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Food of the Dogs

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            Richard Robertson had previously killed six other women when he joined Jessica Smith as she walked home on a late June evening. Having left the bar just around the corner, she was a little drunk and oblivious to the world around her. He stepped out of his grey Honda Civic and slowly followed behind. He kept back so as not to alarm her. She casually roamed, unaware of the predator skulking in the shadows. She crossed over Richmond  Street, against the light, and made her way into Victoria Park. For 1:48 AM, on an early Tuesday morning, the park seemed dense with people. She laughed when she spotted a couple copulating on one of the benches. She avoided the group of young men congregating against the War Memorial in the centre of the park. An elderly couple smiled at her as she breezed past them on the well-lit path. There was enough commotion that she did not notice the figure all dressed in black, lurking just out of her reach. When she stopped to light a cigarette, he leaned against a tree in the dark. She proceeded on her way, having chucked the pack and lighter back into her purse, unaware that the danger from behind her had disappeared into nothingness. She crossed the park, flicked her smoke onto the street ahead and once again she cut across the light.
            It had been twenty-two months since the first girl had been reported missing. Jessica would be the seventh victim. Each had simply disappeared while walking home in the wee hours of the morning. They vanished without a trace, as if they were plucked up into heaven during some rapture. Not even a hint of them could be found. There were significant commonalities between each young woman. They all worked in a bar and they were heading home after a long shift at work. Each travelled by foot, not car, bus or taxi. Some were drunk, like Jessica. All were more shapely girls, "meaty" if you want to put it that way. They were short and therefore visibly overweight. There is no correlation between the establishments. Each girl was taken from a different community. Robertson randomly picked a place far away from the rest and then once inside, he picked the girl. If no one met his requirements, he would then abandon his intentions for another evening with the hope he would fare better. Often it took weeks, even months, before he discovered someone suitable. If he did find a dupe, he would spend the night at the end of that bar pretending to drink scotch and water. Beneath the bar he would soak up the mix with napkins he had brought with him, hiding the wet mess in the pocket of his dark jacket. He would cleverly discard them on his trips to the bathroom. For the evening, he was a silent but familiar face at the end of the counter. Richard listened carefully to every word his prey would utter. At last call, he would artificially stumble out the door like a drunken fool. This part of the chase was much fun for him.
            Running ahead only helped to locate the perfect spot for him to take her. In her inebraited state, she had led his way. Tonight two buildings would shield him. The three foot crawlspace between them held no special light. He could hide right in front of her face. He was a master of illusion, deflecting his presence. As Jessica approached his web, a red rubber ball bounced from out of nowhere and rolled across the road. It was pure instinct that shifted her attention to the Dog toy as it passed. The slight noise and action drew her around to study the event. She stopped and took a look. The sack flew over her head and he pulled her quickly into the darkness. There was enough chloroform laced in the lining to knock her out in less than fifteen seconds. It didn't matter if it killed her. The hood he had sown together from cubicle insulation fabric effectively soundproofed any vocal reaction until the drug kicked in. Making sure she was out cold, and that the coast was clear, he grabbed the rubber toy and headed back towards his automobile. Just like every other girl, he simply pulled up beside her hidden place, struggled getting her upright and then laid her in the back seat. Although it had never happened, he was well prepared for the illusion of propping up his very drunk girlfriend in an attempt to get her home. He had never been caught in the act. With the ball in one pocket, and the hood removed from her head, he took the most direct route outside of the city. He didn't give anyone a reason to notice him. He didn't speed. He obeyed every law. By the time he reached his home, as with each encounter, he had disappeared into obscurity. 
