Thursday, 7 February 2008

The mad dog

Dreamt on 17 April 2006

The moment I stepped out of my living room to investigate the cause of a mighty din outside, I was struck speechless. There, before my eyes were three of the weirdest animals I had ever set eyes on.
One looked like a pig that was slowly transforming into a pygmy elephant; as faulty a chimeric result as one can imagine. The second animal, with its long teeth bared in the most ferocious manner possible was not easy to describe. It had leopard-like spots, yet on examining its feet I saw clearly that it had hooves. Its tail was as long as a walking stick. The creature seemed to take much pride in shaking this contraption rapidly as though to demonstrate its dexterity. The third creature looked like an overgrown dog; some sort of hound with a moon shaped head, in which a pair of fiery red eyes were sunk deep, like a pair of hidden searchlights. The paleness of this animal, to the point of creaminess, was in sharp contrast with the eyes.
These creatures must have heard the door opening because they had fallen silent all of a sudden. Seeing me at the doorway must have been as much a surprise to them as my encountering their vapid presence.
I hardly had time to draw a breath before the dog-like creature started howling in the most horrendous manner. At once, the other two joined in; producing a fiendish din, combining shrieking, screeching and barking.
Terrified beyond belief, I slammed the door shut and bolted it. Placing my weight firmly against the door, I considered my options. It took me a while to screw up enough courage to peep through the window. Slowly, I walked to the window, parted the curtains and stared at the horror show outside. The three creatures were running around my yard at breakneck speed, all the while attacking one another in a sickening ritual of bared teeth crunching against flesh and bone.
Without further ado, I reached for the telephone on my desk and quickly dialled the number of the local vet. Much as I tried to compose myself before explaining the purpose of my call, I was too nervous to speak properly. I half expected the man at the other end of the line to declare that he couldn’t understand a word of what I was babbling about. But this guy was evidently quick to grasp details. From the sketchiest detail I spurted out, through a shivering voice he promptly said: “Don’t worry about those creatures. Stay in doors. The most dangerous one is the one which looks like a dog. I bet even now as I speak to you he is burying his teeth into the elephant-like creature.”
I tool another peep between the curtains and got another shock; the dog-like creature was doing precisely what the man in the Vet office had anticipated!
It had trapped the elephant-like creature against the fence and was tearing at it mercilessly. Blood was dripping horrendously from a gapping wound and the poor creature, apparently caught in a grip like vice, was screeching pitifully without any hope of escape.
“Am I right?” came the voice from the other side of the line.
“What?” I asked.
“I said; am I right that the dog-like creature is attacking the elephant-like creature?” the man asked.
“Yes,” I replied. “But how could you possibly know that?”
“Never mind how I know,” he said. “I am sending a professional animal catcher to your home. He will be with you shortly.”
I was awash with relief. I was grateful too for my good fortune in having my call answered by a professional not only blessed with a quick grasp of detail but also appreciative of the value of quick reaction in dangerous situations!
“Let me give you my address,” I said.
“That won’t be necessary,” the man replied. “I advise you to remain indoors and to keep away from the window.”
I stepped away from the window.
Even though I now couldn’t see the horror outside, there was no relief from the noise. Indeed, the noise seemed to multiply tenfold.
But then all of a sudden the din stopped and an uneasy calmness settled in.
I wondered what was happening. Had the elephant-like creature been killed and the other two, perhaps, run off?
Curiosity got the better of me. I tiptoed towards the window and parted the curtains slowly.
Horror of horrors! The dog-like creature was resting triumphantly next to its immobilised victim its mouth covered in blood and skin tissue. I was mortified to see the dog-like creature turning its head in my direction. As our eyes met, I felt a whip of terror lash against my spine. It was uncanny, I could read the message in the dog-like creature’s eyes; it had expected me to spy on it from the window and that, I fancied would be enough reason for it to attack me!
Then the telephone came to life. “Didn’t I warn you to keep away from that window!?”
