At the western end of the valley there is a fence which comes down in a V to section off the eroding landscape which serves as a playground to the dozen or so dogs that belong to the MacKenzies. The bottom of the valley is covered with smooth round rocks. The smallest rocks are the same size as aspirin tablets, and the largest are the size of human heads. The MacKenzies' dogs gave everyone headaches, including the MacKenzies, but the MacKenzies didn't realize that their headaches were caused by their dogs.
There was a peculiar smell that came from the MacKenzies' yard which enhanced the headache producing effect, and this smell also came from the dogs. One might say that the dogs intentionally produced auditory and olfactory discomfort in an effort to create genuine cranial pain, if one knew. But nobody did know. Some people guessed that the dogs caused the headaches, but most of them didn't guess, and by not guessing, they didn't learn, and by not learning they remained in the dark not only about their headaches, but also about many other things.
In one year there were very strong rains that dropped spattering globs of water on everything that wasn't covered, driving ants into people's homes where the people yelled and cursed at each other for leaving food out and took aspirin tablets to relieve the headaches that their yelling and screaming caused. The water flowing down the sides of the valley and rushing together against the rocks at its bottom carried objects of nature and objects of man and objects of dogs domesticated by man. These final objects, it was disovered by a young boy who had guessed about the various causes of his headaches and the headaches of his family members, were the source of the peculiar smell that came from the V sectioned off from the rest of the valley.
These objects were the rotting corpses of small animals which had been lured into the MacKenzies' yard by dogfood and dogwater and not scared away by the dog smell because the dogs knew to hide where their smell wouldn't scare the little animals off, and not scared away by the dogs' barks because the dogs knew not to bark before they had the little animals trapped. Once the animal got into the yard and sought the dogfood and the dogwater, the dogs appeared and barked at and herded and hunted and teased the little animal until it was too scared, too tired, and too frustrated to try further escapes. At that point, after a few minutes of loud excited barking, the little animal was killed by the Killer dog.
The Killer dog had black hair on the folds of skin that comprised its face. Its ears were small and mobile, and its body was thick. Its left front leg was bent inward slightly, giving it a slashing advantage when it fought. It had a stubby tail sticking out from behind its meaty body, and obvious genetalia below the tail. These details were not lost on the little animals that it killed, because they were given ample time to study their tormentor before their final breaths.
Patrick, the young boy, was walking westward in the valley, considering the source of the river which then flowed through it. Globs of rain poured onto the sides of the valley and cascaded down the grass to the middle, but even where this was happening, the river was already flowing swiftly. The globs of rain that were seeping into the ant colony drove the ants into the little boy's house, which made his family yell and scream, which drove the little boy out into the cool, refreshing, relatively quiet globs of rain to investigate the source of both the river and the headaches which plagued him, his family, and his neighbors.
There was a ridge at the top of the valley, running perpendicular to the valley. On this ridge was a road, the little boy knew, which collected rainwater in its gutters and offered its path of least resistance to a storm drain which probably emptied into somewhere in the V sectioned off by the MacKenzies' fence. It was Patrick's plan to follow the river up until he found this spot in the MacKenzies yard. On his way around a rotted and fallen tree, he saw the remains of a possum floating on the swollen creek.
Although he was little, he knew that a possum had to have been dead for at least a few days, and probably more like a few weeks to look the way this possum looked. The body was not twisted or broken, but it was thin and pieces were missing. Bone showed through in some places and there were bugs crawling in it. Although it disgusted him, he sniffed the air just to verify that the scent was a recognizable one. It made him nauseous and his head hurt.
In the middle of Summer, when little boys don't have to stay in their houses to finish their math homework or their spelling homework or the 5000 copies of the sentence "I will not peek in the teachers' restrooms" assigned by their principals, the sun goes down rather late. The young boy who was sniffing the air about the floating corpse of a possum was, however, out rather late, and the sun did go down while he was out rather late. Since the rainclouds made the Summer sky dark, the dive into the sea which the sun performed was hardly noticeable, especially to Patrick who continued up the river.
