It all happened at once. 

First it was the murmur, the commotion. It resembled the steps of rumbling horsemen approaching from far, with the ominous dust serving as a harbinger of unwelcome events. 

Duke took the first step toward the buzzing crowd, hurrying to get the food before everyone else. His confident step summoned his gang in two seconds, and soon a pack of stray dogs mixed with the clubbers, while panicked voices started creeping up from the kaleidoscope of high heels, man buns, sleek shirts, tight jeans, glitzy dresses, and fresh blow-dries.

Someone in the crowd yelled angrily at someone else:

“Hey, watch where are you going!”

“Okay, man, relax, it’s not me, space is getting tight, can’t you see it’s the club’s rush hour?”

“I don’t care, watch it, I’ve paid $400 for these shoes!”

A push on a crisp white shirt, a punch in the waist, a few screams of fear, and the entrance in front of the “Demure” didn’t look quite like the idyllic picture from just five minutes ago, when the clubbers didn’t think they will be kicking and screaming among a bunch of frightened, barking dogs, and Marshall, Isaac, and Shark didn’t think that they will have to sort things out to take the love endeavor to a bright end. 

Just as someone kicked Duke into the muzzle, Daniel hopped out of the club. Isaac was still standing on the side, with a worried smirk, assessing whether he should intervene. Charlene ran out immediately after Daniel, and for a moment, it looked like things had stopped, everything was in slow motion, and the crowd remained speechless. 

Shark didn’t want to wait any longer:

“We have to go, dog! They are both out. The crowd is mad. The people are mad, the dogs are mad. We can’t let anything happen to them! We should go, now!”

But Isaac was unsure. He hesitated. He didn’t want to worsen the outcome, thinking that Shark is in his usual hurrying mood. If it wasn’t for Marshall, who suddenly stepped out from behind his back, more focused than Isaac has ever seen him, he’d rather wait.

Marshall stood next to Shark with a growl. He couldn’t let anything ruin tonight’s inhabitation. He paused for a second, until he and Shark decidedly entered the mess, just when Duke grabbed the kicker by his ankle, and the kicker’s pal tried to help his friend, pushing Charlene on the ground. 

“No, this isn’t how this night will end!”, thought Daniel, catching the kicker’s pal by his collar and pushing him to the ground. The kicker was screaming and kicking like crazy, and the three guys and one hungry dog were rolling over together, with a part of the crowd oblivious to what was happening and the rest of it watching in terror. 

Marshall was already on Duke’s neck. 

“That stubborn dog and his hunger quests!”, he thought as another dog’s teeth from the Duke’s gang sunk into the back of his neck. 

The throbbing surprise hit him hard. He felt weak and loosened his grip on Duke, who let the kicker’s leg and turned over to attack the pug. Marshall was wrestling with the two dogs for just a couple of seconds, while Shark was barking at the rest of Duke’s gang, trying to kick them out of the scene. 

Seeing the blood rushing out of Marshall’s neck, Isaac woke up. He was next to him in a second. But it was too late. The pug fell on the ground, weak from the fight, gasping heavily for breath with one thought in his head:

“I’m too old for this shit.”

Isaac stood powerless, as he noticed his dearest mentor’s eyes close.

“Nope, he is okay, I know he is okay, he must be okay!”, he held his breath in the loud street, as the crowd was dissipating.

In the meantime, Daniel was still rolling in the dust with the kicker and his pal. 

Charlene was the first to get to her senses. She grabbed her purse and threw the bag of almonds she got from the bar with her drink toward the hungry dogs. They lost their interest in the enemies. Food was a way more compelling choice. She ran quickly to Marshall and the confused basset. Her eyes were welling up with tears. The pug didn’t look good. She knew what she had to do. Luckily, she had the vet’s number on speed dial. 

She picked up her phone and called James. A silent pickup from the other side reminded her that it wasn’t James who picked up the phone. Phil, his autistic boy, must have caught the call while his dad was busy with the dogs.

She whistled in Shark’s direction. Shark, the corgi, ran towards her and looked at her making silly gestures pointing at the phone. He barked. The loud smile coming from the weird black thing sounded familiar. 

“Where does it come from”? he wondered looking at Charlene, who finally heard James’s voice from the other side:

“Hello?”

Featured image credit: Andr Sommerh from Pixabay 

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