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Three fantastic stories, between thrillers and horror.SPIKE. What to do with a dog that has the habit of going to dig in the nearby garden? Especially if the neighbor in question is a creepy and sullen spinster. What to do if, by dint of digging, brings to light the hand of a corpse? A decision that Gigi and his dog Spike will be forced to take.CATS. A girl and a child, locked in a cellar. Chained, prisoners of a madman. Rivals, above all. Because only one of them will survive. When the monster returns he will make his choice, who to take away and who will not. The child has always won, he has seen many take away, but that girl scares him. It's too clever, it could be his downfall.PRINCESS. She is twelve years old, lives in a beautiful villa, everyone takes care of her, her life is perfect, but it is not enough. She saw Toby, the son of the driver. She only wants to know him, even if he is not allowed to. When he tries to escape, he will start a destructive chain of events.
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Illusion Short Stories # 7
Original title: Spike
Translated by James Arwell
Original title: Gatti
Translated by Wilo Guitarz
Original title: Principessa
Translated by Talida Mantegna
© 2018 Illusion
© 2018 Stefano Pastor
Graphics: Angela M.
Spike was a special dog and I said it all the time, but nobody really believed me. At least not until…
I was a kid, then, I was ten years old, and Spike had grown up with me. Dad bought him when I was only three, so at that time Spike was no longer so young, at least according to dog age.
I never considered the possibility that one day he would die. However, at ten years certain things seemed impossible.
Spike was special, I have said it, but I haven’t told you how.
Spike was a clever dog. He did not spend his time chasing cats around, he knew their scratches would hurt him.
Like he knew that food served at the table was better than what he found in his bowl.
But Spike particularly liked plums. He swallowed each in full, he sent them down with the kernel and everything.
Have you ever seen anything like that?
All my friends knew him and had fun playing with him. It was funny to see how much they were craving to have him one after another.
If we got caught by my mother, it was tragic. “Unfortunate! Don’t you realize he can be suffocated? Those kernels could puncture his intestine! Never do it again!” Then, one day, Spike tasted a plum from the spinster’s tree and that’s when trouble started.
The spinster was not called so, it’s obvious. She had another name, but everybody called her that. They certainly didn’t say it to her face and there would be no opportunities, since she never talked to anyone.
She was our neighbor and her garden was covered (because she hated children and animals), and we did not have permission to go in there.
But Spike was clever, and he found a way into the garden.
That’s how our story begins. The history. Because this basically, is Spike’s story.
When Spike entered the garden of the spinster, I did not notice. He wasn’t a small dog. One of his ancestors had to be a golden retriever, because Spike looked like them a lot. His size was larger, though, and his hair was not golden, rather prone with stains like a Dalmatian.
At that moment, I didn’t know how he entered, I only saw him inside the garden. I knew we both were in trouble.
It didn’t matter that I was totally innocent, Spike was my responsibility.
He had spotted a plum and he sat in front of it, adoring it. The shrub grew right next to the house, and thus, far from the fence, and it had to be very old, definitely older than me. It was more than three feet tall, but had grown twisted, sacrificed by nearby trees. It had loads of fruits, but they were all out of the reach of Spike.
At least I thought so.
I called and called, but that stupid freak did not even turn to look at me. I asked the spinster to let me in to explain the situation. Without even thinking about it.
When Spike started jumping trying to grasp the lower branches, I was about to turn a little and just scream.
He would have made a mess and the spinster would have noticed it.
I just didn’t want to be punished, so I turned around the fence trying to look for the point through which he passed.
Going through every single plank, convinced that I would find at least one disconnected.
None, there hadn’t been a way to go in. And I started wondering how he passed, as well as what I should do now, if I should try to climb over the fence or not, then I found him right in front of me. As magically as he had crossed to the other side, Spike had been able to return. He still chewed the plums he had stolen, really pleased.
I was also glad that everything was finally resolved, to the point that I did not even scold him. After all, it was over.
