A Stranger in the Dark
It wasn't much, a nasty burger and a paper cup of water with the plastic cap removed, but he tried to arrange it on the least filthy part of the alley floor. At this point, anything was better than nothing.
Warily, he peered into the depths where the shadows seemed to cling to the environment. He couldn't quite see it, just glimpses every once in a while. The glint of eyes, the shuffling scraping sounds of a body dragging itself along the ground, the harrowing breaths.
How many times had he come down this alley, and he hadn't noticed until now? Guilt pulled at the corners of his lips. Slowly, he edged away from the offering. He backed up one, two, three meters, and then sat down on the ground. Yewgh. Moisture crept unwelcomingly into his clothing from the concrete floor, and he found himself unable to hold back a grimace of distaste.
The shuffling sounds had seized, and the air was stagnant with expectation. Twin orbs blazed in the shadows, not ghostly in nature, but nonetheless unsettling. Surely, its need to eat would overpower its cautious nature.
Minutes passed, and Danny was starting to get impatient. "Alright. You win. I'm leaving." The disembodied eyes bobbed up at the sudden noise, and claws scraped the rough ground. He made a show of standing to his full height before stalking off and around the corner. Once out of sight he flicked himself out of the visible range stuck his head back around the corner.
The scary one came back today.
It's not much of a surprise. He comes here often enough to hide like I do, but I am better at hiding than he is. He never sees me, but I always see him.
Today was a little different though. His entrance caught me by surprise. I couldn't help the yelp that tore from my maw when he suddenly flew in from the sky in his moonlit form and summoned those terrible light rings.
I think I scared him too, because he whipped around so fast that he stumbled and fell. He chittered and grumbled in that odd way that the tall ones do, then looked in my direction. Trills of fear passed through me in waves, and I could feel my hackles rise despite myself.
The normal tall ones are hateful to begin with, but this one is on a whole other level. Fear and death follow him like a plague. Even the other tall ones don't like him, hence his need to hide in my alley. I willed him to leave with all my might, but it was too late. He'd seen me.
Slowly, he began stalking towards me. His front legs were extended, and he chatted with small, quick barks. His teeth flashed in the moon light. I was stock frozen. 'Please,' I begged him, 'Please leave.' He paid my prayers no heed and continued his march towards me.
I was beside myself with fear, so I let out a warning growl. 'Get any closer and you'll be sorry.' At this, he cocked his head and chittered some more. He hunched his form and crouched onto his haunches. He slapped the ground in a manner that I can only assume was reminiscent of territorialism and reached for my face.
'NO!' I snapped at his hand. I know I did, but my teeth made no purchase. Perhaps I was too hungry, too drunk off of famine and disease. I couldn't challenge him, not properly, not in my state. But this place, this place is mine, mine, mine. I found it. It's safe for me here. I need here.
The scary tall one withdrew with some discontented grumbling. It was only a moment later that it left. I did it! I, a loser, a failure, and a mess, had defended my territory! From not just anyone, too. I defended myself against the scariest one.
Or, so I thought. It didn't take long for him to reappear. And this time, he was packing a devious trick. It carried a package that smelled wonderfully of food. Saliva gathered at the corners of my lips, and my stomach made treacherous hunger noises, noises that did not go unnoticed by the tall one.
The tall one kept his distance this time, thank the heavens, but began arranging the food on the ground. He even had what looked like water. Not the dirty corner water that I had been drinking, but the water that the tall ones drink. Pure, clean, healthy. The temptations were great, but I was a practiced veteran of starvation. It would not trick me into leaving my hiding place for only some food.
Then, it did the unthinkable. It stood up, stretched, yawned nonchalantly, and took loud, purposeful steps out of and around the corner of the alley. The food was left as it was, tantalizingly free of his oppressive presence.
Danny silently and invisibly observed the scene from beyond the turn of the alleyway. The city around him bustled with activity, but here the silence was deafening. The eyes blinked and warily scanned the environment.
Please, come out and take the food, Danny inwardly pleaded. Please. I know it's not enough, but it's all I can do for now.
