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Home / Median
Original Fiction Horror


A professional caregiver’s commute takes an unsettling detour when car trouble forces her to pull over on the highway, where she begins receiving distressing phone calls from strangers…

Illustrated by Elijah Boor

Edited by


Published on March 13, 2024

A woman walks along a busy highway median while the specter of a three-headed dog watches her.

When Carla’s little car broke down on the highway, she was in the fast lane, and instead of pulling over to the far side of the road, she had to stop on the median.

She sat there, jiggling the wheel with one hand and fiddling the ignition with the other, a hot, low sun glaring through the hatchback’s rear glass. Only a few years back, a turn of a key would make an engine cough, and if it didn’t, it meant the battery was dead. Or the alternator—something electrical. Now, cars were all electric, even more of a mystery than ever, and she had zero chance of figuring out the problem.

But it didn’t matter, really. Dead was dead. She could press the start button all she liked. Nothing happened.

“Now what?” she asked. “Who do I call?”

Carla typed “roadside assistance” into her phone and hit enter. Trucks blasted past, so close the car shook as if grabbed by a fist. She stared at the Google logo until it disappeared, leaving a blank screen, white on white.

It had happened before. Her discount mobile provider was prone to denial of service attacks. But she still had phone service. She texted her sister Francisca in Montreal: Can you send me the roadside assistance number for the 401? When no reply came, she tried phoning both her sisters, then her supervisor. All three calls rang straight through to voicemail. 

She would have sat there forever, alternating between pressing the button and working through her contact list, but a semi skinned by and clipped off her side mirror. A popping sound. The car pitched back and forth, bouncing on its wheels like a carnival ride. Then another truck took off her door handle.

The rear wheels of her car parted from the asphalt. It bucked once, canting into the oncoming lane. A cement truck hit the edge of the bumper. The whole rear end crunched. The car spun onto the median and slammed into the low concrete barrier.

Carla pulled herself out of the car and fell onto the gravel. She sat there, brushing dirt from her scrubs. It was her Easter pair, festooned with daffodils and tulips.

Someone will stop, she thought. Someone will come. Someone has already dialed 911. But nobody stopped. Certainly not the cement truck, which had long since disappeared beyond the highway’s distant curve.

She climbed to her feet and waved at an oncoming car. One of its headlights glinted in the sun. The driver turned his head as he passed, mirrored sunglasses square on her, but he didn’t slow. The other drivers didn’t even look at her. The truck drivers stared straight over her head.

“I’m right here,” Carla said, waving her arms.

Gravel and grime studded the skin of her palms and forearms, blood seeping from the abraded skin. She picked a piece of gravel out of her flesh and chucked it at her car. Such a little thing, there on the median; the rear end looked like something had taken a bite out of it. A rear wheel dangled like a broken tooth.

Hands shaking, she dialed 911. Three tries to hit the green button. She turned up the volume and listened to the ringtone, holding the phone to her head with both hands, as if praying.

“911. What is the nature of your emergency?”

“Car accident. I had a car accident. On the 401. West of Milton.”

“Please stay on the line.”

They put her on hold. Carla leaned her whole weight on her car, digging her elbows into the rusty roof panel. Not a good car, but the best she could afford. A 1995 hatchback with a pair of retrofitted drive trains installed by a guy in Oshawa who Frankensteined cheap cars in his backyard. She’d drained her savings account to buy it, and in two years, its charge range had gone down by half. To get enough juice to do her evening appointments, she had to stop and charge it halfway through her shift, and then charge it again to get home.

“You’re a write-off, aren’t you?” she asked the car.

When she laid her forehead on her arms, the phone went dead. Maybe she canceled the call by accident, or maybe they hung up on her. In any case, she dialed 911 again and waited.

“911. What is the nature of”

Dead again. The screen protector was cracked, so maybe it was shorting out the screen? She peeled off the pieces and dropped them to the median. Dialed again.

“911. What”

“Hello?” she yelled. “Hello?”

No answer, though service was fine, three of the four bars glowing white. She dialed work.

“This is the office of Care Point Care Services. Our office hours are eight am to four pm, Monday to Friday. Please leave a detailed message including patient name, address, and phone number, and your call will be returned within one business day.”

“This is Carla. I’ve had a car accident. I’m not going to make the rest of my appointments. That’s, uh . . . hang on.” Carla fished the printout from her pocket of her scrubs. “Deborah Anders, Karen Gagnon, and David Chan. Can you let them know I won’t be there? And I won’t be able to do my appointments tomorrow, either. My car is dead. Okay. Thanks.”

