RJ arrived at the shelter before it opened. Nevaeh was in the shop getting everything ready when she saw him peering in through the window. She gave him a warm smile. He crossed the threshold with no interference. He looked about the shelter and noticed there were more dogs than before. Some were mangy and others looked weak and sick. “Where did you get these?” he asked. “They look so terrible and abused! What happened?”
Nevaeh explained that she found out about a puppy mill just out of town. “We shut it down and brought all the dogs here. Poor things. Unfortunately, some of them died during the night but we made sure their last moments were comfortable ones.”
He felt rather ill to the idea, and was worried that she was going to try and convince him to take one of the mangled beasts, however she brought him farther down the shelter. In another room, he saw the black man, Marius with another dog, but it was far too big to be one. “We also take in wild life. The wolf arrived just yesterday after we closed up. It was caught in a bear trap, Marius was able to save his paw”
The ideas began to turn in RJ’s mind, if he couldn’t get the German Shepherd, a wolf would be even better. He would have to come back and steal it of course.
Yet, she brought him to the back of the room. She opened the door. The sound of an aggressive dog could be heard. He didn’t realize Nevaeh was looking at his face the whole time, observing his expression to the dogs she showed him. RJ didn’t wait for her as he stormed into the room and looked about for the hostile dog. However, he was stunned. The room was completely empty. “What the hell is the big idea?” he demanded.
Looking to the far corner, he saw a recorder, playing a track of a growling dog. Before he could demand an answer, he was pricked in the thigh. He couldn’t see an inch in front of him. The room spun out of control as RJ hit the ground…
He woke in the most unpleasant way he could think of. RJ toss and turned himself and yet the sensation only spread and one he was too familiar with. His pants had been soiled. As the numbness in his body faded and sensation returned, RJ cringed as he felt the dampness in his pants as well as the shit caked into the sides of his legs. His vision cleared as he was finally able to open his eyes, his sight a blur at first until it soon adjusted. Slowly he sat up as the stench hit him full on. “Aw shit!” he growled.
“You ain’t kidding”
A voice came next to him, RJ peered over and saw a grizzly old man sitting in a cage. “I’ve seen babies wake up faster than you after shitting themselves. Must have been a hell of a sedative.”
RJ finally realized that he himself was in a cage. Slowly he tried to find his footing to stand, yet couldn’t. One, his feet slipped from the mess, second, his legs were chained too close to the cage. That wasn’t the only place he was bounded to. He felt an irritating cut come across his neck, when he went to scratch, a thick collar blocked his fingertips from soothing the itch. “What the hell” he muttered.
The room was dark, what little light was given couldn’t explain or foretell where he was taken to, all RJ knew was across from him were others in cages. Many moaned like the undead, there was no hope in their voices. With no other choice, he turned back to the old man. “Where the fuck am I?” he demanded.
The old man snickered. “If you don’t know, it’s best you not hear it from me. But let me say this, everyone here, are in the same boat as you, for we all pay for the same crime.”
He was obviously delusional.
RJ sat himself up as best he could when suddenly a far door came to a sudden open and slammed shut. He tried to peer through the darkness as two people walked by. They paused in front of his cage for a moment, yet uttered not a word before moving on.
A light switch was hit.
The room glowed in bright light, blinding everyone who sat in the darkness. They all moaned and cringed to it, RJ’s eyes were the first to adjust to the light, he could see who was on the other side of the room.
The sight was anything but pleasant.
Sitting across from him was everyone he knew in the dog fighting business. From his competition, to the betters and even the clean up men! They were all there and they all had a small, tight cage to themselves. Many were worst for wear as they become trapped in the devices used on fight dogs. Some had their feet clasped into a steel prison, RJ knows inside were metal spikes that pushed up into the foot. He had the same kind in his basement.
Others endured wires snagged into their jaws to keep their mouths open and exposed. Some looked just as he did, sitting in their own filth and yet the look of madness had taken hold of their minds. They shook and rocked themselves back and forth, trying to ease their broken thoughts. RJ turned to the old man, it was there he saw it. The old man had no legs from the knee down. “Now you know why we’re here?” he asked.
RJ just nodded his head. “What did you do?”
The old man smiled. “I pretended to be an animal activist, raided the puppy mills to get all the dogs I could want and sell them to folks like you as bait dogs. Didn’t realize at the time, one of the actual activists knew who I was. I tried to silence her…”
“How?” RJ asked.
Just then their cages were rattled from behind. A hard shove forward jerked RJ as the collar whipped him back and choked him for a moment before it settled once more. She walked around the cage with a smile on her face, her hands gently hitting the bars. Nevaeh.
“He tried to use a lamp to kill me.” She said with a laugh. She struck the old man’s cage hard. “It takes more than a damn lamp to take me out old man!” RJ gasped as he saw her teeth turn fanged, her eyes yellowed for but a moment. The look quickly vanished as she turned to RJ. “But now, that brings us to you.”
