Ditched. What follows was going to be the new opening for “Abominable,” which I just sent to a contest at New Genre (see below). I wrote it because Lee said, when he first read it, that he had problems reconciling the last half of the story with the first half, because it’s so — out of the blue. Unexpected.

When I reread the copy of the story, the sixth or something edit, I decided that I liked it as it was, put a couple of stylistic corrections and continuity patches on it, redirected the ending (which may fix the problems with the reconciling the two halves, somehow), and sent it off. Leaving — this. An entirely different character seems Jack now.

But since I liked it, I’m not going to just let it die.

You’re not a bad guy; it’s just that sometimes you’re a cold-hearted bastard. Or practical. You like to think of yourself as practical.

Like the time you and your sister ran over that golden lab in Eden Prairie. She was driving. Too fast, the roads were icy, the damn dog shouldn’t have been loose — probably would have frozen to death in the blizzard that night, anyway.

The dog was the only splash of color on the dark grey, storm-warned street.

The brakes locked on the old Chevette and you spun and spun, unsure whther you’d hit the dog, the curb, or both. You jumped out of the car — the dog was hit. Theresa screamed, covered her face. Blamed you.

“You should have told me there was a dog. You should have told me I was driving too fast. Why didn’t you say anything about the ice? Jesus, Jack, you asshole!”

“Shut up, you tit,” you said. The dog’s belly and spine were crushed.

“What am I going to do?” Theresa wailed.

“Nothing,” you said.

You dragged the dog back to the car, placed its neck in front of the tire, took the keys away from your hysterical sister, and drove over the dog again.

It wasn’t wearing a collar, so you wrapped it up in your coat and thew it in a dumpster a couple of miles away. A year later, your sister ran away and you’ve never heard from her again. But it wasn’t you, they said.

You were twelve.