Event: 500 Word Snatch
Location: Milk Wood, Second Life
Host: Lizzie Gudkov
Prompt: Your protagonist’s dog digs up an old gold locket in the garden. Your character is shocked when he opens it up. Why?
Time: 30 mins
Penny was a fun, happy kind of dog with a mind of her own. She would take off on a tour of the vicinity as if the end of the world was right at the door. After a few times trying to keep up, I completely gave up. Neither my legs nor my will could match hers.
She would disappear for hours, but right before dawn, she would always come back, tired, dirty, but pleased about her own private adventures of exploring the neighbors’ gardens and the fields behind our house.
Every now and then, she would bring a trophy back with her. Once, she brought a squirrel. It had been dead for a while and its stench invade the whole house for days. Another time, she brought a black bag filled with old brittle papers. These were love letters to a woman called Carol. They seemed quite personal and I was worried for a while that my dog had taken them from someone’s home. However, no one complained or claimed them, not even after I handed out a few flyers at the local market and at the train station.
Penny never worried at all. She was actually very proud. She most likely considered herself the greatest adventurer and scavenger, a true treasure digger.
As time went on, it became more and more evident that my dog had absolutely no intention of sharing her time away with me. As soon as I opened the door, she would disappear, running in a different direction each time. She seemed to be using those stealth techniques secret agents use to avoid being detected, although she lacked the calm, composed posture of these agents.
One day, she brought back something quite intriguing. It was an old gold locket. It was covered in mud and an excessive amount of saliva. Penny was a “drooler”.
When she entered the house, I thought she had swallowed something. I could see a metal cord hanging from her half open mouth. After a closer look, I realized she had it in her mouth.
It was quite a struggle to convince Penny to drop it. She considered it her property and I could see that, this time, she hadn’t brought a gift.
When I finally managed to salvage the locket, I washed it and cleaned it a bit while my dog sat next to me, on the kitchen floor, gazing at my movements carefully and anxiously.
It was made of gold, or so it seemed. I opened it carefully. I really didn’t want to break it. To my surprise and, I must admit, concern, there was a photo of a woman inside. I slid the photo out of its frame to see it better, trying to shake off the drops of water that had ventured inside the locket. On the back of that photo, was written “Carol”. The first thought that came to my mind was that Penny had invaded a familiar garden, the one where the love letters had come from.
I don’t know what came over me, but I jumped up from the sofa and went outside. Penny was rather confused. It wasn’t her time to go out, but she didn’t complain, so off she trotted, happy with the opportunity offered and, as usual, she disappeared around the corner.
This time, I made a huge effort to keep up with her. Perhaps she would take me to that same house.
She did. When I saw Penny, she was sitting, proudly, inside a garden. The house looked abandoned. The windows were boarded up. And Penny sat by a tree.
As I approached, I couldn’t believe my eyes. She had dug up a hole. Inside the hole was a disarray of bones. A skull had rolled towards a planter, abandoned to its fortune.
The police later told me that the owner of this house was long gone. The wife had disappeared mysteriously and he had always claimed that she, Carol, had gone back to her family up north.
I don’t know, if they ever caught him or not, I really don’t know. But one thing is for sure, now I always try really hard to keep up with Penny and, I must say, I’m getting better and better at doing it!