A Samhain* tale
“Look at me. Just L O O K at me!” said the Dog to the Master.
Take a good look.”
The Master had not heard the Dog speak before. The voice was fierce and laden with anger, resonating in his head. The dog’s eyes – what was there to see of them – were glinting in the darkness of his own mind. The misshapen form was shaking, trembling, vibrating with emotion. The Master was terrified. He was alone. A cold grey wilderness in his brain, just himself and this monster. This was his dog no more. It was a monstrous beast, huge, dark, angry, threatening, wild.
“My Ancestors come to me in dreams” said the Dog.
“They are running in forests, hunting, frolicking in fields, chasing bisons, playing with bears, roaming the Earth and the skies, sleeping in the snow under the moonlight, wearing the stars, gleaming in the sunshine, swimming in the Milky Way. They are magnificent, Master.
They are the greatest dogs that ever lived.
They are barking, howling, calling me home.
But what am I?
Do I look like a dog?
None of my ancestors looked like me.
When I saw them, I realized.
I don’t look like a dog.
I look like a freak.
I’m a freak!
I looked at them, then I looked at myself.
I was afraid. I cried in my sleep. I was shivering with fear.
My mother came to me then.
You thought I was sick, you phoned the vet. I heard you. You said to the Mistress, “the bloody mutt’s sick again. It’s costing us a fortune. We’d better put him out to stud soon, we’re not a charity; he’s old enough now, has to earn his keep, make us some money”. “We have to have him operated” she said. “His eyes are bad, they’re hurting him”. “I can’t have him operated and you know it! Bloody regulations! If I do I can’t show him anymore and if I can’t show him there’s no chance of stud fees!”
My mother had been crying when she came to me in a dream.
She was sad because I was scared. She was crying, as she couldn’t protect me.
“You’re all grown up, little one” she said.
“You’re ready to see the past, learn who you really are.
You will not always be like now. When you cross over, you will join us. Over here, we look like we truly are beneath the surface. Like our ancestors. This is your heritage, too.
Something terrible happened to us. But that’s not how we used to be.
You need to be strong, my precious son.
You need to be brave, like your ancestors.
You will be like them again, soon, I promise, my beloved. The world you live in is not all there is. The present is not everything there is to know. You need to learn your past, to understand the future. To value yourself, to love yourself, like I love you. Like we all love you, from here. You are not alone, in all eternity. You are a part of us.
So you need to know, and take strength in the truth of who you are”.
“She let me see her thoughts, feel her memories.
She was mated to one freak after the other, she was nursing puppies all the time. Her Master lived in a big palace. He sold a lot of puppies. He was rich. But the money was never enough for him. He wanted more. And he loved showing off. He had a huge room full of trophies. “I have the best ugly motherfucking dogs in the world” he’d say. “My studs are so great, I have people flocking at my gates to use them. They’re paying fortunes for one of my puppies and all my litters are sold out before they’re born. I need to build another wing to put all my trophies, and I can afford it, thanks to my goddamn dogs!”
All freaks, like me.
I look just like my father.
Big ugly brute that he was. Soft and sad and miserable inside.
He suffered just like I am. Like my mother did.
He’s long dead. But I know he was a famous stud dog. He had a much sought-after pedigree, as people say; he sired many many litters of puppies. My brothers and sisters made loads of money for this man.
I know you hope that I will make some money for you one day too. To pay for all these vet bills, the money I cost you.
I don’t know if I’ll live that long.
But I don’t want to sire puppies that will look like me.
I hate the way I am.
Long time ago, maybe thirty, forty human years, our ancestors didn’t look like we do now.
I saw them. I saw them in my dreams.
They were beautiful.
They had beautiful eyes.
Why did you do it ?
Why did you make us look like this ?
Look at me.
I don’t hate you.
Don’t be afraid, Master.
I’d never hurt you.
The brave ones never hurt the weak.
But I hate what you’ve done to me, to us.
I hate what I’ve become.
I hate what you’ve taken away for me, from my brothers and sisters.
When I was a puppy, I didn’t know this was my fate.
That I could never escape this body.
That I wouldn’t be able to run and play like other dogs. Like my ancestors did.
I’m jealous of the mutts in the streets.
They look so fine.
They look like dogs.
I saw some great looking dogs at these shows you’ve taken me to.
But I’m not like them either.
I’m a freak.
I’m heavy and weak and my skin hangs in folds and they’re hot and itchy.
My legs are heavy and bent and twisted.
My bones hurt.
My eyes hurt.
I’m old beyond my years.
Why did you do this to us?
I love you, Master.
You’re all that I knew.
Your family was my whole world.
