The Devil and the Dog

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The dog’s name was Atlas. The local folk called him that because he was unusually large and powerful. His dark fur glistened in the light, and his eyes shone with intelligence. He was the protector. Keeping the people safe was his sole task.

Dark woods surrounded the town; devils and faerie folk were rumored to live there. The townspeople were afraid of the dark woods.

One day, a storm blew up, knocking down trees and tearing the thatch off roofs. Along with the wind came an unusual darkness. It lingered through the following days and was an unwelcome omen. Fear rippled through the townsfolk.

Devils were among them.

The people hid in the many holes they dug to protect them from enemies. They waited for the dog.

Atlas had been hunting when the storm hit. When it arrived, he sensed danger and ran back to the town at a fast trot.

Under cover of the storm, a devil crept. It crossed into the village, planning mischief. It was a belknar, a snake of the forest, and a demon of the highest order. Its bite was deadly, its coils powerful, and its dark magic spread fear throughout the land.

Its first victim was a baby, a child of Pentey and Viviek. They were getting their other children ready for a hidey hole when the belknar snatched it from its carriage. Within seconds, it swallowed the tiny little girl and slithered into the darkness.

Atlas was approaching the village at the edge of the dark woods. He sensed the belknar and knew it to be a worthy adversary. Danger threatened, and he must be careful.

The second victim was an old man named Mattelo. His son had yet to come by and take him to the hidey hole. He was getting his wife and children ready. His father was gone when he arrived at the little cottage with the blue shutters. The ridges in the sand told him what had happened. A belknar had taken his beloved father.

Atlas sensed the devil as he crossed into the village from the north. He heard the screams of pain from those who lost loved ones to the evil. He had to hurry, or there would be more victims.

The belknar felt the presence of the approaching dog. He knew it to be Atlas, a magical beast whose power was legendary. He felt the edge of panic curl through him. Escape was critical; however, should he take the dog by surprise, he might defeat him. If he did so, he would be a legend among his kind. Even the elves would worship him.

Atlas’s first encounter with the belknar’s work came with the scream. He found the young mother, Viviek, weeping in an alley. The devil had taken her baby girl.

Her desperate husband was urging her into a hidey hole. He didn’t see the creeping darkness, but Atlas did. With a bold charge, the dog dispersed the darkness.

The devil, not used to being challenged, tried to tempt Atlas with promises of power, hoping to turn him. But Atlas, with a heart as steadfast as stone, refused. His clear and strong bark seemed to cut through the night, making the shadows retreat.

The devil escalated its efforts as days turned into weeks, unleashing terrors upon the town. Yet, Atlas remained unyielding, a beacon of hope in the face of despair.

The final confrontation came when the belknar, in a display of arrogance, took on a fearsome form, thinking it could overpower Atlas with sheer strength. The citizens watched, frozen with fear, as Atlas stood his ground, embodying not just a dog but the collective courage of the town.

The battle that ensued was fierce. With each determined leap and snarl, Atlas matched the devil’s ferocity. When the devil aimed to deliver a devastating blow, Atlas, driven by the trust and faith of the town, launched himself at the beast.

He targeted the essence of the belknar, his action fueled by every act of kindness and bravery the town had ever shown. His growls and snarls were both frightening and encouraging. The townspeople watched and waited.

Magically, the devil was gone. All that remained was a tiny dust devil. It was well-named as it sped off toward the forest. Atlas stood in the middle of the square and watched the essence of the belknar disappear beneath the green canopy.

The belknar was well and truly gone. Atlas was honored as a hero. One day, he left to go hunting and never returned. The townsfolk were sad and built a monument to the great beast. It stands to this day.

About the Author: Professor Mike is a writer and editor at Medium and a professor at the local university. The last time he heard about elves and devils was when the farmer and the beast encountered them.

About Post Author

Professor Mike

Professor Mike is a left-leaning, dog loving, political junkie. He has written dozens of articles for Substack, Medium, Simily, and Tribel. Professor Mike has been published at Smerconish.com, among others. He is a strong proponent of the environment, and a passionate protector of animals. In addition he is a fierce anti-Trumper. Take a moment and share his work.
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