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Books by Quantum Muse contributors and friends.
Outrunning the Storm

Michele Dutcher
The Tooth Fairy War and Other Tales

Jeromy Henry
The Dreaming Fire

Jeromy Henry
A Fisherman's Guide to Bottomdwellers

Michele Dutcher

The smell of Death…

by Sergio PALUMBO

998  words


The  Smell  of Death…


by Sergio ‘ente per ente’ PALUMBO

edited by Michele 'bottomdweller' DUTCHER


Smell  of  rain. Smell  of  trees…

I  go  down the slope, breathlessly, following  my  Master. The ground  under  me  is  very  slippery, full of  autumn  leaves, and  some  pointed  rocks  abound  hither  and  thither…

Running, running…

My  wet nose  is  acquainted with the surroundings. I  sense  the  many  different  woods, my tongue cools  down  in  the air, I  feel  the  smells  coming  from  our  pack/group: Jake’s  odour, the  one  of  his  old  Master, Harry ( his  trousers, his  waxed  jacket, the  barrel  of  his gun, his shoes covered  in mud), and my own Master’s (Frank) well known aroma, his typical skin in the rain, his  leather  clothing and headgear.

Then, Harry and  Frank  immediately stop. Jake stops too, staying  near his  Master.  The  nose game of the day is going to start

Frank looks at me  with his blue eyes, his  little nose  is so different  from  mine  that  our kind  hardly  could call it a real nose.  Both  his  young  hands pat on the shaded sable furry pelt of my  elongated head.

Good boy,Max” Frank says, his  words  coming  to me  as strange sounds, but  I  can  interpret them perfectly  after so many  years  of co- existence  within  human  premises. And then  his clear  pupils are special, I need  only to  stare at them  to  comprehend  everything at  once. It’s  an  unusual  ability, no  other man possesses as far as I  know. He  may convince  me thanks to the power of a glance: this is why he is so famous  as  a  dog trainer all  around. “Now  I  count  on  you: find the  ball! Good  boy!”  and  then  he  gives me  the sign. On  his mark  I  begin running.

Jake  hurries,too, after  me…

We  run, and run, and run.

Past  the trees, after  the  potholes on the  path, I   know exactly  where I  am  to go…Jake is following  me, his sense of smell is very good too, but not as good as mine: he knows  that I’ll get to the spot where the ball has  been  hidden because I can sense  it in a way he can’t, but he is well  aware he can beat me only by working the field  faster than  I  do  when on site…

But, while going  away  from him, I  begin  perceiving  another  weird smell, something  I  had  already  sensed  before….Oh, my!It’s  that  stench

Other  than  Frank, I  possess  a  special  ability, too. My olfaction is special, more augmented than common  dogs’ sense of smell. I  know  something  is going to  happen,I am  sure that it  will  occur soon ! I  turn  my  head  to  the  left  and  to the right, both  eyes  stumble on my grey and white fellow, Jake, approaching: It’s him!

What  could  I  do? How  could I warn  him? Anyway, how  could  I  prevent  all  that  from  occurring only  in a few  seconds from now…? I  look  at Jake and  Jake looks  at  me  in  return: he  goes a few steps forward, then back, trying  to  figure  out  why  I  stay  and  don’t run anymore. I  put my brown eyes on him, in silence, the  smell  coming  from his  pelt  becoming stronger and stronger  minute after  minute…It’s near, it’s now! Jake  puts  his rear  extremities  into a  bad  place, very slippery, his  front  paws  lose their grip and begin falling  down  the slope, very  fast. An  unstoppable  tumble. He  barks, cries  out, he  flails, but  everything  he does  can’t  thwart  what’s going  on…

In the end  there is  a  plonk, the cries cease.

Jake’s  head  has  hit  a  big  rock  at the bottom of the slope, he  does  breath  no  more.His Master arrives,looking  for  the  dog  fallen, and  says “Damn’!”

And  then the man  curses the wind.

My Master, too, swears, looking  at me  and  patting  on my  head  in a reassuring  gesture.

But Jake  is dead. That  kind  of  smell can  never  be  mistaken, nor forgotten. This rainy  day, too. 


One  month  later, I  sit  near  my Master’s  armchair  in the  living  room, my  four  paws laid on the cold floor. It’s  late evening  and  Frank  is  watching  TV. I look  at him  and  his  quiet  face  reassures  me: in a  matter  of minutes  he will  stand up, going  to  the potting shed in the garden  to attend  his  usual  businness,after  which  he  will  be  in the kitchen  to  make  dinner for  both  of us.

As  he  steps  out  of  the  living room, I  surge  forward, raise  my head, open  my maws  and  wait in silence. I  religiously  keep  following with my eyes my  Master’s  feet  walking away:only  on  his  mark  I’ll  go  after  him.

But, unexpectedly, something happens: I sense again that smell, that  stench: I  run out, go  to  the shed outside and  look  at  it  very worried.

In silence  I enter  the  wooden  outbuilding  and  find  my  Master  at work on  his  hunting  gun: Frank  is  cleaning  it  for the next  day  of hunting  in the wilderness, again.

I  sense  that  smell, another time,  stronger  and stronger: I know that it’s the smell of  death!

I  bark, I  yelp, trying  to  make  him  look  at  me, to  stop  what  he is  presently  doing. But the  Master  looks  at me in return, smiling, nothing  else.

Then  the shot  is inadvertently fired…An  accident, a  damn accident, the  bullet  is  thrown  out  of the gun barrel and violently  hits the man  working  on it!

The smell  of blood, the smell  of gunpowder, the  smell of meat.

The  smell  of death, again!

I  whine, I  run  about, I  try  to  call  to  anyone.

But  there  is nothing  I can do.

If  I  only  were capable  I  would  cry, shedding all my tears on the ground, desperate over  the  sad  death  of  my  Master.

But  I can’t  cry.

Dogs  may  only  mourn  alone.



2013-05-08 06:45:19
micheledutcher - I also like the perspective from the dog's viewpoint. It's a little magical with the smell of death detail - but it would be sad to be mourning alone for the leader of the pack. Nicely done!

2013-05-06 01:54:21
Snowy - I love the fact that the story is told from a dog's point of view and it is done well considering the language used here. I especally love the last sentence in the piece. It very much describes the inside of a dog's head-a loyal dog. You certainly presented the unseen.

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Books by Quantum Muse contributors and friends.
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