Hey guys! I am working on a new novella while waiting for TSO to come back from the editor. Its a working title, and may change.
I would call it….Erotic Horror? But i am not telling you more than that. You will just have to read along and see! I will likely be posting it on wattpad as well! Let me know what you think as it develops!
“What the…”Cecily frowned as the car began to decelerate. A glance down at the now lifeless gauges confirmed the cause of the vehicle’s sudden loss of speed. The electronics had died. The engine was no longer running.
“No….No no no!” she wailed, banging her hands on the wheel in frustration. “You’re supposed to be fixed! Don’t do this to me again!”
With an angry growl, she angled the wheel off the road, bumping to a stop along the shoulder of the empty highway. She blew out a sigh as she put it in park, leaning across the passenger seat to open the glovebox. She retrieved a set of pliers and popped the hood release before clambering out of the vehicle in a huff.
Having dealt with the issue several times before, she checked the fuse box first. After a few minutes of cursing and wiggling, she popped the ignition relay loose of it’s mount. Holding it up to the light, the singed and discolored ends of the plug were plain as day.
“Crap.” The damn car had blown another fuse. Having been stranded on the side of the road last winter after numerous attempts to rectify the issue of blown ignition relay’s, she’d finally caved in and replaced the computer like the mechanic suggested. Hundreds of dollars and several months later, everything seemed to be going fine. Until now.
“It’s just like you, doing this to me now.” She muttered unhappily. “I’m so tired of this. You couldn’t wait until we got through the damned desert? You had to strand me in the middle of freaking nowhere?” She glared down at the old beater, feeling more than a little betrayed. “Most people would have scrapped you by now, you know?” She dropped the hood, letting it slam down with more force than was necessary, as if to illustrate her disappointment to a car that obviously didn’t care. “No appreciation. None at all.”
Cecily pulled her phone out of her pocket, checking for a signal. Of course, there was none. Way out here in the middle of the Arizona desert, she’d known it wasn’t likely. Still hopeful, she wandered down the highway with her phone extended above her head, searching for bars. She’d probably walked half a mile back and forth along the stretch before she gave it up as a lost cause and started looking for higher ground. Off the right side of the road in the distance was an abandoned fuel station, and behind it was a rocky outcrop whose incline looked gradual enough to climb without much difficulty.
With a wary glance at the overcast sky, she returned to the car and transferred her belongings to the trunk. Her windows were down, and the sunroof was open. If it was going to rain, she didn’t want the interior AND her belongings ruined. She grabbed a bottle of water and a granola bar from her snack bag, stuffed her license and credit cards in her pocket, and clipped her keys on her beltloop before setting out towards the fuel station.
While the thick clouds overhead made the heat more bearable, the humidity was oppressive. By the time she made it to the parking lot of the fuel station her tank top was soaked through and her shorts were clinging uncomfortably. She stopped under the overhang, leaning back against the pile to rest. “I thought the desert was supposed to be a dry heat.” She grumbled, tugging at her shirt in annoyance.
A booming crack of thunder was her reply. Worried she had waited too long, Cecily darted out from beneath the under hang, intent on reaching her goal before the rain started. As she rounded the old building, she realized just how poorly she’d judged the distance to the hill. It was larger than it seemed from the car, and probably just as far from her current location as she had been from the gas station when she started.
At the corner of her eye, something moved in the shadows of the building. Her body went rigid, all five senses immediately shifting focus to identify the potential threat at her back. Cecily held her breath, forcing herself to turn around. Slowly, very slowly, she pivoted in the direction from which she’d come.
There, amid the refuse piled haphazardly along the back of the building, stood a massive dog. Erect ears were pointed forward, the intensity with which the amber colored eyes focused on her making it clear she had its attention. The rust and black of a long, wirey coat did little to hide the way the beast’s ribs and hips protruded, an obscenely obvious indication that the creature was malnourished. Somehow, this knowledge did little diminish the potential threat, given its size. Its head would easily reach her chest. Swallowing nervously, Cecily took a breath.
“Hi there, friend.”
