Horla Flash Fiction (December 2020)





YOU ask me doctor: Why do you think you’re here?

I’ll tell you:

I was upstairs at my desk, sorting through my entomological reports—self-compiled of course—when my door flies open and this giant dog storms in. I was terrified! It ran about the room, knocking my samples off the tables and cases, slobbering over everything. I thought the house was being invaded!

It turns out my mum had gone out and got a dog—all without telling me a thing!

“His name’s Roger,” she grinned from across the dining table as he sped around it over and over again. “He’s a Turkish Kangal.”

“I don’t like him,” I admitted, the cold slop she called supper before me.

“You just need to get used to him…and he’ll get used to you.”

He bit me the first time the next morning: he stormed into my room as I lay in bed, and leaned his head over me.

“Good boy,” I mumbled, and, with great caution, lifted my hand over his great brown head and went in for a pat. Without warning he nipped sharply on the palm and I howled. He then ran out of the room, and I ran after him, down the stairs to where my mum was in the kitchen.

“He bit me!” I yelled at her. “The massive shit bit me!”

“Oh come on!” she laughed, and looked at my reddening hand. “That’s nothing…I’m sure Roger didn’t mean it!”

Do you know what it’s like doctor to know your own mother prefers a dog over her thirteen-year-old son? Do you? Do you really?

Anyway, I had to walk him that afternoon—because even though he’s not my dog, I have to do everything in that damn house…

He pulled and pulled… I felt as though my arm was going to be ripped from its socket. When I managed to stop him I rearranged the leash and its hook in such a way that as we went on it would tighten and tighten…by the time I got us back to the house he was choking, but could I get a break and have him keel over? No such luck…

I didn’t half get twatted about the head for that one.

“That’s not how you use a leash you little bastard!” my mum screamed. The dog sat there patiently, taking in my punishment. It would have joined in if it could, I know that much.

It did however get me out of walking the git for a few days, but Christ he still nipped at me like I was a piece of beef.

Every incident I reported to mum, but could I get any sympathy?

“Maybe you spooked him?” “Well, now you know not to do that…” “Have you tried petting him some more?” And so on.

Believe me, I tried to come to an accord with him, but he just wasn’t having it. He hated me. He was my mother’s only real domestic distraction. And he knew that to her, on some level, I was surplus to requirements.

That dog was smart you see: Kangals, they’re bred in Turkey you know, to herd sheep and protect them from wolves and bears and so on. They’re also supposedly prized for their loyalty and gentleness…but on what bloody planet?

I don’t like dogs anyway, or even cats. I prefer insects, arachnids. They’re just…better, better organised, little civilisations. So clean and efficient and resilient…but only to a point.

And the dog knew it.

That’s why every time I was outside observing a beetle on the ground he just “happened” to come over and stomp on it. When I was making a long term study of an ant hill in the back garden he had to kick it to pieces. And there was even a time when he tore down a wasp’s nest I was trying to get a better look at, bollocks to the stinging.

He didn’t care. He just wanted to destroy my world.

Then came the Big Incident.

My mum didn’t care enough to get rid of him for me, but she did somehow care just enough to try to bring us “closer to together”—makes me sick just thinking about it!

So, her “great idea” was that I would take him into the garden at four after school every day and brush the monster.

“Sit!” I would order, and he would not sit. He only sat when he wished to sit.

I would brush him with the wire side of the hand brush, starting from his head and neck and going down, digging in as much as allowable. I could tell that he was enjoying it, but suppressing any signs of pleasure just to spite me.

On the final occasion of my brushing him I went too far underneath his belly towards his, erm, personal region, and I clipped his giant hanging sack. Not appreciating this at all, he reared back and chomped on my forearm, his most vicious attack ever. With his teeth tearing into my flesh, I had to ram my fingers in his eyes to get him to release me, and as I crawled away backwards, he advanced towards me, growling like a boat motor. The pitchfork was there against the wall…what choice did I have?

One hit straight between the teeth into the jaw was not enough. When I got back on my feet, I took a shot through his chest that at last got him on the floor—but he was still breathing! So I took another shot in his back, and then up and down across his body, over and over and over…

When I came to my senses I was in an ambulance, and after my arm was seen to I’ve been in this psychiatric unit for five days now.

So yes doctor, I do know why I’m here, and I think it’s completely fucking ridiculous…!




As well as previously at HorlaHarris Coverley has short fiction published or forthcoming in CuriositiesHypnosShotgun Honey, and Eldritch Journal. He is also a Rhysling-nominated poet and member of the Weird Poets Society, with verse most recently accepted for Star*LineSpectral RealmsOrdinary MadnessYellow Mama, and View From Atlantis, amongst others. He lives in Manchester, England

Title image: From Henry Gray (Anatomy of the Human Body