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NathanBrazil
April 11th, 2015, 11:47 PM
Before the polls closed for April's prompt, I had a few thoughts banging around in my head for Bazz's picture
prompt. I tried to pound those thoughts out into a workable story.
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With three dogs, four cats and five birds, you might call me an animal lover but you’d be wrong. It’s my girlfriend that’s animal crazy. We merged our two families when we moved in together, but me, I just had the one dog, Bazz.

Bazz’d been quite depressed since the move, so I had made an appointment with an animal psychologist. In fact, I was bringing him home after his first session. The doctor had fashioned him with a new studded collar with a tiny black box attached, which the doctor had assured me would emit soothing sounds. Although not his normal chipper self, he did appear to be more alert. He kept cocking his head to the side and whining.

As we pulled into the drive, Chelsie, who was bathing our Tibetan Mastiff in a kiddie pool, lost control of the hose. It began to shimmy from side to side, spraying the car. Chelsie lunged for the Mastiff, who was making its escape, but her hands slipped off the dog’s soapy body and Chelsie landed face first in the pool.

I wrangled the squirming hose and helped Chelsie out of the pool. An hour later we had managed to wash all of the dogs and cats, except for Bazz, who was nowhere to be found. That’s when the first birdy went missing. Well, missing is somewhat of a euphemism. Its cage was overturned, something had chewed through the bars, and blood and feathers were sprinkled liberally throughout.

I could never remember the names of her birds, but each had a very special place in Chelsie’s heart. We held a lovely ceremony in our backyard, for the dearly departed Tiki the following morning. Bazz showed up as the ceremony winded down, jumped on my lap and showered me with sloppy love.

“Pretty convenient, don’t you think,” said Chelsie, eyeing Bazz suspiciously.

“Come on. Bazz may be a lot of things, but he’s not a friggin werewolf.”

“What the hell do you think happened?” she asked.

“Well, now that I think of it, I was pretty hungry yesterday, and I think I lost about an hour of time.“

“That’s not fucking funny, Michael.” She strutted briskly into the house and slammed the door.

A few days later Sasha and Chico went missing, followed by an obligatory double ceremony. Chelsie was beside herself. She kicked me out of the bedroom and I spent few uncomfortable nights on the couch, with Bazz lounging at my feet.

In the middle of the night, I awoke to a rain of punches and slaps. I grabbed Chelsie’s arms. “What the hell, Chels?”

Apparently Chelsie’s cat, Jasper had gone … well, ya know. One look at Bazz’s distended belly and mystery solved. “You think Bazz is pregnant? Huh, funny man?” Chelsie said. Probably a bad time to tell her how much I had hated that cat, an ugly, skinless Peterbald.

Chelsie had immediately booted me out of the house, giving me just enough time to pack one bag. “You can get the rest of your shit later … without that thing!”

I rented a room for the night at Sam’s Sleeper’s, a fleabag that wouldn’t enforce its “No Pets” ordinance. I wondered about Bazz’s change in demeanor and that collar. I fingered its tiny box before exhaustion took over, and I nodded off.

My eyes snapped open. Bazz was eyeballin’ me and issuing a deep guttural growl. He lunged at me, narrowly missing my face. I wrestled Bazz to the floor and with one arm wrapped securely around him, I attempted to unbuckle the collar with my free hand. He kept twisting his head from side to side, snapping at me. Finally, the collar clicked open. I slammed it against the wall and it gave a satisfying crunch.

Bazz lowered his head and began to whimper. I scratched Bazz behind his ears. “It’s ok now, boy. It’s ok.”

canary
April 12th, 2015, 03:04 AM
I liked the idea, very fun read, engaging narrator.

Something that might add to it is if either/both of the bird-eating or cat-eating seemed a little more surprising/supernatural--possibly something like a description of Bazz as a fat lazy Basset Hound that would normally be an unlikely threat to a bird in an elevated cage, or maybe he swallowed the cat whole and spit out the collar, or whatever you like. Something to give us a hint that something's up other than a typical, badly-behaved dog would be more enticing.

