The Lost Pet #SampleSunday

Today, I’m taking off like a big bird for the Kentuckiana Authors Book Blitz at 300 Spring, Jeffersonville, Indiana, from 12 to 5. Many authors! Much books! Y’all come!

I’ve been working on the last story for SHIFTY, a collection of stories set in the world of my fantasy trilogy, SAGE. I finished the first draft and had Charlie read it and read it aloud to Mom.

Mom liked it, but Charlie didn’t. He says I write well, but he generally doesn’t like the content. Not a fantasy fan, Charlie. This particular story disgusted him — which is not necessarily a bad thing — because it deals with people being treated as pets, who are treated as ultimately disposable.

This pet, Frayce, survives her mistress, and is taken into the country and abandoned. Most of the pets we’ve had since we moved here have been abandoned by city folks. Cats and dogs, though, not red-headed people.

SHIFTY should be available by … well, by the turning of the year.

The Lost Pet

excerpt from “At the Turning of the Year”
by Marian Allen

Sharina’s father walked Frayce past the plazas and parks and into the woods.

Frayce wished he would talk to her, so she could talk, too. She wanted to talk about Sharina. She wanted to tell him how her heart hurt without her mistress, but well-trained pets don’t speak unless they’re spoken to.

He unbuckled her harness and dropped it to the ground. He pulled a small package covered in stiff paper out of a pocket and unwrapped it.

Even if she hadn’t been hungry, the aroma would have set Frayce to drooling. Roast meat! Maybe some would fall to the ground and he would tell her to “clean it up”!

To her amazement, he waved it at her and said, “Do you want it? Is it good? Go get it!”

He tossed it into the dried underbrush.

It was hers! All of it! She plunged after it, parting the brittle weed stalks, kneeling on the frozen ground so her nose could sniff where the delicious lump had landed.

Found it! She bit a chunk off and swallowed it, half-chewed.


turningyearShe ate the rest of it more slowly, licking every drop of grease from her fingers. How funny, that he had always scolded Sharina for giving her people food, and now he gave her more in one go than Sharina had done in her life.

She looked around, half-hoping there would be more.

He was gone.

She went back to where her harness and leash still lay.

“Master?” She was allowed to call out for people, if she didn’t make a nuisance of herself. She strained her ears for his answer. She called louder. “Master? Master?”

Where could he be? Had he wandered away and lost her? Had he lost himself?

She searched and called until darkness fell. Darkness. Darkness more frightening than the warm stuffiness of the clothes closet her mistress’s little brother had shut them into for a long moment to tease them. With this darkness came a cold such as she never remembered feeling, even when her mistress had taken her up to the rooftop garden to see the winter stars.

The stars were here, too, twinkling more lavishly and brilliantly than on the rooftop, but looking at them reminded her of her lost mistress and her lost home. For, with the darkness, came enlightenment: she had been brought out into the wilderness and abandoned.

She remembered naked pets creeping close to the family picnics, and Sharina’s father and brother throwing rocks at them until they slunk away. She remembered Sharina’s mother shaving gold off her monthly household ingot to give people who went out and fed the feral pets, and Sharina’s father snarling that it would be more merciful to put them out of their misery if they couldn’t survive on their own.

And now he had made her one of them.

She curled herself into a tight ball, her wrapper lapped around her and over her head, and cried until she slept.

A WRITING PROMPT FOR YOU: Have you ever had a rescue animal? Did you ever wonder what they had lived through before they found you?




I was born in Louisville, Kentucky, but now live in the woods in southern Indiana. Though I only write fiction, I love to read non-fiction. The more I learn about this world, the more fantastic I see it is.

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One thought on “The Lost Pet #SampleSunday

  1. Dan

    September 18, 2016 at 7:30am

    Well written, but I might be with Charlie. It’s a little disturbing.

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  2. Jane

    September 18, 2016 at 10:03am

    My boy Blackjack walked into my sister’s garage, after having been spotted in the fields for several weeks. He was happily gifted to me.

