It is a late summer evening in O’Meara’s wood; a time when dog walkers or ramblers are rarely found wandering in the dense un-coppiced woodland; this is why Jon favours the wood. There are no humans to pollute what he regards, unreasonably, as his wood; it is tranquil and within walking distance of the cottage to which he retired with his wife, Mary.
Smartphone at the ready, Jon shouts, Fetch! as he hurls a ball into the undergrowth. Paddy, a black Labrador, is only too pleased to obey his master as Jon videos him disappearing from sight. Jon walks on, smiling, listening to Paddy forcing his way through the undergrowth. A few moments later the dog reappears and drops the ball at Jon’s feet. Jon shouts, Fetch! throws the ball and walks on.
As they move deeper into the wood the thickening canopy of leaves above them prevents the last rays of the sun warming them. The path forks left and right. They go right and Jon shouts, Fetch! and throws the ball as far as he can, wondering if his dog will find the ball in the increasing gloom. He stops and wonders if he’s just heard a nightingale, that would be fabulous! Walking on, the surrounding birdsong gradually diminishes until Jon realises that he’s surrounded by absolute silence.
Jon stands still. He takes out his smartphone and presses the video record button. Walking towards him are two dogs. The second dog, absolutely identical to Paddy apart from its open, snarling mouth, walks beside Jon’s pet. This second dog sprints forward howling and jumps at Jon, but before its teeth bury themselves in Jon’s face the dog disappears into thin air. Jon falls to the ground, stone dead. Paddy licks Jon’s face. Nothing. No life.
Paddy barks at the cottage’s back door until Mary opens it. Realising that something is very wrong she runs, following Paddy, as he leads the way back into the wood until they reach Jon’s lifeless body. She weeps as she picks up Jon’s phone, switches off the video recording and dials 999.
Jon’s post-mortem concludes he died from a massive brain embolism.
Some weeks later Mr O’Meara, the owner of the wood, visits Mary at the cottage; he’s heard about the mysterious video of a vanishing dog that had been reported in the press and asks if he can see it. Reluctantly, Mary agrees.
He studies it silently for many minutes. If he hadn’t shouted Fetch! he would have been okay.
Mary is perplexed. Fetch? I don’t understand.
A Fetch is the exact spectral double of a living creature and an omen of death.
You mean a ghost? That’s nonsense.
Mr O’Meara holds up the phone and they both watch the ghost dog leap into the air and disappear. Buster was only trying to protect my wood, it was where I buried him, Mr O’Meara explains.
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© Phil Cosker 2020
Phil Cosker has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs & Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work. All rights reserved; no part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted by any mean, electronic, mechanical, photocopying or otherwise without the prior permission of the author.