They were too damned quick.
I’d lost three people in as many days to the Kinderzähne.
The ravens had a difficult time spotting them from the sky, and Miriam’s dogs had a hell of a time keeping the damned things’ trails. The Kinderzähne were quick and could leap from tree to tree.
Some of the Kinderzähne had been killed by trees. A pair by some dryads.
Too many still roamed free.
As did my mother. Or whatever iteration of her was prowling the edge of the Hollow and snatching up those creatures unaware of her presence.
All in all, 1900 was turning into a miserable year.
I found the old dog sitting patiently in my room, which didn’t surprise me. I left the door open, and dogs old and young were wont to wander in. Only Miriam and a handful of others spoke.
As did this one, it turned out.
I sat down in my rocker, poured myself a short sniff of brandy, and was about to enjoy it when the dog spoke.
“You haven’t fought the Kinderzähne before.”
“No,” I agreed, taking a drink. “I certainly haven’t.”
“The trick,” the dog continued, scratching lazily at one of his ears, “is not to chase them.”
I finished the brandy and waited.
“They like the chase,” the dog told me. “They like the thrill of it. They know a few will die. But that’s what makes it exciting. You’ve got to trap them.”
“How?” I asked.
I raised an eyebrow.
The dog chuckled. “Oh, don’t let them wander. Not by any means. Set the ravens loose and the younger dogs too. But you stay here. Plant yourself in the orchard or beneath a willow, and wait. Smoke your pipe. Read a book. They’ll come to you.”
“And what of my mother?” I asked.
The dog snarled. “She’ll not leave the Hollow when I’m here.”
“And why is that?”
The old dog bared his teeth and stood up. In perfect Latin, he replied, “Deus Canum.”
With that, he left the room, his steps silent upon the floor. For the first time, I felt the weight that had been in the room. The power that faded with the dog’s steps.
God of Dogs.
P.S. Several weeks ago, you may have noticed that I didn’t post for some time. My oldest son died unexpectedly. These past three weeks have been tremendously hard, and they have left my wife and me with a huge financial burden. While he was 28, our son had not made any plans for burial, etc. Friends of ours started a GoFundMe to help pay for some of the costs, but the original amount posted is only half of the total cost.
If you have read these stories and enjoyed them, I hope you might be able to donate even a couple of dollars to help with the funeral and burial costs. If you can’t help, even just sharing the link would be extremely helpful.
Thank you again.