Hound of a Steep Hill 599 Words
April 10, 2023
By Justin Cross
There is an old and steep hill in Maine
Once upon a time, it’s slope held three domains:
At the top, quiet and sly dogs kept their packs.
At the bottom, no matter.
In the middle, one hound who fought off carnivores who came from far away.
The middle was granted to him by the packs at the top, who asked, in return, for:
“Food made of one torso for the packs, two legs as a snack, and two legs for the pups.”
The hound of the middle complied, for he often gathered far more than he needed.
One day, a carnivore arose in the middle of the hill.
This one had a power that the hound had never seen before:
This carnivore stood on his two legs. He extended an arm, and from the arm, an arch, an arch that drew a string, and a string that flung a stick.
The stick punctured the leg of the hound, who howled and tunneled towards the risen, striking him and flinging him down to the bottom.
The hound made his attempt to flee to the top to aid his wound, but the hill was steep, and from his limp, he fell.
At the bottom of the hill, he woke and found himself bruised and beaten, with his fur in the grass and grass in his fur.
Cold and warm red circles were on his leg, and a leg with a stick wound, but no stick.
Around him was the carnivore he had just faced, who was not mad or sad. Rather, he sat quiet and peaceful as he mended his arch. Beyond him, were dozens of rats, hundreds of cats, and thousands of dogs. Not a single animal was less scathed than he.
He began a trek upward, for he was wounded and needed aid. Knowing he would not be seen without a catch, he dragged up a dead cat, for the cat was made of one torso for the packs, two legs as a snack, and two legs for the pups.
When he made it to the top of the hill, the other dogs hissed and growled, wishing to force him back down.
He said, “I am grateful for your land and wish to uphold our deal. I never ask for more thanks, but today, I need your aid.”
The leader dog stepped forward to the hound and said, “You fell to the bottom and lost the middle. You have no business at the top and must leave now.”
The hound barked back, “But I have brought your meal that fulfills our deal!”
The dogs laughed, and the leader dog said, “For a hound of the bottom, to stay here you would need to bring us tenfold of our deal.”
The dogs backed the hound back down to the ground.
With his leg failing and his bite blunt, the hound had a new quota to fill.
At the bottom, death was as present as the trees, with or without the hunting of the hound.
Weeks later, at the top, the hound, now sickly, thin, red, purple, and green, one by one, dragged up ten meals to be seen:
Ten dead dogs from the bottom. Tenfold of the deal.
The hound made sure that the leader dog saw all ten.
All ten, each with one torso for the packs, two legs as a snack, and two legs for the pups.
The hound said, “There is no more need for a quantified arrangement. For if you wish a meal which fulfills your deal, simply live with your downward zeal.”