Every now and again, I’ll be hit with random inspiration and dash something off. Flash fiction can be a hard sell, though, and the querying trenches are exhausting. This is a cute piece that’s been passed over several times now, and I’d really rather just share it than have it sitting in submissions for months on end.
I hope you enjoy this little light fantasy with a humorous twist. It makes me smile. And honestly, we could all use a little smile right now.
Lost Dog Amok
By Deidre J Owen
Somewhat winded and clutching a stitch in his side, the strangely-clad man slowed his pace to address the couple on the bench. They had watched him trotting down the jogging path—obviously not dressed for such an activity—making passing inquiries of joggers he encountered along the way.
“Excuse me,” he panted as he approached them, “I’ve lost my dog. Have you seen a loose dog running around?” He swallowed hard and propped both hands on his hips. The couple shook their heads. “No? Big, black, super scary…?” The man shook his head back at them reflexively. “No, I suppose not. You’d know it if you saw him.” He flashed a palm in appreciation and turned to move along in his search.
“Wait, hang on,” said the woman, arresting the man’s departure. “Do you have pictures of him? Like on your phone?”
“Er, well,” the unnaturally pale man stammered, “no, I don’t, exactly.” He grimaced apologetically.
“Well, how long ago did you lose him? Have you made posters?” she asked.
“Oh, this only happened like twenty minutes ago. We’ve never been to this park before and he just got so excited he took off running.”
“Wasn’t he leashed?”
“Of course he was!” The man adjusted the collar of his unseasonable cloak, obviously a bit bothered by the implication of irresponsible pet ownership. “I mean, yes, he was leashed. He’s just…very strong. About ripped my arm off.” He clutched one shoulder and rotated it uncomfortably. “Really, really stro—yeah, I really have to find him before he gets himself into mischief.” He glanced around warily at the surrounding trees.
“‘Mischief,'” the seated man said with a chuckle, casting a bemused glance at his bench partner. “So, what is this mischief-maker’s name?”
“Cerberus,” answered the bereft dog owner.
“Sounds appropriate.” The seated man chuckled again. “What can we do if we do see him? Should we try to corral him?”
The dog owner straightened up in alarm. “Great gods, no! No, no. He’s very excitable right now and wants to play…and you certainly don’t want to become his plaything.”
The previously amicable expressions slid off the couple’s faces. “Is he that dangerous?” asked the woman. “Maybe we should notify park security.”
The cloaked man pressed his lips together and shook his head. “Mm-mm. That won’t do us much good, I’m afraid.” He scratched the back of his head in exasperation, ruffling his white-blond hair. “I’ll keep looking. Thanks for your help, anyway.”
Before the dog owner had gone but a few paces, piercing screams rang out from across a nearby lawn. A small crowd erupted from the tree line and scattered across the open grass amid shrieks of terror. Then, into the void of their wake came bounding an enormous hellbeast of unfathomable proportions.
The couple on the bench sprang to their feet with a strangled yelp, clinging to each other protectively.
“Oh, thank the brethren! There he is!” cried the cloaked man. “Cerbie! CERBIE!”
The beast pulled up short of his playful pursuit, his ears perked…all six of them.
“I know you hear me!” shouted the man in a commanding voice. “C’mon, now!” He crouched down and patted his knees, the hem of his woven black cloak sweeping the leaves. “C’mon, boy! Come on back to Daddy Hades!”
Thanks for reading. Be well.
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