Matt was lowered to a filthy floor where he slumped in a heap of trembling limp limbs. Everything was still and silent. Matt was leaning against a door in a dark room. Pain shot through the side of his head, splintering his thoughts as he tried to pull himself together. He couldn't be sure if he'd been there for seconds or hours. A pitiful sound came clear and he realized he'd been hearing his own soft moaning. Just when Matt was about to try again to mobilize his rebelling appendages, the door fell open. He was looking down a narrow flight of stairs, a tunnel that was swallowed by pitch blackness after a few steps. From the bottom, in the depths of the darkness, the howling began. It was louder now, a desperate, frantic and pitiful wail punctuated with barks and grunts and snarls.
Matt felt a heavy, hard kick, and he was tumbling into the howling abyss.
* * *
Forms circled Matt in the darkness, prowling like wolves. He could see nothing, but he heard them, smelled them. Still the hounds howled, but it was lower now: mewling, whimpering sounds that spiralled and closed then withdrew. How many are there? He could hear the wet snuffling as the smelled for him between the other noises.
He remembered Glen's words about what to do if a dog attacked you. Just hold still, he'd said. Given his limited options, it seemed like the best plan Matt had at the moment. He lay in the dark, feeling the cold floor and smelling the animal stench of piss, shit and filth. He tried to slow his breathing and stop shaking. Matt was wide awake now, but his muscles still felt weightless and strengthless. His face was caked and itchy with sticky blood.
Matt was blinded by a sudden blaze of light. Maynard had evidently turned on a battery powered flood light that hung from on a cord from the ceiling. The tall man could be heard now, slowly descending the steps. As Matt squinted and his sight returned, the glaring white resolved to reveal horror beyond his worst nightmares. The hounds were howling again, loud and full.
There were four of them, three women and a man. The were pale, almost white, and naked, skulking across the cement floor on what was left of their arms and legs. All four of the “hounds” had had their limbs crudely amputated just below the elbows and knees. They scuttled about on pink, scarred stumps, retreating to the corners as Maynard drew closer. Matt stayed still, staring at the ceiling, now too afraid to move and too afraid to look. He was terrified of even seeing them.
“Wake up, neighbour," said Maynard. The man was standing over him, evidently convinced that matt was still dazed. He nudged Matt, who remained limp, with the toe of his boot. He started walking around the room, gesturing to the mutilated, weeping figures. “Wake, and meet my hounds, boy. You were curious, no? I wanted a pet, neighbour. A pet who wouldn't run away, wouldn't talk back or bite. So now they can't. I takes their teeth and tongues, their hands and hoofs. Now they can't go nowhere. Now they can't do nothing, except what I want."