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Therapy Animal ~ An Original Short Short Story

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  • Therapy Animal ~ An Original Short Short Story

    Language Warning: Some Swearing


    A bed of soft pine needles feels nice beneath his feet. He stops walking.

    “Austin! Auuuuustiiiin!” Mother calls. When Mother or Brother calls, Austin says, “I’m here.” Not too loudly, because he doesn’t need to yell when they are indoors.
    Mother calls again.

    “I’m here,” Austin says.

    The sky goes from bright blue to pale, the air goes from warm to cool. The pine needles feel nice. It’s dark now and Mother has stopped calling his name. It’s quiet here, surrounded by trees and rocks. He only hears crickets and toads and leaves and branches moving in the breeze. Austin likes the breeze against his cheeks. He doesn’t mind the cold.

    “I’m here,” he says. Though Mother doesn’t call. Brother is at work and Father’s in the ground.

    A bright light fills the empty space. It flicks about and stops, shining in Austin’s eyes. Austin screams incoherently.

    “Sweet Jesus, you scared the shit out of me!”

    The man is tall. His clothes are dirty and his skin is covered in filth. He smells of cigarettes and his breath is full of the bad drink. He places a flashlight on the ground and more men join him. They have sticks and branches. They have big rocks. They make a circle and start a fire. They have a cooler full of ice and bad drinks.

    Austin flaps the fingers on his right hand. He turns around and tries to leave but night has taken away the trees.

    “Hey kid, you lost?”

    He doesn’t answer. He flaps the fingers on his left hand. One of the men gets close to him and he flaps his arms. Their laughter makes his head hurt.

    “What a space cadet.”

    “I know that kid,” one man says. “He’s a fucking retard.”

    “Hey,” another replies. “That’s not politically correct anymore.”

    They leave him alone for awhile, amusing themselves. Their voices are loud and offensive and they make his head scream inside. Austin rocks back and forth on the balls of his feet, flapping his arms and moaning. The soft bed of pine needles give him little comfort amid the violations to his sense of security.

    “Hey kid, want some peanuts?”

    He feels something striking the back of his head and neck. He screams.

    “Shut up! Get him to be quiet!”

    “Kid! Kid, I’m sorry okay! You’re going to wake the whole county.”

    “If the cops show up I’m gonna fucking kill him, I swear to God.”

    A greasy hand muffles Austin’s screams. His mouth and nose fill with the smell of sweat, dirt, cigarettes and the bad drinks. Another arm goes around his body as his bladder and bowels empty. He knows to go to Mother or Brother, or Nurse when he’s at school, but the man won’t let him leave. He’s carried closer to the flame as he screams and kicks and wriggles to break free. The smell overwhelms him and he throws up.

    The man drops him. Austin falls on his side, his eyes facing the fire. The flickering light and the waves of heat disrupt his thoughts and flood his senses until all he can do is flail about in the dirt, kicking and flapping his arms. The men take great delight in the spectacle, laughing and shouting out encouragement. Someone else takes Austin in hand and tries lifting him from the ground.

    “You better shut the hell up!”

    Austin’s screams won’t stop. They almost drown out the much louder sound of an animal’s growl.

    “What was that?”

    “Holy Shit!”

    The laughter turns to screaming. Austin is dropped again but he falls onto something softer than the bed of pine needles. The light of the flame dances upon the silvery gray fur that covers a familiar chest. The arms are strong and the squeeze him gently until he feels secure. Austin runs his hands through a clump of fur in the arm, enjoying the grainy sensation. “Hello, Woof-Woof.”

    Woof-Woof ignores the screams of the men and backs away from the flame. He turns his back, shielding Austin’s eyes and crouches low to the ground. Woof-Woof lowers a big, wet muzzle and gently nuzzles Austin’s cheek and licks away the vomit that covers his face and making soft growling noise, like purring. Austin’s flailing stops. He stops flapping his hands. The world is loud and angry and scary. Woof-Woof is bigger and scarier.

    Most of the men have fled the scene. The one who swore he would kill Austin cowers and shouts angry taunts. Woof-Woof only glances over his shoulder and growls. The man goes quiet.

    The man who knows Austin takes a branch from the fire and attacks from the side.

    “Let him go, freak!” Woof-Woof growls and snaps at the man, giving him pause. Austin curls Woof-Woof’s fur around his finger, twisting and tangling and pulling it free.

    The man comes around to the front, thrusting the flaming end of the branch into Woof-Woof’s face. The fire startles Austin, causing him to scream and flail. Woof-Woof gently removes one arm and swings a powerful backhand that catches the man in the ribs. He flies off the ground and lands with a thud. His head misses a boulder by inches and he’ll feel it in the morning but otherwise, Woof-Woof leaves him unharmed. With Austin secure in his arms, Woof-Woof slowly rises and disappears into the woods.


    The sky is blue again. Austin awakens in clean pajamas. Mother bathed him the night before and when he was in bed, he heard her shouting and swearing at someone over the phone. It’s quiet now. The bed is soft like the bed of pine needles and his blanket is grainy and heavy, like Woof-Woof’s fur and arms.

    “I’m thinking of having him chipped. If last night wasn’t…” Mother is in the kitchen. Brother is at work. Father is in the ground. “Saunders was in the hospital this morning, ranting about Big Foot. No one’s taking him seriously of course but if those creeps had harmed him…”

    Austin gets up and goes into the hall. On the way to the kitchen he stops and touches every door knob, and runs his hand along familiar surfaces and corners. He stops in the kitchen and looks to the table for his bowl of strawberry Frosted Mini-Wheats. The milk is in a separate cup, the way he likes it.

    “Morning Momma.”

    Mother turns and smiles as he runs his hand along the edge of the table. “Morning Bunny Bear! Look who’s joined us for breakfast.”

    Austin sits down and pours his milk. He doesn’t look up but he sees the light-pink shirt of another familiar person. Every once in awhile he comes to the house to check on Austin’s progress and take care of him when Mother goes to work or needs a break. The sunlight shines on a laminated ID tag with the colorful logo of the clinic.

    “Good morning, Austin!” he says.

    Austin pours the milk and replies, “Morning Woof-Woof.”

  • #2
    This is a great story. I am glad Woof-Woof was there. I'm also glad that the guy who knows Austin tried to protect him, and that Woof-Woof is a good being. Very nice work, TheWolfEmperor! Your descriptions of how his surroundings are to Austin show superb knowledge and experience in the field.


    • #3
      Originally posted by dubiousbystander View Post
      This is a great story. I am glad Woof-Woof was there. I'm also glad that the guy who knows Austin tried to protect him, and that Woof-Woof is a good being. Very nice work, TheWolfEmperor! Your descriptions of how his surroundings are to Austin show superb knowledge and experience in the field.
      Thank you. I'm on the spectrum myself but I've also known a lot of children and adults with lower functioning autism. This story was inspired by some of the recent controversy surrounding the various types of "therapy" animal in the media.


      • #4
        I put this story into video format. Let me know what you think,


        • #5
          Did you read yourself? It's really well done! I like your video, too!


          • #6
            Originally posted by dubiousbystander View Post
            Did you read yourself? It's really well done! I like your video, too!
            Thank you. Yeah, it's all me. The real challenge is remembering the individual voices.