Death’s Apprentice – Part Thirty-Two

Warm breath stirred the hairs on the back of his neck. There was a faint whiff of dog breath in the air. Slowly he turned his head to the right. The Book of the Dead was not joking when it said that Cerberus was a monster.

There was a low throaty growl. Joe’s shoulders slackened. Well, if it was his time to die at least he was in the right place.

He cautiously turned around, making sure he kept his head low.

What was it they were told at school when the RSPCA came in to give a talk about dealing with aggressive dogs? Shit, shit, what was it?

Even without lifting his gaze from the floor, Joe could see that Cerberus was no ordinary guard dog. It looked like a gigantic rottweiler with three heads, red irises and a cobra for a tail, the head of which was flicking from side to side, its mouth open ready to strike. The dog must have been about seven feet tall. It towered over Joe with its acrid breath staining the air. Drool pooled in the corner of its mouth.

Oh, how Joe wished it got those honey cakes now.

Cerberus snarled, allowing Joe a glimpse of his sharp, yellow fangs in all three heads.

He wasn’t usually scared of dogs. In fact, he preferred dogs to people. But at that moment, his heart was pounding, his hands were sweaty and his knees were knocking together; Yep, he was scared alright.

‘God doggy,’ he said. His voice was a little high and even he could detect the shaky edge to it. ‘Good doggy,’ he repeated. How weak and stupid did that sound? What the fuck was he going to do?

Cerberus leaned closer, it’s lip curled, the hairs on the back of its heads were raised.

‘I don’t want to die,’ escaped from Joe’s lips.

Why had Death sent him, Joe, down here? Se must have known he wasn’t cut out for this crap. He had difficulty standing up to his own shitdad. Shit, shit, shit.

He didn’t have any dog treats in his pockets, only a small bag he carried around for when he was out with Lola. No one could accuse him of not cleaning up after his dog. He thought about how big Cerberus was. I bet that dog can produce some poo. I’m about to die and I’m thinking about poo? What is wrong with me?

Cerberus’s middle head opened it’s mouth wide. Joe could see the row of sharp teeth; fangs for tearing flesh, chunky molars for crunching into bone. Joe could see the dog’s tonsils dangling at the back of its throat.

I’m going to die. I’m going to die! His whole body was shaking.

Cerberus lunged forward.

Then everything went black.

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