Oh, how mistaken I was.
Spike returned to the spinster’s garden practically every day.
She did not notice or at the very least, she never left the house. I don’t know what she did in there all day, I once asked mom and she told me she was sewing for the gentlemen. She also said she was very good, had magical hands, and the outfits she prepared were very sought after. At that moment, I did not understand almost any of that explanation.
Certainly, I had never seen her in the garden. However, given the fact that it was a garden, well-kept, and full of flowers, I concluded that she cleaned it at the times when I was not present. When I was at school maybe or later in the evening. Maybe even at night.
I had to think again, because after a few days the plums really decreased badly, but I did not hear her scream, so she did not notice.
How Spike had succeeded I do not know, but there was almost no more fruit on the tree and many branches had been destroyed.
One afternoon, I personally witnessed an absurd scene.
Yes, absurd. I do not know how else to define it, and you would also think so if only you had known Spike.
I saw Spike attacking the tree.
Yes, it is crazy, it was no more about stealing some plums. I saw him scratching the trunk, trying unnecessarily to bend it, fighting against the already bare branches, tearing them, and then worse, digging into the ground to the bare roots and attempting to bite them.
I was paralyzed, clinging to the edge of the fence, the head just protruding. I had never seen Spike so angry and I was worried he had been affected by some kind of disease.
That was the day, not to mention the time and at that moment when the spinster set foot in the garden.
First of all, for me the plants never had any value, I never understood my mother’s fury when I accidentally broke a jar. It was inconceivable that an adult could give such a great importance to a silly flower. No, I did not understand.
The reaction of the spinster frightened me.
It was not only anger, but despair. She screamed as if they were tearing her up, ripping off her hair, as I had seen it done only in the movies.
She was a dramatic character, that woman, even though I did not know what to say. Her already gray hair gathered at the back of her head, even though she was only forty years old. A masculine and unattractive face, skirts on top of skirts, aprons that reached her feet, and a woolen shawl on her shoulders, which she never left.
They said so much about her in the village. It was said that no man had ever wanted her. There was also some people whispering that she just got involved with one of the ladies who were making fun of her.
Whatever the explanation, she was a lonely woman. She had always been alone and she would remain so.
Her screams also made Spike freeze. The anger with which he had fought against the tree disappeared instantly and he turned around and fled away with his tail between his legs.
The maid threw one stone after another at him, but Spike was too clever and all of them failed to hit him. I found him on my side of the fence. I was happy but I looked away from the woman so as not to make her feel bad.
Flattened against the planks, I did not dare raise my head. The screams and cries continued incessantly, as the threats shouted out in the wind, yet the spinster never approached our garden.
I walked slowly, keeping myself low.
That evening me and Spike had a chat. I explained to him how things were and told him how he was supposed to behave. To this day, I am sure that he understood all my words, even though, in the light of the events that followed, he didn’t listen.
“She is a witch”, I said to my mother, referring to the spinster.
She considered it a joke. “What are you saying? That is the way she is, she is not comfortable with people. But she never bothers anyone.”
Of course, we were the ones at fault, but I persisted in not finding her behavior normal.
From that day, I put Spike on a leash, to make sure he didn’t cause any more trouble. He continued to give me desperate glances, that would make me pity him, but I managed to remain hard.
“You can’t, Spike. You don’t have to go back there ever again.”
He went back that same night.
When I looked up to check before I slept I saw him in the garden next door.
There was a full moon, otherwise I would not have noticed. I was sure I had tied him well to his doghouse, but it certainly was not the case. Plus, my Spike was clever, I told you.
I didn’t even think of going to alert Mom and Dad, the only thought I had was to go and get him back.
In the silence of the night he would have been discovered, I was very sure.
I waited for my parents to retire and then sneak out. I was in my pajamas and I had nothing with me except a rope, I wanted to tie Spike up.
This time I was ruthless and climbed over the fence.
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