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Old Trash

Carole Wragg

I’m in hospital now, sectioned against my will. They said I tried to kill myself, but no one believes me. They say I’m in shock and I need to stay for further assessment. Well this is my story - stranger than fiction.
I will admit that work had been getting on top of me and I wasn’t sleeping well. You know how thoughts keep tumbling around your brain? On this night I was tossing and turning and by 4 o’clock in the morning and in sheer exasperation, I gave up. I dressed, had a quick brew, gathered up my Finn’s lead and went out.
It was so quiet and peaceful, walking past the semi-detached houses with their neatly drawn curtains and even neater gardens. We followed the path through the woods, where birds cooed and chittered to each other, onto the grasslands and towards the sand dunes.
This morning the tide was out. There was just a thin strip of water across the horizon and not another soul.
Finn was in his element, jumping and twirling around me; desperate to play. I pulled his ball from my pocket and hurled it as far as I could.
I watched him charge, tail wagging as he snatched it up and returned it to my feet in a slobbery goo. We played like this for a while as I strolled towards the sea, heading for the area where the cream sand morphed into regular bronzed ripples. The sun streaked the sky orange and red, and a lone seagull scouted for food.
The waves were creeping nearer. They crashed in foamy layers, rolling up the beach, lapping new sand before slipping back.
It was time to go home.
I called out to Finn, but he didn’t respond. He was transfixed, watching the water intently. His tail down between his legs and his muzzle curled into a snarl. An icy stream of air swirled about me chilling my face and fingers.
‘Finn, Finn, come here!’
He didn’t move. In the distance I could see a small black shape amid a large cloud. This cloud billowed out towards us, growing and swelling into an enormous bank of fog.

‘Finn? Finn!’
The fog was engulfing me now, obliterating Finn’s outline. I stumbled back towards the sand dunes, still calling out. Then through the muffled silence I heard his frenzied barking end with a prolonged yelp. A black beast emerged from the grey mass, snarling and salivating as it pounded towards me. I froze, stunned by the size of this great hound and overwhelmed by his stink of decaying seaweed and rotting corpses. His eyes glowed red above his huge muzzle. I wanted to run but my legs had turned to jelly. I felt a rush of clamminess and a pounding in my head. My knees gave way and I slumped down, oblivious to the seawater pooling around me.
The hound stopped and sniffed the ground. My heart thudded. He loped towards me, his massive paws slapping through the water as he circled and deliberated.
He locked his blazing eyes with mine and lunged, his open slathering maws aiming for my face. I tried to scream but his fangs clamped around my neck and then …
Oblivion …
I was floating. Floating towards a brilliant light. It was so calm, so tranquil. Water washed over me in even pulsating waves. I wanted to stay in that happy place. I was safe now. Safe and relaxed. I felt so euphoric I wanted to sing and dance, unencumbered by agitated thoughts tumbling around my brain. I wanted to stay forever.
Something was tugging me. Pulling at my clothes, nipping my hands, wetting my face. I stirred into consciousness and squinted against the sunlight. Finn was feverishly bounding around my body trying to provoke a reaction. He sloshed my face again with generous sloppy licks, woofing with joy at my response.
I groggily sat up, choking up silt and seawater. Fronds of seaweed had tangled around my neck. I looked around. Up above was a clear blue sky with a lone seagull scouting for food. The fog had disappeared.
A fellow dog walker caught sight of me and rushed over. I tried to tell him that I was okay and that I just wanted to go home with my dog, but he insisted on calling for an ambulance. I guess he was well intentioned … he didn’t believe me either.

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