Dog Barking at the Moon This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

July 11, 2011
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And as her head hit the pillow she fell straight into a heavy sleep and a suffocating dream.
She felt crumbling dirt beneath her fingertips, and realized she was lying face down on a dry, flat terrain. As she stood up specks of dirt fell from her hair into her face, and as she blinked them out of her eyelashes she surveyed her surroundings. Brown dirt merging into a velvet-ink sky, from east to west along the horizon and as far as the eye could see. She stood there, feeling very small and alone in the open.
Suddenly an anguished howl ripped through the heavy silence and she spun around, shaken. She saw, in the distance, a small white dog sitting in the distance below a crescent moon hanging in the sky, which she had not noticed before.
Curiosity drew her closer, and the rhythm beat out by her bare feet grew faster as she found herself running towards the dog, the only sign of life visible. She stopped just meters away from the dog on noticing it’s abnormal appearance. Instead of white fur, as she had thought before, it had pure white skin patterned with swirls of garishly bright colour; one of it’s legs blue, it’s back flecked with purple and yellow and red around it’s muzzle. It stared at her with strangely human eyes, and the lifted it’s head and barked at the moon, a series of short, sharp barks.
Then it stood quite still, and it stared. She started to feel the sinister edge of the strange dreamworld, and felt the urge to turn and run- but there was nowhere to run but more open planes of brown dirt, so she just stood and stared back.
The two figures could have been standing and staring in the desolate land under the crescent moon for hours or seconds, but time passed without effect.
Breaking the silent stare, the dog switched its gaze from the girl to a patch of dirt beside her, where the bottom rungs of a ladder thumped gently onto the ground. She followed the little dog’s gaze upward, and saw that the ladder led to a rip in the velvet-ink sky, which light bled out of and illuminated the pair.
She looked back at the dog, which had already locked its gaze onto her. It waited expectantly, and eventually looked to the ladder and back to her, and barked.
‘Climb it?’ she said, her voice hoarse and shaking.
The dog simply barked again, short and sharp like an order, and then padded away to return to gaze at the moon, and barked every so often.
Without questioning the almost sinister strangeness of the dog’s orders or the impossibility of a ladder reaching down from the sky, she began to climb, every rung taking her further away from the dog and closer to the moon it barked at.
On reaching the last rung and the portal of light she looked back down. The dog had padded back over to the ladder and looked like it was turning to leave until again, it turned back and started to run at the ladder.
The scream was out of her mouth before the dog’s body collided with the ladder, and her scream augmented as the ladder began to shake. In sheer panic she grabbed onto the edge of the tear in the sky, and only adrenalin kept her fingertips desperately clutching on. As the ladder fell away the word seemed to fall with it, leaving a deep black nothingness that her feet dangled into, a sick fear spread through her whole body. Over the roar of adrenalin in her ears she could hear the dog barking again, though she could no longer see it or the moon.
With the last of the strength in her terrified, trembling body she hoisted herself up over the edge of the tear in the sky, and as she collapsed on the ground the opening sealed up behind her and her half-closed eyes filled with sharp white light.





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