The Muzzled (Short Story)

PLOT: In this hard hitting drama based on real life accounts, a pit bull attempts to make sense of the world of dog fighting while also trying to escape it.

parental-advisory

The Muzzled

Aaron B.

Click here for the AUDIOBOOK


SECTION 1

Mack’s chin rested on top of cold, hard cement, his paws ached, his body scarred from previous encounters. His brown fur grimy, his two ears, small and folded like all American Pit Bull Terriers. His left ear had a slice going down from his ear to chin and was full of red marks and bruised lightly.

As he rose to stretch, his metal collar jingled. He began to walk about the area, stretching his large aching muscles. The place smelt of raw meat and of the other dogs in the area. The warehouse, full of wooden crates and supplies for their owners.

Extra machinery was a common thing found in here.

Two other dogs were in this building, a female German Shepherd named Lizzie who was currently napping, and a tall black Doberman with large pointed ears named Stewart. Stewart is the self-proclaimed leader of the trio, and the other two dared not argue with his unfair logic-he had torn a few Pit bulls, beagles and Dalmatians apart when fighting in the ring, now Mack and Lizzie were at his mercy, even though as far as stamina and muscular structure went, the brown canine could potentially fight him-but in all honesty, he didn’t want to.

Fighting was in fact the last and most dreaded item on his mind, as Stewart rose to greet his two slaves, his voice echoed throughout the warehouse. “Morning!” Lizzie stirred awake, yawned and shook her entire body before standing next to a tired Mack.

The Doberman looked down upon the two, he was tallest and certainly looked the roughest. Half an ear missing, his right eye bloodshot, his underside marked with bites. The only other sound that could be heard other than Stewart’s blabbering was the sound of fluorescent lights from the ceiling. “Today folks, we fight. For the good of our species, for our owners who feed us.” That terrible word-fight. The thing that Mack was brought up with, the thing he was scared of. Today, it was over with.

The Pit bull coughed a bit and spoke, born in Boston, Massachusetts, he had a deep city accent. “I’m not fighting again.” Stewart’s good ear twitched, his tone spiteful. “Yeah, you are actually.”   Mack sighed and shook his head. “I can’t do this anymore, it’s wrong and disgusting.” The Doberman growled a bit, but Mack didn’t back down. “You’re a Pit bull…you’re MEANT for fighting, you’re good at it! You have a reputation, never beaten, never lost a fight. You’ve made big money for the humans who’ve taken such good care of you. Why do you think families hate your species? Because you’re a FIGHTING dog.” Lizzie looks to Mack in concern-what was he doing going up against a Doberman who could kill anything? Mack narrowed his eyes. “Innocent lives ruined, dogs who didn’t do anything are torn apart because we’re roped into this shit! That’s fair to you?”

The two were about to lunge at each other, but four tall males entered the warehouse. All three of the dogs began to bark, whether in terror or pure anger it was hard for them to tell.

Before Mack could think, a heavy collar was forced onto his neck, causing him to cough a bit. His owner, intimidating and extremely overweight.

Dragged from the warehouse to the outside where a bit of rain drizzled from heavy dark clouds, across a dank and foul smelling alleyway, the pavement wet against his paws, the feeling of dread seemed to follow him. This is the only place outside he was allowed, and only with a human tugging at him. The feeling of sadness in the air like a mist over Mack’s mind, on the occasion he did see humans they were usually upset. Sometimes injecting strange substances into their arms, causing them to act strange and fall down. The smells that wafted to him were typically unpleasant, garbage and dead animals were the two things he detected. There was something depressing yet creepy about the outside world.

At the end of the alleyway about a mile off, was a street. Full of fast moving cars and humans who seemed happy and content, and certain smells would come from there. Smells of amazing food and the feeling of happiness. This often caused Mack to tug on his collar in a desperate attempt to live on that side of the world. However, the human who pulled him would often kick him if the pulling became too much. It was hopeless. Everything was always hopeless.

After walking across the alleyway and walking through a rural area of town, then around some other corners. Mack begins to stick his nose to the moist, tall grass he walks upon. A group of humans stand around a large hole, surrounded by what looked to be a fence.

He is now tossed into the pit, complete with barbed wire wrapped around the entire structure. He knew what was coming next, he began breathing heavily, his heart pounds in his chest as he looks to his opponent.
The smells of sweat, body odor and an unkempt dog were prevalent, who barked ferociously across from him. The floor beneath him now wet mud. This was hell. The place where various canines and humans congregated to watch extreme violence unfold in front of them.

Dirty and bruised humans were all around the barbed wire, shouting, throwing money to one another, swearing, making bets about the two dogs and acting like they each ruled the world of blood sports.

The dog who slobbered all over himself was a yellow lab, his build looked unnatural, like he was hopped up on steroids, the muscles huge but extremely unhealthy. His eyes not brown and innocent like a puppy dog’s eyes, his gaze full of violent intent and insanity. The meaning of his life and those he loved, had faded away. Bloodshed was what he cared about. His mind was gone from the medications and abuse he had suffered by the hand of this sport, and for lack of a better term, he was a crazed and rabid psychopath.