            The old farm reeked of decline. Its distance from civilization and any urban sprawl made it the perfect accessory to his crimes. The lot laid in ill-repair, quite visibly abandoned to nature. He pulled onto the beaten path that ran from the road into a dense but small forest of heavy and ancient trees. In the daylight, it was almost picturesque. A quaint country lane, passing through the wooded spot, was overrun with vegetation. Any field had lost its purpose to long grasses and weeds and unending fallow. After the camouflage, the strip of dirt diverged. Malingering in silence, off to his right, well beyond the house, was the barn. It had collapsed upon itself years before, the victim of a wild windstorm and a disregarded structure. He pulled left, crept up to in front of a rather ugly carport and stopped. Several very old oak trees littered the yard. Abandoned farm equipment sat rusting out in the back acre. The house was nothing to speak of. It too had been left to the whims of a natural world and a disinterested caretaker. Richard's parents had lived here and they both died here. One could assume that the property and edifices met the same fate. After the storm which destroyed the barn, there was little interest on Richard's part to maintain anything other than what laid inside. The garage fared better than the building it sat beside. Richard got out of his car, walked over and unlocked it. The door raised open and revealed a great empty space. Having returned to the car, he peeked at his captive, still out cold on the back seat, and pulled her inside. He quickly disengaged, left her in trust, and closed it up behind him.
            The dogs had started barking the second he pulled past the trees. Each bark was muffled, sent from a distance, hidden somewhere secret and inside. The large enclosed port was a relic from a different time. It had once housed horses and wagons, Early in the 20th century, a large Amish family had lived on the property. Remnants of their  lifestyle lingered, some had been well maintained while others fell into poor condition. The garage doors and walls had been added by Richard's father in the 1970s, to shield any automobile from the heavy snowstorms that come with Canadian living. The house and port were joined by a makeshift alley, tin pieces sewn together to block the view. He crossed the channel, unbolted the way, and silently slipped into his sanctuary. The barking increased. Inside the place was eerie, like some abandoned nightmare of clutter and ambivalence. The last time it had been sorted or cared for, his mother had done the deed. She died in bed on the second floor, just feet from where his father had passed. With both his limitations deceased, he was free to pursue his inclinations. On weekdays, he journeyed to and from the butcher shop his folks had left him, serving the public with a smile. He was a good employer, a friendly chap, a careful facade to hide his ways. Each weekend, he left business behind him and hunted for the perfect prey. It was a long process, an exact method, and he took his time to ensure completion. Once he was back on his property, he felt safe. He slipped through the dark kitchen, stopped just beneath the stairs and unlocked the basement door, freeing his only friends.  
            The three Dobermans ran past him, eager to release. He followed behind them, eventually opening a back door which led to an enclosed yard. The fence was an unnecessary barrier, all the dogs were well trained. It acted more as insurance rather than prevention. Each dog was faithful to a fault. Caesar, the oldest, never strayed. Nero, the bravest, followed Caesar's lead. Caligula, the youngest, was just glad to get outside. Richard pulled the door closed, leaving his army to run in the dark. Their reward always kept them in line. Their want was a deterrent to bad behaviour or the need to flee. Each knew what was to come. Every time he found them was mere foreplay, a dance just before a feeding. They were safe at play while he worked his ways. Richard headed back towards his victim. Once in the carport, he opened the driver's side rear door and reached in for Jessica. He pulled her out using her armpits, her feet slapping on the dirt floor upon exit. He dragged her through the side door, past the tin wall and into his den. It was one motion for him by this time. Six others had revealed his errors. He was precise, succinct and ready for any incident that might interfere with his duty. At the top of the basement, he let go of one of her arms for but a moment, then switched on the light. The space was close and dank and full of shadow. The light from the room below did little to change the descent. Down thirteen stairs he dragged her. Like a burlap bag of potatoes, her ankles met each step.  Small pieces fell from the limestone walls, each bump, each bang, producing a fair amount of dust and crumble. She was still out cold and she didn't bother to protest this trip. Her dead weight had already been determined. There was no struggle left in her. Richard could not have cared less.
