My dog is the best. My dog is the cutest.
When I went back to my old place, and experienced the good things that happened there, I thought: “I knew I shouldn’t have gone to the Philippines. I should have stayed there in good ol’ U.S.A, for God’s sakes. At least, there, the modder-fookin things that go bump in the night are Burglars and gangsters, and little to no supernatural occurrences take place, with all the science and technology and stuff. “
Yet the things that happened there changed my life.
My grandmother—Lola, as we call ‘em, decided to stay in her old, creaky, wooden house right there in the province. Of course, who was I to interfere? She had my sis-in-law and my bro to boss around, anyways. So I pursued my dream in the states, working as a freelance writer, living in sublets and little apartments. I sometimes go home, to Lola's. Though, I don’t think I’ll ever. Not after that.
The province was different from the city. Sometimes, the streets weren’t paved; miles of forest grew untouched, and people were clinging on to traditions. People resorted to the simple, hardworking behavior, and not the lazy bones Devil-May-Care attitude of city people.
So you know I was really out of place—me, and my khaki shorts and vest; my striped shirt and big leica camera strapped to my neck. Plus the duffel bag full of clothes and gifts from “The Promised Land”, according to my grandmother.
When I got there, I saw a dog. Just a stray dog. You see them everywhere, these cute little mongrels. It was just standing there near the old house my grandmother stayed in. It was a multi-colored dog, with brown spots randomly placed around its body. It wasn’t wagging its tail, nor growling at me. Rather, it was just staring with its gold eyes. We stood there for a minute. I decided to take a picture of it with the digital camera, clicking away rapidly as I went closer. When I tried to pet him, he walked away, slowly. I didn’t follow.
Later, my bro and I heard screaming outside. We went out of the house and into the unpaved street, trying to find the location of the screams. The thing was; no one was there.
We walked around the street, searching for people. No one was there. From the distance, white smoke. We decided to check it out.
We found ourselves in a clearing near the forest where we saw people chanting as the pillar of white smoke rose into the white overcast sky. They chanted something in a different language—it wasn’t Filipino or any dialect I know. My brother was as confused as I am. I took pictures of the crowd, which didn’t seem to see us, and I didn’t bother to check the camera’s memory. I just clicked away.Through a space in the crowd, I saw what the commotion was all about. A dog was burning in the middle. It didn’t flinch, except for its blinking eyes. It was locked in an eternal snarling position, and its eyes looked at me. Pierced me. Its eyes were not gold anymore.
They were black.
The townsfolk stared at me. A young woman pointed at me with her long bony finger.
“It is he who has stared at the face of Samael!”
The dog disappeared, and the pillar of white smoke quickly deteriorated into black, to the terror—and screams—of the townsfolk. They ran in all directions, as the smoke rained down blood.
“Bapometa! Bapometa! Forgive us!” said the young woman armed with a strange, crested ceremonial knife. She struck the knife into a man, letting the blood flow through the hilt of the knife. “Save us, Great Mother!” she stabbed the man once more, through the groin.
“My GOD—WHAT THE HELL ARE THEY DOING?” I asked. Paralyzed, my brother stood there, as the townsfolk ran in all directions.
The air felt heavier. The overcast sky turned into nimbus, and then the smoke turned red. Whatever happened there, it was altering the world. In the chaos, I saw the dog, burnt all over. Parts of its skin were falling off. Hair was falling off. Its eyes were still staring at me, and its snout continued to snarl.
When I came to, I was on a plane to the US, still in my khakis. There were blood streaks on my shirt—three slash marks. A blood stain was also on my right breast pocket, and something was in it. I opened the pocket and took out whatever was in it.
A bloodstained receipt.
Al’s Mongrel Pound
I flipped the paper back. A bloody paw mark, and a blood-written note:
Check on your Camera.
My duffel bag was in the overhead compartment, and it took some time for me to get it. The things inside were slightly tinged with blood. The camera, too. Its LCD screen was smeared in it, letting me see the pictures through a lens of red.
I turned it on and checked my pictures. There was something odd in the pictures of the white dog. Instead of staring at me silently, it grinned a most human smile, and its red eyes stared at me. A shadow loomed behind him. As the images progressed, the shadow became a strange demonic shadow—one could see its horns and the goatish snout. It hovered behind the dog, whose grin turned into a slack-jaw laugh. Blood dripped from its uncanny, human mouth.
I had to continue. The pictures of the crowd and the pillar of white smoke showed the same shadow. The demonic silhouette appeared above the sacrificial bonfire, hovering over the dog. I thumbed through the camera’s memory, and found twenty new photos after I blacked out.
The next ten were just my grandmother on the bed, with the grinning white dog next to her. Her ashen, old face smiled at the camera in an uncanny grin that was so similar to the white dog. The tenth was like a bloody postcard:
Thanks for Finding My Dog.
In blood-streaked writing.
The next ten was just me going through the airport back in the Philippines. Through the veil of red, the people I took pictures of were bloodied and faceless. Their faces were pale blobs of flesh. Some had the outlines of teeth in their mouths. Again, the shadowy demon-like creature was there; a watermark.
But the final pictures were by far, the most disturbing.
It was on the airplane, near the entrance. The passengers’ heads were still fleshy blobs, and they were looking at me. Smiling with their newfound mouths. In the aisle, the dog smiled. It wasn’t white now; bloodied and burnt. Its eyes were shining in the flash of the camera. Again, the demon was behind it.
The final five showed me in the chair, leaning my head against the dark window. When I woke, the seat was empty, and yet in the photo, the dog sat next to me, its inhuman grin and its evil eyes stared at the camera.
Then came last photo.
It was just the dog. Just the face of the dog. But it was superimposed with the face of the demon. There was text written in blood once more.
I am always beside you.
I looked at the empty seat next to mine, and saw the empty plane. No one was there. Through the window was nothing but darkness. I didn’t hear the jet engine, but it was clear; the plane had landed. Yet in the brightness of the plane, no attendant was present. Just me.
In the isolation, I smelled something burning.
In the isolation, I heard a scratchy, ululating howl.
And I knew.
It would always watch over me, this strange dog from wherever. Watching me. Guarding me. I do not feel so bad anymore. They say Dogs howl because of the full moon.
He is present with me, where ever I go. And I go everywhere. South Americas, Europe, Asia, Africa. Of the dark, blood world that I saw in the camera? I do not know. Yet wherever I go, there’s a certain place—a house of mirrors in the US, or a Mayan Temple in the south—that my dog loves the most. He doesn’t need to go to the bathroom, except when I bring him to his favorites. The dark world was in the piss. And a faceless blob in my clothes was looking through it, along with the smiling, burnt dog.
He licks my palm as I write this. A piece of rotting flesh falls off as I scratch its forehead. It doesn’t flinch. It knows no pain.
Arf. It says.
Arf. It was hungry. I wonder who it eats now. Maybe he’ll show me how to go to that dark world. It looks like fun there.
Arf. It licks me. Its black eyes twinkle at me. I haven’t seen that look. I’ve never seen that look.
It licks my palm and nibbles on my fingers. “Good dog.” I say.