When he reached the fence, he wondered if the MacKenzies ever walked their dogs and why he had never seen anyone with a dozen or so dogs walking in the streets. He wondered this because he had been to this fence before and had seen the dogs laying in shade or wandering around inside the fence, sniffing each other and snapping at flies. Had he not been there before, he would not have known that there were so many dogs in one yard needing to be walked. As he wondered, he saw that the moon was shining down through the only open patch of sky, lighting up the MacKenzies yard, but he saw no dogs there. The water in the river was clear enough to see the moonlight reflecting off the round rocks on the bottom. He watched the round rocks for some time because sometimes the smaller ones were moved by the current. They rolled and bumped other rocks at random and it fascinated him.
He watched one rock while it bounced downstream, and then, when it stopped, he watched another which had suddenly started moving. As he was watching the rocks bump along, hoping they would go further and further, he noticed the corpse of a jackrabbit float by. He looked up the river and guessed that somewhere up there were a lot of dead little animals. What he did not do was think of himself as a little animal. Instead, he climbed over the MacKenzies' fence.
He followed the river through the low points of the MacKenzies yard, all the way up to a bush, and then heard a dog growling behind him. One mean dog, he would be afraid of, but a dozen or so dogs had to be playful. He turned around, expecting to see other dogs, but there was only one. When it stepped sideways, the little boy stepped to the other side. In this way, the dog circled around to the bush out from under which the river was flowing and made the boy circle away from the bush. Patrick was now trying to figure out how to run to and climb the fence without getting caught in the jaws of this angry dog. He looked away, knowing that to remain looking at the growling dog would be to provoke the dog further. He looked behind him to see the shortest path to the fence but saw something far more treacherous than a fence to climb. Four more dogs were approaching him in zig zags, growling and baring their teeth as they advanced. They were to the south and the east, so Patrick cautiously walked north, keeping his eyes averted from those of the stalking dogs and trying not to think of himself as dogmeat.
North of the bush which concealed the source of the river, there were steps. These steps led to the upper level of the MacKenzies' yard. After climbing these steps, Patrick saw that there was a pool in the upper level of the MacKenzies' yard. Dogs, he thought, would not jump in a pool to get a little boy. The problem was that between him and the pool were two more dogs which did not look amenable to his idea for a little swim. Suddenly, a third dog was running toward him from the pool, and so he jumped back down the stairs and began to run for the fence.
At the fence there were other dogs, so he screamed "Help!" and turned to run in some other direction. The fence looked attainable, but as he got closer to it, the dogs worked their way around so that his only route was back the other way to another part of the fence. He hoped desperately that he would not trip or slip in the wet grass. Yelling "Help! Help!" made him more out of breath than just running, and nobody seemed to be coming to help him. Once he realized this, he stopped yelling and just ran. When he was too tired to run, he slipped and slid along the slick grass. As the dogs closed in, Patrick yelled "Help me! Help!" His cries became more insistent as he instinctively curled into a ball to protect his throat and stomach. He was crying and screaming helplessly, but nobody could hear him because the dogs were all barking.
Some of the dogs were not barking, but the ones that weren't barking were biting him and tearing his skin instead. He lay in the dirt crying until the dogs backed off a ways. One dog did not back off. Instead, it bared its teeth and looked at the little boy's wet eyes and growled. The others were still barking, so it was hard to hear this one dog growling, but Patrick could see the dog's lips quivering in the moonlight. He wanted to move, but he was too tired and too scared and too frustrated, so he just looked back at the dog.
This dog had black hair on the folds of skin that comprised its face. Its ears were laid back and its front legs were rigid although the left one seemed to bend inward. It had a stubby tail sticking out from behind its meaty body, but this tail was not moving at all. In fact, no part of this dog was moving at all except those lips, trembling with hatred in the moonlight, while a little bit of drool spilled from its mouth through the bared teeth.
