More footsteps sounded down the hallway, then Carol’s eye appeared above my daughter’s. I was too upset to resist. Run away from home, or did they lose you on purpose?’ The big dog grinned down at me. The Novel starts with the birth of Fluke, a dog who soon realizes that he used to be a man, the book follows Fluke's efforts to find out what happened to him and why he is a dog. He made as though to lunge at me and I was whisked smartly away by my giant. But there comes a time in even the most stupid dog’s life when he knows exactly what he should do next. They glared into each other’s eyes, Rumbo’s brown and bulging, the rat’s yellow and evil; both pairs were filled with hate. ‘Last time he tied me up, he left me for three days without any food.’, ‘Still, I can always bring you bits and pieces,’ he added consolingly. He was an interesting colour actually: yellow with deep mahogany etchings patterning his features, greasy but still somehow dry skinned, the oiliness being only on the surface. The apparition seemed to be wearing a jacket, and I could certainly make out a shirt-collar and tie. The problems were of course buried deep inside me where a strange conflict was going on. And we all went crashing off the road together. There were normally two or three full-time overalled men working in the yard, breaking up the junks, and a steady stream of customers looking for cheap parts. Why should you have it all to yourself?’, ‘Because I was here first,’ Victoria said crossly. Have patience now, my story’s nearly done. I wandered down to the very edge of the town, passing pubs, walking across a bridge, past a big garage, a hospital — and then the buildings ran out. I cursed his speed then wondered if I could have killed the rabbit even had I caught up with him. After Miss Birdie had cleared the table and washed up, we settled in front of the fire once again. Hunting a prey he cannot not define, driven by a primal instinct he cannot ignore. My new friend wagged his tail and tried to lick the man’s hand. Now get down and be patient.’ She gently pushed me away but the savoury smell was too much. ‘There may be a way you can be used, though,’ she said thoughtfully. The Novel starts with the birth of Fluke, a dog who soon realizes that he used to be a man, the book follows Fluke's efforts to find out what happened to him and why he is a dog. I was puzzled by Rumbo’s attitude: why had we come here if we couldn’t sample the food? I sought out the steadying beat of his heart again and tried to shut out the angry sounds around me. And by and large, I enjoy what I am. Her claws were withdrawn so she was obviously playing a fine teasing game with the unfortunate creature. It was dog, you see, dog in the plural. He screamed and cursed them but they wouldn’t let him go. Had some madman conducted a gruesome experiment and preserved a living brain from a dying body? I jumped up and put my muddy paws against him, asking politely for another; they had a nice minty flavour to them. It made me realise again that we were communicating through thought.) Strangely enough, I could tell the difference between the smaller giants right from the start, not just from the elders, but as individuals. The bus — and my child — had got away. He advanced on me and I retreated as far as I could go, which wasn’t far enough. I lay there trembling, fighting desperately to keep a grip on my bowels and bladder: I was in enough disgrace without that. I don’t know whether it was just one particular incident or an accumulation of disasters that led to my dismissal. The words ‘mad dog’ and ‘attacker’ reached my ears and I realised he was speaking to someone on the phone. ‘Oiiiii!’ was all I heard from the butcher as I flew down the street, my partner-in-crime keeping pace and chuckling at his own cleverness. But the effort was too much. But now colours were already beginning to filter through, a legacy left to me, a gift that separated me from my fellow creatures. She ran towards the gap where I was crouched neither in nor out. — I beamed at them all. Same as yesterday, I reckon,’ Newman replied, pulling a briefcase from the passenger seat of his car. I’d heard voices coming from the house, car doors slam, an engine start, then tyres crunching their way back down the lane. Audio CD, Abridged, Audiobook, Unabridged. I first read it many years ago but only had a vague recollection of it, so it was like opening up a brand new book. It was my turn to regard him curiously. You can’t find yourself a rabbit, or a mouse, or a squirrel?’, ‘I’ve never had to before. With a great effort of will, I stopped my barking and waited. These simply said: ‘NEVER FORGOTTEN.’