The two are released from their leashes, the shouts from the humans in the circle became louder, the yellow lab is the first to pounce, and he goes for Mack’s leg, he hops out of the way nearly toppling himself over with a spurt of mud. Mack wished he could dodge attacks forever, but he knew. He knew the truth. The Pit bull’s owner shouts to Mack. “GET HIM! Get him boy! Gonna let that fucker push you around?! Good boy! Get him!” The screams of impatience and waiting for the fight to really start from everyone else was giving Mack a severe headache.

The Labrador shows his fangs and growls. “Either you or me buddy…I’m not losing to a species as hated as much as you are!”

The pounce comes again, this time the yellow lab pinned all of his strength on the Pit bull, now he is on top of him, Mack’s backside is slammed into the sticky and dirt soaked ground, then the snapping jaws come. Mack knew all the moves he would do, the dog snapped at Mack’s face. “You’re gonna die!” Shouts the lab, his teeth slamming way to close to his nose now. Saliva splats into his eye, the clamor from the audience becoming deafening. Mack needed to beat him. Not because he thought he was better and thought he was the toughest, but because if he was put down, that would leave Lizzie and Stewart alone. If Patrick became disappointed in Mack, death could be just around a corner. That’s what happened to dogs who couldn’t fight-they were disposed of.

The brown canine whispers to the lab as he takes a break and attempts to scare him with more barking. “I’m so sorry…” Mack slides underneath the lab swiftly and bites his stomach so hard that it caused the bloody and yellow dog to yelp in pain. The Pit bull didn’t let go, no matter how much the lab tried to get him off. As Mack was still grabbing onto his opponent’s gut, he threw his head back and ran to one corner of the pit, red fluid poured out of his gut.

From the sheer pain, the dog flopped down and whimpered, he wasn’t dead-but this probably meant he would never fight again.
Humans cheered, some angrily stormed away from the field. More rain began to pour down and soak into the pit bull’s fur, causing it to look darker. Mack stared into the yellow lab as he was now hooked up and ready to go back to the warehouse for a break.

This unknown dog, now lying in a pool of his own blood, crying from excruciating pain. Every injured dog left a permanent image in his brain, perfect nightmare fuel. He was yanked out of the ring-while he had never killed another dog, he always felt deep in his mind that he could easily cause a death.

Patrick, his owner coaxed him with words-his tone lighthearted. Saying things like “It’s brutal dude, but it’s not cruel. It’s a sport Big Mack! You’re good at it! I love ya!”

Of course, came the issue of Mack’s wounds, because they were there. Patrick took this time to bring his animal back to the apartment, stick an IV in him and do some at home veterinary care. No medication he gave truly helped, the pain never truly went away even with all the pain meds he was given. This hurt and certainly was not anything a professional vet would do.

Mack was so fried, that it hardly mattered at this point and time. This was the life he was given, and he would fight for Patrick if it meant staying alive. That was the nature of the dog. Due to Mack’s stamina, he was worth $25,000. A known fact within this gang and perhaps with others.

The yellow lab was later discovered by a fellow gang member, his owner had thrown him down a flight of stairs, leading to the basement of his house to die a slow and bloody death. That’s the name of the game.

  SECTION 2

Stewart was gone when Mack was tossed back into the warehouse by Patrick.  These three never seemed to attack each other like in most cases of dog fighting. These three were a bit different, and the owners of the three canines figured working together would make for a better profit for the entire gang, so they let them hang out since they were much better behaved when they could see each other.

Being that each dog was owned by a separate owner, Stewart and Lizzie fought at different times. Exhaustion hit him, but much worse than tiredness, was guilt. The dog who he had torn up was more than likely just as innocent as he was. All the dogs as far as Mack was concerned, were in the same boat.

He walked slowly through the warehouse, his paws pattering on the cement ground as he slumps in a corner. The place felt musty, the walls covered in dust and holes. Electrical wires stuck out from certain areas. He was also unable to get the smell of his opponent’s blood out of his nose, a smell he knew all too well. He had just been given a quick bath by Patrick, his fur silky, his wounds cleaned out and some even stitched, but inside he felt a surge of violation, a feeling of remorse and unending guilt.

He turned his head, snapping back into reality as Lizzie lied on her stomach. She had not fought today, in fact she didn’t fight often. Maybe her owner didn’t care for her record, she wasn’t the best, compared to Mack and Stewart she was the lowest fighter. The German Shepherd found Mack handsome, but maybe it was more his personality. This place had made him angry, but he undeniably had a coolness and laid back nature when he wasn’t fighting.
She scratched her ear with her front paw before speaking. “You okay?” She knew he wasn’t. He didn’t look at her face as he spoke. “I viciously tore another poor dog up, even more to add to how evil I am. He’ll never fight again I don’t think.” A tear escaped his eye as Lizzie stood up and nuzzled him gently. “You’re a good boy, Mack.” He lies on his stomach, aching in pain a bit, he smelt meat and knew it was almost time for feeding, but it was hard for him to get excited over it, even though his tail did flick ever so slightly when food was mentioned or could be smelled.

