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February 1st, in Short Fiction

What we don't see

By: Perry Martenelli

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes, 17 seconds. Contains 1259 words

Max was a golden retriever who found himself ensnared in a sinister labyrinth of dark alleys and an unfortunate situation. He was lost. The once-familiar scents that usually guided him became a disorienting mix of unknown odors, and the shadows seemed to move with a malevolent intent. The oppressive night closed in around him as he sought refuge in a desolate alley, where a biting wind carried sounds through the abandoned streets, creating an unsettling atmosphere.

Max, shivering and disoriented, whined softly to himself, "What the hell happened? This isn't our usual route." His usually confident bark now held a tremor of fear as he nestled into a discarded cardboard box for meager warmth.

Within the desolation, Max discovered a discarded cardboard box that offered little protection from the biting cold. Huddled inside, surrounded by the rustling echoes of discarded newspapers, the silence of the night was occasionally shattered by distant howls and mysterious sounds that sent shivers down Max's spine. The eerie ambiance intensified as unseen creatures lurked in the shadows, heightening the suspense and tension of the forsaken night.

As Max grappled with his dire circumstances, Luna, a stray cat with a predatory glint, approached him with feline indifference. Luna's motives remained obscure as she nudged Max forward, her movements exuding an unsettling grace. Luna looked at Max with gleaming eyes and hissed, "Follow me if you want to survive the night. Trust me; I have my reasons."

Max, warily eyeing Luna, hesitated before cautiously following her through the darkened alleys. Luna's agile form slinked between the shadows, and Max couldn't shake the feeling that he was being led deeper into the unknown.

In an unexpected twist, a disturbance rippled through the night when Finny, a fish, leaped from a murky pond nearby. Luna, torn between predatory instincts and an odd alliance, permitted Finny to convey a cryptic message of assistance. The atmosphere became increasingly chilling as this unlikely trio, each harboring their own secrets, navigated the labyrinth of forgotten streets.

As they traversed the eerie streets, Finny splashed in a puddle beside Max and grumbled, "Don't trust Luna entirely. She's got her own agenda, but I can't let her eat me just yet. Stick close, dog, we might just get you home in one piece."

Max, listening to Finny's warning, couldn't help but feel a growing unease. The trio moved in an unnatural synchrony, as if guided by forces beyond their understanding. The night itself seemed to conspire against them, casting long, menacing shadows that distorted reality.

Their journey took a nightmarish turn when they encountered Ebony, a crow perched on a twisted, gnarled fence. Ebony's eyes gleamed with unsettling intelligence as she cawed, revealing the location of Max's home. A foreboding atmosphere surrounded the group as they followed the crow's lead through dimly lit streets, shadows dancing in eerie patterns that seemed to reflect the secrets and mysteries hidden within the town's forgotten corners.

Max, Luna, and Finny navigated the labyrinthine streets, the eerie night casting long shadows that seemed to dance with unseen malevolence. The trio's alliance, forged in the strange circumstances of the night, began to unravel as hunger and desperation clawed at Luna's feline instincts.

The dim glow of a distant streetlight illuminated Luna's calculating eyes, a predatory gleam that hinted at a sinister agenda. The scent of Finny, the fish, wafted through the air, and Luna's stomach growled with hunger. She couldn't resist the primal urge any longer.

With a sudden hiss, Luna lunged at Finny, her claws unsheathed. Max, caught off guard by the abrupt turn of events, barked in protest, trying to intervene. The dark alley became a battleground as Luna and Max engaged in a fierce struggle for control.

Luna, agile and cunning, dodged Max's attempts to protect Finny. The cat's claws swiped through the air, determined to reach the vulnerable fish. Max, fueled by a protective instinct, bared his teeth and growled menacingly, attempting to block Luna's advances.

The tension escalated, the night echoing with the sounds of the tumultuous confrontation. Finny, flopping desperately, was caught in the middle, the object of their predatory instincts. Luna's hunger-fueled aggression clashed with Max's determination to shield his newfound ally.

In the midst of the struggle, Ebony, the crow, circled overhead, her eyes keenly observing the unfolding chaos. The dark intelligence in her gaze hinted at a deeper understanding of the intricate web that bound these nocturnal creatures.

As Luna and Max grappled, Luna hissed defiantly, "I need to eat! You think I can survive on scraps forever?" Max, equally resolute, retorted, "There's another way. We can find food without tearing each other apart. We need to stick together."

Their clash continued, shadows elongating and twisting with the intensity of the fight. Luna, fueled by hunger and desperation, seemed willing to sacrifice the fragile alliance for the sake of her own survival. Max, however, refused to yield, his loyalty to Finny unwavering.

In a moment of desperation, Finny splashed water toward Luna, hoping to distract her. Luna recoiled momentarily, giving Max a brief advantage. With a powerful shove, Max managed to separate Luna from Finny, creating a temporary ceasefire.

Breathing heavily, Luna eyed Max with a mix of resentment and hunger. "You're making a mistake, dog. Survival comes first," she spat, her gaze fixated on Finny, who gasped for breath on the cold pavement.

Max, his fur bristling with tension, replied, "There's always another way. We can find food together. We don't have to turn on each other." Luna, torn between her instincts and the logic in Max's words, reluctantly backed away.

As the alley fell into an uneasy silence, the trio's tenuous alliance hung in the balance. The shadows seemed to retreat, leaving behind a palpable tension. Luna, begrudgingly accepting defeat for the moment, slinked into the darkness, her eyes never leaving Finny.

Max, standing guard over the struggling fish, whispered reassuringly to Finny, "We're in this together. We'll find a way to survive without tearing each other apart." The trio, marked by the scars of their nocturnal struggles, continued their journey through the enigmatic town, each step fraught with uncertainty and the looming darkness of the night.

Arriving at Max's home did little to dispel the eerie atmosphere that had gripped the night. The creaking door revealed a family on edge, their worried expressions mirroring the tension that had settled in the air.

Joey, the little boy, looked upon Max with a mix of relief and fear, unsure of the darkness that clung to the dog's fur. He cautiously approached Max and said, "Max, what happened to you out there? You look like you've been through something... strange."

Max, unable to communicate the inexplicable journey, whined softly and pressed his head against Joey's leg. The silent exchange conveyed more than words ever could, and Joey, sensing Max's distress, embraced him with a mixture of confusion and empathy.

The night's bizarre events continued to linger in the air, an unspoken weight that settled over the household. Luna, Finny, and Ebony observed the reunion from a distance, their enigmatic gazes hinting at a shared understanding of the otherworldly forces that had guided them.

As Max succumbed to sleep, haunting dreams of the sinister alliance replayed in the recesses of his mind. The night had woven a tapestry of shadows and uncertainty, leaving an indelible mark on Max's once-innocent journey home. The darkness that enveloped him extended beyond the physical realm, reaching into the depths of his consciousness, where the events of that fateful night continued to haunt him. The town, forgotten and forsaken, held secrets that intertwined the destinies of its nocturnal inhabitants, leaving a lingering sense of unease in the wake of their peculiar alliance.

Perry Martenelli

About the Author:

Perry is an author, interior designer, photographer, and avid lover of fiction. Since 1970 his fiction work has been published in England and America. He enjoys the peace and quiet of the Arizona desert, which he calls home.