It had come to Mike’s attention that there was something wrong with Samantha, and as a result, she needed to go.
But there was a problem, a great big hole in Mike’s plan that would also require attention: What would he tell the kids? What would he tell Sandra?
Animals run away all the time, he thought. And he was right, they did. Despite this, he couldn’t shake the feeling that they wouldn’t buy it, that they would accuse him of the most heinous acts under the sun just because he didn’t want to look after a dog anymore. But this wasn’t the case, and Mike knew this. Unfortunately, he also knew that they wouldn’t believe what he had to say.
It’s for their safety, he thought to himself, I know it is.
With that in mind, he prepared the jeep in advance, laying out a flat roll of bedding in the boot and stashing some dog treats in the car doors and the glove compartment. He fired up the jeep and reversed it as close to the garage as he could without blocking it, ensuring that Sandra still had enough room to park there too. It looked somewhat out of place but he wouldn’t leave it there too long, by the night it would be gone, and so would Samantha.
As he shut and locked the door he could see Sandra pulling into the driveway, Amanda was on the front seat clutching her school bag close to her chest. As soon as the Vauxhall came to a halt she leaped out of it and ran into the house, placing her arms around Samantha with a big smile on her face. It was a pleasant sight to everybody but Mike, who just felt his heart sink further than he thought possible.
‘How’s Casey doing?’ asked Sandra. ‘Ready for school yet?’
‘It’s still a few months away’ replied Mike, ‘but she seems excited’.
‘That’s good’ she said, before pecking Mike on the lips and heading inside.
Mike followed shortly after, patting Samantha on her golden head and trying his best to deliver a semi-decent grin.
‘Oh bugger’ said Mike, searching through the fridge.
‘What is it?’ asked Sandra, who laid across the sofa watching the BBC News at Ten.
‘We’re out of milk’ he replied, ‘there’s not a drop left in here’.
‘So?’ she added, too comfortable to care. ‘I’ll pick some up tomorrow’.
‘But, what are the kids supposed to have for breakfast tomorrow? You know what Amanda can be like if she doesn’t get her Cookie Crisp’
Sandra shuddered at the thought.
‘I could go and get some now, if you want? The shop’s always open’ she said.
‘No, I’ll get some’ said Mike rather adamantly, as he dashed up the stairs to grab his coat and car keys from his room.
As Mike walked back across the upstairs hallway he stumbled over the loose carpet, almost tumbling down the stairs, just managing to save himself by grabbing onto the wooden railing.
Christ, he thought, that’s the third time today.
But there was no time to sort it now, this was his best chance to get rid of Samantha, and he needed to do it now. Mike kept a biscuit in his hands as he descended the staircase and made his way through the main hallway into the garage. Just as expected, Samantha followed.
With the push of a button the garage door raised, revealing Mike’s car to be just where he left it, all prepped and ready to go. Mike raised the boot, throwing the biscuit into the back in the hopes of coaxing Samantha inside. Samantha was no small dog and she loved to eat whatever she could find so it took a bit of effort, but eventually, she was in.
Mike slammed the boot closed, making sure to not trap any protruding body parts in the door. He then climbed inside, fired up the engine, and pulled out of the driveway onto the street below.
‘Here we go’ he said, a phrase that was simply met with a large, panting dog in the back seat.
Mike drove for several minutes, focusing on the road as best as he could, trying to not let other visions cloud his actual vision.
That was the problem with Mike, he saw things that others didn’t, things that nobody wanted to see. Visions, brief glimpses into the future, and they were never pleasant. He’d seen visions of everyone, his friends, his wife… His kids.
That’s why Samantha had to go. Mike knew what was going to happen to his daughter if he didn’t get rid of her, he didn’t know which one, but there was no way in hell he was going to let anything like that happen to his kids, no matter what it took.
‘This is your stop’ said Mike, as he yanked on the handbrake. ‘Let’s hope this is far enough’.
He opened the boot, patting a willing Samantha on the head once more, probably expecting a walk or a treat. But she got neither of those, and was instead pushed out of the car and left, cold and alone in the middle of the woods. She watched the lights of Mike’s car as they faded into the distance, and she followed.
Six miles… Too far, or not far enough?
That’s all that Mike could think about for the next few days. Four, to be exact.
Surely it was enough, there was no way that she could know her way back. Mike barely made it back himself in the dark, so of course, Samantha would have no chance.
Turning over in bed to see that Sandra had already gone was a bit of a surprise, usually he was up long before she was, but then again, Mike hadn’t exactly been having the most sleep-filled nights since Samantha left. The vision was still there, that’s what confused him. Samantha was the problem, and he had solved it, so why hadn’t it gone? If anything, it felt clearer than ever.
The front door was gently pushed open, that’s what he could see. She didn’t move after that. Not a twitch or a spasm… Nothing.
It was never entirely clear to him exactly what these visions meant, so they could have been completely meaningless. He’d once been out drinking with one of his old high school friends and couldn’t shake the sight of them being obliterated by a nuclear bomb. Mike was always intrigued to see how that one would eventually turn out, but there were no conclusive results as of yet.
Mike pushed these thoughts to the back of his mind and went to check on Casey, peering through her bedroom door. She was still asleep, and Mike didn’t want to take that away from her, so he crept downstairs, stumbling over the carpet once again.
With a flick of the kettle it began to heat up, roaring as it did so, no doubt waking Casey up (and probably most of the neighbourhood for that matter). Whilst the kettle boiled Mike went outside and moved the car again, allowing Sandra enough room to park for when she returns. Hearing the ping all the way from the drive, Mike went back inside to pour his tea –forgetting to close the door on the way — and began making Casey’s favourite breakfast. Pancakes were a simple creature, but she loved them all the same.
‘I’ve made your favourite!’ Mike shouted as he heard Casey’s door creak open.
She didn’t respond, but he knew she’d heard him and would be down soon, so he began to plate them up.
And that’s when the front door was gently pushed open.
Mike didn’t notice straight away, but Casey soon let him know.
‘Samantha!’ came her delighted scream as her beloved pet walked through the door, albeit skinnier than she remembered.
‘What?’ said Mike as he turned to face the front door.
It was Samantha, alright. Her fluffy, golden fur was much patchier and lacked any sense of cleanliness, and her skin seemed to be almost stretched back over her bones, but that was Samantha.
Mike dropped the plate to the ground and ran to the door just as Casey was doing the same, but — just as he’d seen — she tripped over the loose carpet and came crashing down the staircase, splitting her head open on the ground and snapping her neck, her arms and legs twisted around her body with the shear force that she fell at.
She didn’t move after that. Not a twitch or a spasm… Nothing.
Mike froze as the skinny golden retriever watched from the doorway, panting furiously. He didn’t have time to just sit there, so he ran into the living room and grabbed the landline, punching in 999 through his blurred version. He got through and demanded an ambulance to his location immediately, almost forgetting his own address when they asked for it. Once he knew they were coming he threw the phone down and ran back towards Casey, clutching a pillow close to his chest.
‘Samantha…’ cried Mike, falling to his knees as he bared witness to what was in front of him.
One thing was for certain, Samantha may have been hungry before, but she wouldn’t be now.
Six miles… Too far, or not far enough?
Thomas is a University student currently studying Writing and English Literature in the UK.
He has received one other publication thus far, that being a short horror story titled ‘The Needle’s Eye’ in issue 39 of Sanitarium Magazine.
Hoping to both entertain and shock; Thomas aims to write horror stories that have a humorous and human side to them, focusing on the characters just as much as the horrific things that happen to them.