Stewart quickly barges in the front door after being released from his master. He shakes his body and stretches. “Another dog bites the DUST!” Mack rolled his eyes and Lizzie turned her head away, almost hoping he’d just ignore the two if they didn’t speak. The Doberman Pinscher still had spots of blood on him, but he wore it as a sort of trophy and not in guilt. “I assume Mack, you won whatever fight you were in? Awesome job I’m sure!” The Pit bull didn’t feel like arguing or telling him how awful he felt, he wouldn’t care. Stewart’s mind was snapped-it was hard to believe that even though he was born here, no dog is truly ‘born’ evil. It really did seem like he was. A few pieces of meat were tossed into the warehouse, the three canines promptly took pieces of raw steak.

Stewart spoke as he ate. “Ya know guys, I’m almost getting bored of attacking dogs. I wonder what humans would be like to attack?” Lizzie and Mack both felt quite uncomfortable with this idea. Stewart continued speaking in a cocky and malevolent way. “Like, I wonder what their flesh is like to dig into? I would imagine a human would be easier to fight, they only have two legs and most are probably pretty bad at fighting, and they don’t have teeth or claws. Helpless creatures they are-but damn, probably would make a fine meal!” Mack pretended he heard none of it, Lizzie shrugged just so she wouldn’t get in trouble for ignoring him. “I bet my owner would be proud if I brought down some seven year old or something.” He chuckled. “If it pleased him, I would do it. In a heartbeat. That little bastard would be mine.”

Mack felt a bit sick to his stomach. A kid? Stewart wanted to kill a KID? How often did he fantasize about that? Why did that thought please him so much? He spoke of it like he had been thinking it for a really long time. He smirked as he continued to think on his depravity.

The brown pit bull soon found himself with his owner, running on a treadmill in an abandoned building directly next to the warehouse, a large collar around his neck. Running at full speed, with the 30 year old human that tormented him. Yelling at him to run faster, Mack knew he reached his limit, but his legs carried him quicker. Anything to not get a beating or steroid injection, which had not happened to him in quite a while. He panted heavily, his legs throbbing…keep going! Keep it up! No beating or bloody bruises if you do good! He knew once he’d come back, every bone in his body would ache. That was his life, fighting or torturing himself to meet high expectations. No matter how hard his heart pounded or his head hurt, the violence would be skipped and he’d get a treat or at least a few loving pats. It was worth it. It always was.

Mack slept soundly that night, even though he rested on cold cement, Lizzie was right by him offering him nuzzles and whispers of comfort if the dog had a nightmare and woke for a few seconds. He wished he could at least have pleasant dreams of running and catching a rubber ball or being treated by a human companion who actually cared for him, at least then he would be away from the hellishness of this place he knew as home. Was there anything beyond the abuse and the fighting for him? For a fighting dog, especially a Pit bull, perhaps this was the life for him.

In the early morning hours, Stewart and Lizzie both lie lazily upon the concrete floor, Mack had not gotten a wink of sleep. His body ached due to the fighting he had endured, the running on the treadmill and his stomach weak from the lack of food he was given. The dog stands up, puts his nose to the ground and sniffs for a while. Mack stopped and stood silently, looking at the walls. The darkness becoming easier for him to see in, looking around at this messy warehouse, seeing what shapes were casted in the darkness. Everything looked like a shadow, but the darkness did not bother Mack much. He had much scarier things to fret about.

 SECTION 3

Patrick was never in a good situation. From the time he was a teenager, he was always pressured to join gangs. To make money was hard, he sold drugs to middle school kids for a bit, but realized it was boring.

When he was in his late twenties, his friends would tell him about the world of dog fighting. How much money could be made by having a top dog, plus he wouldn’t have to do much work. He was handed magazines, of how to train them. Items you could buy off of websites to ‘make your dog stronger’. A friend of his had an ‘in’ to this culture of brutality. He began watching the fights from afar, feeling a lot of adrenaline as he watched two huge dogs go at it and rip each other apart. He wanted a part of this from that moment on. Lots of things were arranged for him to get his hands on Mack. He was quite psyched when he got an American Pit bull puppy. One of the best breeds in his mind.

From the moment Mack was in his life, he began injecting him with small needles in his messy, one floor apartment. Clothing scattered about, the sounds of other dogs in cages could also be heard from the same room, wailing and crying for a parent who would never come. Sometimes the puppy would get to roam the house, smelling the old food that stained the carpet, looking at the ripped up couch and the small television which didn’t work half of the time. He would sometimes try to peer into the cages of the other canines, who reacted in either terror of tiredness.

Like any dog, Mack became terrified of his situation, and once tried to bite Patrick, but that soon was met with no meal for the entire day. When he was fed, raw meat was distributed. In this smelling, damp apartment, the puppies that Mack was surrounded with seemed to die off due to fights that would be held or improper body care, and Patrick would coax Mack every day for doing seemingly bad things, but at the time Mack did not know this was not how every dog was treated. When he was young, he accepted it. For two years, Patrick spent an upwards of $500, getting him special food and buying vaccinations from underground magazines and websites specifically for dog fighting.

As Mack got older, he would go through what dog fighters called ‘roll ins’, where Mack would fight another dog for about five minutes outside of the apartment, letting him get beat and get accustomed to the process of a match. All of this fighting happened on a chain-once he became a teenager, he was ready for an off the chain fight.

