Dog Walker II – Chapter Eight.

Dog Walker II – Chapter Eight.

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Sarah lobbed a tennis ball to the opposite end of the dog park. A cluster of smaller dogs scattered as Sarah’s boxer, Magnum, charged after the ball.

“You went on a date in the Poultry Zone?!” she said. “Are you insane?”

““I didn’t know what to tell her!” Ben watched as Toby worked the perimeter along the chain-link fence, peeing at strategic locations only when he knew no one was looking. Ben brought the inugami here to socialize so that he wouldn’t, say, eat any regular dogs he might encounter on their adventures, but Toby never really mingled. Admittedly, he was like a hundred times as old as these dogs.

“What am I gonna say? ‘Hey, can you pick a different restaurant? That one’s got an invisible chicken carcass the size of a house rotting behind it.’ I didn’t want to spook her. She thinks I’m kinda sketchy as it is.”

“She’s not wrong.” Sarah said. “Did you throw up in front of her?”

“No I, uhh, got that out of my system before she got there.” Ben shrugged. “I thought you’d be impressed. It was like twenty feet from me, and I held it together enough that we’ve gone out since then. Actually, do you want to go to her open mic tonight? I’m supposed to invite people. The comedy is free, but there’s a two-drink minimum.”

“Hmm. Do I want to watch your co-worker do standup at an open mic…?” Magnum brought the ball back, wet with slobber. Sarah wiped her hand on her pants as she threw the ball again.

“Well, when you say it like that.” The ball was headed towards Toby, who acknowledged it grimly. Cool it, Ben thought in Toby’s direction. “She’s not just my co-worker.”

Sarah grinned and smacked Ben in the arm. “You really like this girl.”

“Yeah,” Ben looked away. “It’s nice to have someone outside of all of our paranormal shit. We talk about movies and make out and stuff. Nobody gets the limbs cut off. Nobody dies.”

Magnum nudged the ball into Sarah’s hand. She tossed it. “Well sure, that’s like, what ‘dating’ is but do you–”

The tennis ball bounced and hit Toby in the leg. He spun suddenly, eyes red, fangs bared, shadow wolf encasing his body. Magnum dropped onto her belly and then scampered away, whimpering, tail down. The three or four other dogs near them also scattered, much to the confusion of their owners.

“Hey! Toby!” Ben shouted. He thought calming thoughts in Toby’s direction, but they were muddled, mixed with fear and embarrassment. The inugami growled, then went back to sullenly circling the park. It was impossible to tell if Ben’s thoughts had gotten though.

“Sorry.” Ben said. “He’s been acting weird lately. Even for him. Marcus says it’s cause I’m not the alpha dog.”

“Yeah, he would, wouldn’t he.” Sarah muttered. Magnum was leaning against her legs demanding comforting pets.

“He’s staying with the old lady who lives a few doors down from me. She gives him bacon and sausages five times a day, and lets him come and go as he pleases. We still have the kakawari, but I think I’m losing him on a personal level. I just take him out to eat demons. We have a Charlie Brown and Snoopy relationship. I’m just the bald kid that brings his supper.”

“Uh-huh,” Sarah said, having no idea what he meant by that. “Hey, before you spend forty dollars on amateur stand-up, can you come look at a crime scene with me?”

“Sure,” Ben said.

“No wolf guy. No Jake. This is, uhh…just don’t tell anybody.”

“Ok.” Ben said. “I trust you.”

Sarah looked at him. She threw the tennis ball.  “Just like that?”

“Yeah,” Ben nodded. “Just like that.”

A shadow tentacle whipped through the air and sliced the tennis ball in half. Two tennis balls slices landed on either side of Magnum’s head. The dog sniffed one, nudged it with its paw, then barked at it.



Dog Walker II – Chapter Seven.

Dog Walker II – Chapter Seven.

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The sun had just begun to rise as Ben pulled to a stop outside the dilapidated old barn. Purple and orange light cascaded out over the cornfields, which stretched to the horizon in either direction. Ben checked his phone again to make sure this was the right place.


No one answered. Ben yawned and helped Toby out of his basket. He cracked open the Red Bull he’d bought at the last gas station. Toby sniffed around on the grass.

There was a loud thunk inside the barn. The big wooden door swung open, and three wolves pranced out, followed by Marcus Alcindor. He waved when he saw Ben.

“Little early for you?” he said.

“I just stayed up all night.” Ben chugged his energy drink in one go. The wolves circled Toby, and he wagged his tail, letting them sniff his butt, sniffing theirs. He was getting more comfortable around them and vice versa. “Are we still in Illinois?”

It had taken him three hours to drive out here. The moped wasn’t built for long distances. He’d had to stop for gas twice.

“City people.” Marcus muttered. “You think Chicago is all there is. Ninety percent of the state is rural.”

“Yeah, and there’s like twelve people in all of it.” Ben tossed the empty can in Toby’s basket and cracked his knuckles. “What are we doing? Dog training? He’ll sit on command, but beyond that he doesn’t do a lot of dog tricks.”

Marcus whistled. The wolves came running to him.

“Wait here.” he said, heading into the barn.

Ben leaned against his moped. He pulled out a Slim Jim and took a bite. Toby trotted over and sat in front of him. Ben ripped off a small piece and tossed it. Toby caught it in his mouth.

“Hey,” Ben pet the dog behind the ears. “You haven’t said anything in my head in a while. Are we cool?”

The inugami did not respond, in either body language or mental link. Ben ripped off another piece of Slim Jim. Maybe more bribery would–

Something mooed.


Dog Walker II – Chapter Six.

Dog Walker II – Chapter Six.

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Detectives Bolland and Martinez waited outside a Catholic school gymnasium. It was Sunday afternoon. The last of the parishioners stood outside the church across the street, chatting up the priest. He had his keys out, ready to lock the doors the moment these old folks finally went home.

“All these stupid missions…” Jake bounced a stray dodgeball off the brick wall. “It took me eight years to make detective. All I ever wanted to do when I was a kid, you know? Solve crimes, bust crooks, keep the streets safe.”

“Me too.” Sarah said, half listening while deleting emails on her phone.

“This is a waste of our time. I became a detective to do detective work.”

“We’re helping people.”

“Are we? Martinez, look…” Jake caught the ball and walked over to Sarah. “You’re a good cop. You’re my partner. Our dads worked together back in the day. I try to give you the benefit of the doubt.”

Sarah looked up from her phone. “What’re you getting at?”

Jake frowned, trying to think of the right way to put it. “Every time you bring in your friend to fight invisible demons with his magic dog, I respect your judgement a little less.”

A moped buzzed across the school parking lot, wobbling unsteadily around parked cars. Ben waved to the cops. Sarah waved back.

“They’re only invisible to you, Jake.” she said.

A white van came around the corner, following Ben. There was a large mural was painted on the side depicting three wolves — two black, one white — running across the snow by moonlight. Sarah sighed.

Ben rolled up to the curb and kicked out his kickstand. The van parked behind him. Marcus stepped out, duster blowing in the wind. He nodded to the cops, smiling smugly. He strutted to the back of the van and popped the rear door open. Three wolves — identical to the ones painted on the van — jumped out and lined up along the sidewalk.

“This is different.” Jake said.


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