Man’s Best Friend

I awoke to the sound of a dog barking angrily.

I was chained to a wall, and gagged by a filthy cloth pulled taut between my teeth. I writhed and screamed, trying to free myself.

“Oh, you’re awake,” said a voice.

It came from a tall shadow standing nearby: my captor. He moved closer toward far wall, toward the angry dog, a large doberman. The animal lunged at him, barking madly, pulling its chain tight at its length.

“There’s a good boy,” he said, and violently kicked it in the face. It let out a whimper, then resumed its barking with heightened ferocity.

“Why, surely you recognize him?” he said, walking back over to me. “Shocking, really, that you don’t recognize your own dog. The same dog that got loose from your yard that day. The same dog that tore out that young girl’s throat. The same dog for who’s behavior you were not found criminally responsible.”

He knelt down next to me, and looked my straight in the eyes. The lower half of his face remained hidden in shadow.

“Do you see that clock, up on the wall?” He gestured with his head toward the far wall, to a large LED sign above the furious canine. It was counting down; the time read 00:47:32.

“In…” – he looked up – “forty-six minutes and thirty-eight seconds the chain around your dog’s neck will release, setting him free to satisfy his appetite, and all the rage I’ve beaten into him these past seven days. And that is exactly how much time you will have to figure it out.”

He pulled the gag from my mouth. I spat in his face. “Fuck you!” I screamed. “To figure out what?”

“Why, whether your pet is as safe as our criminal justice system believes it to be.” He stood to leave. “And whether it’ll have any more mercy on you than on my daughter.”

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