Chapter 24 - No Tale Can Last Forever
Ripping claws tore down Notail’s muzzle.
Notail yelped and they fell to the ended grass but quickly the Black Dog was on top of him, teeth biting deep into Notail’s leg.
“You…nothing,” snarled the Black Dog as Notail tried to rise.
Notail kicked his paws into the Black Dog but they made no mark. The Black Dog hardly seemed to feel Notail’s desperate blows but every one of the Black Dog’s bites brought blood flooding into Notail’s fur.
“I am not nothing,” Notail said but his voice was weak. “I am a fox.”
The Black Dog laughed.
Notail cried out and collapsed to the floor.
Through the pain, he heard Bone mustering a growl and saw his friend step towards him. As soon as Bone moved the Black Dog’s blood wet face turned to him.
“Stay…dog,” it spat.
The Black Dog stalked closer to Bone. Blood-wet teeth gaped at the young dog.
Bone did not move.
“Heel…dog,” said the Black Dog and as if in a trance Bone padded towards the Black Dog and sat obediently in front of it.
“You,” it said, “are…you….for…man?’
The Black Dog’s towered over Bone. Its jaws opened. It ran its tongue over its teeth.
Bone did not back away.
The young dog only opened his mouth to answer and Notail’s heart raced. He knew Bone was doomed. The Black Dog was sure to end him as soon as he spoke the words Notail knew he would speak. Notail tried to rise but his whole body was consumed by pain.
“Who…your…master…dog?” said the Black Dog.
“I have no master,” said Bone bravely, his voice shaking though he still summoned a growl. “I only have my friend.”
“You...end...now,” it growled. Its body fell towards Bone. Its jaw clamped down onto Bone’s neck and lifted the young dog into the air, shaking him this way and that. Bone howled in pain and his legs flailed but very quickly his struggling ended and he hung there limply in the Black Dog’s jaws, red teeth deep in Bone’s fur.
“Leave him,” cried Notail though his voice was weak and fading.
The Black Dog flung Bone to one side. The young dog fell unmoving to the ended grass. He was so still.
Now the Black Dog turned back to Notail. It left the young dog and as it approached, Notail looked past it to Bone, and looked and looked until, yes, he saw the faintest of breaths. The young dog had not given up. Bone opened his eyes. His eyes held life. They asked for help. They met Notail’s eyes, and they called for him
Notail looked at Bone. He was just a pup. A cub even.
Not again, thought Notail. Never again.
He summoned every last drop of life he had left and opening his jaws wide he leapt up and bit down hard into the Black Dog’s throat. Quickly he pulled black fur and flesh away. Blood poured out.
The Black Dog tried to cry out but the sound it made was just a weak croak. Its eyes were suddenly wet. It was shaking its head as it staggered away from Notail.
Notail made himself stand as the Black Dog pawed at its throat trying in vain to staunch the flow of blood.
“You…end…me,” the Black Dog managed to say, blood bubbling from its mouth.
“I am a fox,” said Notail.
Red eyes stared in disbelief.
Notail limped towards the Black Dog as it fell.
Darkness into darkness. Shadow into shadow. Nothing into nothing.