on this journey that you're making [m]

Maturity warning: strong language and references to violence.


Thoth twisted around in surprise at the sound of his friend’s name being barked across the paddock. He’d never heard anyone shout Cypress’s name before, and especially not with such aggression. Although he was small for a wolf, he was still taller than most of the other dogs and didn’t have to crane his head over them to see the enormous kennel master marching over towards them. This didn’t feel right. He glanced across at Danny, who was backing up away from them, and then at Cypress when she nudged him to get into a line with the other dogs. Thoth obeyed without thinking of it, shuffling back so that he was stood next to a standard poodle, and stared up at Cypress’s face. She didn’t look happy anymore. She looked like she felt bad.

It got worse. Thoth’s jaw fell open when he heard what the kennel master called her. It was the kind of filthy phrase he’d heard his peers throw around growing up, but not the kind of thing he expected to hear from a professional person talking to a colleague. Cypress was shaking again, but she couldn’t be cold because she had her coat on. In addition to being a physical reaction against cold, Thoth had also read that shaking could occur as a psychological reaction when the shaking person was experiencing certain emotions, usually mirth or fear. Since there was nothing funny about any of this, he could only assume that her bad feeling was fear.

Thoth didn’t stop to think. He followed one step behind Cypress, keeping his eyes fixed on the gap between her and the kennel master. That gap closed entirely as soon as they entered the kennel block, with his fingers closing over her arm. From the way the puffs of her coat blew out on either side of his fingers, Thoth could tell they were digging in hard. A low growl started to form in the back of his throat as the master half-dragged his friend across the kennel block, but it died in his throat when he threw her into one of the kennels.

It was like watching something from a horror movie. Thoth stood frozen, unable to move to help but equally unable to look away. Memories flashed through his mind – images of the bottom of the lake he’d been thrown into countless times; Tarquin’s sneering face whenever he’d asserted, as he regularly did, any of the cold facts about Thoth’s miserable life; the sight of his own arm or leg or hand or wing bent into an unnatural shape, often with blood and sometimes bone visible. His breath caught in his throat. Danny was the one who stepped in, in the end, seeing off the kennel master with a calm, firm statement. Danny, who was younger than Thoth and hadn’t come here specifically to try and help Cypress, like he had. He’d jumped in and defused the whole situation while Thoth just stood there like a lemon.

The kennel master stormed off and Cypress got to her feet, still shaking. Thoth saw the blood on her fingers as she pulled them away from her mouth and he felt the cold shock melting away, swiftly replaced by a familiar veil of heat. His lips curled back into a silent snarl. While only vaguely intending to, he shifted back into his normal form, not even noticing that he’d managed to become a fairy again without falling over for the first time ever.

Everything was red. Thoth wasn’t aware of his hands balling into fists or his eyebrows knitting together, or even the words he spat out in an undertone: Fuck him. Before anyone had the opportunity to stop him, he stamped off down the kennel block in the direction the master had gone in. As he moved, a glob of fast-spinning water was generated in the air by his right shoulder. It grew exponentially, swiftly swelling to the size of his head and larger.

It was probably just as well that the kennel master had exited the building at the far end by the time Thoth got there, otherwise there was no telling what he’d’ve done. As it was, he grabbed the door handle and went to rip it open, only pausing because he heard a gasp nearby. Luke emerged from one of the kennels, eyes wide, staring at him. Busted.

photo by Patrick Lewis at flickr.com


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