Although she had three beautiful daughters, Christine also desperately wanted a dog. But her husband resisted.
Because they lived near a field where owners walked their dogs, Christine began to leave out raw meat in her garden – to lure passing pooches. She did this when her husband was at work, even though she was afraid he might return without warning.
She watched from her bedroom as the dogs – and there were many – were attracted into her garden by the smell of the beef, pork or lamb. Christine would take the animals into her lounge, stand them on a glass-topped coffee table and brush their fur with a wooden-handled brush, sometimes so hard that eventually there was more hair on the brush than on the dog. Or she would cover them in talcum powder and paint their toe nails purple.
Sometimes she bathed them in her own pink bath with lilac petals floating on the water. Or dressed them in the children’s clothes – coloured waistcoats, silky empire-line dresses or yellow duffle coats. Often she taught them to perform tricks, some taking many hours of practice – sitting up to beg, sleight of hand card tricks, and cutting a lady in half.
Finally, before her husband returned, she sought out the dog’s fretful owner to return the dog. Sometimes they commented on the dog’s baldness, or fragrance, or ability to perform unusually complex tricks, but more often they were so relieved that they gave Christine a financial reward.
Despite this small income, Christine ran out of money to buy meat, and so, one morning before they woke, she strangled her three daughters. As she tightened her grip on their throats, they made no sound – except, she thought, a kind of muffled bark.
Having dismembered their bodies in the kitchen, she stored them in an old chest freezer at the back of the garage. When he arrived home, she told her husband that they were staying with their aunt. She knew that by the time he grew to disbelieve her he would be ripe for dog food too.
If anything, the human flesh was more attractive to passing dogs than the beef, pork and lamb. And she found that the larger the piece she put out, the larger the dog attracted.
The day she placed her elder daughter’s torso in the garden, she saw the biggest dog she had ever seen. But, as she ran across the lawn towards the beast – to smother it in her love – she was stopped in her tracks by its rapacious shining eyes, and realised it was a wolf. She turned on her heels and fled back into the house, locking the door behind her.
The creature pursued her, opened the front door as if it held a key, walked to the kitchen and took a knife from the drawer, and, at the top of the stairs, plunged the knife into her heart – an unusual form of wolf attack – with the words, “That’s for the children.”
JOHN HOLLAND’S short fiction is published all over the shop online, in magazines and anthologies. He is the organiser of the twice-yearly event Stroud Short Stories. John’s website is http://www.johnhollandwrites.com Twitter @JohnHol88897218
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