Author’s Note: Originally created for the Fantasy-Faction March 2017 Writing Contest.
Our name is Cerberus. Guardian of Tartarus, Hound of Hades, Devourer of Souls. We are three heads become one, three minds in perfect co-ordination and design. Three mouths to tear and bite, three noses to smell and sniff, six eyes to watch and wait. We are the strongest among the Demons of Tartarus and the very earth shakes at our roar.
And we are a very Good Dog.
Our day begins when Favourite Human awakes. Who is Favourite Human, you may ask? Favourite Human is the best human in the entire world. Except Master Hades. But Master Hades isn’t a human. And he never takes us to fetch sticks. But his belly rubs are so much better.That is true. His belly rubs are the best.
As I was saying, Favourite Human was gifted to us by Master Hades, as he was too busy to take care of us anymore. She is the bestest human in the entire world because she is our human. And that makes her the best. Even if she doesn’t let us sleep on the bed anymore, because we’re ‘shedding’.
We felt this was evidently unfair, but no amount of whimpering or puppy-dog eyes would persuade her. And we had six puppy dog eyes! That was a lot! Besides, what even is ‘shedding’ anyway?
I think it’s when we shake fur everywhere.
But we do that because we love her!
And because it’s too hot.
But also love!
It is too hot though. And I can’t help but think- OHMIGOSH IS THAT A BUG?!
“Okay, boys…” A weary sounded groan could be heard as the bedroom door creaked open. “What’s all the barking about?”
IT’S FAVOURITE HUMAN!
QUICK! PLAY CALM!
I LOVE YOU SO MUCH FAVOURITE HUMAN!
“Who-hoah!” Favourite Human laughs as we smother her with licks and kisses. “You three are in an excitable mood this morning, huh?” She’s rubbing my head! This is the greatest day of my life! “Who’s a good boy? Who’s a good boy?”
GASP! She’s asking who is a good boy?
We must find out who it is immediately!
Maybe it’s one of us!
Favourite Human reached down and rubbed us across the belly. “That’s right! You’re a good boy! You are!”
OHMIGOSH IT WAS US ALL ALONG!
HOW DOES SHE KNOW THESE THINGS?!
SHE IS SO SMART!
“Okay boys, just give me a few minutes to get changed and then we’ll go for walkies, okay?” Favourite Human said, cutting off the belly rub frighteningly short.
We solemnly watched as she broke away from us and headed towards the Terror Room of Pain Suffering, also known as the ‘bath’ room. We were not allowed in there ever since we savaged the toilet paper holder. And because Favourite Human didn’t like us drinking out of the water bowl there. And because we ate one of her tampons and Favourite Human had to take us to the vet to get it surgically removed.
We spent weeks in the cone(s) of shame for that one.
Anyway, as Favourite Human shut the door behind, we curled up into our corner bed, alone and with our bellies frightfully under-tickled.
I told you Master Hades did better belly rubs.
But she said she’ll make it up for us by taking us walkies!
There is no substitute for good belly rubs. Not even walkies can fill that void.
What about treats?
Treats are good.
Treats could maybe fill that void. But I still maintain that a well-maintain belly rub supply is more important than anything that could- OHMIGOSH THE BUG IS BACK!!
Letting out a roar of challenge, we leaped as one towards the foul creature, intending to crush it with all of our great demonic might.
We then immediately ran straight into a wall. That bug was more crafty than we gave it credit for…
20 minutes later and we were bouncing happily down the city streets on our leash. Favourite Human was jogging a short way behind us, like she normally did. She had in her ear one of those noisy music things with wires that we’re theoretically not supposed to eat. She occasionally nodded her head in time with the sounds.
It was still very early in the morning, so not many other humans were outside today. This was both good and bad because some humans were willing to give us headpats and treats because they were amazing humans. But some smaller humans would pull on our fur and then Favourite Human would get mad at us when we barked at them and then we got sent to bed early without dinner.
It was a grave miscarriage of justice.
Still, we sometimes missed the company of other humans. Some of them had dogs like us, minus the whole three heads thing. But those dogs always got frightened whenever we approached. We had no idea why. Maybe it was because we peed sulphur?
I didn’t like those other dogs anyway. They might try to steal Favourite Human.
But Favourite Human is our human! They have their own humans!
Other humans with dogs sometimes bring toys though.
Toys are great.
Toys are the best. We should get Favourite Human to play with our tugrope when we get back home.
What about fetch, though?
Fetch is also the best. But you guys always get in the way when I try to catch the ball.
That’s because you don’t catch it as well as I do.
Now now, no arguments you two. We can take it in turns during fetch to-
“Huh?” Favourite Human said, peering at a nearby tree. “Is that a squirrel up there?”
SQUIRREL?! WHERE?! GET THE SQUIRREL?! I DON’T SEE IT! THE SQUIRREL IS TOO CRAFTY! GET THE SQUIRREL! BARK AT IT, QUICK! SQUIRRREEEEEELLLLLLL!
Favourite Human chuckled as she watched us barrel off towards the tree, barking wildly at our most deadly of foes.
“Gets them every time.”
A few minutes later and our walkies were nearly over. As a shortcut, Favourite Human led us down a secluded alley that led near to our house. There were a few scorch marks on the wall from where we last marked our territory. We were about to sprint away so we could get to our front door first when we suddenly smelt something.
I don’t know this human.
He smells of blood and death.
I don’t like this human.
He might hurt Favourite Human.
Stay back until Favourite Human tells us to move.
We came to a slow halt as all three of our heads let out a deep growl. Favourite Human came to a stop beside us, confused as to our warning. A noise sounded from further up the alley. Favourite Human looked up and let out a small gasp. We could hear her heartbeat increase.
The Other Human stepped into our path, brandishing a switchblade.
“Okay, lady.” He licked his lips. “Give me your phone and whatever valuables you’ve got on or else I might stick you and your dog with a few new holes.”
“Please, I don’t know who you are…” Favourite Human said, raising a hand to halt him. “…but just walk away. Nobody here needs to get hurt.”
“Didn’t you hear what I said?” Other Human snarled, flecks of spittle spraying onto the ground. Our growling increased in pitch and volume. We did not like this man. “And shut your dog up!”
“This is your last chance.” Favourite Human said. “Seriously, step away now.”
“Dumb bitch.” Other Human stumbled forward, reaching for Favourite Human. “If you won’t give it to me, then-“
“Cerberus.” Favourite Human said. We stood to attention. “Sic ‘em.”
That was what we had been waiting for.
Dark energy poured into our bones as we felt ourselves growing larger and larger. The magical veil that concealed our appearance to the mortal realm dropped away, allowing our true form to be viewed. Our growling grew louder and darker as we braced ourselves to pounce.
The Other Human turned pale. He stepped back, shaking. “Wha-What the hell is that?! M-Monster!!”
How rude. We aren’t a monster.
We are a very Good Dog.