Because of the staffing shortage, the office was barely covered on weekends. Probably nobody would pick up Carla’s message until tomorrow morning, and in the meantime her clients would wait. Deb needed her dinnertime feeding. Her G-tube site was getting painful, the skin around the external bumper pink and swelling. Carla had been treating it for a week with anti-inflammatories and ice. Karen had a colostomy bag that needed emptying before her bath, and Dave was waiting for meds and a toilet transfer. All three needed to be moved from chair to bed. If Carla didn’t show up, nobody would get washed, medicated, fed, or toileted. They’d wait, abandoned, wondering if anyone was ever going to come.

Carla tried again to wave down a car, flinging her arms around semaphore-wild. Nobody stopped. Nobody even slowed.

She crawled into the back seat of the hatchback and rooted around. Her coffee was splashed across the dashboard, the red Tim Hortons cup rolling on the gritty floor mat. She carried a big bottle of distilled water in case her patients ran out, but now it was smashed.

Her black Care Point backpack was fine, though. Bandages, scissors, and sterile swabs. The pair of tweezers she used to pick lint out of Deb’s G-tube site. A box of latex gloves and a pack of N95 masks, size small. A blood pressure cuff, finger oximeter, and stethoscope. Plastic bottles of acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and aspirin. Anti-inflammatory gel, antiseptic cream, hand sanitizer. In the outer pocket were her wallet, keys, charge cords, and the bag of cappuccino candies she’d bought on a whim, hoping the caffeine would perk her up between visits.

Carla popped a candy into her mouth and crunched down hard. It splintered and melted into a hunk between her molars. She worried at the candy with her tongue as she pulled up the map on her phone and zoomed in on her location.

Not much detail available, not with the connection problems, but some of the map was preloaded. The highway a double yellow line on a gray background, with a sliver of blue zigzagging across it—a creek or something. Satellite view showed trees and fields. Cars and trucks frozen into specks on the dark gray highway, caught in time by the overhead camera. The median a light gray strip between the eastbound and westbound lanes, like meat in an old sandwich.

If she could cross the highway, she could walk . . . walk where? To the east was Campbellville, which looked like nothing more than warehouses and parking lots. They’d be empty on a Sunday. Probably wouldn’t even have security guards, just rotating cameras behind which might or might not be a pair of human eyes. To the west were residential acreages, but they looked like the kind of places where nobody actually lived—second or third homes for rich people, their empty blue pools pocking the green satellite expanse. But to the northeast was a casino. People would be there, and help.

Her phone rang. Carla nearly dropped it in her eagerness to answer.

“Hello?” she yelled.

“It’s my mother.” A woman’s voice, faint against the roar of traffic. “She’s by herself and she’s on the floor. She can’t get herself up.”

Carla wasn’t allowed to exchange phone numbers with clients. Care Point claimed it protected carers’ privacy, but really, it kept clients from trying to arrange discount services under the table. A firing offense, so Carla had never broken the rule. How had this one gotten her number?

“Is it Deb Anders?” she asked. “Or Karen Gagnon?”

“Nina Sandhu. She lives at 454 Frobisher Boulevard in Milton.”

“I’m sorry but she’s not my client. Even if she was, I can’t go anywhere right now.”

“You’re supposed to—” The woman gasped. A horn sounded.

“Are you driving?” Carla asked.

“Yes, I’m trying to get to my mom. But I’m caught in traffic. It’ll be an hour and a half, at least. That’s why I need you to go there, right now.”

“Me? I can’t help anyone,” said Carla. “I can’t even help myself.”

“But who else can I ask?”

“Call 911,” Carla said. “Tell them she needs a lift assist.” She hung up.

North. The casino was on the north side of the highway. She’d have to cross the westbound lanes. Carla swung her legs over the concrete barrier and stood at the edge of the fast lane, trying to judge the speed and distance of the oncoming cars. At this angle, it all looked impossible, the traffic not slowing one bit. Which was strange. Anything a little odd on the highway caused a slowdown—everyone lifting their foot from the accelerator and gawking. She was right there. The hatchback was right there. Why wasn’t anyone slowing?

Maybe because their feet weren’t on the accelerator. Maybe everyone was using smart cruise control, the cars continually adjusting for optimal speed and distance to keep the traffic flowing.