The dog looked back at him and growled and grimaced until the other dogs stopped barking. After a few more seconds, this meaty, stubby-tailed beast shuddered with immense force and let out a loud bark. The bark made Patrick flinch, but it was much louder than the bark that would have been necessary to make him flinch. In fact, it was so loud that he stopped thinking for a moment. It was so loud that when the little boy reflexively closed his eyes, he saw a white flash that was produced by the sound. When he started thinking again, he was thinking something different from what he was thinking before the bark.
Before the bark, Patrick was thinking about how much his bleeding arms hurt and how quickly this dog was going to kill him and what it would be like to be murdered by a dog, and when somebody would show up to save him. He was thinking that he should scream, but that he didn't have the strength. After the bark, the little boy was thinking that this dog might not be mean. He was thinking that this dog needed a friend, and that he could be a friend to this meaty black faced dog with the stubby tail.
"Com'ere, boy, C'mon," said Patrick in a voice that betrayed the fear that was still ravaging his body. His voice shook and came out mostly as a whisper.
He pursed his lips to whistle, but they were so dry and shaky that all he could do was blow. It was funny, but he could only laugh inside his head because something in the way he was perceiving his situation had disconnected him from the body he was in. He kept his lips pursed and tried to whistle until his lips hurt from muscle tension. Then he said "C'mon, boy, it's Ok."
He slowly held out his hand imagining that the dog might just bite it off, but he didn't care. He was not connected to the hand anymore. All he cared about was making this mean dog happy somehow. He reached further even as the dog who had just barked as loud as it could growled more fiercely. The little boy was laying on his side, stretching out a bloody arm from underneath himself. His body was bent into a fetal position in the wet grass of the MacKenzies yard and he was bleeding from several dog bites on his arms and legs. He stretched further and beckoned the growling dog more.
The dog jumped on him and took his neck in its teeth. The skin on the little boy's neck broke and began bleeding and he felt the pain. He took the dog's clenched face in his hands and held it, caressing it, and scratching behind the ears. When he realized that he could squeeze the dog's throat closed and strangle it just as easily as it was strangling him, he considered it for a moment. During that moment, the dog loosened its grip on his neck, loosened it some more, and shook itself free of Patrick's hands which, the whole time, had been scratching behind its ears.
The dog placed its front paws on Patrick's chest and stretched its neck toward the moon and let out a long loud howl. He reached up and scratched the fur on the dogs chest and the dog continued howling. He lay under the howling dog while the other dogs slowly joined the chorus. Soon they were all howling at the moon with their necks stretched out and many of Patrick's neighbors got up from in front of the TV to get some aspirin tablets from their bathroom cabinets.
After resting and listening to the dogs, Patrick sat up painfully and got licked by the black faced dog which then walked slowly toward the bush that concealed the source of the river. It had started raining harder while he was being attacked, and the rain was washing the blood off of his arms and legs. He crawled after the black faced dog toward the bush. He peered under it to see what secret these dogs had been protecting.
There, at the side of the concrete pipe that carried gutter water from the street above, was an outcropping of sticks and mud, built by a bigger MacKenzie boy when he was even littler than the Patrick who now found it. The MacKenize boy had grown up and gone away to live with friends, leaving his earthen shelf behind for the dogs who, ever since then, had been killing little animals and stashing them there. The heavy flow of water had risen high enough to eat away at the shelf thus freeing the ripening corpses to be found by some little boy who lived down the river and who would come up to investigate and hopefully win the respect of the alpha male, and finally replace the MacKenzie boy who had abandoned his dogs. The horrible stench of the half decayed skunks, possums, rabbits, cats, and even a couple birds, rotting in that damp pipe overwhelmed the little boy who threw up right there.
Some of the dogs were interested in the steaming pile of vomit that the boy had just produced, but the little boy himself knew that he had to get home and have his parents tend to his wounds. The dogs respected him as he limped back to the fence and laboriously climbed over it. He dipped his arms and legs into the river to wash dirt and blood from them once he was on the other side, and then began his long journey home. After that, he went to visit the dogs quite often, but never told his parents, and never went near the source of the river.