A snort rang out, echoing off of the discarded cartons and wood pallets lining the walls. The sound was so loud and contrasting, that Danny felt himself start a little. Some snuffling and the distinct sound of a body dragging itself into an upright position followed by some whimpering painted a perfect symphony of abandonment. Danny felt like his heart might implode on itself.
A dark snout poked out from the shadow, followed by a neck that was so thin that Danny could easily pick out the corded muscle and tension lines. The muted scraping sound didn't cease, and to Danny's dismay he could make out the shape of leg being dragged. Bile threatened to rise at the sight; anger, slow and burning, began to build in the pit of his stomach.
I've been so caught up in defeating ghosts and keeping my identity safe that I didn't even notice this until now. Danny sucked in a breath and calmed himself. Feeling guilty now won't help the situation, he reminded himself. I just need to help now.
It was a painstakingly slow process, but the beast somehow managed to limp its way to the food before collapsing on itself. Strained breathing grated between its chops. It seemed like forever before it actually found the strength to eat.
Two greedy bites cleared the burger from its paper place mat. Danny let out a breath he didn't even know he was holding, grateful that the animal had accepted the offering.
Pulling away from the scene, Danny let go of his invisibility and whipped out his phone. If anyone would know what to do, it would be Sam. Normally, calling her would make him jitter with excitement, but now in the light of something so mortally cruel, he felt more than sober.
"Manson residence. How may I help you today?"
"Hi Walter, it's me."
"Ah. Young master Fenton is it? I take it you would like to talk to the young lady of the house."
He could hear him trudge through the house and knock on Sam's bedroom door. Danny smirked a little as he heard Sam heatedly take the phone.
"If you're calling to tell me you're dead in a ditch, I am not going to help you."
"Gee Sam, thanks for the vote of confidence. Wow! I can feel my self-esteem really blooming."
"Yeah, whatever glow stick. What's got your panties in a twist?"
"Well, for your information, I happen to not be dead in a ditch. I just happen to be half-dead in an alleyway thank you very much." He paused as he heard a snort at his joke. "Actually, I'm calling you because I found a dog."
"A dog! Danny, I think I know where this is going… and the answer is no. My life is already difficult enough with my parents freaking out about ghosts. There's no way they're going to take in a stray."
"I know. I know. I just need some advice. It's injured and probably sick too."
"Oh gosh, Danny, what are you getting us into?"
"Probably something stupid and irresponsible. You in?"
He heard a sigh and some grumbling that sounded suspiciously like promises of violence. "Okay. But you owe me, Danny."
He chuckled. "When have I ever not."
"So, what's your plan."
"Well… it's pretty skittish. Bit at me when I got close to it. Would've lost some fingers if I hadn't gone intangible…"
"Oh goody. I can already hear my parents ripping me a new one."
"Well, do you have any parts of your house your parents don't go to?"
"You want to hide a sick, probably violent animal in my house."
"I thought you'd never ask." Danny inwardly beamed. For all her prickliness, Sam was always unconditionally kind hearted when it came to animals. No matter the hurtle, Sam would mercilessly and tenaciously tackle the problem. "So, are you going to airlift it over here?"
Danny sighed. Flying the dog over there would not be a pleasant experience, but it did seem like the most conceivable option. "Yeah. It might take me a little bit though. I don't want to give the poor thing a heart attack, so I'm going to take it slow."
"Okay. Be careful Danny. You can fly it over to my backyard. I'll be watching from my bedroom window, but just in case I don't immediately notice you, please don't throw rocks at my window like some kind of idiot. Those things make a lot of noise and scratch the glass."
"Yes, mom." He hung up the phone and took another peek around the corner of the alley. The dog was asleep, curled up with the paper wrapper of the burger underneath its chin. He felt guilt and pity churn uncomfortably in his stomach. How long had it gone without food?
Crouching behind a dumpster out of sight from both the street and the dog, he changed back to Phantom. Invisibly, he hovered back to where the dog was asleep. It would look peaceful if it weren't so heart wrenching.
Over half of its hair was missing and its skin was caked in filth and scabs. Its bad leg lay at an odd angle. If the sight of it alone wasn't bad enough, the smell that accompanied it was sickening.
