The dog is large, long-haired, and with deep-set black eyes. He sits on a huge heap of rubble near bombed-out apartments in Grozny, Chechnya. An elderly woman, struggling to carry a large hessian sack, is passing. She sees the dog, sets down the sack, picks up a piece of jagged concrete and hurls it at the beast, shouting, Get away! You brought us this! The dog snarls. The woman looses her footing, falls and hits her head; blood flows from a deep gash in her head. The dog watches her die. She’s still. He climbs down from his vantage point, sniffs the dead woman, lifts his back leg and pisses on her. He walks away into a city razed to the ground by endless Russian bombing.
It’s a sunny morning in Aleppo, Syria. The deep black shadows of destroyed buildings create a whole new vision of human annihilation. The dog picks his way through what were once domestic habitations: bed linen and clothing provide the only evidence of lost lives. The stink of chemical weapons lingers. As the dog approaches the still functioning children’s hospital, he’s confronted by a pack of abandoned pet dogs now become feral. Their leader, a gaunt lurcher, growls. The dog leaps towards the lurcher, taking it by the throat, and with one vicious snap of its jaws, leaves it lifeless. The pack run off as Russian missiles rain on the hospital. One explodes near the dog, but it walks unhurriedly away from what is now a slaughterhouse.
Snow falls on Bucha, a city being laid to waste, in the Ukraine. The dog stands in a sea of mud and oil surrounded by the burnt out remains of Russian tanks and other military vehicles. The dog sniffs the air. There’s more terror to come as the screaming sound of jets comes from high above the long straight road littered with destroyed vehicles and civilians’ corpses lying between what were once trees. The dog watches Ukrainian volunteer soldiers walking towards him.
One sees the dog. I know that thing, he says. I saw him when I was fighting in Kharkiv. Wherever there’s hell, it’s fucking there. That Russian prisoner we had told us that Putin, years ago, entered into a pact with the devil, and was given a hound from hell to do his bidding, just like witches have familiars.
Fucking Russians, they’re all superstitious idiots from the steppes. Hellhounds! Fucking rubbish. Let’s see how it likes this, the soldier says. He raises his semi-automatic rifle and is about to fire.
His comrade stops him, saying, Save your ammo for a Russian. The dog’s a spectre. You can’t kill it.
The sound of screaming jets is even louder. The soldiers run for cover as the planes fire their rockets. The dog walks amidst the bodies of the dead soldiers and remembers Putin saying, All my other wars were just practice. Ukraine was always the objective. He laughs, No one stopped me. The West is led by cowards.
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© Phil Cosker 2022
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.