The morning of one of his first fights started off quite normal. Waking up to the sound of whining pups was a frequent awakening. Patrick held Mack, hugged him then gave him his ration of meat. He started making nervous phone calls, and soon a car ride was in store. This ride lasted for about half hour, and now that Mack was bigger, had to restrain his excitement for fear of angering Patrick. The car full of blankets, fur and even some dried up blood of the canines who never returned. This was a bit exciting, he was able to look out the window to the busy town, full of worn down homes, humans in groups walking about and blaring loud music. Sometimes he’d see someone walking another dog, a dog who was beat up or missing a leg.

The fight took place in a large home, one of the gang members owned this area. The sounds of shouting humans was the same as every other fight. Similar amounts of money thrown. Mack had no time to investigate his new surroundings as his human was pressuring him to enter the ring.

Once Mack was released, enclosed by metal barriers and Patrick closely watching. This is where bloody scars and tiredness came in. Shortly after, another human came with another grey pit bull. Missing half of a nose. A referee came to watch and keep control of the fight. He would decide when the dogs would stop fighting and who would be the victor.

The two rolled on the ground, one on top of another, it was all blur. Heads bashed in, tails bitten and gushed blood. Clawing, barking, dogs swearing at each other.

The fight was interrupted by the two quitting due to extreme exhaustion, but the humans did not want that. Instead, for thirty seconds, the two were sponged off with warm water in corners far away from each other and tended to a bit, the two dogs whimpered as they did not want to fight again, this was fearful, plus Mack’s chest was beginning to burn due to the heaviness of the blows he was taking.

No matter, the two were forced to go back at it.  The brown pit bull delivered the final blow by making an unexpected bite towards his opponent’s eye, tearing it out of its socket. The fight lasted five minutes in total. Patrick rejoiced by giving Mack some belly rubs. That night, the grey dog was beaten by the human who had bet on him.

Mack ended up being in similar fights, and winning them all. The matches would end pretty much all the same, with him on his back, panting, mouth open, tongue hanging out, labored breathing and begging for a break. Patrick realized Mack had gameness and willpower to stay in the box and not be afraid.

In between these awful events, Mack was subjected to daily training, usually taking place outside in a large field. Large ropes hanging from trees, which Mack had to run up and bite, even swimming in a large tank. No breaks. No remorse. No justice for the evil done.

As he sat in his cage into the late hours of the evening, listening to the distant sound of cars, lifting his head up at happy barking from other furry neighbors. His mind wandered to when his next meal would be, like it always did.

His second thought was if he would go back to his mom. He had not seen her in so long, before he knew it he was whisked away by whoever this human was keeping him hostage. Little Mack spent most evenings crying towards the window of the apartment, overlooking the dark alley ways where heavy drugs and prostitution was a normal routine, and banging on the cage door which his owner slept in another room ignoring him. Mack found it also quite interesting, among the discarded snacks in the living room, he spotted a pile of what his owner called ‘magazines’. Some open, some closed. Photos inside included pictures of dogs who looked just like him, some were different colors, or had different ear shapes. They were big and covered in blood and fur from other dogs. Some were missing facial features, faces split open, eyes gouged and some were on steroids. He of course could not read or comprehend the information, but big numbers were beside these photos, along with paragraphs of text. What were these strange papers for? He was oblivious to the cold hard fact that the dogs listed in these magazines were bought, sold and at the mercy of other humans like Patrick. Advertisements included types of medicines to give canines to help them resist pain, others were exercise equipment. Sleep didn’t come easily, for every time he shut his eyes, he saw his own teeth buried in the flesh of that poor grey dog. He cries gently.

Late in the afternoon, Mack had found himself pinned down by Patrick, a sharp pain had entered his shoulder-and he suddenly became groggy and could not control his motor skills. His heart pounded, fear struck, but he could not do anything about it.

He found his mouth being forced open, his tongue exposed, he tried to move his eyeball to avoid looking at what was happening, it was something like a twisted dental experiment. His ear perked as he heard a new and terrifying noise dangerously closing in on his face, the sound of a whirring machine, high pitched and irritating.

Between his jaws being forced open and unable to move, he thought maybe he would die right here. He felt extreme pressure on one tooth for about a half hour, then another for a half hour and another. The smell and sensation of the small, rounded saw instrument made the dog nearly hyperventilate, but he decided he shouldn’t move. This is what Patrick wanted. What he wanted was what happened. The feeling of a plastic glove invading his gums was perhaps the most frightful. Patrick felt Mack’s teeth were sharp enough and the procedure came to an end.

Mack was weighed a few short days after the tooth sharpening. He was ready for the championship fight. Mack up against another famous pit bull who had taken home many awards and big money.

After showing some identification to an armed guard, Patrick and Mack entered a new building. Full of new smells and new terrifying sensations. This abandoned school gym, full of dust, the sounds of screaming and cheering humans echoed. The pit bull was put on a chain as Patrick went to a group of gang members to discuss how much money the fight would be in the end. If Patrick won this fight, he’d be given a million dollars. He was pumped.  Money was given out, laughter and jokes followed.

The gym dark apart from a few light bulbs that hung from the ceiling, the glass windows were shut to the world and the walls sound proofed. Mack tried to resist, he tried to stop Patrick from throwing him in the middle of a giant circle the humans had made, but it was no use. He was thrown into a ring. No way out. No mercy. No game without sweat and blood.

