Read the other chapters in the Terror Below tale here

Terror Below - Chapter 9: Shep

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“Bark! Bark! Bark!” Shep was standing on the edge of the porch, faced with a massive sand striker W.O.R.M., its head full of teeth and mandibles. Its scales glistened a rainbow color, with a part of its body buried into the dirt. It was moving closer to Old George. The visible part of the creature’s long body was wrapped around George’s house, squeezing the tiles off of the exhausted structure. The sky was a multitude of reds and oranges against the setting sun, indicating the coming of a storm. Under normal circumstances, a storm would be a blessing, but this couldn’t have been helpful for any of the survivors, who decided to stay in Golden Barrel. George was one of the stubborn citizens. He refused to leave his home and his only roommate and remaining family member, Shep.

Old George was lying on the dry dirt floor, flailing desperately to reach his shotgun. His fingers managed to twist around the stock, allowing him to pull it towards him. He turned himself to his back with the shotgun in his arms, ready to fire.

“Shep, run! Go! Leave me here,” George commanded his dog, but Shep refused to move, still barking at the large creature. George pointed the barrel of the gun at his attacker, but couldn’t pull the trigger quick enough to avoid the onslaught of teeth digging into his flesh. George let out a small yelp in unexpected pain. His hand clamped around the shotgun in reaction to the attack and shot a hole through the worm’s shiny body, killing it. Seeing that the threat had been eliminated, Shep rushed to aide George, only to watch his owner and best friend fall into a deep slumber in the mouth of the monster.

Realizing the hopelessness of the situation, Shep retreated. He ran through the woods behind his old home, aimlessly and as far away from the monster as possible. The thoughts that ran through Shep’s head ranged from fear to sadness to a pure exhilaration of unfiltered freedom.

What happened to George? What was that scary thing? Do I have to live with wolves now?

The Border Collie was born into a litter of seven on George’s farm. He was one of the middle pups and was in every way, average. His siblings were found new homes all across the country, but George and his wife Megan fell in love with Shep. They raised him, taught him tricks, and how to herd sheep. He had a wonderful life of work and play with the couple and he remained loyal and loving to them. They were his best friends. When Megan passed away, Shep was devastated, but his responsibilities shifted. He kept George company to pass the heartache, because he was a good dog.

What will I eat now? Shep had been so used to the clean sheets and organic chicken meat that the couple was feeding him for his first seven years of life that he couldn’t imagine what it would be like to eat anything else. He’s always wanted to try garbage, because it smelled delicious. Maybe now he could finally try it.

Shep stopped in his tracks. His paws felt the tough, chilled road he had rested on. He realized that it was night time and he was hungry. Before him, stood a half-decrepit building.

-Banana Chan