View Full Version : Brain dogs (short story, harsh language and violence)

January 23rd, 2013, 07:42 PM
This started out as a "write a story in 50 words or less" prompt. I instantly new what it was about and realized about 20 words in that I could not tell it in 50 words. I like this story a lot but I want to get the most out of it. I got really helpful feed back for the other story I posted here, so I'm looking forward to improving this one.

Thanks in advance.

Brain dogs

There are seven dogs on my street. One day they started barking and they havenít stopped since. I can hear them wherever I go. It does not matter if they appear to be barking or not. Inside of my head they never stop.

It had taken me sometime to realize that most of them sound like people I know. My pharmacist and my sister are just two from the merciless canine choir that growl and roar while I try to sleep or eat my food. Those two bark the loudest when it is time for me to take my medication. But I have stopped taking those pills. Iíve been saving them.

My computer is full of spyware, and the customer service representative who is supposed to be helping me fix this, thinks that it is funny to put on different voices every time I call to ask for the help. I know that this is the same person, because they always fail to fix my computer. When this tricky son of a bitch isnít sabotaging my computer, heís barking in my head with the rest of the dogs.

I donít watch the shows on my television. All of the programs on TV are filled with people pretending to be somebody else and you cannot trust people who make a living as liars. Even I if wanted to listen to their bullshit, there is always music playing in the background and that distracts me from what is being talked about. I only watch the news because it contains information that could affect me. I have however, become increasingly concerned about the station director (who also happens to be the director and producer of the weekly evening news) David Bruce. I have trouble deciphering the strange facial expressions that people are always making and lately I have noticed that the news anchors have been squinting with their eyes or setting their mouths in a very peculiar way. I believe this is done to confuse and irritate the viewer in order to elicit stronger emotions during viewing. I would simply watch the news on a different network, but the reception is poor and together with the barking, I cannot hear over the static. This has confirmed my worst fears: these sadistic forms of torture have been (by the command of David Bruce) directed at me. I also believe he is one of my dogs. Even though I have not met this man or heard his voice, the language and technique are identical. I even fear that this is his design.

For a living, I take orders over the telephone and you can be certain that from time to time the dogs call and pretend to be customers. I work for a company that sells sporting goods out of a catalog. One of the saddest and hardest things that I have to deal with is that, Richard, my best friend and co-worker, is my fifth dog. I like him because he has a simple smile. I know that it means only joy or approval and itís not tricky like the smiles of everybody else. Richard barks the loudest when I am lonely or depressed. That would almost make me feel better, but it really hurts the most. I know itís just a ploy to keep me dependent to the barking. The dogs, whatever they really are, know that I can stop them and they will do anything they can to keep me pacified.

If I decided to fall in love, it would be with Janet Sayers. She is a data analyst at the catalog company where I work. She is like Richard in a way; she isnít always making stupid or tricky faces. She does make those faces sometimes, but only to teach me a lesson if I say something stupid like ĎHow was your day, Janet?í I donít need her and since I havenít decided to fall in love with her, I havenít decided what she means to me. Itís convenient that sheís around and I donít have to rush to judgment on anything. Iím relieved sheís not one of the dogs, but itís possible they are using her.

When she isnít howling in my head with the rest of the pack, my sister comes to my house or calls me on the phone. She claims she wants to ĎMake sure Iím doing alrightí or other things like that, but I know she just wants to make sure Iím taking the pills. The pharmacist probably told her I have stopped taking my meds. He probably barked it to her in doggy code, right in my head, and right under my nose. That son of a bitch started making those tricky faces at me the second I decided to quit the pills. So now I have had to take steps. Every day, I take three pills (my daily dosage) out of the bottle and I hide them under the- never mind. If my sister comes sticking her snout around my house sheíll think Iím taking the pills. Now the pharmacist (Todd, that smug son of a bitch) can see what it feels like to be unsure. Yesterday, my sister asked me if I have Ďmet anyone special.í And chills ran down my spine. ĎPoor Janet Sayersí I thought to myself, Ďwhether or not you know about the dogs, they know about you.í

The other two dogs are me and the bus driver. He scares the hell out of me, because he keeps his face as straight as I keep mine. Every time I have a particularly bad day at work or say something stupid to Janet, itís after he drove me in. The worst thing about the bus driver dogs is that his barking sounds like silence. When the bus driver barks I can hear myself and this is the cruelest device that they use. Itís not me of course; Iím the one being terrorized. They use my voice and every stupid thing I have ever said to Janet. It is in this way that they not only torment, but demoralize me.

