Tell A Tale — Gothic Fiction

Black Dog By Victoria Hunter

Black Dog (by Victoria Hunter)



I don't remember when the Black Dog started following my sister.



Ellen simply came home one day with puppy-like worries nipping at her heels, tiny things that weren't there before: the dark winter nights, the misery of the six o'clock news...



Then, as days tumbled into each other, the puppy-like worries grew and grew, until they were bigger than Ellen –



Until they suddenly had wide, gaping jaws and snapping, snarling teeth.



The doctor's suggestion – aside from a pick 'n' mix variety of anti-depressants – was for Ellen to read some books about depression. Hardly good advice for someone unable to look in the mirror without screaming; who chews her fingernails past the cuticle if she has to sit still for more than a few minutes.



I read the books though; I thought I could tell Ellen the useful bits, although it quickly became clear that she didn't give a damn about getting better. Depression consumed her so completely that she didn't believe she could; she became a shadow, restlessly flickering from room to room.



I continued reading anyway, just in case. I learnt how serotonin, adrenaline, all the chemicals in the brain adjust and adapt to change how we feel in different situations...



I learnt about the Black Dog.



When Ellen's in her lowest moods, that's what comes out to greet me – a big, black dog, wolf-like and possessive, hiding in my sister-sheep's clothing. This Black Dog is relentless, prowling the house at all hours; it's needs are immediate, taking Ellen over, sensing when I try to drug it and sinking its teeth in, until she can't endure it anymore...



She was too frightened to sleep one night, afraid she would either wake up and give in to the pressure whilst I wasn't there to stop her – or that she wouldn't wake up at all. I held her on the bed whilst she cried fitfully, frozen with fear. I could hear howls rising up inside her, the Black Dog gnawing away –



I lay half-awake beside my slumbering sister and, as I turned to check on her, her face lengthened and grew dark. Black ears protruded from her dark-blonde hair, claws tipped bear-like paws clutching at the covers; her nose stretched to a dripping snout that quivered, sniffing out my fears, jaws salivating, melatonin on her breath –



My sister wasn't my sister; her eyes gleamed black, turning in my direction in the darkness...



Oh, Ellen, what big ears you have...

Oh, Ellen, what big eyes you have...

Oh, Ellen, what big teeth you have...



The Black Dog snarled at my discovery of its presence and I hurtled awake in the gloom. Ellen slept on beside me, unaware of the creature taking her over. My terrified heart pounded against my ribcage – but, mercifully, the nightmare was gone.



If only I could find such a way to set my sister free; help her train the Black Dog into submission –



Before it eats her whole.


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