. They were just a babble at first, like the clacking of excited geese, but as I drew nearer to their source, they took on a distinctly human quality. Free to live as a dog. I skidded to a halt when I reached the kitchen and my eyes drank in the room, the memories returning like old friends from an outing: the huge old black fireplace with its iron oven, a relic of the past which we decided to preserve; the round pine table, deliberately scored and scratched with initials, noughts and crosses, I LOVE YOUs and HAPPY BIRTHDAYs, and any messages we cared to mark for posterity; the antique clock which always informed us the time was a quarter to four, but did so in such an elegant way; the blue-and-yellow vase on the window-sill that looked as if it had been made up from a jigsaw, the result of my patiently piecing it together after Polly had knocked it on to the floor in her ‘just-about-walking’ days. Road signs were becoming more difficult to read; I had to gaze at them for a long time and concentrate hard. My mouth and throat felt dry and my wounds were a dull throb. At one point I snapped my teeth round Victoria’s flailing tail and the cat skidded to a forced halt, a scream of surprise escaping her. Then I jumped back into the car, snapped it into reverse, and raced backwards into the main road again. We frolicked on the green stuff and I felt I would burst with joy. You have to forget your past, you might regret it if you go back.’, ‘No!’ I growled. Now was the time to maintain our growth, reach a good economic level, and bide our time. I inwardly cursed myself for being so stupid and allowing myself to be used as a decoy by the fox. ‘Quick, Gillian,’ I heard my wife say, ‘get in the car and close the door!’. And Reg, the lifelong bachelor, the man I had teased so often about his unmarried status, the friend who had admitted quite openingly there had only ever been one girl for him and I had married her, had finally taken that plunge. I suppose me more so than your friend Rumbo and the rat. The shock of it hit me a few hours later: he wasn’t coming out that night. But he had no inclination to talk at all. In the afternoons I would romp in the fields behind the cottage, teasing the animals living there, inhaling the sweetness from the budding flowers, revelling in the growing warmth from the sun. A meaty smell came my way and, tail drooped between my legs, I made my way cautiously after her. Then she turned to me and said, ‘We’re nearly there now. My wife, my daughter — to let them know I’m not dead!’, He was silent for a moment, then he said, ‘But you are dead.’, The shock almost stopped my racing heart. ‘Huh! I don’t know if or what I suffered under the care of the other giant, but something told me it was good to get away from him; badness poured from his body. We’d had many disagreements in our partnership, but one or other of us had usually given way out of mutual respect for the other’s special qualities: Reg’s business acumen or my knowledge of plastics. The girl hesitated and her sudden doubt and wear wafted over me in waves. Bella dropped my spotless plate into the sink and called to me to follow her. It seemed an empty shell now, just like the factory; they had both lost their meaning. Knowing her lovable side so well, even I had difficulty in believing her kindness could turn to such violence, but I shall never trust any sweet old ladies again. She still squinted through the lenses but managed to make out the name on the strip of metal. It wasn’t true countryside yet, for I was only just outside the London suburbs, but after the blacks and the greys and the browns and the reds and the garishness of everything in the city, it seemed like passing through a barrier to where nature governed, and human influence played only a minor part. There was just enough room for me to curl up beneath the piano keyboard and here I would spend the night, quite comfortable although a little frightened at first (I cried that first night but was O.K. He took me to a park, a big one this, and quite a distance from our home. She came at me, arms and legs flailing, stunning me into submission, terrifying me with her strength. Taking sweets from babies was another delightful pastime. At a safe distance, I turned and dropped the apple on the ground before me. I’ve travelled the country, swum in the sea. The men pushed us away angrily as we tried to clamber over them. I entered the shop and slunk along under the counter where the chopping butcher couldn’t see me, looking back pleadingly at my forceful partner. I came up spluttering, gasping for air, my mouth and throat, my nose, my ears, my eyes filled with choking water. Use your brain! I sighed, ready to burst into tears again, but a hand grabbed my collar and interrupted my nostalgia. A hand was reaching under the desk for me now and I could hear the woman’s voice calling to me in friendly tones. I had sniffed trees and lamp-posts before, but now it seemed my senses were wakening afresh, or perhaps they were just heightening. I’m all alone.’. Perhaps you are only a fluke after all. Somewhere in the depths of his consciousness was a memory clawing its way to the surface, tormenting him, refusing to let him rest. ‘The door, Bella.’ I told her. It’s not in an animal’s nature to have much sympathy for his fellow creatures, but the plight of this defenceless little thing appealed to the other side of my nature; the human side. Rumbo frowned upon my childishness with these men, for they never offered food nor were they relevant to our life-style (Rumbo was choosy about offering his friendship), but I, like any other pup, wanted to be loved by everyone and anyone. We’re dogs. I don’t know why he held such a prejudice against dogs; it may have been because he was ashamed of them, ashamed they didn’t have his intelligence, his dignity. ‘Get the chocolate. He waved it in the air before him like a knight’s lance, its base aimed at my backside. I saw that Rumbo’s shoulder was badly torn and one of the rat’s ears was shredded. It was the pealing bells that gave me the idea. Somehow, I doubted it. It was much too high for me, and I could do no more than rest my front paws against it and look up expectantly. ‘We’re going to steal some food now,’ he answered. We don’t get many dogs in here on their own. He wasn’t owned by the Guvnor, he did a job of work for him by guarding the yard, thereby earning his keep, such as it was. I sprang forward again and she leapt upwards on to the draining-board, knocking down the pile of crockery left there to dry by Miss Birdie. I suppose it’s something to do with the world being bigger to me; being closer to the ground somehow makes me closer to nature. It kills too — I’ve seen it kill — so you must be careful. I reached the entrance and turned left, heading towards the High Street again, sure it was my only chance of finding someone or something I knew. ‘You look as if you caught some of it,’ the manager replied. I was fast losing my puppy cuteness (I suppose I was around seven or eight months old by then), and people are less inclined to stop and stroke a gangly mongrel than a plump, furry bundle, so I had become next to useless as a decoy for Rumbo. Now leave me alone, I’m tired.’. The fox tried again and this time she was more successful. He jerked his head away with a sound I could only interpret as a happy growl so I increased my efforts to reach that bulbous feature on his face. I’ve come back to you! The big two-legged animals used to file past most days, calling down to us, making silly clucking noises, then pointing out one of us in particular. How could you with anyone after all we’d shared? I shook the train of thought from my head and said, ‘But why can’t others remember? They had learned to walk on two legs a long, long time ago, and had felt superior ever since. ‘He’s sniffin’ it out, I reckon,’ he grumbled. That’s why you’re nearly blind at birth; it would be too much for you otherwise. I realised it was now Sunday, for the High Street was quiet and in the distance I could hear church bells start their guilt-provoking ringing. Two dark figures leapt from it, one carrying a long pole with a loop attached to it. The badger settled himself into a comfortable position on the ground and invited me to do the same and, after a moment’s hesitation, I did. Try and keep with us in the traffic, but if we get separated, you know where to meet up.’ The driver nodded and the Guvnor turned away. He slipped almost to the floor of the van, only the confined space saving him, and his elbows sunk into the creamy goodies behind him. He moaned and his tail dropped between his legs. I made my way further into the kitchen and repeated my question. Through the blur I saw a dark furry body, big as me. I tried to explain I was starving, that I hadn’t eaten for a week, but he wasn’t having any of it. I’m special too, but in a different way, as I told you: I’m here to help. It was crisp yet oily, full of lovely flavours; it was delicious. Cars swished past at frequent intervals, causing me to shy away. With one last painful shudder, the old man’s breath left him and took his life with it. My family — the woman and the little girl — I had to find them, had to let them know I wasn’t dead. I waited for the visions to appear, sure they would, but they didn’t. In my bewildered state even the question, let alone the answer, evaded me. Why should an unhappy life be a dog’s life? Even then, I lingered for a moment looking mournfully up at the door, but when it flew open and the weasel appeared, his nose a bloody protuberance and his body shaking with fury, I knew it wouldn’t be healthy to stay any longer. I felt sure this was the answer, otherwise why should I feel such hate for him? It’s pitch-black for a start (no street lights), and there’s a constant rustling and cracking of dry twigs as the night animals mooch around. It was like a bad dream, for the shock had turned my legs to jelly and they refused to function properly. ‘You’ll have to go now. ‘Now,’ the vixen went on, ‘when we run for it, we must go separate ways. I know the giant liked me, even loved me in a way, for I can still remember his affection, feel his goodness, till this day. You could chew through the rope if you want to come.’, I slumped down on to the ground; it was obvious, as far as Rumbo was concerned, the discussion was over. The latter didn’t get as far as the former who, in the end, didn’t get far at all. Account & Lists Account Returns & Orders. Beetles scuttled away from my inquisitive nose and a mole turned a blind eye. A blinding flash of light and the world exploded into pain. He opened the driver’s door, reached across the front seat and delved into the glove compartment. ‘Where did you get loose from, eh? This time, my pointed little teeth sank into the meat and I crunched down, hard as I could. Have I ever let you down?’