Stories: Pet Projects ~ Preview

It was a nasty clash in a cold, autumn downpour. One of the Wild Dogs came at me, and I threw him over my shoulder. From my left, a boy came at me and swung over my head as I ducked, slicing my right ear. Thankfully, that was all he got before I twisted around and kicked his feet from underneath him. He fell down in a puddle. I heard Harriet scream and ran to get the wolf hybrid off of her. I sharpened my nails and swiped his arm. “Ow!” he howled and turned on me. He was big and heavy – an older hybrid like our alpha and his lieutenants – and his weight knocked the breath from me as he barreled into me. I swiped at his face and rocked my legs forward to fling him off me. He finally slunk off after kissing the pavement. Once I caught my breath, I rushed another and another and another. Each one blurred into the next as the adrenaline took over.

The Wild Dogs started to fall back. But one more leaped at me. Barely looking, I caught him by reflex and tumbled until he was under me. I drew back my arm to swipe at him, but something made me stop. He was wheezing. Then, I realized that I was looking into the eyes of a kid who wasn’t even old enough to be involved in the turf battles. The rest of his gang ran while I held him. They’d used the boy as a decoy.


I felt the boy tense at hearing Harriet approach.

She skidded to a stop at my side “Did you catch one?”

I retracted my nails and lowered my arm. “This one should never have come into the fight. Anybody with a working pair of ears would’ve been able to tell he was sick.”

Harriet leaned in to get a look at my captive. “He’s a runt. Is he even a dog? His ears are so weird. No tail to tell, either.”

Another set of footsteps sloshed across the wet pavement. “What’s the holdup here?” The icy voice sent a chill up my spine. Harriet tripped over herself to back off as Leo towered over us. “A sick second-gen is worth nothing to us. Leave him.”

That term again – that was what Leo had called Zach. “This kid will die if we leave him out here like this alone.”

Harriet’s eyes bulged when I talked back to our alpha.

“We’ve got lots of people now, and we could use some help cleaning up around the base. Why don’t we take him on as an errand boy?”

My suggestion was met with a long, tense silence. “His care comes completely out of your own scavenge loot,” Leo finally growled. “He’s your responsibility.” With that, he stalked away. “Withdraw!”

“You’re braver than me, Shay. Or stupider.” Harriet strutted away after the others. “Thanks for saving me.”

I released the boy’s arms and sat up. “What’s your name?”

His tired blue-grey eyes were only half-open, but he’d been glaring at us the entire time. I had to give him props for keeping his game face on. I offered my hand, but he weakly brushed it aside and got up on his own, a couple hard coughs racking his scrawny, little body.

I stood up too. “Should I just call you ‘Floppy-Ears?’” He rolled his eyes at me. “Well, I’m Shay.” The rain started coming down heavier, and I led him back to the base.