He had to fight a female white Pit bull. Before the two were released, Patrick held Mack by the neck, another man held the white pit bull by her neck. A bigger male came into asses the area like at all fights, once this was done-he yelled “Release your dogs!”

Not trying to cry due to the punishment he’d be given, he wailed away on the dog. Whispering ‘I’m sorry, I’m so sorry’ to her as he bit and tore at her flesh. It was a rough, but short fight which ended by Mack snapping her neck, nothing fatal but it was excruciating. She was taken out of the ring-Mack was pulled out quickly and hailed as the victor. Praises were given, high fives were given as well among the humans. They loved this. This was their game.

Mack was even going to put on a dog fighting championship website and to an underground publication to teach other people interested in joining the sport. He was well known now. It was time for him to meet some other friends, dogs that were part of his team and that he’d have to get along with.

Life did change for a while though. When first entering the warehouse he knew so well, Lizzie the German Shepherd met him with a calm and nervous demeanor, they sniffed each other for a bit, the large space caused Mack to go into a searching frenzy, while also glancing over his shoulder to introduce himself to Lizzie.

A way out seemed impossible, and as the evening went on hope drained more and more. Stewart right off the bat was a pain, shouting at the Pit bull that it’s ‘my way or the highway’. Ironic though, it was that Doberman who had the biggest impact on Mack as he ate his ration of raw meat for the first time in his new environment.

Stewart was commanding, he was egotistical, hated playful puppy things. As dark as events did get, even Mack and Lizzie would sometimes paw at each other or find something in the warehouse to chase. Stewart seemed to not be a victim, but Mack found that hard to grasp. The fighting, the bloodshed and dealing with the harsh and unloving nature of life. This black furred and crazy eyed dog seemed so oddly at ease, so okay with violence and hatred. No one is born evil, but as far as an answer goes for Stewart, his mind snapped not in a fearful way, but he retaliated and became conceded and love this vicious sport.

From the moment Mack arrived at the warehouse, he knew the only way to escape dog fighting, was to leave it behind and face the deadly consequence of Stewart should he be caught.

 Present Day

 With one snap of his jaw, Mack had injured a fellow American Pit bull, rendering his mouth useless, the front of the dog’s face nearly torn off by the force of Mack’s grip. Before doing so, he whispered ‘I’m sorry’ like every time, but he still became sick as he looked at the silver furred creature, lying on his back, his paws sprawled out and his muzzle shredded with teeth marks and spewing blood which shot straight into the air in little bursts, his heart barely beating. The shouts from the humans surrounding the ring, smelling of strong drugs and beer never failed to make Mack uncomfortable, even though he had been through this his entire life. Poor silver dog would be killed or tossed away like the others Mack had seriously hurt.

Patrick took the dog outside, washed the fresh blood off of him and tossed him back into the warehouse where Lizzie had not yet returned. The cycle would start. Fear, depression, eating, then depression again. All day, it would be like this. Today, he beat an innocent life nearly to death. Standing up to Stewart would not be easy, but if he could take Lizzie with him-maybe mentally he’d feel a lot better. Whether he lived or died trying, was totally up to fate and strategy.

The early morning rolled around, the sun attempting to peek through the clouds. Stewart slept far away from the German Shepherd and Pit bull.

Mack nudged his friend and began licking her ear. She groggily looked to him. “What is it?” She stretched, sticking her haunches up in the air, her upper body flat and front paws out as much as possible. Mack stood to her side, his tone a whisper, but with an assertive edge. “I’m leaving. Tonight.” She stood up, shaking her body quickly. “Stewart will find you.” He sighed and began walking, careful his nails against the floor didn’t make too much noise. “Too bad. I’ll fight him. The killing of innocent dogs, the weird machine that damn human runs me to death on. I’m done. I want out.” He glances over his shoulder, looking into her brown eyes and long muzzle, like all of her breed had. “You’ve been so helpful, so caring. I-I needed to ask if you wanted to come.” To Lizzie, Mack had always sounded like a jock, his mannerisms and his tone. It was strange to hear someone of that demeanor be so open, her tail wagged a bit and she nuzzled him. “I will help you all I can.”

These two would try things never attempted, escape had always been such a scary thought, and so was staying. It was a no win situation for so long, plus the two had first come here when they were teens, strength was certainly not in their favor. The two had fought a lot of dogs, and they knew how to fight. It seemed like a good time for an escape. Now or never, and the chance for a light to be at the end of this lamentable tunnel was worth it. The crates offered nothing, their noses pressed against the wood and covering every inch. It was amazing that the two couldn’t find any exit or any items to help them within this huge space. Not that no one ever tried, it would not be that easy. The only way out, was the front door-one chance. Mack and Lizzie formed a plan-and they knew the one that would be ruthless to catch them was Stewart. A human would be easy to out run, but the Doberman could be an issue.

The two decided to go to a corner, way in the back of the warehouse and sleep-for a big day would be upon them. Retribution day.

 SECTION 4

The morning was met with the sound of Stewart sniffing. Lizzie and Mack stood up from behind one of the many large crates, keeping their paws to the ground and not looking as submissive as usual, they met Stewart with anger and silence. The black dog approached them, circling them. “Why the long faces comrades? You both have been doing so well, crushing opponents and exercising. I’m proud of you both.” He licked both Mack and Lizzie, the two did not move. They waited, they watched the big metal door. Their ears perked, every sound amplified, even though the cement walls-which were no match for a dog’s acute sense of sound.