. ‘Why should I believe you? She clucked her tongue and gave a little laugh. The voices bartered to and fro and suddenly I was placed back in the pen. It was mid-afternoon, I think, and the sun was hidden behind heavy clouds. Thousands on thousands of aphides (you might know them as blackfly or greenfly) sucked the sap from leaves and plant stems, excreting honeydew for ants and others to feed on. But you’re special, Fluke. I gazed on in horror as the paper flamed and the wood chips caught. Try It was just the right time to bite my captor’s hand and, with a twist of my neck, I managed to do so. He did this three times, each time hiding beneath the van before the driver returned, swallowing as fast as he could, when the dope (me) decided to chance his arm. Someone shouted and the man stopped his barrow, looking back round the stacked boxes to see the stray bananas. There were even some cold baked beans among the scraps. You wait till you get out!’ He submerged again and came up smiling. ‘My falthe teefth!’ And that old gleam came back into her eyes. I wouldn’t force my memory to tell me all its secrets just yet — it would have been impossible anyway. Two startled wrens screeched and froze as I brushed by their small huddled forms. I found Rumbo sniffing round a little bitch, a skittish Yorkshire terrier, her lady owner anxiously trying to shoo my ragged friend away. I could hear bats flapping around, their high-pitched squeals making me jump, and a hedgehog trundled into me and pricked my nose with its spikes. The anguished scream from behind told us matters had not improved: Miss Birdie was about to run amuck! As the row of windows went by, accusing faces glared down at me while others shook in pity. He didn’t like these blue men: he didn’t like them chasing his Guvnor. The first morning had been enlightening and the days that followed were an education. On my third or fourth trip, Victoria wandered in after me, and I should have realised something was going to happen when she slyly started a conversation with me. ‘Who are you?’ I asked, unable to stifle a yawn. It was winter, and the mud in the yard was frost-hard. I bounded forward and immediately knocked over the mug which held the strong scent of mint. So what had happened? I was shoved into a dark box, a kennel separated from the others to house nuisances. Find many great new & used options and get the best deals for Fluke by James Herbert (2012, Trade Paperback) at the best online prices at eBay! ‘Come on,’ he said, as if in answer, and we were off again, dodging round salesmen, porters and buyers, threading our way through the disorder, Rumbo receiving a welcome or a friendly pat now and again. Pushing myself into him was no use either; Carol’s restraining arms around my neck held me back. I resisted. It was no use, they were too strong. I thought I told you to bring the dog from Kennel Nine.’ His expression changed to one of exasperation when he saw me crouching there. I stood erect, vengeful, defiant of the odds. At that time, they all looked the same to me; I couldn’t tell male and female apart, nor one individual from another. I rushed straight in and received a deep gash across my nose from the rodent’s claws. Go away now, there’s a good dog,’ Carol urged. ‘I told you to run,’ he said, coming out of the night. They were startled at first and leapt back in alarm, but soon realised I was only being friendly. My wife joined my daughter on the floor, ruffling my hair with a gentle hand, and I made the mistake of trying to take her in my arms and kiss her on the lips. I was looking for clues, you see, clues about myself. Brambles tore at us and startled birds complained of the noise, but we were through in an instant and tearing across the next field. It slowly dawned on me as I trotted on that I needed a quiet safe place, somewhere I could rest and try to unscramble my jumbled thoughts. He’ll never change. You’ll either become a dog completely, or a balance between the two will be reached. ‘You get this down you, honey,’ she said, dropping the hot finger of meat into my open mouth. I came to a heavily wooded area and decided to take a small detour, knowing it would actually cut a few miles off my journey. But he was also something more. 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