Flash-Fiction: Toxic to Dogs

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“Hey, who brought the brownies?” Yvette leaned over the picnic table and breathed in the heady scent of chocolate and… something else. “Can I have one?”

Thea passed her a spatula, “Get one for me, too? I’m desperate for a sugar fix.”

“Sure thing.” The small brunette scooped out a brownie for each of them, served casually on folded-in-quarters paper towels. They had plates, but the towels would double as napkins, and they broke down faster. Biodegradeable, and all that.

“Dude, brownies!” the boys – Claude and Jason – reached for the confections but Yvette yelped and raced away clutching her napkin-wrapped treasure close to her chest.

“Get your own!” she shouted. “They’re on the picnic table!”

The afternoon wore on, and the five friends splashed in the cold waters of the creek and hiked in the nearby woods. At dusk, they gathered around the campfire for hamburgers and baked beans, and more brownies.

“Seriously,” Yvette asked, having her third one. “Where did these come from. The more I eat, the hungrier I get.”

Claude and Jason shared a look and some awkward laughter. “Actually…” the former began, pausing only to push his floppy black hair away from his face, “Greta brought them over this morning. Said she was sorry she wouldn’t be able to make it before moonrise.”

“Greta? Greta who mixes weed into green smoothies Greta?” Yvette had never really gotten along with her, and things had been worse since she and Jason had begun dating. Greta had wanted Jason badly. “I had no idea she could bake. Maybe she’s useful after all. Pass me another?”

“Should you be eating so many?” Claude  asked. “I thought you were allergic to chocolate.”

Jason slung his arm around Yvette’s shoulder and nuzzled her neck. Addressing Claude he said, “Dude, she’s a big girl. Let her be.” Into his girlfriend’s ear, he whispered. “Yvie, baby, Greta’s not so bad, really. She can’t compete with you, anyway. Loosen up.”

In the light of the rising moon, Yvette’s eyes glittered. “You want loose? I saw hoof-prints, the other side of the creek. Burgers are great and all, but… nothing beats fresh venison.”

“Careful, Yvie. You know we shouldn’t shift when we’re high.” Claude warned. Across the fire, the expression on Thea’s face implied silent agreement.

“I’m not high,” Yvette protested, giggling. “Just a little buzzed. Who’s with me? A quick swim in the creek to clear our heads, and then we hunt.” She was already kicking off her shoes and peeling off her shirt, reveling in the sensation of the crisp night air on her bare skin. She rolled her neck, and let her body morph into its natural form – thick fur, pointed ears, a bushy tail, and razor-sharp claws.

As one, the others followed suit, stripping and shifting, just like Yvette had.

The four werewolves dashed down the hill to the creek, where they splashed like puppies in a play pool. When they were wet enough, cold enough, and clear-headed enough, they rumbled up the bank on the far side, and took off into the woods.

Claude scented the first deer, and he, Jason, and Thea joined forces to take it down. As pack-leader, it was his job to know where everyone was, but the combination of marijuana, sugar, and fresh, hot, blood distracted him, and when Yvie changed directions, he lost her scent.

Alone, Yvie caught a different scent. The generic tang of Shifter resolved into  the more familiar Wolf and she went to investigate.

Greta  – at least it smelled like Greta – Yvette had never seen her true form, so she wasn’t entirely sure – stood on the edge of the creek, waiting, but there was another scent mingled with hers. Jason’s. Unmistakably, undeniably, Jason’s scent. Yvette could tell that the male note was from an article of clothing, and not the other’s fur, but it didn’t matter.  Her shifted brain identified Greta as a threat.

Still poised on the edge of the bank, Greta turned her head, having caught Yvie’s scent, in turn. She fixed her gaze on Yvette and growled, “Hey, puppy. Come to play?”

Yvette was many things, but a puppy wasn’t one of them. Fury and bloodlust coursed through her. Jealousy mixed with pot and chocolate and rage removed her inhibitions and fueled her attack with sugar-shocked strength. She leaped at the other female in a killing frenzy.

Claws ripped through fur and flesh. Yelps and screams filled moonlit night.

When the boys and Thea returned, bellies full of fresh game, they found little of Greta. A few stray bits of fur and flannel.

Yvie, on the other hand, had reverted to human form and was huddled in the brush, puking and shivering.

“Come on,” Claude urged. “We have to get her to a doctor.”

“Night doc at the clinic treats our kind,” Thea said. “I’ll get the car. You two help Yvie cover up and get moving.”

Thea drove while Claude called the clinic. The doc they knew would be waiting at the emergency room door.

Yvette rode the whole way with her head in Jason’s lap, his hand stroking her hair. Upon their arrival, the doctor whisked her away on a stretcher, while Jason, Thea and Claude were left to wait for their friend.

Hours later, the trio were allowed to join their friend in her room. She’d be staying overnight, the doc told them. For observation.

“Doc, I don’t get it,” Claude said. “We all had the brownies too. I know it’s bad to shift when you’re high but…”

“It wasn’t the pot… ” Yvie’s voice was weak, but they all turned toward her. “It was the chocolate. I should have stopped, Claude.” She hung her head so her friends couldn’t see her embarrassment. “My mother… she wasn’t pure Wolf. She was… she was half Husky.”

“So?” Jason asked the question.

“So when a hybrid shifter eats chocolate they go crazy and then they get crazy sick,” Claude explained.

Squeezing himself into his girlfriend’s hospital bed and wrapping himself around her protectively, Jason asked, “You’re a hybrid?” After Yvette nodded her confirmation, he continued. “I didn’t realize. You smell just like Wolf.”

“But I react like Dog, sometimes,” Yvie said quietly. “I ate Greta because I couldn’t stop myself, and then I got sick because of the guilt – she was a pack-mate even if she was a bitch.” Yvette used the word in the human way.

“So your chocolate allergy… it’s because… ?”

“Yep,” Yvette admitted ruefully. “It’s… it’s toxic to dogs.”


(This story was inspired by Thomas Jancis and Selena Taylor)

CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 Flash-Fiction: Toxic to Dogs by Melissa Bartell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

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