The sounds of cars driving, people yelling and a cold autumn wind blowing could be heard. Mack wasn’t in great shape, worse than he was a few weeks ago. His side of his face still deformed slightly, more scars and bruises covered his body. Lizzie also had frizzy fur and quite sharp looking teeth from her owner sharpening them. Tails down, hearts pounding and breathing rapid. Staring. Waiting. Watching. Any moment now.

The door clicked, out came Patrick, the overweight owner of Mack.

Being that Lizzie was a bit bulkier, she ran first, right between his legs, causing him to fall face first. Mack followed directly behind, before running away completely, with all of his might, he clamped down on Patrick’s leg, followed by a deafening scream. Time moved in slow motion, sound became nonexistent as Mack clamped on Patrick’s leg and jerking his head back, revealing a large, bloody muscle. “I TRUSTED YOU! You fucking mutt! You bit me! You fucker!” Mack stood and watched the human who had abused him for a bit longer, wiggle on the floor and die of blood loss.

Outside, the sky is grey, their surroundings quite bleak, to the right a large brick wall, to the left, a long alleyway, surrounded by garbage and food. At the end of all of that, the opening that led to the main city.

The two darted side by side together, aiming for the scent of beautiful freedom. The two made it about halfway through the disgusting ally, Mack fell face first into the cement, clutched onto his backside was Stewart, rabid and barking furiously. “Goddamn it Mack! YOU’RE RUINING EVERYTHING!” He shouts and flips the pit bull over, pinning him down to the cement and using his upper body strength to crush his windpipe. Mack ends up swiping Stewart in the face, causing a bloody and deep scar, but the Doberman does not cower. Mack’s eyes narrowed and he growled from deep within his soul. “Fuck you to hell!” This burst of energy did not last long, the back wound was getting painful and probably made some older wounds worse. Mack’s vision became blurry, he knew this is where he could die. He would spend his last dying breath, knowing he tried to escape and failed, being an inspiration to no dog who would come after him. Stewart now was mere inches from the hurt pit bull, putting his muzzle right into his eye.

Lizzie comes charging out from behind a garbage heap in the corner, running into Stewart and toppling him, Mack stands up swiftly and coughs deeply. Lizzie had the upper hand as she bites the black dog’s pointy ear and not letting go. Warm blood flows between her teeth as Stewart wails in pain. Using brute strength, Stewart flips himself over, causing Lizzie to hit her head against a metal pipe which had fallen from the building directly above her and blacked out for a moment. As the Doberman breathes heavily, he notices something at the front of the alleyway.

He smiles a toothy grin, his eyes narrow as he focuses on a young man taking his garbage to a nearby dumpster. About 18 years old, 5 feet, short blonde hair. Looking content as he had done this many times before. Stewart, covered head to toe in blood and filthy from rolling in the garbage, speaks in a tone that he had never spoken in before, a tone that not only read evil, but insanity. “Ohhh…fresh meat! Maybe a teenager is more my style today. Maybe you two weaklings are boring me! I have a new enemy to take care of” He laughs loudly, Mack had never heard such an intense sound come from Stewart, he begins to briskly walk towards the human, shouting over his shoulder. “Not only, could you not both save yourselves from the real world of fighting in a ring, but you couldn’t save the life…of one…innocent human!” The dog lets out a furious bark and charges at the kid, four legs bang on the cement, showing his jagged teeth and knowing that no human was fast enough to outrun him.

Mack gets his bearings and realized in a flash what was going on, he had only half heard Stewart’s speech. Stewart’s was now darkness and despair. He had gone out like some of the other dogs associated with the blood sport of fighting. Evilness had grasped his soul and wouldn’t let go. Mental illness had taken over, violence was all he knew and that’s how he would die if Mack had anything to do with it. The pit bull ran, not far behind Stewart. Sadly, Mack heard the tear of flesh and a shriek of pain, Stewart pinned the young man to the sidewalk. His left hand in the tight and painful grip of the jaws of death.

The human lied on his side, falling against the sidewalk. A few pedestrians who were on the same sidewalk gasped and tried to kick the black dog off of him.

Suddenly, Mack leaps into the air and dug his front paws into Stewart’s back. He felt his nails dig right into his flesh like tiny knives, the Doberman barked in pain and growled.

The canine let go of the human and attempted to use his back strength to slam his opponent up against the buildings which aligned the alleyway.

A dog fight had emerged, other humans watched in terror, someone dialed 9-1-1. Lizzie quickly joined in the fight, the spectacle was bloody and vicious. Two dogs gaining up against one rabid canine. The three of them, covered blood and biting left and right.

Police were called to the scene, a pedestrian had called to tell them that two dogs had indeed been fighting and looked like it was not the first time. With the last of his energy, Stewart runs toward another pedestrian, but now that cops surrounded the area, he was dead as soon as he was shot by an armed officer.

Not far behind the alleyway, came the warehouse. Various officers and members of the humane society came in to pick Mack and Lizzie up to bring him to safety, a place they never knew existed.