But if one of the cars pasted her as she tried to run across the highway, then they’d stop. They’d have to.

Problem was, Carla wasn’t built for speed, never had been. She could deadlift clients out of bed six times a day, but running? She couldn’t remember the last time she’d tried. She didn’t have to get across all three lanes at once, though. She could cross the first lane, and stand on the divider line waiting for a gap so she could run across the next. The cars wouldn’t hit her if she stood still. Not unless one of them was changing lanes.

She tightened the straps on her backpack and hooked her thumbs in tight, making herself into the smallest possible human bundle. She dug her toes into the gravel, and leaned in, and watched for a gap. There. And there. And there. If she picked the right moment, she’d get across fine. Or maybe the car that hit her would be small, and she would survive.

Her phone rang.

“Hello,” she yelled.

A kid’s voice: “They’re fighting. He’s hurting my mom. Again.”

“Diego?” she asked. It had to be her nephew—no other kid would call her. But it didn’t make sense. Her older sister’s family was on vacation in Tulum. Carla was supposed to water their plants tomorrow. “Diego, is that you? This is Tía Carla.”

“Can you come?”

It wasn’t Diego. “Who is this?” she asked.

“Liam. He’s hitting her head.”

“Liam,” she said. “Get as far away as you can and hide.” No idea who this kid was or why he was calling her, but it didn’t matter because there was only one answer. “There’s nothing you can do. Hide. And call 911.” She hung up.

Trying to run across the highway was just stupid. She’d be roadkill a hundred times over. A smear on the asphalt. A human stain.

Maybe she could walk along the median. When the highway curved, the traffic would have to slow down, wouldn’t it? Even just a bit, enough to make a difference.

Gravel crunched under her sneakers as she trudged east. Dust and dirt flew in her face, microscopic bits of oil and tar and rubber, aerosolized by the wheels. She reached into her backpack and retrieved an N95 mask.

Mask in place, she protected her eyes with her hand, keeping her gaze low to avoid the worst of the dust. One of her sneakers had blood on the toe—where had that come from? Her arms, she guessed, the road rash. She picked another bit of gravel out of her forearm. Blood fell on her foot, her knee, her thigh. Three drops, then stopped.

She wasn’t shocky anymore, at least. Her hands weren’t shaking, but she was exhausted. Every step felt like she was going uphill, and the sun on her back was fierce. A long evening shadow stretched in front of her, cool blue against the orange-tinted gravel. Magic hour, that’s what photographers called it. When the sun went down, it’d get cold.

Her phone rang.


A wheezing voice made itself heard over the roar of traffic.

“It feels like I’ve broken my arm, but I didn’t.”

“Dave, is that you? David Chan?”

“No. I’m sweating like crazy just sitting here. And my back hurts.”

“That sounds like you’re having a heart attack,” she said.

“Okay, what do I do?”

“You need to go to the hospital. Don’t try to drive, it’s too dangerous.”

“I can call an Uber.”

“Good. While you’re waiting, get an aspirin. Chew it up and swallow it.” She hung up.

As the highway slid into the curve, the median widened into a grassy strip of wasteland. Fresh green sprouted under the mat of last year’s growth, coated with salty grime from a season of snowplows.

The curve. She’d thought the traffic might slow around it, but no. If anything, the stream was faster, the cars packed tighter as the evening commute thickened. None of the drivers turned to look at her as they passed. Many were glued to their phones, just passengers in self-driving cars. Which gave her an idea. If a self-driving car registered her as an obstacle, it would have to stop. And then everyone would have to slow down. It only took one car to make a traffic jam.

She stepped onto the white lane divider, as if on a tightrope. Widened her stance and held her arms out from her sides to make her silhouette more recognizable. Here is a human person. See?

The cars aimed themselves in her direction. Side mirrors blitzed past her hip, her shoulder, her head. A truck flashed its lights. It skimmed past, and the suction from eighteen whirling wheels yanked at her flowered scrubs.

She gave it a good long try, standing square to the oncoming sensors, squinting to protect her eyes from the flying grime, but it was no good. She stepped back onto the median.

As Carla trudged east through the curve, a structure appeared in the distance, stained red by the last dregs of sunset. A bridge for an overpass, flanked by the arms of a cloverleaf. This was the intersection on the map, with the Campbellville warehouses to the south and the casino to the north. Good. She couldn’t get across the highway, but maybe she could climb off it.

