Winners: Lost dog, blindness, End of Time
Toby wandered through the kitchen one more time. He’d looked through the pantry and cupboards twice, but he had to hope he might have missed something. He tried reaching the higher cabinets, but he could barely get his legs to stretch far enough or find anything to climb. The lizard he found and ate in the morning would have to do.
No one played with him and no one called his name. He still remembered his name, alien as it was. Toby tried chasing birds, but they flew too high. A few of his friends were trapped in their homes. He saw them die days ago when the food was gone. Toby had made it by catching the odd animal and going in and out of the house through a broken window.
But he could feel himself weakening. There was some water in the pond outside, but there was almost nothing to eat. On the tenth day, he saw a new master.
Wallace kept his hands on a long staff made from a fallen branch. His tattered clothes still smelled like sot after more than a week, and the few protein bars he found on the dead traveler some days ago wouldn’t feed him for too much longer.
In the distance, he heard a dog cry. It was a pathetic, weak cry. Tiny claws clicked on broken concrete. Wallace took his revolver and aimed in the general direction of the dog. He could barely see, and the dog wouldn’t know what a gun was, he thought, but it was the only defense he had. When the dog finally stopped, it was close enough for Wallace to make out.
It was a pathetic little thing, no more than fifteen pounds tops, and it whimpered when it was close enough.
Toby smelled the new master. It was thin and moved like it was hurt. It spoke, but Toby only understood a few sounds.
“Hello there,” Wallace said. “You’re a cute little guy, aren’t you? Looks like it’s me and you, buddy. What’s your name?”
The dog barked.
“I see. I’ll figure out what to call you. Where’s home, buddy?”
The dog barked once and started to run in one direction, then stopped to make sure the Wallace was following. Wallace kept his revolver close. He hadn’t seen anyone else in days, but he wasn’t about to trust a dog. That would be crazy.
“So,” he said, “looks like we’re the only ones left. Not a bad situation, you and me. You get us some food, I’ll cook it. Hell, I’ll play with you and take care of you if you take care of me, buddy. That sounds good. Buddy. I think I’ll call you ‘Buddy.’”
Toby hadn’t wagged his tail like that in days. The new master kept talking and saying things, but Toby didn’t understand most of the words. He understood things like ‘play’ and ‘good.’ After so many days, it would be fun to play with someone. The new master smelled good.
He smelled like treats.
“Yup. I was in the city when the first ones dropped. I don’t think I’ve talked to anyone since then. I think we’ll be fine. After all, not that you understand me, but if we don’t find food soon, you’re going to be supper.”
Toby couldn’t wait. The new master smelled really good. He couldn’t wait to play, then lick him. New Master really did smell like treats. Toby was hungry.