She smiled wickedly as her arms dangled inside of his cage. “I’ve waited so long for this moment. You have been on our list for a while, but we had to be sure we got all your friends first. Now we do, and the party can start!”
RJ began to look beyond her, he saw men working feverishly behind each of the cages, until the sound came behind him. He had enough movement in his neck to turn and see Nevaeh’s partner from the shelter latch a chain on to the back of his cage. He saw the same thing happen to the old man. He begged her not to let him go out again. “Please, for the love of God! I don’t have anything left!” he pleaded.
She only stared down at the stumps. “You still got arms, don’t you?” she snapped her fingers as the chain tightened, the old man was being dragged until he vanished behind a black curtain. RJ heard a demonic roar echo the walls until an iron door quickly silenced them. He turned to her, pale in the face and sick to his stomach. “We have the punishment fit the crime. He sold dogs and pups to be used as bait dogs, now, he’s the bait”
She cackled aloud and left to join the others as the sound of a cheering crowd filled the back room. The audience she entertained didn’t sound human at all, he swore, he heard howling and growling among the cheers.
In twenty minutes, the old man returned. He was shakings as the rest of his legs were gone. He was bloodied from the chest down and yet, still alive. “What the fuck did they do to you?” RJ demanded.
The old man was too weak to answer him, he only shook as his teeth chattered.
The old man’s cage door opened as others rushed in, they were mending the wounds and ensuring he stays alive. The old man suddenly found the strength and tried to resist. “Let me die! Just let me die already!” one needle made him fall silent as they continued to work and stop the bleeding.
As time passed, RJ watched as his clientele begin to vanish behind the same black curtain. As much as five cages were taken at a time, until the numbers began to dwindle down to only a small few.
Nevaeh returned with Marius, they took the last of RJ’s friends out of the room and into the awaiting crowd. Marius smiled. “Main Event time,” he said. A sick twisted smile spread across his lips.
“Look, I don’t know who you are, but please, I can make you money, whatever you made here tonight, I’ll double it! Please, whatever you did to the others, don’t do to me!” RJ begged.
Marius growled. It was just like the one he heard come from Nevaeh. “You think this is about money?” he demanded. His eyes turned yellow as his lips curled back to reveal long sharp fangs. The sound of bone shattering and adjusting echoed the room as Marius went from a full-grown man, to a massive wolf! He charged at the cage, rattling and bending the bars enough for RJ to scream in terror that his life would end there, but he pulled back. Marius changed back as quickly as he turned and smiled. “We’re about revenge. No one takes a life for granted among our kind. Those who do, who view dogs as nothing more than pawns, pay the price. There is nothing in this world that we want, besides your comeuppance!”
He paused, the room fell silent as they could hear a chanting growing above them, the audience was stamping their feet and calling for the main event. “That starts now!”
Nevaeh hit a switch, RJ was released from his chains and allowed to stand as the cage slowly dragged across the floor. He did everything to try and prevent it from moving any closer to the black curtain, yet kept slipping on his own filth. The cage went through the vial and towards a door that slowly opened before him. It stopped just inches before the opening, Nevaeh unlocked the cage and shoved RJ through.
He landed face first in a pile of sand, yet all around him lay body parts. Arms and legs that had been torn from the corpses, and yet not a drop of blood stained the sands. The sight was worst looking up. He saw them by the hundreds, men and women along with wolves and dogs, screaming, howling for his blood as some turned just as Marius did at the sight of RJ. All knew what he had done, every soul there wanted to spill his blood.
Marius jumped into the pit, his arms raised as he called for order among the savages. “We have come to our main event, you know the rules, and we will collect your bets. But first, let us introduce tonight’s entertainment. The dog slaughterer, RJ!”
RJ slowly regained to his feet as the crowd booed and mocked him. Marius surprised him and threw on the ground a single blade. He picked it up and prepared to fight. However they all laughed aloud at him, even Marius. “You think you are fighting me? Don’t be foolish!” he jumped out of the pit as he began to collect the money from the savage people. When all bets were placed, he raised his arms once more. “Now, you all know the rules, it is not how long he survives, but how long our champion keeps him alive!”
The crowd began to chant, yet it was so loud, RJ couldn’t hear it. Instead, another door opened. A man walked out of his own free will, dressed in nothing but a black robe and to the cheer of the crowd. He kept his back to RJ and soaked in the praise as Marius introduced the champion.
RJ smiled to his opponent, it’s just a man, and he didn’t have a blade! The upper hand was his, or so he assumed. The Punisher began to disrobe, RJ stood ready but began to notice something very odd about him. His hands were like talons, yet they were caked in blood. The Punisher slowly turned and revealed his face. RJ dropped his dagger in shock as he saw a blood soaked face staring back at him. His smile revealed the razor fangs, as his eyes were soulless black.
“Oh fuck me….”
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