One central bridge column parted the median, weeds growing thick at its base. She ran her hands up and down the concrete. It was smooth. No handholds. And even if she could shinny up—which she couldn’t—she’d never be able to haul her ass over the concrete overhang of the bridge deck. An extreme athlete could do it, maybe, but not her.

She called 911 again. This time it didn’t even ring. Dead air.

The sun set fast. Headlights turned the world into flashing intersections of night and bright, like the nightclubs she’d gone to with her sisters, back when they were all so young. On the dance floor, she’d lose herself in sensory overload, throwing herself into a bounded world of risk. A curated encounter with the unknown, where she could decide for herself from moment to moment how much danger she wanted to find.

Beyond the overpass, the median widened and dipped. Scrubby bushes grew in the ditch, and a stand of trees forced the two arms of the highway apart.

Her phone rang.

“Hello?” she said.

“Someone just smashed the window of a bank. Queen and Spadina.”

“I don’t care,” said Carla. She hung up.

Far ahead, a long, lithe shadow darted into the glare of headlights. It slid across all three lanes and turned to look at her, pointy ears sticking up from its head like horns. Then it vanished into the trees of the median.

A dog wouldn’t attack her, not unless it was rabid. A coyote wouldn’t either. All the same, a chill coursed through her, starting at her toes and shivering up her torso to her throat.

Carla hugged herself, and when her phone rang, she dropped it, cracking the screen.

“Hello,” she said.

“Is that all you have to say?” An elderly voice. Genderless. Crotchety.

“Hello,” she repeated. “What?”

“Aren’t you supposed to ask me what the problem is?”

“Okay. What’s your problem?” she asked. “Tell me everything.”

“When there’s a fire alarm I’m supposed to wheel myself into the stairwell and wait on the landing. It’s the refuge area, they said. So that’s what I did. I’ve been sitting here for hours now, waiting for someone to come. I can’t go up or down, and I can’t get back into the hallway. The door’s too heavy.”

“Did you try calling someone?”

“Why? Are you telling me to call someone who cares?”

“I mean, is there someone in your building who can help?”

“No. You’re not supposed to use the elevators during a fire alarm, but next time, you bet that’s what I’m going to do. Either that or just sit in my apartment. It’s not like there’s actually a fire.”

“What about your neighbors? Do you have the number of anyone in your building?”

“Aren’t you supposed to ask for my address?”

“Why? I can’t help you.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Did you try banging on the door? Use something hard.”

“So you’re not sending someone?”

Carla shifted the phone to her other ear and leaned in as if it would help her understand.

“Who do you think you’re talking to?” she asked.

“911. Aren’t you 911?”

“No. I’m not.”

“I guess I got the wrong number. Fine.”

“Wait,” Carla yelled. “When you get through to 911, can you tell them I’m stranded on the median of the 401 by the Campbellville overpass?”

“Tell them yourself,” they said, and hung up.

Ahead, near the trees, headlights caught on something shiny. It flashed in the beams, and the longer Carla watched it, the more it seemed like the flashes were coming in a pattern. Short-short-short. Long-long-long.

She walked toward it, why not? She had to keep moving anyway. It was getting cold, and the last thing she needed was to flirt with hypothermia.

Walking in the bottom of the ditch, the low beams of the headlights pointed straight at her, painful in their brilliance. She had to keep her eyes on her toes to keep from being dazzled. So she didn’t notice the wreck until she saw blood pooling on the median.

A four-door sedan, upside down, wheels spinning. A man in the driver’s seat, his body pillowed by the airbag. A woman in the other seat, her face plunged through the windshield. Carla got on her knees and shrugged off her backpack. She pulled out the stethoscope and fitted the earpieces tight in her ears. Easy to reach the driver’s back, with him collapsed forward. No breath, no heartbeat. She didn’t need to check the passenger to know she was gone, too, with her neck twisted, jaw pointing at the sky.

Still on her knees, she dialed 911, hugging herself, chin tucked in tight. The call connected, rang once, and went dead. Carla swiped the phone on the thigh of her scrubs and tried again. When the call didn’t connect, she crawled over to look in the back of the car.

Two empty baby seats hung from the back seat. No children anywhere, not lying on the ceiling of the car, not in the dirt and weeds and gravel of the median. Obviously, that meant no kids had been in the car when it crashed. But not far away, under a bush, was a plastic sippy cup. The milk inside smelled cool and fresh, and it wouldn’t have if it’d been sitting in the car even for a little while, not when the day had been so hot. Carla stood and looked around, shading her eyes against the glare.