Cops entered the building, they found classic signs of dog fighting within this large space. The bloody walls, the raw meats, the treadmills. Bottles of medication and steroids were also here. The saddest sight? The yellow lab from a while ago, at the bottom of the stairs, covered in blood and long dead. Patrick had died of blood loss. News cameras came to look at the scene, considering this event one of the biggest dog fighting ring busts ever.

 Hours Later…

 Warm water cascaded down his brown fur. Every breath labored, opening his eyes proved to be difficult, so he only half opened them. The sounds of human voices surrounded his ears, soft and kind tones-sometimes he’d even feel a petting upon his head. “Good boy. You’re doing a good job, buddy. Don’t cry.” After the warm water was shut off, time seemed to disappear again.

Now Mack lied on a very comfortable surface, a mattress. He felt wires on his chest and a rhythmic beeping coming from a machine. For the first time in his life, he felt relaxed. Little pinches of pain would come and go, but in the end it made his fresh wounds feel hundreds of times better. He felt groggy and automatically fell asleep completely.

Once he woke up, he found himself in a cage. Nervousness hit him, sniffing all the corners of the area, this living space was much bigger than the one he was thrown into when he was a puppy. Unlike the apartment, this place smelt nice, and while other dogs were here, they all sounded happy. Beyond the bars of his kennel, Mack saw the unthinkable-humans playing with dogs. Playing fetch, belly rubs, treats. This was heaven.

Throughout the day, the pit bull was treated extremely well, but it took time for him to get used to everything. Being skittish was his first reaction. It was so strange to be handed toys and offered words of compassion and kindness. News of the alleyway dog fight spread fast. The radio happened to be on a few days after Mack arrived at the adoption center, Mack lied on his stomach as some students from various schools looked at his wounds.

Crazed Doberman attacks an innocent human by the name of James Walsh. What’s miraculous about this story? A pit bull saved James’s life by attacking the rabid canine and taking him on while James escaped to the police. The vicious dog was shot by authorities before he could do any more damage, the pit bull is now recuperating in the local pet adoption center.

 One Month Later…

 The teenager made a full recovery, the hand which was bitten would recover, but he would forever lose a lot of mobility. James lived with his parents, both very supportive through the time of healing. Living in a two floor house, he was far from poor-but certainly was not rich.

Writing school papers was a bit tougher, but he seemed to manage quite well. What made James truly melancholy and full of fear, were the nightmares. Sleep did not come easily, nightmares of rabid dogs tearing him limb from limb was a common image he had to deal with as his shut his eyes. Some nights, he woke up with a yelp and couldn’t get back to sleep until the sun peaked among the clouds. The image haunted him, he remembered it all. The teeth digging into his hand, the blood spewing, the ferocious look in Stewart’s wild eye. The sounds of the deep growling, these things would forever be in his mind, even in a waking state, he sometimes couldn’t get those violent images out.

If James was home alone, he’d picture that same dog, busting through his living room window like a jump scare in a horror movie, grabbing his neck and tearing his head nearly off its neck. Then, the dog would sit patiently, then kill his parents in a similar fashion. No protection, no one to watch over him. He felt defenseless. He told his parents his fears, getting someone to watch over him twenty four seven seemed impractical. He felt safe at school, but coming home from school and waiting for his parents to come home from work was toughest. Every creak would cause James to lock up the entire place and stay in one spot. No matter how many psychologists he had seen, this fear didn’t seem to subside.

One day, he said his true feelings, something that would shock his parents. He wanted a dog. The last thing they expected, and at first they were apprehensive-what if this would set him into even a bigger fear? What if this made him an agoraphobic? The negative connotations seemed to swirl in the minds of the mom and dad. To prove himself, James begged his parents to bring him to a dog park, to show them that he could handle being around canines. Strange as it may seem, he got a lot of joy out of seeing other dogs. He liked there happy and peppy personalities. For weeks after, he talked of how great having an animal companion would be. How fantastic it would be for him not to only play with him, but to protect him during those uncertain afternoons.

Mack was now getting out almost every day, he loved everyone that worked in the building he was at, not only this-he loved going out in the giant yard.

The other dogs would ask him questions about the dog fighting ring, and he gladly answered everything. Mack was the ‘cool dude’. Some of the dogs were calm, some were bossy with good intentions, but the pit bull was known for his love of wrestling, loud laugh and honest heart. He was the ‘jock’, the guy who’d help anyone. Sure, he got bored easily, but this was him and he had no reason to hide his true feelings anymore. Eating amazing dog food, and sometimes getting pieces of meat every day felt awesome. He had so much more energy, his soul jumped for joy every day to welcome a new adventure, whether it would be lazing around or going outside and talking and playing, the days here seemed to get better and better. There was a day however, that topped them all. It meant leaving his friends-it meant the start of a new life.

On the day, he had heard new human voices speaking. He was a bit startled to see a new face peering through the bars of his cage, it wasn’t so much the face that struck him, but the scent. He knew the scent. He sat up to greet the teen, the dog could feel his excitement. He couldn’t believe his nose, he couldn’t believe who he was looking at, and it was James Walsh. Mack knew it, and the young man knew it. It was apparent that James made his choice as who he wanted to adopt and Mack was happy to go home with him.