Smaller things:"who was making its escape"
seems like it should be which--its or who--his

werewolf--not sure why a dog would need to be a werewolf to chew into a cage and eat a bird, do you just mean this as an example of a bloodthirsty creature?

Chelsie's "preggers" comment seems odd for a girl whose cat was just eaten, unless she's spitting it out very angrily.

Just a few impressions from a newb. Fun idea, thanks for sharing.

NathanBrazil
April 12th, 2015, 03:45 AM
Wow, your first post. I'm honored. You certainly don't come across as a noob.

I'll have to think about adding something supernatural to enhance the distinction between Bazz's two states. I was trying to keep to the 650 word limit of our prompts, but there really is no reason why I have to stick to that.

I was thinking that a typical dog could not chew through a metal cage. I can add one word to clarify. What do you think?

I was on the fence about "preggers", so I think that I'll change that now.

Thanks for the read and excellent crit.

BTW, here (http://www.writingforums.com/threads/39688-LM-Coffee-Shop/page179?p=1844408&viewfull=1#post1844408) is the link to the actual picture prompt that I was using.

LMFlores
April 12th, 2015, 08:31 PM
The story was pretty well written, but I never felt completely engaged.

The read was pleasant but was average at most.

NathanBrazil
April 12th, 2015, 09:42 PM
LMFlores, thanks for the read.

LMFlores
April 12th, 2015, 09:58 PM
No problem. Keep up the good work.

R.Myburgh
April 13th, 2015, 08:59 AM
I really like the connection between the narrator and Bazz, you've really nailed that pet/friend relationship. However I think the girlfriend's character is a bit shoehorned in, like she's only there because the plot demands it. It doesn't seem like a normal reaction to leave your partner, with whom you share a house, because his dog ate your pet. She would be a much more interesting and deep character if you showed her obsession with her pets, like she loves them more than him, rather than justifying everything she does 'because she's an animal lover'. Really nice idea to the story and I'd definitely like to see it expanded on with maybe some darker mystery behind the animal psychologist and how it actually affected the dog (as it is all we know is that the collar makes it bloodthirsty but we don't really understand how or what actually happens to the dog).

Definitely has a lot of potential for a short story.

NathanBrazil
April 13th, 2015, 03:48 PM
Thanks, R.Myburgh. Excellent points. I had all the elements to complete the story arch and no more words (650 word limit), but I definitely had that thought. Her character needs to be fleshed out, along with more back story in regards to the mysterious black box.


Thanks for the read and crit.

R.Myburgh
April 14th, 2015, 09:02 AM
You're more than welcome! I really admire anyone who can write a coherent story with so few words, I know I really couldn't.

SethVonDoom
May 1st, 2015, 03:59 AM
I really enjoyed it, and to be honest, I don't even feel that there needs to be any sort of supernatural element brought into it at all...it could have simply been some sort of adverse reaction to the soothing sounds, that Bazz's brain registered and reacted to them much more different than normal. I think that it's much more terrifying that way. But it was a good story, I liked it and it kept my very short attention span occupied.

NathanBrazil
May 1st, 2015, 04:03 AM
Seems I'm unable to write pieces much longer than 700 words these days, so I'm glad I was able to keep your attention. :)

pgbthewriter
May 1st, 2015, 07:10 AM
I think this was a good read, a good little story covered in so few words.

Aspirant Wordificer
May 31st, 2015, 02:43 AM
What a bitch Chelsie is. I mean, c'mon...she kicks you out of the house because your dog eats some budgies...and a cat? I mean, really? We all know dogs are better than cats anyway, so who cares about a mingie cat and some feathers? Plus, it's pretty obvious it was the black box's fault anyway, not Bazz's, so give him a break, ffs. You're both better off away from there anyway, that's what I say.

In other words, that was damn well written. Muchos applaudos. I'd love to read it a bit more fleshed out though; it's a good story with plenty of scope. Maybe 3k words?