There, at the edge of the median, were two small forms, raccoon-sized and crawling on all fours toward the fast lane. Carla dropped the sippy cup and ran across the ditch, up the slope, and into the dazzle of headlights.

No doubt now, those crawling bundles were children, their cushy diapered bottoms in terry-cloth onesies lit by the flashing lights. Their tiny hands slapped the asphalt, cloth-bootied feet propelling them in a four-point monkey-walk, knees not even hitting the ground.

A truck blasted its horn. Carla screamed and plunged into traffic, reaching for the children with both arms, as if she could envelop the whole highway and scoop them to safety. Cars buffeted her as she dodged across the lanes, grazing her hip, her elbow. Horns bellowed. She stopped on a dashed lane divider, breath rasping, hands clawing at her jaw as the traffic swirled past. Ahead, in the brief spaces between cars, the children humped over the slow lane and onto the shoulder. Their bald heads gleamed in the headlights.

One child turned and smiled at Carla before it disappeared off the far side of the road. A truck bore down on her. Its side-view mirror struck her head, and she fell backward into traffic.

When Carla clawed herself awake, she was at the bottom of the ditch with a new crack in the glass of her phone, three missed calls from unknown numbers, and a text from Francisca in Montreal.

I just got off a double. Gotta get some sleep. Call me tomorrow, ok?

The time stamp showed the text was only ten minutes old. Maybe her sister was still awake.

I’m in trouble, Carla typed. Been stuck in the middle of the 401 for hours now. No way to get off it. Can’t get through to 911.

She waited. No response.

When you get this, call 911. Tell them there’s a fatal car accident on the median of the 401, near the Campbellville overpass.

Then she tried 911 again, just in case. The call didn’t connect. But there would be at least one phone in the wreck, likely two, and one of them would work.

She walked back to the sedan and got on her knees. Reaching around the driver, she shone her phone light into the depths of the interior, but couldn’t see much, not with the airbag in the way. No way to reach around the driver, either—her arms weren’t long enough. But she could try to wrench the door open, pull the driver out.

It wasn’t the first time she’d touched a dead person, not even the first time that week. One of her clients was a late-stage cancer patient with no mobility. He should have been in the hospital but was refusing to go. She’d arrived for his evening appointment to find him mouth open like a baby bird, staring at the ceiling and gasping his final breaths.

No matter how hard Carla pulled, she couldn’t get the dead man out of the driver’s seat—the airbag was trapping his thighs. Carla got the scissors from her backpack, tried to cut through the tough reinforced plastic, but they wouldn’t bite. So she got in close, leaning over the dead man, pressing the bloody bag tight. With the scissors in her fist like a dagger, she slammed the point down on the plastic over and over until it deflated with a hiss. Then she dragged the man out of his seat and lay him on the median with his hands crossed over his chest.

On the underside of the dashboard lay an iPhone, a photo of two bald, grinning toddlers on the lock screen. She swiped at it until the emergency call screen surfaced.

“911?” said a woman. Carla was too relieved to notice the interrogative tone.

“I’m on the median of the 401 by the Campbellville overpass. Two people are dead. And there were two children. I can’t find the children.”

“No,” said the woman. “That’s not it. There’s been an accident at the Bombay Grill. 370 Pearson Street. In Mississauga. One of the cars came through my window.”

“Is anyone hurt?” Carla asked.

“The driver is bleeding from her head. She’s walking around, though. Yelling at the guy who wrecked her car.”

“Tell her to sit before she falls down.”

“Okay.” Voices in the background. Come in and sit down, said the woman. 911 says you have to sit down. No, you have to sit. Sit. Radha, get her a towel and a cup of chai. “Yes, she’s sitting now.”

“Are you calling from the restaurant?”

“Yes, the Bombay Grill is my business.”

“Do you have a pen?”

“I do.”

“I need you to call 911 and report a car accident on the 401, on the median by the Campbellville overpass. Two fatalities and two missing children. Would you do that for me?”

“But aren’t you 911?”

“No, I’m really not. I need your help.”

“Of course. I’ll call right away.”

“Thanks.” Carla clung to the dead man’s phone with both hands, reluctant to hang up. Sirens sounded in the background.

“There’s the fire truck,” said the woman. “Will you be okay?”

“I’m not sure,” said Carla. “I really don’t know.”