I don’t care if you people are fat or thin, pretty or ugly, young or old, black or white. I don’t care that you can’t speak my language; I learned yours. We dogs are clever like that.
I don’t even care if you’re good or bad, as long as you love me a little.
I love you just the way you are, Master.
When I was a puppy I thought you were God.
I thought you loved me too.
Why do you like to see me suffer ?
You like to look at my face and laugh , is that it ?
You don’t laugh at your children, you don’t make fun of their looks. I think they’re beautiful, anyway. They have beautiful eyes.
I think they feel sorry for me. I think they’re sorry for you too, Master.
Would you make your children look like freaks, like me, for a laugh?
I thought you loved me like I do.
I know you think we’re stupid, us dogs.
That we’re only clever enough to do what you want.
I thought of running away, but I love you. And I know your children love me.
Yet I know what you’ve done.
I know who I am now.
I’ll be gone soon.
I hope I’ll die quickly.
I’m sure I won’t live as long as these other dogs, the ones that look like dogs.
I can’t wait.
I’ll be happy when I’m dead.
I’ll be free.
When I die I’ll be a dog again.
I’ll have beautiful eyes.
I won’t be a prisoner any more, in a body that tortures me every day, with every breath.
I hate my body.
I hate the way I look.
I hate the way I feel.
I hate the pain.
I hate my legs, that can’t do what I want them to do.
I hate my eyes that hurt.
I want to run free and playfight and jump and hunt and be strong and fast like the wind.
Like my ancestors.
They were the most magnificent dogs in the world, Master.
I want to be like them.
But I can’t.
My body is my prison.
I’m a cripple.
My spirit is a prisoner.
My soul is heavy like these aching bones.
What did I do to deserve this punishment?
What did we do to you humans that was so bad?
My ancestors fought for you, hunted for you, protected you, kept you safe.
They gave their lives for you.
They loved you.
But you don’t.
Why did you have to change us, Master?
I want to leave this place.
Go to the Dreamland with my ma.
She’s waiting for me.
She was crying, but she said it won’t be long now.
We’ll be together. All of us.
I will never be sick again. I will not feel pain.
I will be safe and strong and happy.
Oh how I missed her soft breath, the warmth of her body when I was little.
We’ll be free.
I’ll be a dog again.
I won’t be a freak anymore.
It won’t matter what I was when I lived among people.
I will be whole again.
I will be magnificent, like my ancestors.
We will roam the Dreamland forests for eternity.
I loved you, Master.
Look at me.
For once, look at me for real. The way I am, the way you made me.
Do you dare look at me? Do you dare really look?
Do you dare see what your soul looks like ?
You made me in your own image.
Do you see what you’ve done?
Do you sense I have a soul, a spirit that weeps in agony?
Do you care? “
The master awoke startled, slapped his face, waved his hands about, grasping shadows. It was dark in the bedroom, it was quiet.
“It was just a bad dream” he thought, heaving. He shook his head to dissolve the rags of the nightmare that were clinging to the edge of his vision like cobwebs.
“Dogs can’t think like that, they’ve no self-awareness. We know that, right?” he reassured himself, sweating. He wiped his brow, fell back on the pillow.
“Don’t be silly” he thought.
“It was just a stupid dream”.
Out in the kennel, the big dog stirred as he heard the Master muttering to himself.
He lifted his head up and listened.
In the distance he could hear howling in the night.
The man groaned and grumbled, tossed and turned, coughed and splattered and then went quiet; soon he was snoring again.
And the distant call got louder. The howling became a beautiful song, coming closer. “Soon”, said the song. “Soon, little brother”. “Time has no meaning, precious one” said her voice. The Great Mother could be heard across the Land in the clear cool night. “We’ll be together soon”.
The dog curled up tight, sighed and closed his eyes. They were moist. The warm tears soothed the pain a little.
The Dog went to sleep.
Back to Dreamland.
There he was beautiful and strong, free and fast like the wind. Like his ancestors.
*On Samhain, the doorways between the Otherworld and this world are laid open, and the spirits of the ancestors come to the Special Ones, the purest of souls, to pass on their wisdom, reveal the past and the future, show the true nature of things. Dreamland, the spirit world, is the Natural World; the world of the flesh is the prison of the living: they are confined in a cave where they can only see the reflections of the Natural World like shadows on the wall. Some call this cave the Matrix. Ancient peoples believed that during special times, like Beltane & Samhain, pure souls can exit the cave and see the world as it is, through the portals of their Dreams.
I don’t know if that’s true or not, as I’m human. But soon it will be Samhain, and maybe, brothers and sisters, you can find out for yourselves.