An Exercise in Micro-Fiction: KRIEGHUND
I’ve got lots of prose fiction I’ve written over the years that’s just lying around in digitized piles. I thought I might try something new and start posting some of it here and on our sister site, VAMPIRES.COM, from time to time, to see if you all might enjoy it. The following story is one I concocted a few years back for a micro-fiction contest. I didn’t win, and the piece that DID win, I thought, sucked. Ah, well. Maybe it’s just me. Maybe I have no taste. Then again, maybe the story they ended up choosing really did suck. Whatever the case, they weren’t paying beans for it, anyway, and I can reproduce the story for you here, so it all worked out. I trust you’ll tell me if the story blows–but I suspect you’ll like it. Here goes:
Otto did not fear death half so much as he feared the Hund.
He, like all soldiers in those days of the Great War, had seen enough death to become inured to it. He laid there in the darkness, in the mud, rain spattering his face. He didn’t know how many bullets he’d caught. Enough.
(God, let me die before it finds me!)
The beast prowled the barren fields between the trenches, feeding on dead and living alike, summoned from Hell by thundering artillery, the screams of dying men, the stench of fly-blown corpses. Otto had seen it—big as a horse, blacker than the inside of a coffin, jaws drooling bloody froth, belching smoke from mouth and nostrils with each breath. The Hound of Hell, they called it. Helhund. He’d heard the screams of the men, wounded but alive, when it found them. Heard their screams, then the crunching of their bones.
(Please, God, let me die!)
Smoke hung like fog over the field, the rain unable to disperse it. Through the fog, Otto saw two lamps approaching, burning, growing larger, brighter, hot and red. Getting closer.
No. Not lamps.
The eyes of the Hund.
It trotted towards him, enormous paws splashing in the mud. The growl that rumbled up from its chest mimicked the angry thunder.
Otto feared the Hund more than death. For the Hund, like War, devoured not only men’s flesh, but their souls.
The Hund would eat well tonight.