            The large room was sparse. The walls were limestone just like in the stairwell. The place was clean and in order. In the far right corner, the furnace and water tank sat on a concrete square. The floor was hard dirt otherwise. In the opposing corner, a stack of boxes and crates had been placed with care and in specific position. Along one wall was a feeding station. Three bowls for water met three even larger, each empty from the dog's time alone. Across a great space, a fair sized iron and chain link kennel ran ten feet along the length of the room. There are no windows to be found. There were no remnants from three dogs and a day inside. He dragged the damsel across the dirt floor and laid her down just to the side of the kennel door. He clipped it open with a hook, reached back for the girl and forced her into it. At its end, he placed her on the wooden planks and reached up in secret. He pushed against the wall, returned to the girl and like the predator he is, he carted her body into his limestone shop of horror. The light was not engaged. He simply turned and left Jessica on the floor of his dungeon.  He pulled the door closed by a ridge in the wall and he sauntered slowly out of his hole. The best part was yet to come so he headed outside to bring in the dogs.
            When the lights were on, you could tell his abattoir was pristine. A long slab of surgical steel divided it in two. Against the hundred year old outer wall, a large freezer and shelves laced with equipment, gloves and cleaning supplies almost overflowed in their organized state. An old outdoor water pump and catch basin had been joined together for his convenience and sat there in a corner. On the inner side of the flat top rested another large table to the right. It was covered with the tools of the trade.  An open box of latex gloves, some aprons and a minimal amount of sterile gauze could be accessed with only a reach. Numerous knifes, pliers and steel mallets sat waiting. Rib spreaders and a bone saw almost finished the plate. A fairly new meat trimmer sat at the end, plugged into the cord coming out from the wall. To his left, an oversized meat grinder fit snug into the niche while three well-used meat hooks rested downward, hanging there like doom. Oddly enough, a child's small Mr. Turtle swimming pool rested beneath them. This private slaughterhouse was no processing plant. It looked more like any butcher shop would. An enormous roll of plastic wrap hid under the second table. The room sparkled in a polish. Other than the dangling fasteners and fragile walls, it looked like it had never been used. Nothing could be further from the truth. Even as a child, Richard Robertson had brought animals into this death trap. He not only experimented on them, he cut them into pieces, analyzing each organ and body part. His father had discovered the ancient cold cellar back when the additions to the garage were made. Over time, the current state of the room was established as a training centre for our villain to practice his trade. It became his easel and each act his art form, in the most lasting sense of the word. When the basement door opened, the dogs pummeled down the stairs causing a miniature earthquake. Each leap and bound produced a cloud of limestone and the occasional chunk of the stone for good measure. Richard waved it off, then he set each dog in their rightful place and proceeded into the meat works.
            It was like he dressed for the occasion. He carefully draped an apron around his neck, over his black short sleeve shirt, then tied it with little to no trouble. He had done this all before. He slid on the latex gloves with precision. The rubber smacked back when he checked it was snug.  The process was methodical in his mind. He ran through his checklist, pointing to this and that as he went along. When he was ready, he stepped over Jessica and reached down to lift her. The hardest part was getting each girl up onto a hook. Number two and three woke up during the process so from then on he made sure to put back on the laced hood and use one of the hooks to sever the spine. He took his time then rested once each had found a place. Removing the mask, he then slit the throat from side to side, cut both ankles open wide, and then he let them empty into the kiddie pool below. Nothing went to waste. With a few snips here and a few snips there, a very dead Jessica Smith was left naked and hanging like some stuck pig would be. He shined up his equipment and waited for her to drain. She left the world that night quite vacuous and chopped into twenty-four pieces.

