He’d made it to the treeline at the bottom of the hills and had been laying in the grass, hot and delusional with fever. Gypsy was wandering un-tethered nearby, but fidgety and moving about constantly at hearing the distant howls and yips of wild dogs feeding, more than likely upon the carcasses they’d left by the small roadside settlement.
In the dark of the night a group of previously domestic, now turned feral dogs surrounded him cautiously. He vaguely saw them there, through hazy fevered eyes and considered shooting them, but he was too ill to hold the trigger steady or see straight. One ventured too close to his nervous horse, and she booted him. The stray yelped and the others backed off, but only temporarily. Hunger would force them to pack, it always did with wild animals.
The pack could smell the illness about him. He stank of vomit and was certain his last rumbling fart had been a wet one.
A big German Shepherd bitch was the leader and approached him. He could hear her low growling, but he was so far gone with fever it was merely an observation. No energy to spare for freaking out. He only vaguely remembered her hovering curiously over him, sniffing and snuffling his hair.
‘Nice doggie,’ he said trying to raise a hand to pat her, but it weighed as much as a bowling ball and instead he passed out.
Angus was unaware of this but the German Shepherd bitch tilted her head sideways curious. Nice doggie. She had heard those words somewhere before. They had triggered some memory of a child she loved long ago, before the food ran out, before the violence had taken her loving girl and family and left her to run for her life and survive the only way left to the lost dogs.
She remembered being loved and wanting her human pack back. The rest of the feral dogs were nearing, growling and yipping, competing for the newly discovered prize. She growled for the pack to back off, and lay protectively next to his body as the violent shivering of fever began. She had grown suddenly maternal and licked his face, where the skin was stretched firm, hot and dry. The pack only protested a short while. They had eaten this evening after all.