He let go of his invisibility and sat (hovered?) next to the dog. He slowly pressed his body next to it, hoping beyond hope that the dog wouldn't absolutely freak out at being touched by a stranger. When the dog made no move, he gently settled a hand at the crown of the dogs head. He sucked in a breath, momentarily scared at losing the moment when the dog woke up.
If he was going to carry the dog somewhere, he needed it to be okay with him touching it. Get a grip, Fenton. You fight terrifying things every day. You can handle one stray dog.
Gathering his courage, he gradually began to run his fingers across the dogs scalp. His fingers circled in what he hoped was a therapeutic pattern as he whispered comforting words.
The first sign that the dog was waking up was the shivering. It entire body began to shake underneath his touch. Danny frowned. It isn't cold out. Why is it – Oh god it's whimpering. Slow, high pitched whimpers broke the silence.
"Shhh shhh shhh. It's okay. I promise." But it wasn't okay. What on earth had happened to this dog that it was this afraid of people? At least it wasn't attacking him anymore though. At least with this reaction, he could still interact with the dog.
He felt all of the muscles in its body tighten as its body began to quake more furiously.
I have made a terrible mistake. I couldn't help myself. I should not have eaten the tall one's food. Now it is angry with me.
It came back when I was asleep. So foolish! I should not have done any of that. So naïve! Please, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to do it. Whining, sniveling. I'm less than garbage. Please, just let me be.
But the tall one did not make any moves to leave. It wrapped one of its strong, grasping legs around me. Trapped! I felt another pressure start to press into my underside. What? I'm pressed to the ground, how did it...?
I risked a glance. The tall one was in its moonlit form; its eyes never looking away from me. The monster had slipped its other grasping leg through the floor and underneath me! How am I supposed to get away from a creature such as this!?
Panic caused my cries to turn into shrieks of terror. What is it going to do to me!? Please! I've done nothing wrong! Please!
I could feel the ground start to leave me as the foreign feeling of being carried by the world's most terrifyingly cruel animal made my stomach do flips. I was frozen. Even cries were near impossible to muster as each one died in my throat. Death. This creature reeks of death. Not rot. Not decomposing bodies, but death in its purest form.
It didn't immediately try to hurt me. Instead, it swung my front end over its hackle and shoulder, chatting breathily the entire while, and positioned its legs supportively beneath my rear and on my back. It wasn't… uncomfortable… but definitely confusing. What is it doing? The fear of not knowing threw my body into even more uncontrollable shivering.
I felt its paw on my back begin to rhythmically rub circles into my skin. The sound of its chittering supplied a constant backdrop for my loudly beating heart. I began to entertain the thought of it not actually being that scary.
Silly. Silly me. I must be really out of it. This thing will certainly hurt me without a second thought. But for now, this is… this is nice. Maybe, for now, deluding myself isn't such a bad thing. I know I'm sick. I know that I'm not really in the best state of mind, but I'm finding it more and more difficult to care.
It's nice to be off of the alley floor for once. I hadn't noticed it before, but the alley floor is disgusting and sticky. Not to mention that the tall one's consistent motion and noise was irritatingly comforting. Perhaps I've finally gone insane. Trusting one of his sort is not on my list of sane things to do, but at least it's comfortable for the moment.
I could already feel the tension leaving my body. It was slow, but definitely happening. Whatever this creature wanted, hopefully it involved holding me long enough to allow me a quick nap. I wanted so badly to sleep. Heavens, I need sleep.
I finally stopped fighting it and allowed myself the luxury of sleeping in its arms.
A sigh passed Danny's lips. Finally, finally the dog had fallen asleep. Its meager weight sat firmly on his shoulder, and its head lolled into the crook of his neck. Its skin felt disturbingly rough and exposed against his, and Danny had to remind himself that he would not hunt down and murder the person responsible for this.
"I'm sorry I never saw you," he whispered. "We'll make it better, okay?" And with that promise, he took to the air.
Wow. I am too old to be reading fanfiction let alone writing it. Anyway, here is my first ever fanfiction submission! Ta Da! Does anyone even read the new submissions on this old as hell fandom? Probably not. Oh well. I had fun anyway. Please review! I'll read it, I promise :) Hey! And if people seem to like it, I'll probably even write the next chapters.