When she hung up, the night seemed darker than before, the headlights dimmer. The wheels of the upended car were still spinning, slowly.

If she could find the dead woman’s phone, she could use it to try 911 again, but it wouldn’t work. Nobody would come. Nobody would help. She was alone. One faint point on the map of chaos.

Carla sat beside the dead man and brushed the hair off his forehead with gentle fingers. His eyes stared. She could close his eyes, but without something to weigh down the eyelids, they’d keep sliding open. When people placed coins over the eyes of the dead, it wasn’t to pay the ferryman, they did it to keep their illusions. A dead person with closed eyes seemed to be sleeping peacefully, even if their jaw was gaping. A dead person with open eyes wasn’t a person. It was a thing.

She found two pebbles, cold and smooth. She closed the man’s eyes and gently placed them on his eyelids.

A shadow moved through the trees. The dog was back, likely attracted by the scent of blood. Carla climbed to her feet, stiff and awkward, and put her body between the dog and the car. She clapped her hands.

“Go away,” she yelled. “Get out of here.”

She threw a rock at the dog. Bad aim. Its head swiveled on a long neck, then another head, and another. Not one dog, but three, though only one body was visible. And not like any kind of animal she’d ever seen. Flat heads, eyes nearly level with their noses. Wide grinning mouths and impossibly sharp ears.

Carla put the dead man’s phone in her pocket. She raked both hands though the gravel. Then her phone rang. She flung the gravel at the dogs and snatched at the phone.

“Hello,” she yelled.

“Is this 911?” An elderly man.

“No.” All these people thought she could help them; she could almost laugh. “What’s your problem?”

“I seem to be trapped. In my apartment. It’s been days and days and nobody’s come. I’ve been waiting.”

His voice had the light, childish cadence of dementia. Carla had heard it many times. It could be frustrating to deal with, but Carla always made an effort to be patient. And right now, it felt good to talk to someone.

“That sounds really awful,” she said. “What are you waiting for?”

“To go. I’m waiting to go.”

“Go where?”

“The place you’re supposed to go, when you’re dead.”

“Oh,” she said. She expected him to say he was waiting for his mother to pick him up from school, or for some long-dead spouse to take him home. Dementia patients were usually anxious to go somewhere, desperate for someone to deliver them from disorder. But he didn’t sound disordered. He sounded nice.

“I was hoping you’d tell me what I’m supposed to do,” he said.

The dog walked toward her, heads low, crouching as if stalking her. It still looked like one dog with three heads. But that couldn’t be, could it?

“I’m sorry,” Carla said. “I’m not sure how I can help.”

“If you can’t, who will?”

Family, usually. It almost always fell to family members. Even if a client got three home care visits per day, it was never enough. Family had to pick up the slack. Who else?

“You haven’t been living alone, have you?” she asked. “Do you have someone caring for you?”

“Oh, yes, I did, until I died. And now there’s nobody. What do you think I should do?”

Call 911, Carla thought. The ultimate answer, the last-ditch option—call 911 and beg for help. Wasn’t that what she’d been trying to do for hours, find someone, anyone to help her? Someone who couldn’t deny her, put her off. And everyone she’d talked to, they wanted the same.

“If you’re dead,” Carla said slowly, “I think you should get into bed, cover yourself up warm and cozy, and remember all the good things in your life. Try to go to sleep.”

The dog was belly-crawling toward her now. Snaky necks extending from one thick-muscled torso, tongues lolling.

“I can do that,” he said. “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.”

Carla slid the phone into her pocket and reached out to pet the dog. Those protrusions on either side of the heads weren’t ears after all, but horns, sharp enough to draw blood.

“Good boy,” she said. “Good dog.”

She sat in the dirt and weeds of the median with the dog’s heads in her lap. Its ears were wizened carbuncles, tortured masses of scar tissue. Carla caressed them gently with both hands and the dog’s eyes narrowed. It kicked up one hind foot to show her its belly.

Her phone rang. She kept one hand on the dog as she answered it.

“911,” she said. “How can I help you?”

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Kelly Robson

About the Author

Kelly Robson


Kelly Robson writes Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror. Her fiction has won a Nebula Award and three Aurora awards, and she's been a finalist for many of the major SFF awards, including the Astounding Award for Best New Writer. Her first short fiction collection Alias Space and Other Stories was published by Subterranean Press, and she has two books from Tordotcom Publishing, Gods, Monsters and the Lucky Peach and High Times in the Low Parliament.
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