One ear flickered in response, the creature’s head angling ever so slightly as it continued to stare back at her from the shade of the building. While it seemed wary, its posture remained neutral. She didn’t see any tell-tale signs of aggression in the animal’s stance, though she knew not all dogs gave warning before resorting to violence.
“Did someone dump you out here?” she asked softly, trying to keep the nervousness she felt from bleeding into her voice. After all, the dog was obviously starving. She wasn’t certain how it would behave. For all she knew, it was feral. “Are you lost?” A cursory glance didn’t show any evidence of a collar and knowing there were no homes or towns for miles in either direction, she thought it unlikely the dog had ended up here by chance. After a moment of silent consideration, the beast took a tentative step forward.
Carefully, she pulled the granola bar out of her pocket. The creature’s eyes shifted to her hands, watching as she peeled back the wrapper. As she broke off one end of the bar, the dog licked its lips and took another step forward.
She broke the piece into several smaller ones, tossing the first chunk at the dog’s feet. It dipped its massive head, sniffing and huffing over the oat and honey cluster only briefly before snapping it up. Its eyes narrowed as it crunched, an almost reverent look transforming the creature’s face. Cecily’s tension eased minutely. It was just a dog, she reminded herself. A hungry, miserable dog.
When it was through, the dog lifted its head as it licked its chops, eyeing the bar in her hands with less than subtle suggestion. “You like that, huh?” she tossed another piece its way, and was embarrassed at how she startled when it caught the second chunk midair with another snap of its teeth. She threw one more piece, backing away slowly. “So, I’ve got to try to make a call before it rains. If you’re still around when I come back, I’ll give you some more. How’s that?”
The dog picked its way out of the debris, following her retreat. “It’d be really awesome if you didn’t attack me when I turned around. Ok? So just, just…STAY!” she put her hand up, palm out. To her relief, the creature stopped. “Good…” she paused, tilting her head to see if she could tell the sex of the dog from a distance. “Boy. Yup. You’re definitely a boy. Good boy! Stay!”
She backed away a little further before cautiously turning her back on him. A light rain was already speckling her shoulders as she walked quickly towards the rocks, glancing over her shoulder occasionally to make sure the dog hadn’t decided to come after her. He didn’t. He remained where she’d left him, seemingly obeying her command. It was a small relief, considering she was still stranded in the middle of nowhere with a storm approaching.
As the rain came down more heavily, she broke into a trot. She was only a little over halfway to the rocks when the sky opened up and poured a tidal wave down on her head. Cursing, she turned tail and ran back towards the station. It wouldn’t do her any good climbing to the top of that blasted hill if she drowned her phone in the process.
The dog was gone, no doubt seeking dryer ground. A good idea, she thought. Cecily didn’t slow down until she was under the canopy that once housed the pumps, panting and glaring out at the wall of water with frustration as she tried to catch her breath.
A glance up at the sky told her it wasn’t likely to let up any time soon. She pulled her phone out of her pocket, holding it up hopefully. There were no bars. “Of course not.” With a sigh, she stuffed it back in her pocket and looked over her shoulder at the station behind her.
It was a rat trap of a building, but she’d bet it was dry. There might even be somewhere to sit down while she waited for the rain to subside, she thought. The fact that the glass door was both intact, and ajar, seemed like an incredible stroke of luck. She sprinted from the lot to the station, slipping through the open door into the musty darkness without hesitation. After all, there wasn’t another car for miles. She was relatively certain no one was hiding inside, waiting to do her bodily harm.
Cecily paused just inside the door, waiting for her eyes to adjust to the dimness of the interior. As it did, the details of the space were revealed. From the ceiling, several of fluorescent light fixtures hung haphazardly from their chains, dangling like cattle carcasses in a butcher house freezer. The floor was littered with broken bits of tiles and insulation from the failing ceiling above, the remnants of a few shelving units standing alone in the center of the room.
As she picked her way inward, she noted the track of floor beneath her was cleaner than the rest. The color of the tile showed through here, not caked with years of dust and sand like the rest of the interior. The damp and muddy paw prints she saw there explained why. It was an animal trail. The dog was living in the gas station.