            The food from one body lasted around four to six weeks; It could be stretched to two months if the need be. The dogs would eat nothing else. Richard dissected the girl into pieces, in order for a cleaner grind. He would trim off each piece of flesh like he was filleting a young calf or large salmon. He studied every chunk. In the grinder, her humanity was crushed and turned into a chunky texture and the bloodied mess began to take form. When all the meat had been ground, he clipped on the bone shredding attachment. Larger pieces, like the halves of the emptied skull, had to be broken down during this process. Every bone went into the mix. The entire skeleton was almost dust by the time he had finished. He detached the large stainless steel bowl from its hinge, rolled it out and away from the equipment, and with great effort lifted it up onto one end of the silver slab. He submerged both hands into what was left of the girl. He learned quickly to always wear only a short sleeve shirt with his apron, sinking both arms deep past the elbow for a better blend. He had considered using chicken eggs to help bind the marrow with the flesh but he discovered that a fair amount of blood would do the same thing. To this end, the yield looked more like regular hamburger than minced me.
            The sink was old and small but efficient. He washed each arm meticulously, removing each glove as if it was a shrine to his measures. From beneath the second slab he pulled out the finishing touches. Behind the extremely large roll of cellophane, which he thudded down onto the main table, he also retrieved a butcher's scale and a box of Styrofoam plates.  He switched his tools from above with the tools down below and placed each piece on top creating an assembly line of sorts. In one pound portions, the meat went on the scale to which the meat went on a plate. Each plate was set behind him on the centre table to be wrapped all at once. When each pack had found its space in the cold unit, the room was polished once again. The pool was wiped out. He took three individual portions that he had left unwrapped, and he closed up his shop for the night. Before Jessica, the freezer had been empty. A dry spell while searching out perfection. With the box now full, he concentrated on his three companions in the outer room. Tonight the beasts would dine on fresh not frozen.  
            Each of the largest bowls was filled as the dogs sat waiting. He filled the water bowls next. They salivated in puddles on the hard damp floor. He had discovered their joy with the first victim. When a piece fell onto the slaughterhouse floor, the dogs fought over the scrap. It was easier to dispose of the meat this way. The ultimate act of turning everything into shit. He gave up the idea of sprinkling the mix out in the fields for the wildlife to consume. This way kept it controlled, and cleaner. The dogs seemed easier to maintain with such a promise of reward. He thought he was clever. Hiding the remains in the remains was not only a stroke of genius but gave him ample time to study the pieces before grinding. He could take his time, well knowing the proof was easily disposed of. Turning each girl into chow mix was a pursuit much like the chase. It had to be done.
            He was careful, studious and precise. Even the police had difficulty determining anything beyond the obvious. Warning the public, after victim number two, seemed to only inspire the culprit more. Richard knew to be fully aware. He parked away from each bar. He learned names and personal information throughout the night as he hunted. He was always surprised at just how much information a person will give out in the presence of strangers. If he stayed long enough, and pretended to be drunk enough, he was bound to discover the path they took home. Sometimes even an address might be revealed. The girls who fit all the criteria, and who led him with direction, were the chosen few. At last call, he would leave and scout out her way home. He would carefully park his car and wait for the staff to leave. Everything had to be perfect. Everything must be just right. He would call the whole thing off otherwise. Without knowing it, Jessica Smith had given him everything he wanted. She gave him her name and address, a way to catch her, and her body weight in pounds of flesh.

            He abandoned his quest when the storm set in. He needed a girl but he didn't trust that the weather would find him safely home. The last thing he wanted was to be stranded with a captive on the back seat. He left this city and headed out on the long drive that eventually returned him to the farm. The wind and the rain were so vicious that he wished he had chosen to stay in rather than deal with this gale. When the tornado warning came over the radio, he drove much faster than he usually would. When he finally arrived, the storm had grown with intensity. He parked and sheltered his Civic and went immediately into the house.  The rain fell so heavy that the length of the tin wall allowed enough time to soak him from head to toe. He locked the door behind him and went upstairs to change. Caesar, Nero and Caligula all whined from their prison.
