Like Cats And Dogs – Episode 27

Craig drove them home, but only after getting Imogen’s phone number and arranging to come to Little Dishforth again the following weekend. He was elated as he drove.

“She’s great! I can’t believe she’s not already spoken for. If I’d been you and spending all that time with her, Tim –”

“Thanks,” Cally put in with sarcasm from the back seat.

Craig met her eyes in the rear-view mirror.

“Sorry, I didn’t mean . . . I forgot.”

“Yeah, there’s a lot of that around just now,” she said sharply.

Tim felt her eyes boring into the back of his head and grimaced sideways at Craig. He knew he’d offended Cally in the pub, but Jack and Gavin had only stopped for a minute to tell him about Gavin’s new car. Gavin had had his eye on it when he’d been working at the kennels.

Back then, Tim had mentioned that one of his Army mates had one, so naturally Gavin had quizzed him about it. Now that Gavin had actually bought it, Tim had been interested to hear how he was finding it.

It was what he’d thought of as bloke talk, and it hadn’t crossed his mind to draw Cally into it, assuming she’d be bored rigid.

The rest of the journey to his place passed in a slightly tense silence.

It was because it was so quiet in the car that they were aware of the noise as they neared the Retreat. The sound of barking filled the evening, growing ever louder as they approached.

“What the –?”

“What a racket! Is it always like this?” Craig asked, pulling up on the drive.

Tim was already unclipping his seat belt and manoeuvring out of the car.

“No way. There’s something wrong.” In irritation he glanced up at the dark security lights. He should have mentioned to Gavin that they had blown just last night.

The yard was dark, but by the dim lights lining the roof of the dog pens, he could see a couple of animals running free inside the nearest wire run.

He tugged his keys out of his pocket.

“There are torches in the office!” he shouted to Craig. “The shelf by the door. Can you get them?” He threw him the bunch of keys, but it was Cally who caught them.

“I’ll get them. Craig, you go with Tim.”

“Wait, I’ll shine the car lights over that way,” Craig said, starting the engine again and turning the car slightly so that the headlights blazed over the wire enclosure.

Both men saw it at the same moment: a shadow darting across the beam of light.

“There’s someone there! Hey!” Tim yelled, and set off at a run, but he’d only gone a few paces before Craig streaked past him after the figure.

“Be careful!” Cally shouted, running up with a sturdy metal torch in each hand. She gave one to Tim, who’d had to stop as pain seared through his leg.

“Can you see anything, Cally?”

Both swung their torches in a wide arc, and the bright beam from Tim’s fell on Craig’s returning figure. He was puffing hard and bent over, hands on knees, to catch his breath.

“He’s gone.” He gasped. “A kid, I think. Seemed too small for a man. I think he was on his own. I didn’t see anyone else, did you? But the way he got away from me, I reckon he had a bike.”

The barking was still deafening. Tim went to the gate into the run and found the bolt had been prised out of the woodwork, leaving it splintered.

“That’ll need replacing,” he muttered distractedly.

He eased the gate open and squeezed through, careful not to let one of the loose dogs wandering about on the other side escape. He flicked a light switch and the run was flooded with bright white light.

Alan Spink

Alan is a member of the “Friend” Fiction Team. He enjoys working closely with writers and being part of the creative process, which sees storytelling ideas come to fruition. A keen reader, he also writes fiction and enjoys watching football and movies in his spare time. His one tip to new writers is “write from your imagination”.