NathanBrazil
May 31st, 2015, 03:11 AM
Aspirant Wordificer (wow - that's a mouthful) - Thanks. Sort of wrote this as a lark - though, who knows. I may revisit and see if I can pump some air (ok, maybe something with more substance than air) into this story. :)

Foxee
May 31st, 2015, 03:39 AM
Pretty good smooth read for the low word count, that's not always easy to make happen. I like the premise, dog's name seemed appropriate for some reason. Can't think why. :D

NathanBrazil
May 31st, 2015, 03:48 AM
Foxee - Thanks. Hmm. Not sure where I gots that name from - musta plucked from the aether.

hhourani
May 31st, 2015, 06:41 PM
The premise is nice but I feel the story is imbalanced. You've got the first three paragraphs describing a situation, but things seem to unravel and get resolved pretty quickly after that (which I suppose is how short stories go, sometimes), leaving the reader with nothing memorable.

Chelsie spurts out a couple of generic sentences and then disappears, whereas in my opinion she's the one that has lost the most in this story, so she's be the one that would be the most scared and with the most at stake. Maybe if the story was from her point of view, seeing pet after pet die, we'd be able to sympathize with her (she loses her beloved pets and goes through a break up in a few lines of text, the poor thing) and by sympathizing with a character the story would allow the suspense to grip us.

It's hard to feel any sympathy with the narrator and the dog since they didn't have anything riding on the outcome until the last paragraph, in which things get resolved quite nicely for them without any seeming lesson or lasting impact.

Maybe if the narrator had actually grown fond of Chelsie's pets, then felt upset at the break-up with the love of his life, I'd sympathize more? He doesn't even show a hint of remorse that he's been thrown out of his house. Even if he wasn't that much into his gf, he'd at least be inconvenienced, right? Most people get inconvenienced at the thought of taking out the trash.

My honest 2 cents :)

NathanBrazil
May 31st, 2015, 08:30 PM
hhourani - Thanks. I appreciate the feedback - lots to think about.

bilz346
June 2nd, 2015, 03:45 PM
Very good short story. You got a lot of good feedback above, and most of the points I got out of it have already been covered. Especially the parts about the gf being really shallow, but you probably couldn't do much more with 650 words. I can hardly get through a single scene in that few words, so I applaud you being able to shoehorn a whole story into it.

Brian.

NathanBrazil
June 2nd, 2015, 04:19 PM
Bilz346 - Thanks. Yep. Tough to do, but great practice for LM entries.

bilz346
June 2nd, 2015, 05:20 PM
That last post was my tenth. I just posted chapter 1 of my novel.

Brian A Seals
June 2nd, 2015, 09:56 PM
Nathan, you tease. Now I'm wondering what was in that collar... Anyway some suggestions.



Apparently Chelsie’s cat, Jasper had gone … well, ya know. One look at Bazz’s distended belly and mystery solved. “You think Bazz is pregnant? Huh, funny man,” Chelsie said.

My brain really wants another question mark there, just to make her tone clear. How about: Chelsie said, "You think Bazz is pregnant? Huh, funny man?"



I rented a room for the night at Sam’s Sleeper’s, a fleabag that wouldn’t enforce its “No Pets” ordinance. I wondered about Bazz’s change in demeanor and that collar, fingering its tiny box, before exhaustion took over, and I nodded off.

I think that last part would read better as two sentences. Consider this: I wondered about Bazz's demeanor and that collar. I fingered its tiny box before exhaustion took over, and I nodded off.

NathanBrazil
June 2nd, 2015, 10:05 PM
Brian- Thanks. I like both suggestions.

bazz cargo
June 2nd, 2015, 11:07 PM
Hi Nathan,
not bad... I read this a while ago and liked it, now second time round I can see a few flaws. When I get a minute I can work it over if you want.

NathanBrazil
June 2nd, 2015, 11:20 PM
Bazz- Sure. As long as you're not hitting me over the head with a two-by-four, I'll be learning.