This may all sound crazy to you. You may ask me, how people can simultaneously sound like them selves, and the barking of dogs? Maybe you want to know how one person can hear something when nobody else can. If you have to ask, then you could never understand. You probably canít understand that for two days red was the only thing I could smell, after I saw Janet smile in approval when the director of operations put his hand on her hip. Do you think I havenít tried to go to the source and deal with the dogs on my block directly? Why do you think I have been saving my pills? I gave two weeks worth of my medication to the dog one house over, the beast that sounds like, Richard, my best friend. All seven rose to a crescendo when I watched the little girl who lives next door cry over her dead retriever. I already told you that it doesnít matter whether they ​appear to be barking or not.

So, once again I have been forced to take steps. I spent last night waiting outside of David Bruceís office. I killed him of course. Item #864HK in my companyís catalog is a large hunting knife. The brain dogs (as I have come to call them) are still barking. I think that I know why they have not stopped, but I wonít bother telling you; it may sound paranoid. I know that I should just blow my brains out (Item # 533HR Walnut arms .338 Federal) but Iím afraid these dogs will be barking for eternity while Iím burning in hell. I have a plan that I cannot deviate from. Yes, maybe I do sound crazy, but let me ask you this; could an insane man stay as calm as I have for the past two months with a pack of dogs snarling and barking in his head?

While I write this I am waiting in my home. Soon my sister will come knocking and tonight I will have to ask her some questions. I donít expect that the dogs will stop barking regardless of how thorough my questioning is. My friend and co-worker, Richard, gets out of work soon and the customer service rep who pretends to help me is just a three hour drive from here.

January 24th, 2013, 03:19 AM
This is very interesting. Very engaging and not at all what I expected. Honestly, I really really enjoyed it.

The first paragraph had me a bit confused though. If I were you I would get rid of what I highlighted and move directly into the next paragraph. You don't want to tell your reader too much too early. They want to figure it out on their own. So instead of saying " I can hear them wherever I go... Inside my head they never stop" Let them figure that out on their own. Since your imagery is clear and your syntax/description is clear they won't have a problem figuring it out.

There are seven dogs on my street. One day they started barking and they haven’t stopped since. I can hear them wherever I go. It does not matter if they appear to be barking or not. Inside of my head they never stop.

Also, I was surprised when he mentioned killing Bruce. Perhaps drop in some more details that will suggest how violent he can be. You already have him killing the dog and thats a really good hint. Instead of saying "Item #864HK in my company’s catalog is a large hunting knife." add a small blurb about him buying it before he actually kills him. That way your reader can make inferences on their own and then not be too surprised.

Last thing. Mention 'brain dogs' earlier. Instead of just saying dogs, say 'brain dogs'. Also, you don't have to explain that that it what you are calling them. The reader will understand without that.

Otherwise, I really enjoyed this :)

January 24th, 2013, 10:37 AM
This story gave me the straight up heebie jeebies. The sometimes disjointed setences really add to the "eau d'crazy" state of your protagonist. The only real crit I have is that I had to read the last few paragraphs again but I am still not quite sure if it is me ir the protagonist that is suppised to be unable to tell if the dogs and the people they symbolize were the ones killed in reality.

January 24th, 2013, 02:07 PM
I haven't read a nice crazy story for a while, so thanks for that. It reminds me of a story a friend of mine wrote that started with her receiving a note in the post saying 'We're sorry we missed you, we'll be back'.

It also reminds me of the Son of sam, that got his directions to kill because his neighbors dog told him to.

As a short story I'm not sure it has the pay off at the end. The beginning is really interesting and then he kills someone and is likely to kill again. I feel there is something missing in-between. Also the piece is quite surreal and funny but without any laughs. I feel a laugh out loud line would really make this piece quite special.

No idea how to achieve any of this.