“RETURN TO ME THAT WHICH IS MINE.”
The force of the stranger’s voice blew Mark back a step. He planted one foot behind him and kept his hand firmly on the doorknob. The bowl of candy he’d set out for the trick-or-treaters toppled to the ground. Miniature chocolate bars spilled everywhere in a colourful mess.
Mark looked the stranger up and down. The face was obscured by a large hood that cast it in shadow, but the voice was masculine. He wore steel armor and a long black cape hung from his shoulders.
“There’s no need to shout. What do you think I have that belongs to you?” Mark asked.
“RETURN IT TO ME.”
The door came off its hinges in Mark’s hand.
“I just had this door repaired, you know.” He frowned at the streaks of egg on the wood. Damn kids.
“GIVE HIM TO ME.”
“Look, man, I don’t steal. I’ve never even snuck anything out on the bottom of a grocery cart. Tell me what you want, or get lost.”
A loud bark shook the foundation of the house. The dog bounded out of the living room, his tail wagging with ferocious happiness. Mark tried to move aside but the massive creature knocked him down and went over him. He greeted the stranger at the door with sloppy kisses. His huge back paws were firmly planted in Mark’s abdomen.
“Ow,” Mark said.
“YOU HAVE TAKEN GOOD CARE OF HIM, AND YOU WILL BE REWARDED,” the stranger said. His voice peeled paint off the walls. Mark didn’t notice until later because he was too busy being in pain.
The dog turned and blinked yellow eyes at him. Mark had picked the mutt up in the park earlier, and at the time he’d had two eyes. There were six now. The dog’s shaggy black head had multiplied. Was that possible?
“I only drank one beer,” Mark wheezed.
The dog shifted and Mark’s bladder made a popping noise. Why was the dog the size of a horse all of a sudden?
“COME, CERBERUS. IT IS TIME TO GO HOME.”
The dog barked three times, all at once. Mark decided he must be drunk after all.
The crushing pain vanished along with the strange dog and his owner. It took Mark some time to get up, and by then he’d witnessed a group of teenagers destroying his jack-o-lanterns. Damn kids.
“I should stop picking up strays,” Mark said.
He picked up his fallen candy bowl to replace it on the table. He scooped a handful of chocolate bars off the floor and started to replace them, but something caught his eyes.
Six gleaming red pomegranate seeds rested at the bottom of the bowl, sparkling with promise.
Holly Geely has been under the influence of fantasy and science fiction since she was very young. She has been shortlisted twice on Mashstories.com. She is a fan of bad puns and bright colours. You can find her on Twitter @hollygeely.