grandpa’s story

When I was a kid, there was a dog down my street that never cast a shadow. I can’t tell you how long it took me to notice it – I’d always known there was something off about him, but I’d never been able to pinpoint what it was. When I did finally figure it out, I started to stay away from him. No one else had a problem with that dog; no one else seemed to notice there was anything odd about him. But me, I stayed away. If he didn’t have a shadow, he wasn’t really a dog, that was my reasoning. And no way was I gonna play with some creature who was just pretending to be a dog.

Well, one Halloween I was trick-or-treating with my brothers. They were both older, and they honestly didn’t want me tagging along, so they managed to ditch me down one of the darker streets. At first I didn’t mind – there were lots of other kids out, so I wasn’t really alone. I just walked around, checking out other people’s costumes and eating my candy. But eventually the other kids started to disappear back to their houses, and I realized that I had no idea how to get back home – I never really had the best sense of direction, see. But the moon was real big that night, so at least it wasn’t pitch black. I figured I’d just walk until I saw something familiar.

I walked and walked, but that town was like a maze. There were all these little winding streets that you could wander down for who knows how long before finally reaching a dead end. It felt like I’d been out for hours – I was scared, and there was a good October wind blowing that made me shiver something fierce.

So there I was, walking down this lonely, dark little street, when I started to feel a prickling on my neck. I couldn’t see anyone behind me, but the prickling kept getting stronger and stronger. So I started to run, as fast as I could; my heart was racing so quickly I thought it might explode. And then suddenly, right in front of me, was that dog. That huge, shadowless dog. It was staring me down, growling like a demon out of hell. And I won’t lie, I felt paralyzed for a minute – but then I turned and tried to run.

Next thing I knew, the dog was pinning me down, and there was a screech of tires and a boom, boom, boom.

As it turns out, I’d wandered into the bad part of town. I didn’t understand until I was older that the booms I heard were gunshots. But I understood right away that I’d badly misjudged that dog. He shielded me until the car was out of sight, and then he led me back home.

That dog’s been with me ever since. He should’ve died years ago – a real dog would have. But then, I’ve always known he’s not real. If a creature would give its life to protect you, though, it honestly doesn’t matter if it’s only pretending to be a dog – that’s my reasoning. He can stick around just as long as he likes.

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siren song

Her voice rang out over the misty water, clear and enchanting and irresistible. From her perch on the rocks her blood-red eyes could see for miles, despite the thick fog.

They would be here soon.

Standing up, she raised her lantern into the air – its warm golden light snaked its way across the rocks, drawing the ship closer and closer. Her singing never ceased, never wavered, and she knew the sailors couldn’t stop listening now.

They were hers.

She continued to sing softly over the crashing and moaning of the ship collapsing against the rocks. Even as they sank, the sailors couldn’t tear their eyes away from her – they struggled to get closer, to see her clearly, but soon the water rushed over their heads and into their lungs and she smiled.

They were gone.

She snatched their dazed souls out of the water and stuffed them down her throat, moaning with delight. As she swallowed the last one her eyes grew an even brighter shade of red, and she chuckled, knowing more would come soon. Stretching, she grabbed her lantern and drifted slowly to a new rock. Her voice rang out over the misty water.

Clear.

Enchanting.

Irresistible.