eyes. It shook its tail back and forth. It wanted to be petted.
“Daddy,” McIntire’s daughter once said, “did you know dog spelled backwards is god?”
“Yes,” he replied, “I know.” To this day, McIntire sits and repeats that answer over and over again to the darkness as he continues to pet his dog, his god.
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My name is Michael Albani and I am a native Michigander and a student at Albion College. I am the founder and editor of the new online environmental fiction zine Appalachia Fiction and Fact and I have previously been published for my horror fiction in Flashes in the Dark, Deadman's Tome, and Linguistic Erosion.
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