He drank in the cool morning air floating about him. Rays of early sunlight tipped over the top of the houses. Just ahead, there was a crash and a yelp, followed by several menacing barks. Jacob crouched instinctively, and cautiously made his way towards the sounds.
In the narrow space between two houses, a large black dog with bristly hair snarled at a smaller dog with pointed ears, a black face, and a white chest. Its posture suggested it was protecting something behind it. Looking closer, Jacob saw that one of the smaller dog’s front paws was bleeding. There was a fierce look in its black eyes.
“Hey!” called Jacob, and the large black dog turned to face him. Its face was angled and mean, teeth stained and eyes mad. Jacob realised too late that when it straightened up, its head came nearly to his shoulder. He patted himself, searching for the knife he usually carried, but it wasn’t there. He caught sight of a heavy metal pole, about a meter from his hand. As soon as his eyes flicked to it, the large dog lunged.
Jacob dove, fingers wrapping around the pole just in time to take a powerful swing at the lunging dog. It connected with the dog’s flank, knocking it off balance–the dog squared itself to Jacob and snarled. Crap.
Just as Jacob was preparing to take another swing, the smaller dog took a flying leap and bit deeply into the black dog’s shoulder. It spun and the two animals were a blur of fur and teeth, a whirlwind of barks and snarls.
They broke apart, and the black dog lunged for whatever it was that the smaller dog had been protecting. Not thinking, Jacob leapt between them, the pole coming down on the larger dog’s head with a dull crack. The black dog slumped, unconscious. Jacob turned to face the smaller dog, but it growled at him distrustfully.
Jacob backed away slowly, dropping the pole. He nudged the black dog with his foot, and looked to the fierce little fighter. It cocked its head and took a step. Behind it was a fresh duck carcass.
“Ah, protecting your dinner, boy?” Jacob coaxed. There’s more than enough meat on that duck for a stew, Jacob couldn’t help but thinking. But he didn’t have the heart to fight the little dog for it. He backed out of the alley.
He was turning the corner when he heard a rustle behind him. There was the little black-faced dog, limping along with its duck in its mouth. It perked up when it saw him looking and its tail twitched.
The shadow of a smile curled Jacob’s lips.
“C’mon, boy,” he whistled.
The dog’s tail waggled even more at this, and it limped along behind him all the way to his house.
Jacob stopped at the top of the porch stairs and held open the door. The little dog hesitated, its brow furrowing.
“In you go!” Jacob said with the wave of his hand. But the dog flinched and dropped its duck, skittering off into a scraggly bush.
Jacob pursed his lips. “All right, be that way.” He snatched up the duck and took it inside.
Jacob set aside some meat and offal for the dog, and once the stew was simmering over the camp stove, he ventured outside to find his little provider.
“Here, boy,” he whistled. “Dinner time!”
A small black face and two pointy black ears appeared in the hedge. The little dog limped out on its bloodied front paw, edging its way over to Jacob and the tantalising bowl of food.
As it tucked in, Jacob examined its wound. A few near-bites and suspicious growls later, the paw was wrapped up and the pup was allowing Jacob to scratch its ears.
“What’s your name, little hero?” Jacob asked it softly. It was so small and brave, and had that kind of face that looked like it was smiling at a secret. “Small and tough, and it looks like you’re wearing a uniform… you look like a Napoleon.”
Jacob paused. “Napoleon?” he tried.
The pup perked his ears. Jacob smiled.
“Napoleon it is, then.”
No animals were harmed in the making of this piece! Let me know what you think in the comments. Thank you for your continued support, dear readers!