    The thing I always wondered about him was what were his other names? He had many unconscious habits that bespoke of past living situations, but the thing that most set me wondering was simply that: What were his other names, and how many did he have?

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    • Author

      Marian Allen

      September 19, 2016 at 8:25am

      There’s a children’s picture book about a cat with multiple names. In his case, he was spreading his presence around the neighborhood, and each house thought he was their cat and each one had a name for him. Nice little book. I wish I could remember the name!

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      • Jane

        September 19, 2016 at 10:34am

        My very good friend Billy was exactly like that. He was cadging meals from everybody on the street! But he did wind up being MY cat. Loved that boy.

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  3. Alana

    September 18, 2016 at 5:00pm

    It is, and should be disturbing. I am eager to see the complete story. I couldn’t help thinking of a novel I read many (too many) years ago, “The Puppies of Terra” by Thomas M Disch, although the two stories really aren’t related (except for the concept of humans kept as pets). I can testify, as having lived in the countryside, to all the pets dumped off on the unpaved road where our house was. My neighbor tried to rescue them and – well it’s a story worth telling.

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    • Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt

      September 18, 2016 at 6:43pm

      Loved the Puppies of Terra – still have it somewhere.

      There are plenty of stories of casual cruelty to people or animals. Sometimes they need reading. Black Beauty was a big one.

      But we are crueler to people. Do you remember Pearl S. Buck’s ‘The Frill’?

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      • Author

        Marian Allen

        September 19, 2016 at 8:34am

        Now I’ve got to get hold of The Puppies of Terra and The Frill. Thomas M. Disch is one of my favorite writers! And Black Beauty was wonderful! It’s too bad so many people think it’s “a sweet horse story,” when it’s anything but sweet.

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        • Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt

          September 19, 2016 at 10:53am

          They are the stories that stick with you, and mold you, and make you look at life a bit askew.

          I was astounded when my husband hadn’t read ‘The Lottery’ (Shirley Jackson). I found it in a high school literature book, so I assumed everyone read it. (My English is self-taught, from such books – I grew up in Mexico.)

          I don’t like sappy happy endings, but I do prefer my endings positive. There is plenty of negativity in my life already, and I don’t read to increase it.

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    • Author

      Marian Allen

      September 19, 2016 at 8:31am

      Thank you, Alana, and I agree. It should be disturbing on more than one level. First, that people are treated like animals; second, that animals are treated like things with no feelings; and, by logical extension, that people are treated like things with no feelings. Sadly, those are realities, and not the fictional part of the story.

      We’ve had very few pets of choice; most of them were dumped near our house. We’ve had no drop-ins since the coyotes discovered the hunting potential. Nature is NOT kind to unwanted pets, but she’s kinder, in a way, than city people who think the country is gentle and nurturing.

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  4. Joey

    September 18, 2016 at 9:48pm

    I’m in the disturbed group, but don’t mind me, I can’t abide the mayonnaise touching the cheese.

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  5. Pat Paxton

    November 9, 2016 at 11:16pm

    Ms Allen, I thoroughly enjoyed this sample. I’ve just moved to Jeffersonville in June, from Wilmington, NC. I’ve recently completed a manuscript for a novel, myself. I’m especially intrigued by Frayce’s story. I was once at a PetSmart store when a local shelter had brought in some dogs in hopes of finding them homes. A cage full of puppies were getting all of the attention, but beside it sat a cage housing a lonely mature mutt, getting no attention at all. As I patted her through the cage, I wondered how she got there, so much so that I wrote and recorded a song in the following weeks. That was a hobby of mine at the time. Like your story, the song is told from the dog’s perspective, with her owner abandoning her in the woods. She ends up at the pound, and says, “I’ve got a name, but no one here knows.” Not particularly the “Feel Good Song of the Year”. Ha! But, it was something I had to get out of me. Anyway, I look forward to reading your collection and getting to know some writers here in Kentuckiana. Thanks. Pat.

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