Grey light buzzed in staccato overlay. I waited in the shadows of the car park. Eyes glinted in artificial luminescence. Petrol stench clanked in the air with cold sobriety, distinct and metallic.
I hunkered in the alcove. Glass littered the floor, splattered like crystals from the ceiling above. The useless filament hummed in the wrecked space.
Cold footsteps hit the ground. I breathed in, treading back until my haunches brushed the wall. My ears twitched as the sound paused. She’d stopped, parallel with the gap between the cars, watching me with rounded gaze.
The 1940s lipstick emboldened her pout of fearful surprise, red coat swishing at her white nylon knees. Her hood was up, rain dripping down her pale face.
“You’re a big doggy,” she said.
I stayed where I was, ears flat, and she stepped closer in shiny black shoes with embroidered edges. She smelled like damp forest.
“Are you lost?”
Less frightened, she took another step, jamming herself between the cars. My snarl stayed shut. How much closer would she get? I dabbed a paw gently forward at the concrete floor.
Her hand reached towards me, tentative, as she murmured childish praises. My backside bumped the wall, but I let her touch me. Just this once. Gently her fingers brushed the fine hair that wove the top of my snout. Her scent filled my nostrils.
“Good doggy… Good doggy…”
Her backpack carefully slung off her shoulders, zip screeching as she foraged inside for food. Biscuits crumbled to the floor. I took as many as I could before she shook her head.
“No, doggy. The rest are for Nana.” She paused and looked at me. “You’re all alone down here, huh?”
I didn’t even narrow my eyes in response. She seemed to think I was some regular dumb canine and I was happy to pretend. Maybe she thought I was an akita or a huskie.
After a moment, she decided to coax me out of the car park, heading towards the eerily lit stairs. I followed guardedly. My enemies could still be watching for me and this would seem like weakness, accepting the help of a human.
“Come on, doggy; a few more steps.”
She sounded hopeful, like she’d never had a pet before. Eventually we were up the stairs, waiting outside her Nana’s apartment as the silly girl rubbed her fingers in the scruff of my neck.
The old woman opened the door aghast, but little red coat was determined to bring me inside. Silly kid. Still, I’d find a way out in the morning. It was just a temporary measure. Or it was supposed to be…
I hadn’t counted on her animal inexperience.
She tried to put me in a collar and I snapped. Nobody collared me. Yet, I hadn’t meant to bite her. It pierced the skin and she cried as I hunkered back, wondering what to do. She sniffed and wrapped it up, hiding it from her Nana before she went to bed.
But the howl came at 2am and her Nana wished she’d never let the big bad wolf in as her granddaughter gnashed through her sinewy arms.
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