I stared at the telephone as if it was the most accursed instrument ever invented by mankind. Evidently, the line was still live because I hadn’t put the receiver back on the cradle. But that didn’t explain how the Vet officer could see that I had transgressed against his advice.
I looked around the room wildly, suddenly feeling spooked; a stranger in my own house.
I picked up the phone, intending to place it back on the cradle. But then the voice on the other side said: “I would advise you not to hang up the phone. It is hardly a priority this moment when the mad dog is within striking distance.”
This last bit of advice turned my knees into jelly. Against my better judgement, I turned to the window and flipped the curtains aside again.
The creatures had disappeared; all three of them. They were nowhere to be seen!
While I was still taking this in, not quiet knowing whether I should be relieved or anticipate greater danger now that I couldn’t see the creatures, heavy rapping sounded on my door. Whoever was knocking didn’t mind bruising his knuckles.
I hesitated. I wasn’t really keen to answer the door.
“Go and open the door!” the voice on the phone said. “Help has arrived!”
I dragged myself to the door. I opened it a little without unlatching. A heavily built man dressed in some sort of hunting gear stood outside my door. Gripped firmly in his right hand was a metallic tool which reminded me of a lampoon used for killing baby seals.
“I have been sent to catch a wild dog. Where is he?” he asked before I could say anything.
I studied the man. His face was vaguely familiar. I had definitely seen him some place before.
“The creature is out there somewhere,” I said pointing to the garden.
The man’s eyes swept around the square garden.
“I can’t see anything,” he said turning to me. “Are you sure you saw a mad dog out there?” The disbelief in his voice was unmistakable.
“Yes, I am quiet sure,” I said anxiously. “There were three very weird creatures out there!”
His eyes blinked rapidly. “Three?”
“Yes, three!” I was anxious to give him a full account of what I had seen. Yet somehow, I felt tongue-tied; I simply couldn’t say more than that.
“Well, there doesn’t appear to be anything now,” the man said dismissively. “I wish people wouldn’t send out for me every time they hear scratching noises inside their cupboards or when a neighbour’s dog is barking. Now I have to go back and report a false alarm. This job will be the death of me!”
“Wait a minute,” I cried stepping outside. “This is not a false alarm. Why don’t you talk to your office? The man who sent you here is still on the phone!”
The man appraised me as if he was giving me one more chance to convince him I wasn’t wasting his time.
“Very well, take me to your phone, then,” he said resignedly.
He followed me inside and I passed the receiver to him.
“Hello!” he said into the mouth-piece. Apparently hearing no response, he turned to me and speaking firmly, he said: “Do you realise that there is a heavy penalty for wasting my time under false pretences? Right now, somebody’s life could be in danger – in grave danger, I hasten to add, yet here I am entertaining your delusions! How dare you lie that someone in my office is on the phone?”
“I am not lying!” I shouted furiously. “I was speaking to someone in your office before you knocked on my door. He advised me not to hang up my phone. Indeed, he told me to answer the door. He knew it was you at the door because I was afraid that it might be the dog-like creature at the door!”
The man stared at me in astonishment. “You think dogs knock on doors?”
“No! That is not what I meant!” I screamed desperately. How intolerant this man was, I thought. He was only too ready to disbelieve me, to infer that I had wasted his time and to twist my words. He would do well to learn from the helpful guy in his office!
With an impatient flip of his hand, the man consulted his watch, no doubt to further infer what he thought of my summons.
“Well, I must go now,” he said. “Let us hope for your sake that this false call is not repeated. I have a hard time responding to genuine calls as it is. Do you know how many mad dogs I killed this week?”
Before I could say anything, he held out five fingers. “Five!” he shouted. “Five mad dogs! You can see from the blood spattered on my overalls that my work is not for the faint hearted.”
To my utter horror I noticed for the first time how blood stained the man’s overalls were. He was practically blood soaked! Why hadn’t I noticed that before?
In a flash, the man was gone, leaving me hovering around my doorway. I closed and locked the door. Then as I stepped into the living room I saw the three weird creatures sitting quietly on my desk!
I screamed so loud I woke up, drenched in hot sweat!

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