            He had gone down into the basement to feed them when the twister hit. Richard was passing out the last potions of Jessica Smith when the stairwell started to crumble. Like the barn before it, the house caved in on itself. The strong winds had blown over a very large but almost dead oak tree that sat twenty feet from the kitchen. It landed squarely on the rear end of the building, the top of the tree crushed through the roof and landed on the basement staircase. A large thud vibrated the room. It was like dominoes after that. The stairwell gave in, then the ceiling started to collapse, and eventually the entire back area, including the kennel, broke apart and tumbled. Richard pulled the dogs into the far corner and rested against the crates and boxes. A consuming cloud of dust filled the space. It was almost an hour before it settled.  Richard rubbed his eyes and peered through the settling detritus. The door to the slaughterhouse was blocked by enormous blocks of limestone. The kennel was matchsticks. The exit up and out was lost to the storm. Richard sat trapped, sealed in his own little shop of horrors. It did not take him long to realize the predicament before him.
            He gathered all the water that the dogs had yet to consume and pooled it in one of the now empty food bowls. The dogs had just been fed so he had some time to figure out his escape. With no windows, no exit and nothing but the useless contents of the room, he could only hope that someone came looking for him. He knew instantly that he was damned if they did and damned if they didn't. The evidence was frozen in the freezer. The way out was buried with him. At first, he tried to move some of the wreckage that was once the stairs. If he moved something, it might clear a crawlspace. He struggled as the hours went by, trying to excavate a path to outside or even into the slaughterhouse. The dogs grew aggravated and anxious. Eventually, they all relieved themselves near the furnace.  Not half a day had passed and Richard gave up the fight. He pulled old blankets out from the crates and resolved himself to his fate. He did not fear. He was not filled with guilt or regret. He didn't panic. He had always known that eventually something had to give. He placed a comforter on the ground for each dog, then took a few for himself and sat against the wall near the boxes.
             On Monday, the legitimate abattoir opened up again for business. Three days later, five days after the tornado, the staff at the butcher shop called the police. It was out of character for Richard not to show up for work. He didn't answer his phone. When the police investigated their concerns, they found the entire back end of his house in collapse. Initially, the only sign of Richard Robertson they found was his grey Honda Civic in the car port, untouched by the tree which landed a mere six feet from it. There were no signs of life. When one of the police officers called out, a faint rumble rose from the demolished structure. You could almost hear dogs barking.
            The closer the removal got to the basement, the louder the beasts within called out. It was over a day before the heaviest slabs of limestone could be cleared away. When a way was finally accomplished, and the final barrier removed, three very feral monsters leapt out of their graves and attacked. The cops had heeded the savage barking and shot  each dead. Caesar, Nero and Caligula should not have departed any other way. With an investigation of the cellar, the truth came in bits and pieces. With scarce amounts of flesh to go by, one could assume it only took a few days for the animals to turn on the butcher. They didn't even wait until he fell asleep.
            They fed, ripping him from limb to limb. It took some time for him to bleed out and he suffered in the most ironic of ways. Little by little, forensics gathered him together. There really wasn't much left to speak of. His bones had been chewed clean, just like the dogs had been taught to do. Someone had been saving an ear which the team found hidden behind the water tank. The bones of his fingers and toes were visibly absent. Other than the broken skeleton, the only part of him that remained was a patchwork of his epidermis, a few chewed on pieces from his head and face. The dogs were working their way up when the first outside noises began. They tore through him, and fed for days. He was fresh meat.
            The secrets men bury will always bury them. Richard Robertson learned this lesson in scrapes and bites. The world was shocked when the truth was discovered. It was easy to determine the victim in the freezer. She was also hidden in the shit. There was no evidence that the six other girls had ever been there. A few weeks into the investigation and the Robertson farm was demolished due to safety concerns. When the rubble was removed, not a trace of the horror was left. The actual butcher shop eventually closed. No one has ever considered purchasing the land on which the Robertson farm once sat. There are tales of things which haunt you . Of howling beasts and grinding meat and three monsters that hunt in the night. They say he roams there too, looking for scraps of his littered flesh, flesh that long ago became food of the dogs.


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Food of the Dogs


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