The two spent a little while taking a walk, the owners of the center spoke of Mack’s past, of course they didn’t know every detail. It was clear from Mack’s playful jumping and James’s laughter, Mack was the pup for him. His first dog ever.

Mack sniffed every inch of the car, the teen insisted on sitting with the dog in the back seat to hug him. With an arm around his broad shoulders, the pit bull put on a big smile and a few puppy licks. He got excellent vibes from everyone, James had a calm and excited tone, not too loud, but full of emotion. His parents also gave the pit bull a lot of attention, every time Mack heard his name mentioned, his tail would wag a bit more as he gazed at the one who was talking about him.

At the house, James spent the majority of time following his new companion around as he learned new things, smelt new items and learned the rules of the home. He would get a comfortable recliner to sleep on, which he preferred only when he could sit on his friend’s lap.

The afternoon was met with some backyard running and ball throwing, of course Mack could have gone on for hours doing that. Happily barking and ramming into James’ legs as playful rough housing.

Sometimes, James would just sit in the lawn with Mack and relax, basking in the sun and talking to his dog. Telling him his issues at school, teachers who were too strict or homework that defied explanation. Stress seemed to almost be a thing of the past now that Mack was in his life.

Every morning, James ran downstairs from his bed room to pour himself coffee and greet his pup. Never once did he mention that the side of his dog’s face was slightly deformed. He seemed to look cuter every single day as far as he was concerned. Mack lied at his feet as he woke up. Once the big yellow bus came to pick up James, slight panic seized Mack. Would he come back? No more treats? No more belly rubs? Usually, James’ mom would take him out to go to the bathroom one last time before going to work-and this was something Mack didn’t really like. Being left home alone. For like James, he also had fears-fears he would not have had if he hadn’t lived such a depraved life for sure. No matter though, this was heaven. No beatings, no swearing, no biting other dogs. Just a quiet house and plenty of toys to keep him occupied.

The afternoon would roll to a start, James leapt off the bus, first one home always. The human would spend hours sitting on the recliner with his best friend, letting Mack sit right in his lap. Sometimes the two would watch TV, but nothing violent, since the sounds of yelling brought Mack to a full panic attack. Sometimes the two would nap. James had not had anxiety in an extremely long time. Mack was his hero. His savior, and also kept him laughing. He was not immune to the usual dog tricks.

Grabbing things off of counters and running wild with them. He was always the one to start play wrestling with James, never did Mack attempt to bite anyone again. Especially never James. Mack felt the young man’s frailness at times, he respected others who were not always as boisterous or confident. Then, dad would come home, give Mack some more attention and sometimes slipped him beef jerky if his wife wasn’t looking.

Every single day, James thought of how lucky Mack was. He could have so easily died in his previous situation, but now this was a clean slate. A new life. A new Mack.

At the dog park where James and his dad would go to let the pit bull run about every day, Mack was greeted to the usual pups. The green grass tall, the sun beating down, the sky blue. A few labs, a couple of big dogs slam into him and chuckle. “Hey man!” “Sup!” “Big Mack!” The group ram into each other, licking, sniffing rear ends and playfully nipping as James and his parents sat on a nearby bench. Balls were thrown and caught, Mack was asked a lot about his new owner. “He’s the best guy ever! Sweet and he’s my kid. I love humans, human are awesome! Would do anything for him!”

Suddenly, he smelled a familiar smell, he dashes for it in an energetic state. He speaks loudly. “Lizzie!” The German Shepherd and Pit bull roll around together. “How the hell are you?”
The two end up lying in the grass side by side as the other pups get distracted by bugs and toys. “My owner is a kind girl, she has kids and they love me..I guess!” she softly chuckles. “My human is named James, the kid we rescued.” Of course, Lizzie had to go over to see him. “Mack, you’re a hero. I hope you know that. You’re a good boy, Mack! I always told you that.” James decided to join all the dogs for hours. Ball throwing was Mack’s favorite and he was amazing at it. Doing flips and catching it between his large mouth, the spitting the slob covered ball at his owner’s feet. This was a sport the pit bull was known for around town, any kid who threw a ball and lost it, Mack could retrieve it. He was a master.

As James slept, wrapped in blankets and his companion lying beside him, he still would get nightmares about the biting. Same images, same dog. Waking up in a cold sweat was not nearly as painful as it was before hand, for as soon as it would happen, Mack would be there to give sloppy kisses on the face and sniff around, sometimes lying right on top of James and looking around the room for potential dangers. The human would whisper to the dog, ‘sorry for waking you up’ and all sorts of things.

Mack also had moments where he would groan or slightly bark in his sleep due to disturbing images of being in the ring or flashbacks to when he was a puppy. James was there to give him warm hugs and loving words or maybe even a treat. Sometimes, at one in the morning, he would silently sit was Mack and cuddle. Listening to the soft sounds of crickets or the neighbor’s TV sets, or sometimes Mack would pant loudly, with a big grin on his face and tail wagging. But tonight, the bedroom was the warmest place to be since winter would be coming.

James and Mack had a true, unbreakable bond. Something that Mack never thought he’d have, and something he knew for sure every dog deserved-no matter the breed or their dark pasts. Love and affection was the light at the end of the black tunnel he called his life. The night ended as Mack’s chin rested on top of warm blankets, his eyes droopy and his heart warm.

END

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