Knowing he was inside made her more cognizant, considering what might happen if she startled him in his ‘den’.
“Hey buddy, are you in here?” she sing-songed softly as she tip-toed along his trail and rounded the edge of the counter. She pulled the remainder of the granola bar out of her pocket, and the crinkling of the wrapper spawned a flurry of shuffling and nail clicking from behind the counter. As he stood up his shoulders came into view, followed shortly after by his nose as he pushed the swinging door out and stared up at her expectantly.
Cecily smiled, dropping a piece of granola on the floor in front of him. He picked it up without bothering to inspect it, obviously not concerned about its origins. When the dog shouldered his way through the opening, it was all she could do not to back up as he invaded her space. But he only seemed interested in the granola bar, so she stayed.
This time, she fisted the piece instead of dropping it on the floor. As she looked down on him, she tried to remember what she’d learned when she volunteered at an animal shelter in her youth. Very slowly, angled her body away. Facing dogs head on was often seen as a challenge, or at the very least intimidating. While she doubted either would be an issue for this brute, it didn’t hurt to make the effort. Letting out a nervous breath, she gingerly folded her legs beneath her as she crouched down beside him. Like feeding an apple to a horse, she extended the tidbit in an open hand with her palm up. He made eye contact first, then looked towards the food in her hand.
He hesitated briefly before craning his neck to take her offering without coming any closer. As opposed to the snapping teeth of his prior eagerness, the dog was gentle when it took the small cluster from her hand. She emptied the rest of the crumbs into her palm, biting her lip against another smile as she watched him lap at the remnants of the snack bar. When her hand was empty and his tongue was still dragging across the skin of her palm, she wrinkled her nose and retracted.
“That’s all for now, buddy. I’ll get another one when it stops raining, ok?”
He moved forward abruptly, pressing his nose against her jeans pocket without invitation. He snuffled and exhaled loudly, as if he was searching for evidence that she’d lied about there being no more granola. With a final press of his nose the dog gave what sounded like an agitated huff before slipping the rest of the way through the swinging door and circling out around Cecily.
She watched as he clicked his way to the entrance on too-long nails, where he would stop and stare out at the rain for several moments. The dog sneezed and shook its head, abandoning the dismal view and returning to where she had seated herself against the counter.
With a grunt of discomfort, the beast lowered himself to his belly in front of her. He angled his head over one front leg, which seemed to serve a dual purpose in giving himself a pillow on which to rest and allowing him to keep an eye on her. Which he did, closely. Cecily shrugged at him, blowing out a sigh as she drew her knees up against her chest and clasped her hands around them. “Things could always be worse, right?”
One furry ear twitched, and she’d almost swear his lip twitch in a grimace. But he couldn’t understand her, so she knew she had to have imagined it. Not that it mattered, really. There was no one here to judge her for having a conversation with an animal.
The dog’s current position displayed his state of neglect more prominently. The light filtering in from the door highlighted the vertebrae of his spine amongst the patchy and matted coat of wiry hair, the prominence of his ribs accented by each breath that filled his lungs. His flanks were thin and lacked any real muscle definition, and his knees were spindly and jutting. Cecily frowned.
“I’m really sorry you’ve been stuck out here. People are assholes.” The dog shifted its head slightly, his large brown eyes focused intently on her as she spoke. “Well, most people. Not all of us.” She paused, studying him as he watched her. “I’d ask you how long you’ve been here, but I have a feeling you won’t tell me.”
The dog huffed again, rolling his eyes before turning away from her. Now, she was staring at the back of his head. Cecily frowned, feeling mildly unnerved the by the coincidental timing of her bad joke and his deciding to ignore her. With another shrug, she let the thought go. “Well, then. I guess everyone’s a critic.” With an eyeroll of her own, she stretched out her legs and slouched against the counter as she looked up at the dilapidated ceiling. There was nothing to do but wait out the rain. “Don’t worry buddy, I’ll hold down the fort and make sure no one murders us while you take a nap.”