I had a puppy. Once. Long time ago, when I was a kid. Me dad bought it back from the pub on a Thursday. I say ‘puppy’, but it was big as me. Golden Retriever. I was only four.
I loved that dog.
I used to take it through these woods we’re going through now. We’d walk for hours. I mean, you know, when I was eight or nine, or something.
It was like we was growing up together. Me and the dog.
I’d talk him, you know. To the dog. Things what was on me mind. When me mum and dad split up, that was a tough one. Like me whole world got ripped in half. Me mum, she reckoned there weren’t no question I was ever going with me dad, even though he wanted me. Went to court, and that. But he wouldn’t have the dog, so I stayed with me mum. I loved me dad and everything, even though . . . he . . . well, you know . . . I mean, Mum never knew. No-one ever knew. It was like a secret. Me and Dad. And the dog. I told the dog.
Had to tell the dog.
Up in these woods, it was. That’s where he’d take me. Over there by the big oak at the end of the path where no-one ever goes. Stopped when I was fourteen. Beat the shit out of me when I said I was going to the Old Bill. When I got home I told mum I was chasing the dog and tripped over and went down a ditch. Me mum, she believed anything I said. Her little angel, see. Her little fuckin angel.
Funny, that. Eh? Eh?
And now you’re thinkin, ain’t ya. You’re thinkin did he do the old man in and what about the dog. Why ain’t the dog got no name, and you’re thinkin, you’re thinkin what happened to the mum and what’s this about the woods, the woods, the woods . . .
‘It’s all right, Steven. Come on.’
You’re thinkin what about the woods, the woods, the woods . . .
‘Calm down. Calm yourself down.’
And there’s this feelin you got, listenin to my voice bangin away in your head, and you’re lookin in my eyes but you can’t see my eyes and it’s like the dark’s comin towards you and it’s fillin you up and it’s comin out your mouth and your ears and your nose and you got razor blades splittin you open from the inside and it’s all fallin inwards and it’s like when you was a kid, when you didn’t know what the world could do to you and you didn’t know why you was starin at it with so much fuckin fear and you don’t know why you’re starin at me with so much fuckin fear but you know if you shut your eyes, if you shut em just once, just fuckin once, YOU’RE GONNA FUCKIN DIE.
‘Bring him over here, Sergeant. I think we’ve got something.’
Ian Ayris spends most of his time trying to catch the voices and see the colours, and it is a most tiring pursuit. He has been fortunate enough, however, to have over twenty published short stories to his name. These stories can be found online in such places as Thrillers, Killers ‘n’ Chillers, Beat to a Pulp, The Flash Fiction Offensive, Curbside Splendour, Waterhouse Review, A Twist of Noir, and Pulp Metal Magazine. There will be further stories appearing in Yellow Mama, Voluted Tales, Powder Burn Flash, and A Twist of Noir. He has been published in print in each of the four Byker Books Radgepacket collections and two Static Movement anthologies, plus the upcoming Out of the Gutter Issue 7.
Ian lives in Old Blighty with his wife and three children, just outside London. His debut novel ‘Abide With Me’ is to be published in 2011 by Caffeine Nights Publishing.